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POSTED April 18, 2012 9:59 p.m.

TRANSCANADA SUBMITS NEW ROUTE FOR OIL PIPELINE: WASHINGTON (AP) — The company planning the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline has proposed a new route through Nebraska that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Calgary-based TransCanada submitted a series of proposed routes — including a preferred alternative — late Wednesday to Nebraska environmental officials.

The state has become a focus of concern for the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year, citing uncertainty over the Nebraska route, which would travel above an aquifer that provides water to eight states.

Details of the preferred route were not immediately available. A spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality said officials hope to post the full proposal on the Internet as soon as Thursday.

COMPETITION CUTS DOWN MEDICARE FRAUD: WASHINGTON (AP) — A yearlong experiment with competitive bidding for power wheelchairs, diabetic supplies and other personal medical equipment produced $200 million in savings for Medicare, and government officials said Wednesday they are expanding the pilot program in search of even greater dividends.

The nine-city crackdown targeting waste and fraud has drawn a strong protest from the medical supply industry, which is warning of shortages for people receiving Medicare benefits and economic hardship for small suppliers. But the shift to competitive bidding has led to few complaints from those in Medicare, according to a new government report.

The report found only 151 complaints from a total population of 2.3 million Medicare recipients in the nine metropolitan areas, including Miami, Cincinnati and Riverside, Calif.

MO. EVENT AIMS AT BREAKING COSTUMED DOG RECORD: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City promoter hopes to break a world record by parading at least 700 costumed dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, down a city street on Cinco de Mayo.

Promoter Mark Valentine says the parade will introduce Chihuahuas to their cultural heritage while helping a no-kill shelter. Parade participants will pay a $5 entry fee to benefit the shelter, called The Pet Connection.

Valentine says the Guinness world record for most costumed dogs doesn't specify a breed. He expects there will be more than enough entries to break it.

NURSE ACCUSED IN BABY ABDUCTION HAD MISCARRIED: SPRING, Texas (AP) — Verna McClain told her fiance she had given birth to their child. But after she suffered a miscarriage, authorities said, she went looking for another baby to present to him.

Now she's accused of killing a young mother to take one by force.

Investigators say McClain waited outside a pediatrician's office north of Houston and shot Kala Golden before taking her tiny newborn son, who was only 3 days old.

RETIRED ILL. COUPLE CLAIMS SHARE OF $656M JACKPOT: RED BUD, Ill. (AP) — Merle Butler routinely laughed off what became the well-worn exchange among locals in Red Bud the instant word swept through the tiny southern Illinois village that a Mega Millions lottery ticket bought there scored a share of a record $656 million jackpot.

"Are you the winner?" someone would ask.

"Yeah, sure, I won it," the retired Butler played along each time.

Little did anyone in the 3,700-resident town know Butler wasn't kidding.

On Wednesday, 19 days since that drawing, Butler and his wife, Patricia, finally stepped in front of news cameras and reporters to publicly claiming their $218.6 million stake of the jackpot — the secret the famously private retirees and grandparents had no trouble keeping for so long.

"I answered most of the time truthfully and said, 'Yes, I did (win).' Most of the time, people didn't catch it," Merle Butler, 65, chuckled during the Illinois Lottery news conference in his hometown's village hall.

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