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POSTED February 16, 2014 6:49 p.m.

uPOWERBALL ESTIMATED JACKPOT SURGES TO $400M: DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Without a Powerball winner this weekend, the prize has climbed to $400 million — one of the largest in U.S. lottery history.

Lottery officials said no one matched all six numbers for Saturday’s $330.8 million drawing.

The next drawing is Wednesday, and will be the fourth-biggest Powerball jackpot and sixth-highest lottery prize of all time — at least $400 million or $227.8 million in a lump sum.

Large jackpots tend to boost ticket sales and make it more likely the prize will be shared, and changes to the Powerball and Mega Millions games have the jackpots reaching fantasy-inducing levels more often.



uJOHN HENSON, SON OF MUPPETS CREATOR, DIES IN NY: SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (AP) — Puppeteer John Henson, the son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died in New York. He was 48.

Cheryl Henson says her brother died of a “massive heart attack” at his home in Saugerties on Friday. She says it happened after he had been building an igloo in the snow with his daughter.

Henson followed in his famous father’s footsteps as a puppeteer, performing as Sweetums the ogre in several films, including “Muppet Treasure Island” and “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.”



uAUTHORITIES FIND BURNED BODY IN OAKLAND PARK:  OAKLAND  (AP) — Authorities say they are investigating a badly burned body found in Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland hills.

Oakland Fire and Police departments responded around 10:15 p.m. Saturday to a report of a body on fire in a parking lot connected to a park trail. The person was declared dead at the scene.

The Alameda County coroner’s office is working to identify the body, but the person’s gender is not obvious because of the burn damage. No arrests have been made.



uSNAKE-HANDLING KY. PASTOR DIES FROM SNAKE BITE: MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) — Jamie Coots, a snake-handling Kentucky pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show “Snake Salvation,” died Saturday after being bitten by a snake.

Coots was handling a rattlesnake during a Saturday night service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro when he was bit, another preacher, Cody Winn, said.

“Jamie went across the floor. He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand ... within a second,” Winn said.

When an ambulance arrived at the church at 8:30 p.m., they were told Coots had gone home, the Middlesboro Police Department said in a news release. Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment.

Emergency workers left about 9:10 p.m. When they returned about an hour later, Coots was dead from a venomous snake bite, police said.

In January 2013, Coots was caught transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads through Knoxville, Tenn. Wildlife officials confiscated the snakes, and Coots pleaded guilty to illegally wildlife possession. He was given one year of unsupervised probation.

Coots said then he needed the snakes for religious reasons, citing a Bible passage in the book of Mark that reads, in part: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Coots said he took the passage at face value.

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