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Nov. 27, 2012 at 10:38 PM   |   Comments

Powerball hits record $500M jackpot

CHICAGO, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The chance to win a half-billion dollars in Wednesday's Powerball drawing despite astronomical odds was powerfully tempting to many Americans, sales showed.

The Oregon Lottery office in Salem said a woman in Oakland, Calif., called to say she had booked a flight to Portland just to get ticket because Powerball isn't available in her state, OregonLive.com reported. Another person called from Nevada for the same reason.

"I guess $500 million makes people nutty," lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann said Tuesday.

The news website said there were long lines at many convenience stores and other lottery outlets despite the prohibitive odds of 1-in-175,000,000 of hitting the exact six numbers needed to win the jackpot.

While Wednesday's jackpot is the largest prize in that game's history, it's a pittance compared to what U.S. lotteries make, officials said.

Despite an anemic U.S. economy, the 2011-12 fiscal year saw total state lottery ticket sales of $60.8 billion, Tribune newspapers reported Tuesday.

The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries said there was an 8.7 percent increase in lottery revenue from the previous fiscal year.

The association said 32 of the country's 44 state lotteries set sales highs that make Powerball's $500 million look small.

In Illinois, one of the 33 states participating in Powerball, tickets sales are reported up.

"Over the weekend it was insane," said clerk Denise Van Der Griend of Party Liquors in the south Chicago suburb of Steger. "We had lines longer for lottery tickets than we did at the [liquor sales] counter."


Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole hospitalized

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, made the announcement on the Senate floor, Politico reported.

"He is at Walter Reed, not for a checkup," Reid said. "He is there because he is infirm. He is sick."

A Dole aide told NBC News he is "doing very well" and will be discharged Wednesday.

Dole, 89, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1996 and was President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976. He represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969.

He was Senate majority leader from January 1995 until June 1996.

Reid told Senate colleagues Tuesday Dole called him a few days ago to let him know he was at Walter Reed, ABC News said.

"He is such a stalwart figure in the history of America," Reid said. "He had all the qualities of a leader that I admire and certainly would wish I had."

Dole was hospitalized in January 2011 for treatment of a minor infection, two months after he had been discharged following a 10-month stay at Walter Reed while he recovered from pneumonia following knee surgery. He was hospitalized in 2009 for multiple problems related to a skin graft procedure.

He was hospitalized at Walter Reed for 40 days after doctors determined he had internal cranial bleeding following hip replacement surgery in December 2004.

He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for his service in the Army during World War II.


Protesters strip down in Boehner's office

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Three people were arrested after seven stripped naked in U.S. House Speaker John Boehner's office to protest potential AIDS research funding cuts, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police said three protesters -- all female -- were charged with lewd and indecent acts based on Washington's disorderly conduct code, The Hill reported.

Tuesday's protest was organized by Health Global Access Group, Queerocracy, Act Up N.Y. and Act Up Philadelphia, the liberal Talking Points Memo website said. Organizers said automatic federal spending cuts set to take effect in January could lead to substantial cuts in HIV/AIDS funding, which could cost lives.

Protesters removed their clothing to reveal the word "AIDS" and "AIDS cuts kill" on their bodies.

They chanted: "Boehner, Boehner, don't be a dick, budget cuts will make us sick," and, "The budget cuts are really rude, that's why we have to be so lewd."

They also chanted: "Fight AIDS. Act up. Fight back," and, "End AIDS with the Robin Hood tax, no more budget cuts on our back," TPM reported.

The protest had gone on for about 10 minutes when Capitol Police told protesters they faced arrest if they did not put their clothes back on and leave Boehner's office, The Hill said. All seven protesters put their clothes on and left Boehner's office, and the three women were arrested as they remained in a hallway to talk to reporters, TPM said.

One of the three, Jennifer Flynn, said: "We are here today to tell the naked truth about these budget cuts. The truth is that people with AIDS have been stripped naked for years -- Medicaid has been cut, states are [struggling]. ... There are waiting lists in this country where people with AIDS are dying."

Boehner's office said the Ohio Republican was not present at the time of the protest at his Longworth House Office Building office.


Thomas Ricks denies apology to Fox News

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. author Thomas Ricks denies a claim by Fox News that he apologized for calling Fox "a wing of the Republican Party" during an interview about his new book.

During an interview on Fox Monday to promote his book, "The Generals" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author said he thought coverage of an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had been "hyped, by this network, especially. ...

"I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as wing of the Republican Party," he said.

Fox anchor Jon Scott then ended the interview, just over 1 minute after it had begun.

Fox Executive Vice President Michael Clemente told The Hollywood Reporter Ricks apologized for the comment.

"He apologized in our offices afterward but doesn't have the strength of character to do that publicly," Clemente said.

Ricks said he didn't apologize and challenged Clemente to provide details.

"I'll refresh his memory," Clemente told THR, "what he said following the segment was, 'Sorry ... I'm tired from a non-stop book tour.' Perhaps now he can finally get some rest."

Ricks said Tuesday Clemente was "making it up."

"Why are they doing this? Because their MO is that when the facts aren't on their side, they attack the person," he said.

In an email to Clemente Tuesday, Ricks said a Fox producer had told him she thought he had been rude and he responded, "I might have been a bit snappish because I am tired of book tour."

He said the comment to the producer "was in no way an apology."

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