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PROSECUTORS TO SEEK LIFE TERM FOR ARKANSAN WHO KILLED GAY

ROCKFORD, Ala. (AP) -- Prosecutors plan to seek a life sentence for a man who admitted murdering a gay acquaintance over what police described as an unwanted sexual advance.District Attorney Fred Thompson said the recommendation of life without parole was part of a deal that led Steven Eric Mullins to plead guilty to capital murder Thursday in the slaying of Billy Jack Gaither.

But Circuit Judge John Rochester did not rule out the possibility of the death penalty for Mullins.

Rochester will make a decision after a final hearing Aug. 2, the same day co-defendant Charles Butler Jr. is scheduled to go on trial for capital murder in the slaying of Gaither, 39, of nearby Sylacauga.

POLICE FROM N.J. TOWNS QUELL CONCERT DISTURBANCE

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Police from several northern New Jersey towns converged on a hip-hop concert at the Meadowlands sports complex Thursday night to quell a disturbance by people who weren't allowed into the show.

Some concertgoers said fans without tickets rushed the gates at the Continental Airlines Arena, prompting security to shut the gates and bar anyone, even ticket holders, from entering. Authorities said those kept out didn't have tickets.

State Police reported a few minor injuries but did not have information on arrests late Thursday.

The sold-out event at the arena featured Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Q-Tip and Nas Escobar. The sports authority said 16,000 people attended the concert, which was not canceled.

HEALTH OFFICIALS SEEKING SOURCE OF PARASITE OUTBREAK

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Federal health officials are trying to determine how guests at a May convention were stricken by an intestinal parasite uncommon in the United States.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will survey 250 attendees of a mid-May event at The Breakers hotel to trace the source of the parasite cyclospora cayentansis.

Health officials say eight cases of the parasite have been confirmed. In all, 24 people say they fell ill after the meeting, but health officials have not confirmed if all contracted the parasite.

On June 11, the Los Angeles County Health Department received its first report of a problem from a man who had developed severe diarrhea.

The man was among a 40-member party from California, about half of which became sick, said Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department.

CUBAN WATERS STILL OFF-LIMITS FOR PURSUIT OF DRUG RUNNERS

MIAMI (AP) -- Cuba has denied the Coast Guard permission to pursue drug smugglers in its waters, but has promised to consider other proposals to improve counter-narcotics cooperation, The Miami Herald reported today.

Coast Guard and State Department drug interdiction experts and their Cuban counterparts met Monday in Havana but were unable to negotiate a deal, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed State Department official.

The Cubans rejected a proposal for a "hot pursuit" agreement. U.S. officials, in turn, refused to expand the talks to other U.S. drug enforcement agencies.

Both sides are still considering a proposal to base a Coast Guard officer and drug testing equipment in Havana. Also being discussed is a plan to enhance radio and telephone communications between U.S. and Cuban drug fighting units.

2 SPECIAL OLYMPIANS SOUGHT AFTER THEY WENT TO N.Y.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Authorities were searching today for two Special Olympics athletes who left their nation's delegation and took a trip to New York City.

The mentally retarded men from the Dominican Republic were thought to have arrived in New York early Thursday.

North Carolina authorities asked New York police to find the men to make sure they were safe.

"They haven't committed a crime. There's nothing law enforcement can do to hold them or bring them back here," said Greensboro police Capt. Jim Sciefres.

Authorities say the basketball players hid passports they were asked to surrender and paid a cab driver Wednesday to take them to Charlotte's bus station, where they hopped a bus to New York.

LAST OF SURVIVING OCTUPLETS IN TEXAS LEAVES HOSPITAL

HOUSTON (AP) -- The last of the surviving Texas octuplets has finally gone home.

Ikem was discharged Thursday from Texas Children's Hospital, seven months after he and his seven siblings were born to Nkem Chukwu and her husband, Ikye Louis Udobi.

The oldest of two boys, Ikem had been in serious condition for months. He had trouble breathing on his own until abdominal surgery in March.

Doctors said he weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces -- up from a birth weight of 1 pound and 1 ounce.

The babies were the world's only living octuplets when born in December. Six girls were born in addition to the two boys, but one died a week later.

NAVY SEAL MAY NOT FACE REPRIMAND FOR GOING AWOL

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A Navy seal AWOL for five months probably won't have to worry about getting reprimanded.

It wasn't a member of the Navy's elite commando unit, but an actual animal.

The 300-pound sea lion, which had been trained to retrieve equipment from the ocean floor, disappeared from a Navy base in February.

In the water off Cape Hatteras on Thursday, the sea lion climbed onto the fantail of the USS Grasp sometime before noon.

The salvage vessel was hovering over the wreck of the Civil War ironclad Monitor, reeling in a dive team when the sea lion appeared.

The Navy searched for the sea lion for a month after it disappeared but eventually gave up, citing cost concerns.

For now, the Navy hasn't put the animal back to work. Sailors said they are letting the seal nap a lot and get used to shipboard life again.