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Jackson prayer

Los Angeles, Feb. 12 (Reuters): Members of a Los Angeles youth group, fearing that Michael Jackson will kill himself over a British television documentary about his bizarre lifestyle, plan to hold a prayer vigil for the embattled pop star in Hollywood yesterday.

Some 200 teens will participate in the vigil at Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hoping to inspire people around the world to pray for the onetime “King of Pop” amid revelations that he sleeps with young boys, said Alex Poe, director of Right Way Youth Activities Inc.

“We are convinced that he is on the verge of suicide right now,” Poe said. “After watching this documentary and looking at the situation ... the kids themselves encouraged me. They said: ‘Mr. Poe, the only thing we can do is pray.’”

Dead right

San Francisco (Reuters): The surviving members of the cult band The Grateful Dead have decided to scrap their short-lived moniker “The Other Ones” and rename themselves what everyone was calling them anyway: “The Dead”. An icon of 1960s California that has long attracted those embracing alternative lifestyles, the band lost its leader Jerry Garcia in 1995 when he died in a drug rehabilitation clinic. The band then retired the name “Grateful Dead” in tribute to Garcia. The bands remaining members gave their first major concert together last August as “The Other Ones”.

Seal hearts

Tokyo (Reuters): Tama-chan, a stray seal who swam his way from the icy waters of the Bering Sea into Japanese hearts, was rewarded on Wednesday with resident status in a district of Yokohama, Japan’s second biggest city. The appearance of the animal in a river so far from his arctic home last year sparked a “Tama-chan” frenzy among media and locals in a land obsessed with the cuddly and the cute. “So we decided to make him a sales ambassador for the ward, a kind of mascot for activities like cleaning up the rivers and anti-littering,” an official for Yokohama’s Nishi Ward said.

Rental row

Bratislava (Reuters): The death of an unemployed Slovak man went unnoticed for nearly two years until his landlord broke into his apartment to evict him, police said on Wednesday. The tenant had not paid rent on his flat in the central Slovak town of Lucenec since March 2001. Tardy payment and eviction warnings had all been returned unopened. Accompanied by police, the landlord discovered the renter’s desiccated corpse on a mattress in the flat, a police spokeswoman said.

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