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Cat Stevens denied entry to U.S. after plane diverted

A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam _ formerly known as singer Cat Stevens _ was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, two federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between a passenger and a name on the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport about 3 p.m., Melendez said.

The Associated Press reported that two federal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the passenger as Islam, 56. They said Islam was denied entry on national security grounds, but had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States.

Islam was expected to be returned early today to London, the official said.

Islam, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the 1960s and '70s, including Wild World and Morning Has Broken.

He abandoned his music career in the late 1970s and changed his name after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law.

Miss America ratings drop

ATLANTIC CITY _ Skimpy swimsuits, a shorter telecast and a last-woman-standing talent competition couldn't help Miss America's TV ratings.

Broadcast by ABC, Miss America was television's most-watched program for the night, according to Nielsen Media Research, drawing a 6.4 rating and a 12 share.

The show, which culminated in the crowning of Miss Alabama Deidre Downs as Miss America 2005, had some new wrinkles. Chief among them: shaving an hour off the three-hour telecast and speeding up its pace.

None of that could stem the loss of viewers for Miss America, whose ratings have declined in eight of the past 10 years. More than 25-million viewers tuned in to the pageant in 1995.