- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shrouded in secrecy

Michael Jackson was seen shopping in a mall in Bahrain yesterday, hiding his face behind a veil and wearing a black robe traditionally worn by women in the Persian Gulf area.

According to Associated Press, the pop star, 47, wore an abaya, pants, a white shirt and men’s shoes. His head and face were wrapped in a black veil, and he also wore black gloves. The veil, abaya and gloves were of a style typically worn by conservative Bahraini women.

He was with three children, apparently his own, who also had their faces covered by dark scarves. An unidentified woman accompanied them.

Mr. Jackson — who seems to be settling in the Gulf since his June acquittal on child molestation charges in California — was seen leaving Marina Mall in Manama, the Bahraini capital, holding a child by the hand. On the way out a back door, he shook hands with security guards.

The woman — also dressed in the black robe called an abaya, jeans and a scarf that partially covered her face — had the two other children. All three children were wrapped in black scarves and wore yellow shirts and sweat pants or khakis without robes.

The woman asked photographers to respect their privacy and told them they were scaring the children before the group left in a white car with darkened windows.

In November, Mr. Jackson stirred controversy in the United Arab Emirates by entering the ladies room in a shopping mall. His publicist said Mr. Jackson, who arrived in Dubai as the guest of a champion rally driver, did not understand the Arabic sign on the door and left the bathroom when he realized his mistake.

The jury has spoken

Richard Hatch, winner of the $1 million prize in the first season of “Survivor,” was found guilty yesterday of failing to pay taxes on his winnings. Mr. Hatch was handcuffed and taken into custody after U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres said he was a potential flight risk.

He also was convicted of evading taxes on $327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned. He was acquitted of seven bank, mail- and wire-fraud charges.

Mr. Hatch, 44, faces up to 13 years in prison and a fine of $600,000. Sentencing was scheduled for April 28.

Jurors deliberated for less than a day after more than a week of testimony.

Besides the tax charges, prosecutors accused Mr. Hatch of using money donated to his charitable foundation, Horizon Bound, an outdoors program he said he planned to open for troubled youths. He reportedly spent the money on expenses, including tips to a limousine driver, dry cleaning and tens of thousands of dollars on improvements to a house he owned.

Near the end of the trial, an explanation for Mr. Hatch’s failure to pay taxes was raised by his lawyer, Michael Minns — but never mentioned in the jury’s presence. Mr. Minns said his client caught fellow contestants cheating and struck a deal with the show’s producers to pay his taxes if he won. Mr. Hatch was never asked about the claim when he testified.

Mr. Hatch, who often appeared nude on the show, beat out 15 other “Survivor” hopefuls in 2000.

Making his day

District Mayor Anthony A. Williams will join the D.C. Council and noted French photographer Antoine Schneck in proclaiming tomorrow Placido Domingo Day, marking the tenor’s 10th anniversary with the Washington National Opera and his 65th birthday as well.

Banners bearing Mr. Domingo’s image will line Virginia and New Hampshire avenues leading up to the Kennedy Center, and a 20-by-21-foot banner will be hung on the exterior of the building.

Mr. Domingo will cut his birthday cake, and revelers will sip champagne in his honor between 3 and 4 p.m. on the stage of the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Macca told to let it be

Local officials said yesterday they have ordered Paul McCartney to tear down a log cabin on his estate in southern England.

Rother District Council said its planning committee refused to give the 63-year-old former Beatle retrospective planning permission for the timber lodge on the grounds of Woodlands Farm in Peasemarsh, about 70 miles southeast of London, Associated Press reports.

A statement on Mr. McCartney’s behalf to the council said the cabin provided “privacy, seclusion and security” away from the farm buildings and machinery and a public footpath that passes near the farmhouse.

However, at its meeting in December, the planning committee ruled that the building “harms the intrinsic landscape quality and character” of the area.

The council said Mr. McCartney has six months to appeal.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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