The British paper Daily Express, under the headline "MR NASTY SUFFERS A BREAK-IN," reports that Simon Cowell’s London home was ransacked while the Idol judge was away in America, claiming that Cowell had handed the keys to his £6million ($11.7 million) Holland Park house to a team of builders who had instructions to refurbish the property while he was away for a month in the United States. They claim he returned to find that the place had been ransacked, and that the thieves had made off with jewelery, silver and electrical equipment, humorously noting, "Thankfully, the burglars did not feel moved to help themselves to some of Mr Cowell;s vertiginous trousers or any of his collection of hundreds of black polo-neck jumpers."
The paper said that local police who investigated the crime said, "It was an unwise decision to say the least. You wouldn't believe some of the things Mr Cowell had accumulated over the years that the thieves took a fancy to."
A source told the newspaper, "What has happened in similar cases is that someone copied the main key. I’m sure the builders would have been very careful about who had access, but it's not always easy when a number of sub-contractors are coming in and out of the place."
However, Simon Cowell laughed off The Daily Express reports, according to Starpulse.com,
insisting that his home is perfectly secure and all his belongings remain intact. "I've spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of the very best security and I can assure you my homes are as safe as the Bank of England," Cowell said.
Meanwhile, in his monologue, Conan O'Brien said that while police said the burglary was the work of professional thieves, Cowell described them as "amateurish and uninspired."
COWELL KEEPS GETTING RICHER
A Reuters story in the London Mirror says that Cowell is the pop world's star riser in the latest Sunday Times Rich List, which is subtitled "5000 of the Wealthiest People in the United Kingdom and Ireland" and which estimates the minimum wealth of Britain's richest people or families. Cowell, who once told a contestant "You remind me of a pet poodle", has an estimated wealth of 100 million pounds -- up from 60 million last year. He has moved from the 944th position on the list last year to 700 this year, overtaking singer Robbie Williams.
According to Peace Journalism magazine , UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Clay Aiken recently concluded a trip to Afghanistan (watch video, second video) and heralds the progress being made in children's education.
"As a former teacher I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when given the opportunity to learn," said Aiken, who spent five days visiting schools in Kabul and Bamyan in the central region of Afghanistan. "Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its partners have made to keep that hope flourishing."
Traveling with Aiken were UNICEF country representative for Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue and his high school teacher Mary Props. "The people here are very strong and they are very proud of their country," Aiken told reporters in Kabul, praising the "strength and conviction of the Afghan people and their ability to make sure that this country returns to its glory after such a long darkness."
While in the capital city of Kabul, Aiken, who was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in 2004, visited schools that have implemented programs meant to ensure all children regardless of gender receive an education. While in Bamyan, Aiken visited a health clinic and women's literacy center where many women learn how to read and write and experience formal education for the first time. The literacy program is one of UNICEF's priority projects for the empowerment of women in Afghanistan.
Aiken also visited water and sanitation programs as well as a program that reintegrates former child soldiers into mainstream society. You can read more about his trip and an interview with him in his hometown paper.
FROPATROL HOMECOMING TOUR
Season 6 finalist Chris Sligh and his band, Half Past Forever, are doing a mini tour.
Apr 28 2007 Wild Wings Spartanburg Spartanburg, S.C.
Apr 30 2007 The Handlebar Greenville, S.C. Ticket info
May 2 2007 Seacoast Greenville Greenville, S.C.
May 4 2007 Seacoast Church Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
May 5 2007 Seacoast Church Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
May 6 2007 Seacoast Church Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
May 11 2007 Timmons Arena Greenville, S.C. Ticket info
May 27 2007 Freedom Weekend Aloft Simpsonville, S.C.
May 28 2007 Freedom Weekend Aloft Simpsonville, S.C.
Hard-core Sligh fans can download the event poster here.
SANJAYA'S GANJAYA MOM
The National Enquirer and TMZ.com gleefully report that Sanjaya Malakar 's American-born mother, Jillian Blyth, was busted in Pierce County, Wash., in February 2005 after neighbors reported smelling marijuana and noticed a large vent on the garage roof, according to court records.
When sheriff 's deputies arrived to investigate, they discovered 310 marijuana plants and growing lights in the gargage, along with Sanjaya's then 17-year-old sister Shyamali. Power company records also showed the garage was gobbling electricity. Shyamali, who was arrested for possession, told officers that her mom was at another location in nearby Federal Way -- and when the cops got there, they found a second dope-growing operation, where they arrested Blith and her husband, Charles Quist (Sanjaya's stepdad).
Momjaya could have gone to jail for up to five years after pleading guilty to one felony count of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, but got off with a relatively mellow 30-day sentence.
HATE TO SEE YOU GO, NOT
Speaking on Sanjaya, whose father hails from India, according to The Associated Press, Indians were relieved to see him go (was it something his mother said -- or did?). While his goofy hairstyles and lackluster singing might have captivated millions of Americans, his quirky appeal never resonated among Indians. And though the end of his run was front-page news in India, his exit was not mourned. Here are some sample headlines:
"Sanjaya is voted off American Idol - he's the only one weeping" –The Indian Express
"Finally, Sanjaya sings his way out of Idol" - Times of India
Indians never connected with Malakar, said Poonam Saxena, television critic for The Hindustan Times. "He'll be forgotten I'm sure, unless he does something else big. Why would anyone remember him?" she said, dismissing the 17 year-old as "a spunky kid."
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