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Beauty With Attitude

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    New Miss & Teen queens were crowned this past weekend. They will represent their states in their respective pageants (Miss USA 2014 & Miss Teen USA 2014)

    Miss Georgia USA 2014 is Tiana Griggs from Monticello.

    Miss Georgia Teen USA is Noelle Hughley, 17, from Lithonia.

    Miss Illinois USA 2014 is Alexis Atkins, 20, from Champaign.

    Miss Illinois Teen USA 2014 is Miranda Fenzau, 17, from Orland Park.

    Miss Massachusetts USA 2014 is Caroline Lunny, 22, from Holliston

    Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 2014 is Bailey Medeiros, 16.

    Miss North Dakota USA 2014 is Audra Mari, 20, of Fargo.

    Miss North Dakota Teen USA 2014 is Josie Hettich.

    Miss Oklahoma USA 2014 is Brooklynme Young, 18, from Tulsa.

    Miss Oklahoma Teen USA 2014 is Brooklynne Bond.

    Miss South Carolina USA 2014 is Christina Zapolski, 21, from Charleston.

    Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2014 is K. Lee Graham, 16, from Chapin.

    Miss Vermont USA 2014 is Gina Bernasconi, 19, of Underhill.

    Miss Vermont Teen USA 2014 is Madison Cota, 17, from Bellows Falls.

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         Miss World/Trinidad and Tobago 2013 Shereece Villafana has been stripped of her crown.
    A press release yesterday from the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago Organisation, headed by director Athalia Samuel stated: “This dethronement has become necessary as a result of unsettling reports brought to the attention of the organisation.
    “These reports concern conduct that is not in keeping with the high moral and ethical obligations the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago Organisation strives to maintain,” the release stated.
    Shereece Villafana
    Shereece Villafana
    When contacted by the Express, Samuel confirmed that Villafana, who represented T&T at the Miss World Pageant a month ago at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre in Bali, Indonesia, was formally released from her responsibilities as Trinidad and Tobago’s Miss World representative.
    Samuel said the decision to strip Villafana of her crown came after the organisation received a letter from the Office of the Prime Minister informing them that Villafana received $200,000 in sponsorship money to help with preparations for the Miss World pageant.
    Samuel said Villafana received the money without informing the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago Organisation.
    “Prior to leaving for the pageant, I asked various agencies and organisations for sponsorship and every time I asked for assistance they would respond that they already gave money, which I found to be strange because we never received any money,” said Samuel.
    “I didn’t know what they were talking about and at times I felt embarrassed because I had no knowledge of receiving any of the monies they said they gave. I eventually questioned Shereece about receiving any monies, which she denied.
    “Eventually, we received sponsorship through various events, as well as from a company in London who eventually paid for our airfare, hotel accommodation and spending money.
    “Before we left to go to Miss World in Indonesia, there was some disturbing information that we were aware of but we were not able to confirm anything before leaving. After initially denying that she received $200,000 from the Office of the Prime Minister, Shereece eventually admitted during our recent post-mortem meeting to receiving the money after I showed her the letter from the Office of the Prime Minister.
    “Her reply was, ‘So what, everybody tells lies’.
    “What Shereece did was dishonest and embarrassing to the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago Organisation. She has to account for the money she received. The contract clearly tells you that all monies that you receive should be handed over to the organiser, that is the person responsible for your affairs and getting you prepared for the pageant,” Samuel said.
    “We still have people to pay for her dress and so forth and little tokens that the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago Organisation wants to send out for the people who helped us.”
    When contacted, Villafana had no comment to make on the matter.
    Source:, Nov. 26, 2013

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     By Catherine A. Traywick
         In the Chinese region of Xinjiang, home to a large population of the country's Muslim Uighur minority, government workers are encouraging women to cast off their headscarves in the name of good looks. Called "Project Beauty," the government-backed campaign has reportedly taken over the streets of Kashgar, one of the few cities in China where a significant number of women don the veil for religious reasons. De facto beauty police staff street-side stalls and single out veiled women, recording their images with a surveillance camera and even making them watch a re-education film "about the joys of exposing their faces."
         The effort is an underhanded campaign to put beauty ideals to work in the name of national security. States have long tried to restrict the veil among Muslim women, often through formal decree. But China is taking something of a soft-power approach and telling China's Muslim women to unveil and show their pretty faces.
         What isn't said is that the true aim of that campaign is to make it easier to track members of a restive minority group.
        China's ruling party has tried to ban veiling at various points in its history, but its policies on the practice have come under scrutiny amid charges by human rights groups that the government is carrying out a campaign of religious repression and persecution against Uighurs. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have fingered Xinjiang's Uighur population as a potential hotbed of Islamic extremism and terrorism. Uighurs counter that China's anti-terrorism laws disproportionately target Muslims. The ensuing tension has resulted in violent clashes in recent years and the poisonous relations between the Chinese government and Uighurs took a sharp turn for the worse in October when Uighurs were blamed for a deadly attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. 
         The question of Uighur women's right to wear a veil is one among several points of contention. In 2011, notices prohibiting the practice began popping up in Muslim cities in Western China,according to the AP. The campaign's stated aim was to rid the country of the "abnormal phenomenon ... of minority ethnic women and youth wearing Arabian dress, growing beards, and covering their faces in veils." In 2013, Radio Free Asia reported that a Uighur woman in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, was evicted from her rental apartment for wearing a veil. Chinese authorities haven't been particularly forthcoming about the state's anti-veiling policies, often claiming to be are unaware of such edicts, or declining to comment on the matter altogether. But officials in Xinjiang have been found to keep detailed records of Muslim Uighurs, which include notes about who wears a veil and who doesn't.
         At least six countries have banned or limited veiling in public spheres -- France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Tunisia -- usually on grounds of state secularism. China, by contrast, aims to regulate Muslim dress in large part as a counter-terrorism measure. The obvious implication is that the mere practice of Islam represents a threat to national security, an argument China's Uighurs understandably haven't taken to kindly. The government's counterterror initiative is seen among Uighurs as an attempt to dilute and homogenize their culture. In trying to bring the province's separatist movement to heel, the Chinese government has demolished historic sites and restricted religious freedom in Xinjiang. What the Chinese government views as a campaign to subdue a restive region, Uighurs see as a war on their culture.
         And "Project Beauty" can certainly be viewed though that lens. The campaign plays on the familiar notion that beauty is more valuable to women than other facets of their identities, including religious belief. A woman focused on her appearance, the logic goes, is hardly a threat to the state. What better way to politically neutralize women, after all, than to call upon an approach tried and tested by politicians, advertisers, and husbands for hundreds of years?
    Source:, Nov. 26, 2013

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    STRIPPED beauty queen Sherrece Villafana (photo) broke her silence yesterday to accuse pageant director, Athaliah Samuel, of being a bully who withheld funding from sponsors for the 2013 Miss World Pageant in September.

    Villafana has been accused by Samuel of failing to hand over $200,000 sponsored by the Sport and Culture Fund of the Office of the Prime Minister. 

    She was stripped of her crown last week and, after a mostly silent response to Samuel’s statements against her, Villafana issued a press release from the office of her attorney in Port of Spain denying the allegations and claiming a portion of the money was given to Samuel.

    Villafana painted a picture of a nightmarish preparation period, during which she alleged she was threatened by a male acquaintance of Samuel when she refused to sign over a percentage of her earnings.

    She said working with a certain pageant official “was one of the most horrendous and traumatic experiences I have ever had in my life and never have I been bullied and threatened to the extent of crying all night and being scared,” the 19-year-old Villafana stated.

    Villafana said she did in fact apply to the PM’s Office for funding on her own and received a cheque in her name for $200,000, two weeks before the event in Indonesia.

    After receiving the funds, she claimed she was forced to transfer $45,000 of the monies into a pageant official’s account at First Citizens, Independence Square, “for which I have the transfer slip and bank statement”.

    Villafana said it is her understanding that past representatives, including Samuel, also personally accepted Government funding, which was spent on pageant necessities.

    “At no time was I obligated to Ms Samuel or the Miss Trinidad and Tobago Pageant Company to give them part of the funding that I personally applied for from the Sports and Culture Fund, to put my wardrobe and self together and for which I was accountable,” Villafana said.

    She further claimed to have heard of other funding being collected by Samuel as pageant director, to which she, Villafana, was not given access, including funds from the Tourism Development Company (TDC) and the Office of the Mayor of San Fernando.

    The former Miss T&T said Samuel gave her two dresses, from designer Peter Elias and the Carnaby Street clothing chain, but nothing else.

    Villafana said she, along with friends, acquired the clothing, accessories and other supplies she felt she needed for the pageant and a 30-day stay in Indonesia, with the remaining money from the Sport and Culture Fund. 

    “I have receipts and bills to account for all of these items,” Villafana stated.

    “I did not give any monies to any committee members but instead asked them to assist in putting my wardrobe together which I paid for from the funds, my bank records will show exactly how I spent the funds.”

    She also claimed Samuel told her “everything had been cancelled” three hours before they were due to board a flight to London, en route to Indonesia.

    “One hour later she called back telling me to meet her at the airport,” Samuel said.

    While in London, Villafana claimed she was threatened and bullied every day by a T&T pageant official and a gentleman claiming to be the official’s attorney to sign a contract, saying it was part of the Miss World requirement.

    “When I refused to sign, the gentleman told me, ‘I know where you live and I know your family and I will deal with them’. I was scared and did not know what to do, as this was my first time out of Trinidad.”
    Villafana said she eventually refused to sign the document and claimed the pageant official harassed her daily while in Indonesia.

    “This was all added pressure placed on me during an already high-pressure competition,” Villafana said.
     She added that Samuel who asked to become a chaperone during the show was “constantly pushing herself into the spotlight with the other girls, as if she were a contestant”.

    Samuel did not return calls by the Express for a comment.

    Source: Trinidad Express, 11/28/2013

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    Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski poses with Ekaterina Buraya of Belarus, Miss Supranational 2012, during the press conference of the Miss Supranational 2013 pageant in Minsk, Belarus.

         A reliable source informed Critical Beauty that Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski, the Polish producer, host and launch partner of World Beauty Association (WBA), the Panamanian-based company that owns and produces the Miss Supranational pageant, has failed to distribute the cash prizes for the 2013 winner, Mutya Datul, and her runners-up. This information was sent via e-mail to all license holders by WBA Chief Operating Officer, Marc Russell, dated November 15, 2013. WBA is now considering a possible class action against von Lipinski, who heads his company called Nowa Scena, This source then forwarded the e-mail to Critical Beauty.

    Tryny Marcela Yandar Lobón & von Lipinski

         The e-mail also reveals that von Lipinski pretended to be WBA President 
    Tryny Marcela Yandar Lobón when he wrote a circular e-mail to all license holders on October 17, 2013. The e-mail looked suspicious as it had been written from a different e-mail address that Yandar Lobón never had.

    Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski (front row, third from left) eyeing a contestant during the swimsuit preliminaries of Miss Polski 2013 pageant last June in Poland.

           Russell's e-mail also mentioned Edwin Dominguez, the national director of Panama. Russell states that Dominguez does not work for WBA. Russell writes:  "We assume that our National Director from Panama will wake up from his frivolous mistake to assist Mr Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski when seeing the poor financial statements of Nowa Scena since 2010."[I don't quite understand what Russell is saying, but it seems to suggest that he wishes that Dominguez should have reported von Lipinski immediately to WBA after having seen Nowa Scena's near-bankrupt situation in 2010.]

    Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski and Panama's national director Edwin Dominguez. Date & location of photo unknown.

          Russell's e-mail ends with a note of disappointment, accusing von Lipinski of behaving"greedy and dubious at the end of our 5-yrs launch and regret the damage our clean and superb brand may suffer"- and a little bit of optimism:"We will do our best to get the situation under control and will inform you about our owners’ next exciting steps."

         We'll see about that.

    Photos from Miss Supranational website and Gerhard Parzutka von Lipinski's Facebook page.

    By Rafa Delfin

    ***Updated: November 30, 2013. Per readers' request, we are publishing Marc Russell's email here. Judge for yourself.

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    Lawsuit: Ashleigh Blake, 21, pictured, from Tracy in Northern California, filed a suit Wednesday against the Miss Universe Organization, which she alleges is rife with sexual deviants who prey on unsuspecting young women 

    A Miss Universe pageant hopeful is suing the organization co-owned by Donald Trump, claiming a recruiter asked her to give him oral sex in exchange for fast-tracking her modelling career.

    Ashleigh Blake, 21, from Tracy in Northern California, filed a suit Wednesday against the Miss Universe Organization, which she alleges is rife with sexual deviants who prey on unsuspecting young women.

    She claims Miss California USA recruiter Domingo Rodriguez lured her to a Starbucks parking lot with promises to land her modeling jobs and magazine covers. But when she met him in his car he allegedly explained that her end of the bargain involved giving him 'sexual favors.'

    Blake says she burst into tears and ran from the car. 

    She says she went straight to the Tracy Police Department but was told she couldn't file criminal charges against Rodriquez because the recruiter didn't force her to perform the sex act.

    So she's suing the Miss Universe Organization claiming it knowingly hires 'scam artists' who lure young women with false promises of modeling contracts and fame. Blake is seeking at least $200,000 in damages according to TMZ.

    According to Jezebel, Blake was an amateur model and part-time tutor who fantasized about being a movie star or one of the Glee team when she was contacted out of the blue by the Miss California USA recruiter in November 2012.

    She responded right away to his request to schedule a meeting.

    'I didn't expect them to pick me in a million years,' Ashleigh said in a YouTube video to raise awareness of the scam. 'When they did, I thought it was the start of my dreams coming true.'

    After filling out an online application, she was invited to an interview session with Rodriquez and a handful of other girls at a hotel near her home.

    They watched a promotional video and had one-on-one interviews, during which he told Blake he'd help find her sponsors to pay the $895 non-refundable application fee.

    Surprised: Blake, a 5ft 8in model was surprised when she was contacted by the Miss California USA recruiter to apply for the MUO pageant

    'Basically, I had to give him head and other "sexual favors" if I wanted to be on the cover of the magazine,' she said on YouTube. 

    He said that this was simply the 'fast track' that 90 per cent of all successful actors and models had done to get to the top and her path to fame would be guaranteed if she did the same.

    He then asked her to 'prove herself' right there in the Starbucks parking lot.

    When she looked upset, he let her out of the car and told her to think about his offer. She told the police, who said it was a civil rather than criminal case because he didn't force her to do anything. She also approached Keith Lewis, the State Director for Miss California USA. 

    She said he told Blake in an email that he was horrified by her experience and would remedy the situation, but advised her to keep her story under wraps.

    Rodriguez confirmed to Jezebel in March that he had met Blake in his car outside of a Tracy Starbucks to impart his knowledge about making it in modelling. 

    'She told me she would do whatever it takes, and now she's throwing my help in her face,' he told Jezebel. 
    He denied that he personally requested a blow job, but said that he told her he knew of a magazine where 'young ladies can get on the cover if they do some type of sexual favors with the people at the magazine.' 
    He said he had offered the same option to other aspiring models and at least one who took up the offer was 'doing very well.'

    'This is character assassination and it's a shame because I've helped a lot of people in the past.' he said. 
    He said he only met with Blake because she said she couldn't afford the fee for Miss California USA. 
    'The pageant industry is expensive for young ladies,' he said. 'I feel bad for those who dream about it but financially can't make it happen.'

    Source: New Jersey News Day, 11/27/13

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  • 12/01/13--07:46: New Gabon queens for 2014

  • Two new queens for Gabon were crowned November 30th in Libreville.

    Maggaly Nguema, 21, from Libreville, was crowned Miss Gabon Universe 2014. She will compete in Miss Universe 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

    Pulcherie Nze Nzoughe, 24, was crowned Miss World Gabon 2014. She will compete in  Miss World 2014 next November in London, England.

    The reigning Miss Supranational 2013 Mutya Datul was a special guest in the event.

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    New state titleholders were crowned this past weekend. They will all compete in their respective pageants - Miss USA 2014 and Miss Teen USA 2014.

    Miss Alabama USA 2014 is Jesica Ahlberg, 24, of Mountain Brook.

    Miss Alabama Teen USA 2014 is Sarah-Baskin Champion, 17, of Vestavia Hills.

    Miss Arizona USA 2014 is Jordan Wessel, 21, from Tempe.

    Miss Arizona Teen USA 2014 is Samantha Wix, 15, of Paradise Valley.

    Miss Delaware USA 2014 is Kelsey Miller, 22, of Wilmington.

    Miss Delaware Teen USA 2014 is Mia Jones.

    Miss District of Columbia USA 2014 is Ciera Nicole Butts, 23.

    Miss District of Columbia Teen USA 2014 is Dominique Fink.

    Miss Maine USA 2014 is Samantha Dahlborg, 19, of Gorham.

    Miss Maine Teen USA 2014 is Danielle Hurtubise.

    Left: Miss Minnesota USA 2014 is Haley O'Brien, 21, of Victoria. Right: Miss Minnesota Teen USA 2014 is Catherine Stanley of Bloomington.

    Miss Oregon USA 2014 is Emma Pellett.

    Miss Oregon Teen USA 2014 is Alexandra Perry.

    Miss Texas Teen USA 2014 is Kellie Stewart, 17, of Dallas. 
    (Miss Texas USA 2014 Lauren Guzman was crowned in early September)

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  • 12/06/13--20:20: Miss World Kazakhstan 2014

  • Aiday Isaeva, 24,  from Almaty was crowned Miss Kazakhstan 2013 on December 5th, 2013. She will represent Kazakhstan in the Miss World 2014 pageant, scheduled for next November in London, England.

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    Venezuela's Alyz Henrich, 22, was crowned Miss Earth 2013 at the pageant held Saturday, December 7, at the Versailles Alabang in Las Piñas, Philippines. In the above photo, Henrich (flashing the victory sign) is flanked by her court (left to right): Korea's Catharina Choi (Miss Earth Fire 2013), Austria's Katia Wagner (Miss Earth Air 2013), and Thailand's Punika Kulsoontornrut (Miss Earth Water 2013).
    Advancing to top 8 were Kristal Silva (Mexico), Angelee de los Reyes (Philippines), Aleksandra Szczęsna (Poland), and Andjelka Tomasevic (Serbia). 
    Completing the top 16 were Natalia Lermanda (Chile), Lisa Xiang (China), Sophie Garenaux (France), Virginie Dorza (Mauritius), Ashanti Mbanga (South Africa), Cristina Martinez (Spain), Ezgi Avci (Turkey), and Nicolle Velez (USA). 
    Henrich's victory marks the second time Venezuela won the prestigious title (Alexandra Braun won in 2005). The pageant is significant because of its mission to promote environmental awareness to the world. In her Miss Earth profile, Henrich advocates clean water. Henrich's victory also secures Venezuela's position as the most prolific producer of pageant winners; last November 9th, Henrich's compatriot, Maria Gabriela Isler, was crowned Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow.  
    Alyz Henrich

    The Miss Earth 2013 pageant was live streamed and was broadcast in Venezuela via Venevision for the first time. It was also shown on Star World, ABS-CBN, Velvet,  nd The Filipino Channel. If you missed the show, you can watch it on YouTube
    I did see the live stream but the connection during the first half an hour was bad as it froze several times. Miss South Sudan's video introduction did not even pop up. Entertainer David Pomeranz was a total schnoozefest and was completely out of his element. The co-host Oli Pettigrew at one point mistakenly called the pageant "Miss World" but quickly corrected himself. The jury included Lorraine Schuck, executive Vice-President of Carousel Productions which runs the pageant.

    The Spanish-speaking interpreter was an improvement from past ones, and even though he might have botched Miss Venezuela's answer, the judges looked past this discrepancy and awarded her the crown anyway. It was painful to watch Miss Poland stammer in English, but blame the organizers for not having provided a Polish-speaking interpreter.

    The pageant took place at Versailles; no, not the Versailles Palace outside of Paris, France - but a mixed commercial and residential development located south of Metro Manila. It is probably the worst venue from a production perspective; the pool in the middle prevented cameramen from getting decent angles of the contestants positioned in the balcony or on the staircases. Fortunately, none of the girls slipped and fell into the pool, because it certainly would have made the headlines. Oh, well, congratulations to Miss Venezuela and to her court! And to Carousel, please pick a better and more decent venue next year - perhaps outside the Philippines - and get rid of Pettigrew and Pomeranz!
    Versailles Palace - Filipino style
    by Rafa Delfin

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  • 12/07/13--19:28: Miss France 2014

  •  The new Miss France 2014 is Flora Coquerel, 19, Miss Orléans. She was crowned on December 7 at the Zenith in Dijon. The 5'11" student of international commerce will now represent France in Miss World 2014 pageant to be held in London next November.  Her court includes first runner-up Mehiata Riaria, Miss Tahiti; second runner-up Laëtizia Penmellen, Miss Provence; third runner-up  Aurianne Sinacola, Miss Côte d’Azur; and fourth runner-up Chloé Deher, Miss Guadeloupe.

    Miss Orléans and Miss Tahiti were running neck and neck in the competition. The judges and the public got to select the top 5 finalists. The judges picked Miss Tahiti as the winner, whereas the public chose Miss Orleans as the winner. Eventually, the public was given the ultimate saying and it chose Miss Orleans as Miss France 2014. 

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    New Dutch queens were crowned last Sunday in Amsterdam. Tatjana Maul, 25 (left), is Miss World Netherlands 2014; she will compete in Miss World 2014 to be held in London, England next November. Yasmin Verheijen, 19 (right), will travel to Fortaleza, Brazil to compete in Miss Universe 2014.

    Tatjana Maul

    Yasmin Verheijen

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    Ada Sztajerowska, 21, was crowned Miss Polski 2014 in the city of Plock, on December 8. She will represent Poland in Miss World 2014 pageant to be held in London next November..  The first runner-up was Paulina Maslanka and the second runner-up was Anna Pabis.

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    Two more new state titleholders were crowned this past weekend. They will all compete in their respective pageants - Miss USA 2014 and Miss Teen USA 2014.

    Miss Pennsylvania USA 2014 is Valerie Gatto, 24, of Pittsburgh.

    Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2014 is Sydney Robertson, 16, of Williamsport.

    Valerie Gatto and Sydney Robertson

    Miss Alaska USA 2014 is Kendall Bautista, 21, of Eagle River.

    Miss Alaska Teen USA 2014 is Whitney Williams, 17, of Anchorage.

    Whitney Williams and Kendall Bautista

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    Left: Carmen Lechin's mugshot  / Right: As Miss Venezuela 1984, Carmen Maria Montiel

         A former Miss Venezuela faces federal charges after she allegedly got drunk on an international flight, assaulted a male flight attendant and the crew had to turn the plane around and go home.
         Carmen Lechin, Miss Venezuela in 1984 and runner-up in that year’s Miss Universe pageant, was sentenced to two years probation in Eagle County (Colorado) after an incident on Christmas Eve 2011 resulted charges of eluding a police officer, harassment, driving under the influence and domestic violence.
         Her probation was transferred to Houston, where she lives, according to court records. Texas authorities say drinking on that United flight from Houston to Bogota, Colombia, violated her probation, and she was back in Eagle County court this past month.
         Carmen Lechin, 48, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston on federal charges of interfering with a flight crew attendant, stemming from the incident on that United flight to Bogota. That trial is scheduled for Jan. 27 in Houston. After that’s finished, she’ll be returned to Eagle County to deal with her probation violations.
    Return flight
         On June 6, Carmen Lechin was on a United airlines flight from Houston to Bogota, Colombia.
         According to the federal indictment, Lechin “knowingly and unlawfully intimidated flight attendant Samuel Oliver by creating a disturbance in flight through her abusive language, assaultive behavior and her refusal to comply with directions, instructions and warnings.”
         Sources close to the incident say Carmen Lechin was intoxicated, and kicking and screaming so much that the pilots turned the plane around and returned to Houston. FBI agents were called out to meet the plane, said Special Agent Shauna Dunlap, with the FBI’s Houston office.
         The next day, June 7, Carmen Lechin’s Texas probation officer filed a complaint alleging that Carmen Lechin had violated her probation, citing the federal charges and her drinking. Terms of Lechin’s probation prohibited her using alcohol and drugs and stipulated she have no new violations of law.
         Carmen Maria Montiel Avila won the Miss Venezuela title in 1984 as a 20-year-old. On July 9, 1984, she represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe pageant in Miami, where she finished as second runner-up.
    Eagle County connection
         On Christmas Eve 2011, Eagle County sheriff’s deputies were summoned to a Beaver Creek condo by Carmen Lechin’s husband, Alex, who said she smacked him in the head.
         She was already free on bond for a similar incident on Thanksgiving 2011, and her Christmas Eve drinking ran counter to the conditions of her bond, the police report said.
         Carmen Lechin got in a blue Hummer H3, while intoxicated and headed east up Interstate 70.
         Eagle County Sheriff’s Master Deputy Gianni Robinson was in the Beaver Creek condo talking with Alex Lechin, when Carmen Lechin called Alex’s cell phone.
         Alex Lechin pleaded with his wife to return to the condo and speak to the police, the report says. Then, Robinson took a crack at it, using Alex’s cell phone to ask Carmen Lechin to stop where she was, so another officer could have a word with her, the report says.
         Carmen Lechin yelled into the phone that she was not stupid, “because she knows that she is just going to jail if she stops,” she reportedly said.
    Alex and Carmen Lechin during happier days / Photo: Paper City Magazine, Houston
         Just 17 minutes after sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Lechin’s Beaver Creek condo, they spotted the blue Hummer Carmen Lechin was driving on I-70. Carmen Lechin did not respond to the lights and sirens the deputies were running as they chased her, police said. She didn’t stop and, deputies said, screamed into the cell phone that she wasn’t going to.
         Sheriff’s deputies were joined by Avon police, Vail police and the Colorado State Patrol. They stretched a “spike strip” across the highway (one of those rubber strips with big nails sticking up which puncture holes in tires).
         They’re awfully effective, and blew out Alex Lechin’s two front tires.
         But Carmen Lechin was true to her word and kept driving, weaving back and forth across the eastbound lane, and when a State Patrol trooper pulled up beside her she might have tried to run into the trooper’s car, they say.
         She finally did stop and was arrested.
         Carmen Lechin was charged with assault, causing an injury and domestic violence.
         She was sentenced to two years probation, which Texas authorities say she violated by getting drunk on the United Flight to Bogata.
         Carmen Lechin and her husband, Alex Eduardo Lechin, filed for divorce in Houston.
    Source: Vail Daily, Colorado, 12/10/13

    Carmen Maria Montiel was 2nd runner-up in Miss Universe 1984 pageant

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    Ikumi Yoshimatsu became Japan's first Miss International when she won the title in Japan in December 2012.

    In Japan’s often-shady entertainment world, speaking out against bullying, harassment and stalking of women by talent agency management and producers has long been taboo.
    Any woman who stands her ground and goes public risks being shunned from the industry.
    But one woman has decided not to back down.
    The current Miss International, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, filed criminal and civil charges Wednesday against one of Japan’s most powerful talent agencies’ executives for stalking her and attempting to ruin her career. The harassment began shortly after Yoshimatsu became the first Japanese to win the title in the pageant’s 52-year history and then refused to sign up with a problematic talent agency.
    “Today I filed criminal charges against Genichi Taniguchi, a Japanese talent agency executive, who in December of last year grabbed me, forced his way into my dressing room and tried to abduct me,” Yoshimatsu said.
    “Since then, he has intimidated my family, sent private detectives to my home, tried to extort money from me and my company, slandered me in the press and has made threatening calls to my family, sponsors and business associates.”
    Taniguchi is president of Pearl Dash and an executive at K-Dash, the talent agency that handles such luminaries as Ken Watanabe, who co-starred in the blockbusters “The Last Samurai” and “Batman Begins.”
    Yoshimatsu has attached to the criminal complaint tape recordings, videos and photographs detailing the stalking. She has been documenting the attacks toward her on the advice of her lawyer and others.
    According to the criminal complaint and other sources, the trouble started last December, when Yoshimatsu amicably decided to leave her agency at the time and establish her own company. In the middle of that month, at what was supposed to be a meeting with her management at the time, former K-1 fight promoter Kazuyoshi Ishii, who has been convicted of tax evasion and destruction of evidence, abruptly entered the room and made his own proposal.
    He had several times suggested in the past that she work with Taniguchi, who is a close personal friend of Ikuo Suo, chairman of Burning Productions, Japan’s most powerful talent agency.
    At that meeting, Ishii allegedly urged Yoshimatsu to sign with an entertainment agency affiliated with Burning Productions. She adamantly refused, noting the Burning group was long rumored to be affiliated with the yakuza. Indeed, police files that were leaked on the Internet in 2007 list the firm as a client of the Yamaguchi-gumi.
    She left the meeting and founded her own company, IY Global. She chose Matt Taylor as her international agent to secure overseas work.
    On Dec. 30, after filming finished on NTV’s yearend special “Bankisha!” she was shocked to find that Taniguchi, whom she had never met, had entered the set using a pass for a different show. He immediately began shouting accusations and creating a scene. He claimed that Taylor did not represent Yoshimatsu and that the two owed him money. At one point, he allegedly grabbed Yoshimatsu’s arm and forcibly tried to pull her out of the studio. A tape recording and pictures of the incident corroborate her account.
    The staff rushed Yoshimatsu into a waiting room, but Taniguchi reportedly kept chasing her. In the months that followed, Taniguchi warned her family and friends that he might bring a locksmith and break into her house to take possession of money that he insisted Taylor owed him. He also allegedly hired private detectives to watch her house.
    Ikumi Yoshimatsu
    Taylor has acknowledged that he has had problems with Taniguchi but points out, “Do his issues with me justify him attacking my client and harassing her? Is that acceptable in Japan to victimize a woman out of a personal grudge? He has also demanded I turn over her contract to him. It’s bizarre.”
    Taniguchi repeatedly called sponsors of the Miss International Contest and alleged that he would release materials shaming Yoshimatsu and the contest. The International Culture Association, which operates the Miss International competition in Japan, allegedly responded by telling Yoshimatsu last month that they wanted her to keep a low profile, feign illness and not attend the succession ceremony where she was supposed to turn over her crown. The executive briefing her reportedly told her they were afraid of Taniguchi and wanted to avoid scandal. While acknowledging that Yoshimatsu was a victim of a harassment campaign, he reportedly made it clear they would prefer she did not stand up on her own behalf.
    After deciding she could keep silent no longer, Yoshimatsu consulted a lawyer and filed for charges of criminal obstruction of business with the police and a claim for damages in civil court.
    “I filed charges not just for my personal benefit, but to voice my concern and outrage on behalf of all the women who could not call for help, out of fear of retaliation and being ignored in a society where a ‘culture of silence’ toward crimes against women has been the standard for centuries,” Yoshimatsu said.
    “Stalking is a serious issue in Japan and several women have been killed by stalkers even after consulting with the police.”
    Japan’s largest weekly magazine, the Shukan Bunshun, is set to publish a four-page article Thursday on the lawsuit documenting the details of how Yoshimatsu was harassed by Taniguchi. It is questionable if the mainstream media will follow up on the story due to the tremendous power of the talent agencies.
    Most Japanese publications and media avoid offending the agencies for fear of losing access to “tarento” and other celebrities.
    Calls made to K-Dash and Pearl Dash were not returned. In the Shukan Bunshun article, Taniguchi admits to entering the “Bankisha!” set but denies any other wrongdoing.
    Tape recordings of various incidents and of phone calls he made to people associated with Yoshimatsu contradict his account substantially.
    Taniguchi told The Japan Times: “Yes, I just happened to be visiting the set of ‘Bankisha!’ but I did not harass Ms. Yoshimatsu. I’m no stalker. I called her father at least twice to try and reach her manager to solve my financial dispute with him. I have no grudge against her and Bunshun’s article is very wrong.”
    Source: Japan Times, 12/11/13

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    Colombia's María Alejandra López, 19, was crowned Reina Hispanoamericana 2013 in the sixth edition of the pageant that took place in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on December 12. She was crowned by last year's winner from Haiti, Sarodj Bertin.

    Her court includes Virreina Yaritza Reyes of the Dominican Republic (she was in Top 10 at Miss Universe 2013), 1st runner-up Gabriela Graf of Venezuela, 2nd runner-up María José Barrena Medel of Chile, 3rd runner-up Gabriela Prieto Díaz of Mexico, 4th runner-up Suzette Rivera Sanes of Puerto Rico, 5th runner-up Guadalupe González Talavera of Paraguay, and 6th runner-up Claudia Tavel Antelo of Bolivia. The pageant is owned and organized by Promociones Gloria company. Twenty-three young women from Spanish-speaking countires

    López's victory marks the third time that a woman from Colombia has won the crown. María Rocío Stevenson was the first winner in 2001 and Diana Milena Cepeda was the second in 2005.

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    Ekaterina Plekhova (center) 23, of St. Petersburg, Russia was crowned Miss Intercontinental 2013 in Maritim Hall, Maritim Hotel Magdeburg, MagdeburgGermany on December 14. Her court includes 1st runner-up Aleyda Ortiz of Puerto Rico (left) and 2nd runner-up Margarita Peralta of Colombia (right). The 3rd runner-up is Koreen Medina of the Philippines and the 4th runner-up is Kayla Nel of South Africa. Plekhova was crowned by last year's winner from Venezuela, Daniela Chalbaud.

    Completing the top fifteen were the delegates from Argentina, Costa Rica, Curacao, England, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, and Thailand.

    The Continental Queens were Miss Russia (Miss Intercontinental Europe), Miss Philippines (Miss Intercontinental Asia & Oceania), Miss Colombia (Miss Intercontinental South America), Miss Puerto Rico (Miss Intercontinental North America), and Miss South Africa (Miss Intercontinental Africa).

    Plekhova's victory marks Russia's first time to win the coveted crown. Almost 60 young women competed in this year's edition of the pageant.

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    Bea Rose Santiago of the Philippines walks on stage after being crowned Miss International 2013 in Tokyo on Tuesday. Representatives from 67 countries and regions from all over the world took part in the pageant. Photo by Yuya Shino, Reuters

         The Philippines'Bea Rose Santiago was crowned Miss International 2013 on Tuesday, adding to the string of victories of fellow beauty queens in the country. The four-hour finals night of the 53rd Miss International pageant was held at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Tokyo, Japan, gathering over 60 candidates from around the world. Placing second to Santiago is Netherland's Nathalie den Dekker, followed by New Zealand's Casey Radley. Completing the Top 5 were Colombia's Cindy Aguilar and Hungary's Brigitta Otvos.

         For the final round, the remaining five contestants each gave a 30-second speech on the subject, "What I will do if I am crowned Miss International." 

    Nathalie den Dekker, Bea Rose SantiagoCasey Radley

         "The whole world saw how my country suffered," Santiago said, referring to the devastation caused by super typhoon "Yolanda" in parts of central Philippines. "One by one, other countries helped. I would like to thank who helped my country in our darkest hours. You have opened my heart and eyes on what we can do to help each other. If I become Miss International, I would uphold international camaraderie. I will work to sustain the spirit of sympathy and spirit of hope. As long as we work together, there is hope."

          One of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the Philippines, and said to be the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall, "Yolanda" killed at least 6,000 and injured over 27,000 after it hit central Philippines on November 8. At least 3.4 million families or 16 million individuals were affected by the typhoon, with 4 million people displaced.

    Bea Rose Santiago's official swimsuit photo / Miss International Organization

         Before leaving for the pageant two weeks ago, Santiago said she would dedicate her stint in Tokyo to the Filipinos who were affected by the typhoon. "For me, what they need the most now is probably happiness," she said at the time. "And if I win, if I make it, that will bring happiness to them, to make them more proud and happy this Christmas."

         "Iyon ang gusto kong ipakita sa mga tao -- na the Philippines, no matter what happens to us, kahit na bagyo man tayo... I'm going to bring the storm in Japan, that's what I'm going to do," she said.

         With Santiago's victory, the Philippines now boasts of five Miss International winners. Before the Masbate-born beauty, Filipinas who took home the title were Precious Lara Quigaman (2005), Melanie Marquez (1979), Aurora Pijuan (1970), and Gemma Cruz (1964).

         The country remains second to Venezuela, which has the most number of Miss International titles with six.
    The Philippines is on a roll when it comes to beauty pageants this year, led by the country’s first ever Miss World win courtesy of Megan Young.

         Ariella Arida finished third runner-up in the Miss Universe 2013 pageant, while Mutya Datul was crowned Miss Supranational. On top of these, the Philippines also placed in several other pageants this year, such as Miss Grand International, Miss Intercontinental, Mr. International and Miss Teen Expoworld.

         Santiago, who is the last Philippine delegate to compete in a major international pageant this year, earlier expressed confidence that the country has "saved the best for last."

         "I want to give a merry Christmas to the Philippines. I want to close the pageant this year with a slam," said Santiago.

    Source: ABS-CBS News, December 17, 2013

    Watch Bea Rose Santiago's winning moment

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    Rejane Goulart (née Rejane Vieira Costa), Miss Brazil 1972 and first runner-up in Miss Universe 1972, passed away on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2013). Rejane was preparing Christmas dinner at home in Rio de Janeiro when she felt a sharp pain in her head, fell and lost consciousness. Her son Rodrigo Goulart tried to apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but her pulse stopped. She was rushed to the hospital where she was briefly resuscitated, but eventually was declared brain dead by the doctors. The former beauty queen and actress had been recovering from a leg surgery. 

    Rejane is the third ex-Miss Brazil who died this year. Katia Celestino (1976) died of cancer on April 29th at the age of 56. Adalgisa Colombo (1958), who placed second in Miss Universe 1958, died on January 17 at the age of 73 of unknown causes.

    Rejane with Miss Universe 1972 Kerry Ann Wells of Australia
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    Rejane competing in the swimsuit segment of Miss Universe 1972 pageant in Puerto Rico
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