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• THE NEW MISS TOURISM INTERNATIONAL is Malaysia’s Aileen Gabriella Robinson (photo, center), 22, who was crowned during the grand final held at the Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa on December 31st. The crowning of Miss Tourism International was telecast live over RTM1, and witnessed by thousands of revelers at Dataran Merdeka, prior to the 2012 countdown. Celebrating its 15th Anniversary, the Miss Tourism International is unique in the sense since it is the only New Year Eve’s Pageant to be held in the world and it also culminates to the biggest countdown, with delegates from 54 countries welcoming a brand new year. The pageant is a platform to promote tourism for the hosting country and at the same time to promote peace, goodwill, and friendship among participating countries. Robinson's court includes four other finalists who were each given a specific title: 1st runner-up and Miss Tourism Metropolitan International Carolina Del Carmen Brid Cerrud (Panama, 2nd from left), 2nd runner-up and Miss Tourism Global Patsaraporn Khonkhamhaeng (Thailand, 2nd from right), 3rd runner-up and Miss Cosmopolitan International Amanda Leong Li Ting (Singapore, furthest left) and 4th runner-up Dream girl of the Year International Jana Kopecka (Czech Republic, furthest right). (The Borneo Post, 1/2/2012)

      Robinson's victory marks Malaysia's first ever Miss Tourism International crown in the 15-year history of the pageant. Robinson was the 1st runner-up in Miss Universe Malaysia 2012 pageant that was held last month.

• THE NEW MISS TOURISM QUEEN INTERNATIONAL is Kantapat Peeradachainarin of Thailand who was crowned on December 27 in Xi’an, China. Her court includes 1st runner-up Jeanine Castro of Fernando de Noronha, 2nd runner-up Mariia Ovechkina of Belarus, 3rd runner-up Wang Lu of China and 4th runner-up Nelly Kamwelu of Tanzania. The semi-finalists were the delegates from India, Canada, Namibia, Bolivia, and Portugal, and the quarter-finalists came from Brazil, Russia, Sri Lanka, Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Venezuela, Australia, South Africa, Czech Republic and China (South).

• NEW MISS UNIVERSE ENTRANT : The West African country of Gabon, a former French colony, will send its first representative to Miss Universe pageant in 2012. Marie-Noelle Ada Meyo, 21, who represented the province of Ngouniéa, was crowned as the first ever Miss Universe Gabon during a festive gala held on December 29th in the capital city of Libreville. The pageant was attended by Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes who crowned Meyo. Divouvi Channa was the 1st runner-up and Nyangue Cherolle Boubéya was the 2nd runner-up. Photo shows Marie-Noelle and Leila. Watch the entire show.

• THE NEW MISS WEST AFRICA INTERNATIONAL is Vanny Reis, repressenting Cape Verde, who was crowned December 18 at Karaiba Hotel in Banju, Gambia. The 1st runner-up is Yassin Jagne of Gambia and the 2nd runner-up is Stella Bangura of Sierra Leone. The pageant is run by the Miss West Africa Limited which is based in London.

• MISS USA IN MIAMI? The Miss USA pageant, with its rich history of scantily clad women and more recent reputation for steamy scandal, may return to a locale that is known for embracing both. Representatives with Miss Universe, the pageant’s parent company, are entertaining moving the event and its 51 contestants — along with their evening gowns, swimsuits and tear-proof mascara and all — from Las Vegas to South Beach.“We hope it happens,” said Lacey Abbott, director of ACT Productions, a South Florida promoter that approached both Miss Universe and local and regional government officials this month about hosting the pageant in 2012 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. “I think we’re close.”       For now, however, money may be a sticking point.Despite being co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC, pageant representatives have apparently asked that South Florida pony up $1 million in cash and services to help host Miss USA, which would include not only the televised final but film shoots of contestants cavorting around South Beach for three weeks. That number, according to the city, was lowered from an initial request of $3 million, and could be paid from a number of sources, including private sponsors. The city is negotiating through ACT and the local Green modeling agency, said Max Sklar, Miami Beach’s director of tourism and cultural development. Sklar said a deadline imposed by Miss Universe is looming within the next few weeks.

      A Miss Universe spokeswoman described the talks as “preliminary” and said she could not discuss specifics of any negotiations Miami Beach officials met Tuesday and agreed to continue negotiating with the goal of lowering Miss Universe’s cash request to $500,000, which they said would allow the city to seek grants, film reimbursements from the state, and perhaps pay down as much as $250,000 in public money. “If it’s $1 million, I don’t think we’re in the game,” said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez. “But half a million.....” In return, the city says it would receive money from ticket sales, valued as highly as $300,000, and eight minutes of Miami Beach airtime during the June 3, primetime NBC program. Sklar said conservative estimates show the event would also fill about 2,000 hotel rooms.

      Bruce Orosz, owner of ACT Productions, said luring the pageant to Miami Beach would be a score for the hotel industry.“This will put a lot of heads in beds,” he said. “They get thousands of people who want to come and watch the show.”He also said the pageant would mean crucial domestic and international publicity for Miami Beach and South Florida. Nielsen rating show that about 7.4 million American viewers watched this year’s Miss USA.“It would be great to get it back,” said Orosz. “They’re trying to reshape and reimage what is a pageant. They’re trying to make it a little more, let’s call it South Beach.”In recent years, the pageant has been rife with high-profile controversies: 2006 winner Tara Elizabeth Conner was allowed to keep her title after a public promise to complete rehab; 2009’s Miss California caused a furor when she responded to a question about gay marriage that the union should not apply to same-sex couples - and complained that she lost the national title because of it. (She also drew attention after a sexy video she sent to a boyfriend went public after the pageant.) And 2010 Miss USA Rima Fakih recently got in hot water after revelations she had won a radio station’s pole dancing contest, and this month was arrested for drunk driving in Michigan. (Miami Herald, 12/27/2011)

• HITCHED : Al Horford, a Dominican basketball player for the Atlanta Hawks, and his girlfriend, the singer and ex-Miss Universe Amelia Vega (above photo with Horford), were married on Christmas Eve in an intimate ceremony with their families, media reports said. The ceremony was held at the home of the singer's uncle and aunt, the famous Dominican singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra, and his wife, Nora Vega de Guerra. The report said the marriage came as something of a surprise because the newlyweds had not previously confirmed their engagement, and because few among the guests even knew they were going to a wedding. Local media said the ceremony was simple but emotional, attended only by the couple's parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and other close relatives.

      The two tied the knot on Christmas Eve because the NBA's 2011-2012 season began on Sunday after being shortened due to a lengthy lockout. In 2003 the model Amelia Vega became the first Dominican to win the Miss Universe crown, which she did months before turning 19. After passing the title on to her successor, the Dominican living in Miami opened two exclusive clothing stores there, hosted television programs and this year launched her first album, "Agua Dulce" (Fresh Water). "The model and television host wore a white wedding gown that highlighted her natural beauty that undoubtedly won Horford's heart - the groom continually showed his feelings throughout a ceremony in which the happiness of the newlyweds and the love they share was never hidden," the press said.

       Horford, 25, has played his three NBA seasons with the Hawks, where he averaged 12 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Before turning professional, the Dominican player led the University of Florida to two NCAA titles in 2006 y 2007. The couple did announce that "soon" they will celebrate a more public ceremony, which they will share with their friends, the press and their fans. (, 12/26/2011)

• GUYREX IS BACK : "Richard Guy and Rex Holt, two of El Paso's most famous names in show business on a national level, are back in El Paso and living in the brownstone house at 1304 Montana Ave. where it all began. They never left entirely and have been using the Montana Avenue home off and on all along, but they sold their newly built Beverly Hills mansion this summer and quit California permanently. Better known by the single name GuyRex, the dynamic duo was the creative force behind 29 Miss El Paso contests and 16 Miss Texas pageants, and they coached six young women to become Miss USA pageant winners, including five in a row." Read more.

• RECORD-BREAKING : The Miss California USA pageant has registered the most contestants for any state in the history of Donald Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe organization. Over 400 women are set to compete for the prestigious title of Miss California USA 2012 and Miss California Teen USA 2012. The pageant is scheduled to take place on January 7 & 8 at the McCallum Theatre in Indian Wells, California. “Continuing with the concepts introduced at the 2011 pageant, the Miss California USA pageant in 2012 will emphasize individuality and push the envelope even further, distancing ourselves from most traditional pageants,” according to Keith Lewis, Co- Executive Director of Miss California USA and Miss California Teen USA. “This year’s event will be bigger and reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants as well as our forward-looking and thinking state,” added Lewis. “We have changed the essence of Miss California USA from a bathing-suit beauty contest to the style of a sexy runway show during fashion week.” (News Yahoo, 12/29/2011)

• RECOVERING : Miss Brazil 2010 Debora Lyra, 22, seems to be recovering quickly after a terrible car crash that happened on federal highway BR-101 in the city of Guarapari during a heavy downpour, eyewitnesses said. The head-on crash killed the mother of Lyra’s boyfriend and injured five other people. According to the latest reports, Lyra has been released from the hospital and has regained her consciousness. Doctors stated that she will not be a paraplegic. Lyra was Top Model of the World 2009 and had recently competed in 2011 World Miss University pageant.

• Check out designer Nick Verreos's review of pageant gowns for 2011 and see if you agree with him or not!

• Read CB's End of Year Review by Armin Amari.

• Check out CB's achievements for 2011!

• NEXT JOURNAL UPDATE : The Journal will be updated on Monday, January 9, 2012.

PHOTO CREDITS: Miss Tourism International, Miss Universe Organization, EFE


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