Saturday, May 27, 2017

Alleged traffickers charged with forcing Thai women to US for sex


Chicago customers of a Thai prostitution ring became key players in the nationwide operation — renting out apartments for the women, shuttling them from airports and even entering into a sham marriage with a brothel boss in order for her to work legally in the US, Chicago Sun Times online reported on May 25.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said, “This is a unique twist I haven’t really seen before.”
 A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charged 21 people across the country — including six in the Chicago area — with being involved in sex trafficking. A related indictment in October charged 17 others, reported the online.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office worked with the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents to shut down Thai brothels in the Chicago area and arrest six people authorities identified as participants.

 Mohit Tandon, 37, of Burr Ridge, is charged with being a “facilitator” in an international prostitution ring.

Those charged include: Matthew Mintz, 25, Wilaiwan Phimkhalee, 38, Kanyarat Chaiwirat, 50, and Thoucharin Ruttanamongkongul, 34, all of Chicago; Mohit Tandon, 37, of Burr Ridge; and Richard Alexander, 52, of DeKalb, the online reported.

The new indictment says sex traffickers in Thailand arranged for hundreds of Thai women to travel from Bangkok to Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta and other cities to engage in prostitution.

 The traffickers painted a rosy picture of the United States when they recruited the women, according to the indictment.

But the women were forced to pay leaders of the ring for debts supposedly associated with their travel and housing — making them sex slaves, the indictment says. Their debts ranged from $40,000 to $60,000.

Many of them were required to undergo cosmetic enhancements such as breast enlargement before they traveled to the United States, officials said.

Phimkhalee, Chaiwirat and Ruttanamongkongul allegedly acted as “mamasans,” running brothels in the Chicago area. Phimkhalee also is described in the indictment as being a sex trafficker.

Tandon, Alexander and Mintz are described in the indictment as “facilitators.”

Source - TheNation

Friday, May 26, 2017

#Indonesia - Saving coral reefs

As an archipelago, Indonesia is rich with pristine coral reefs. However, their existence is being threatened by destructive fishing, excessive tourism and marine accidents.

To accidents have already occurred in 2017. The first happened in the Karimunjawa islands, Jepara regency, Central Java, in February, when a vessel carrying coal hit coral reefs. The second accident involved a cruise ship that crashed into coral reefs in Raja Ampat, West Papua, in March.

Coral reefs are home to 25 percent of marine life, according to WWF.
A damaged coral reef cannot be restored to its original condition and needs at least 10,000 years to regrow naturally.


PT Pura Baruna Lestari, a private company at Sambangan Island in the Karimunjawa Islands, has tried to transplant coral reefs to speed up the growing process. Any efforts to rehabilitate and enhance the reefs are necessary, especially in transplanting coral colonies to reefs.

“We cut coral stems from their colony in the seabed and bring them to the land to cut them into smaller pieces. The little stems are planted in small pots and cemented. They are soaked in a big tub for two days and brought back into the seabed and planted in the three-to five-meter deep waters,” said Daniel Jackson, a coral reef transplant expert at Pura Baruna Lestari.

Marine Diving Club members of the Diponegoro University’s School of Marine and Fishery study transplant techniques in Sambangan Island.

“We can learn by doing instead of just [learning about] the theory. We also know the habitat and the character of coral reefs,” said one of the students, Siti Yasmina Enita.

The different kinds of corals that can be transplanted, include Acropora, Montipora, Pocilopora, Cypastrea and Stylopora, among others.

The transplanted coral reefs can grow in at least three months. Some are ready to be harvested and exported to Europe and the United States.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bangkok roads flooded following heavy overnight rains


Heavy rains throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning have caused flooding on many Bangkok roads, leading to severe traffic congestion during the morning rush hours.

[See also: Five flood-hit Bangkok schools closed
More photos from Ratchadaphisek scene
More photos from Moo Ban Chonlathep in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan ]
The Bangkok Flood Prevention Centre issued a statement, warning motorists to avoid the following eight roads:
1. Ratchadaphisek Road from the Ratchayothin intersection to Lat Phrao Road

2. Ngam Wong Wan Road at Pongphet Market and Soi Shinnakhet
3. Lat Phrao Road from Pradit Manoontham Road to Soi Lat Phrao 97
4. Pattanakarn Road from the Klong Tan intersection to Klong Lao
5. Ramkhamhaeng Road in front of the Bang Kapi electricity office
6. Srinakharin Road near Wat Sri-Iam
7. Srinakharin Road at the Krungthep Kreetha intersection
8. Sukhumvit Road under BTS Baring station.
On some roads waterlogging was as high as 40 centimetres.
The floods prompted Sompong Wiengkaew, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Sewerage and Drainage Department, to inspect some roads at 4.40am.
He said many roads were flooded late Wednesday night but the waters had receded by Thursday morning while his department officials were racing against time to drain the water.
The water level subsided on the Ngam Wong Wan-Pong Phet Road and vehicles could use two right lanes while the left lanes on both sides were still flooded.
He said the road in front of the Criminal Court was still inundated.
His department reported at 4.45am that Klong Chao Khun Sing in Wang Thong Lang district had the heaviest rainfall – 156.5 millimetres.

Source - TheNation

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#Macao International Dragon Boat Races, 2017

Macao is a Chinese special administrative area located about one hour's ferry ride from Hong Kong, where its 30-square-kilometer area is packed with East-meets-West cultural fusion. 

Portuguese-Cantonese heritage-imbued nuances colors every corner of the two islands and peninsula that make up the area. The old and the new mesh between the bright city lights and old-town squares of Macao. 

Home to a unique combination of Cantonese-Portuguese elements, Macao's vibrant cultural heritage often falls in the shadows of its blinding city lights and glittering chandeliers inside its grand hotel hallways.  

The Chinese special administrative area, which is infused with European roots across its 30-square-kilometer land, is located a short hour-long ferry ride from Hong Kong. 
Its preserved history still evident in the nooks and crannies across the city, while clusters of lavish hotel complexes, most of which host extensive casino grounds and luxurious shopping malls, greet guests upon arrival. 

is admirable about Macao’s tourism strategy is that the administration tries hard to maintain not only gaming but also tourism as its economic backbones. From having well-maintained historical buildings, hosting movie events, entertainment and world-class live performances, Macao clearly wants to expand its image.

According to Macao’s official website,, there will be 2017 Macao International Dragon Boat Races in Macao. The event will be held from May 27 to 30.

The House of Dancing Water live aquatic show in the City of Dreams in Cotai is one example. Built in a permanent venue called the Dancing Water Theater, the most expensive show in Macao features a love story, spectacular stage, music, dances, acrobatics and martial arts. With a 2,000-seat capacity and a pool holding more than five times the volume of an Olympic swimming pool, it is dubbed the world’s biggest water-based show.

When the show was first launched in 2010, people wondered whether it could create a new image of Macao. But now seven years have passed in a blink and the show that was created and directed by Franco Dragone of Cirque du Soleil continues to be successful.  

Macao also uses the appeal of the film industry to attract movie buffs. It is not unusual to hear someone say that want to visit the shooting locations of their favorite films – from the hugely popular South Korean Drama Boys Before Flowers to Now You See Me 2. Last year, the region hosted the first International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM), celebrating cinema and featuring international and Asian movie debuts.

If you want to go around the city, just hop on the free shuttle bus widely available at hotels to reach the center of attractions downtown. Public buses also ply as many as 18 different routes. 
Macao comprises the Macao peninsula and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. The peninsula and Taipa are connected by three bridges, while Taipa and Coloane are linked by the 2.2-kilometer Taipa-Coloane Causeway.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Araya Hargate does #Thailand proud in Cannes


Popular British-Thai actress Araya “Chompoo” A Hargate wrapped her chic maternity moments on the red carpet at the 70th Cannes Film Festival with compliments pouring in from fans as well as the world's fashion bibles. wrote: “With celebrities from all over the world vying for attention, it can be hard to stand out – but there’s no fashion challenge that Araya “Chompoo” Hargate can’t handle.” added further praise, writing: “Araya’s look was all about bringing drama to the carpet, from the oversized peplum, to the sultry sheer skirt, the opera gloves and Chopard high jewellery collection pieces. This is a worthy look for Cannes..”

The actress was also selected as having one of the best looks at Cannes 2017 by Vanity Fair.

For her final appearance on the red carpet for the screening of “The Meyerowitz Stories” on Sunday night, Araya stunned the crowd by showing off her five-month baby bump in a couture gown created by French atelier, Alexis Mabille complete with a quilted red cape that trailed behind her. The brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris (Thailand) was made up on the theme “Flawless Finale”. 

 Chopard’s diamonds completed the look and ensured Araya looked every bit the star. 
Araya has certainly turned heads at this year’s festival thanks to impeccable styling and close collaboration with fashion magazine, L’Officiel Thailand. 

For the premiere of “Ismael’s Ghosts”, Araya wore a white Ralph and Russo dress with a silk cape covered with crystals and ostrich feathers. 

For “Loveless”, Araya was attired in a black Olivier Theysken gown that was the perfect complement to the sapphire and diamonds of Chopard’s Red Carpet Collection.

And Araya’s happiness at walking down the staircase with her husband Visrut “Nott” Rangsisingpipat was evident as she brought an added glow to the voluminous gown in fuchsia by Zuhair Murad paired with Chopard’s diamond-drop earrings to the premiere of “120 Beats Per Minute”.

Source - TheNation

Thursday, May 18, 2017

North Maluku preps Widi Island as maritime destination

Widi Island in South Halmahera, North Maluku, is set to be promoted as a maritime destination to attract more tourists to the region.

"It will also host the International Fishing Tournament slated for October, which will be officially opened by President Joko Widodo," said South Halmahera Tourism, Youth and Sports Agency head Nur Kamarullah in Ternate, North Maluku, on Wednesday.

Around 100 anglers from across the globe have registered to participate in the tournament.
The island itself is currently undergoing major develop. According to Antara news agency, Widi is quite popular among foreign tourists and is often dubbed the Maldives of Indonesia.

 "Widi Island is the future of South Halmahera's tourism. The agency has promoted this destination at various events, including the diving exhibition in Jakarta, the Legu Gam Festival in North Maluku, as well as tourism events in Yogyakarta and Batam," said Kamarullah.

A culinary and cultural festival reportedly will be held during the upcoming fishing tournament.

Widi Island is home to various natural attractions, including Tauno Bay and Santari Bay. 
Source - TheJakartaPost

#Myanmar, (Burma) Golf tourism needs long drive out of bunkers.

Myanmar is far from a golf tourist destination despite having many courses in different cities, said U Phyo Wai Yar Zar, vice chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation.

Speaking to The Myanmar Times, he said that golf tourism has a potential niche market but the local courses are not up to the expectations of international golfers.

“We have to try hard if we want to make Myanmar a golfing destination. We can count the number of courses that are of international standard. But that number cannot be compared with other regional countries which have already developed the game and facilities,” U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said.

There are no more than 10 tour agencies offering packages, including golfing.
In Vietnam, there are 32 international courses. Myanmar has about 60 courses in the whole country.

Daw Su Su Tin, vice chair of Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee, said, “Some tourists have tried golf courses in neighboring countries. A few tours operators are offering a golf program in their itinerary but we cannot promote golfing tourism too much.”

“Myanmar has fine weather, not as expensive as other countries and has a huge potential for golf tourism development,” she said.

U Phyo Wai Yar Zar added, “People know Myanmar as a cultural tourism centre. Perhaps now is the time to promote traditional sport related tourism like chinlone (caneball) and other Myanmar sporting events.”
“Chinlone as a sporting event cannot be found in other countries. Relevant government departments should make it popular as a tourism product,” he said.

“Also, the golfing market is for high-end tourists who are mostly big spenders. Other facilities such as high-end restaurants and amenities need to be developed,” he said.

Currently, there are no more than six or seven international fine dining restaurants in Yangon.
U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said, “We should first get the primary requirements done up and then continue with other things,” he said.

“As I know, there’s no website, specific market figures on golfing for tourists. Concerned authorities need to build up the human capital first and the required infrastructure before promoting golf as a product,” he said.

“We have no information yet about the various courses and it is hard to find out who are those interested in golfing in Myanmar. Golfing is the best way to attract visitors as part of tourism,” U Phyo Wai Yar Zar said.
Source - mmtimes