Man jailed for duping Vietnamese brides, marriage agencies

Singapore : A 64-year-old man, who cheated marriage agencies and Vietnamese women looking for Singaporean husbands, was sentenced to four and a-half years in prison, news reports said Saturday.

Cobbler Fan Kiet Teng duped marriage agencies into releasing Vietnamese brides to him by giving them dud cheques for $6,100 (10,000 Singapore dollars).

He pleaded guilty to charges of cheating a 21-year-old Vietnamese woman into having sex with him.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur described the scam as “despicable,” The Straits Times said.

“Your conduct can only be described as odious,” she was quoted as saying.

Fan told the agencies he had been a widower for the past 10 years when he was actually living with his 60-year-old wife and two adult children.

Disturbed at how easily Fan got away with his bride-for-sex scam, the judge urged matchmaking agencies to act responsibly and called for guidelines to protect vulnerable foreign woman.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chan said Friday that Fan conducted his scams two months after he was released from prison in August for throwing scalding hot water at his mistress.

Tribe’s New Office In San Gabriel Seeks To Lure Well-Heeled
Jan 14, 2006

It already provides chartered helicopters, complimentary hotel suites and a posh, secluded gambling parlor for super-high rollers. Now, in what is described as a first for any California-based casino, the Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino has opened a marketing office in San Gabriel to attract more big gamblers to the public or very private venues of the East County tribal resort.

Las Vegas has been mining the lucrative Los Angeles market for years, and now Indian gaming is doing the same thing. “This is an opportunity to expand our market and reach that high-end guest,” Karol Schoen, general manager of Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino, said of the satellite office that opened this week. “We have a little different clientele than our local competition does.” While Barona wants more gamblers of all kinds, it especially hopes to attract well-heeled players from the San Gabriel Valley.

Schoen said she saw evidence that the three-member marketing staff, which moved to the area more than two months ago, was already successful in reaching out to potential VIPs. Dozens attended Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting. “The people I saw at the opening this morning were doctors and lawyers and dentists, real pillars of the community,” she said afterward. “You didn’t see the cook at the local cafe; you saw the owners.”

The San Gabriel Valley, an area of 2 million people east of downtown Los Angeles, is one of the state’s largest and most diverse consumer markets, said Vince Baugham, director of business development for the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. Median incomes exceed $55,400, with 75,000 households earning more than $100,000. “For the affluence that we have in San Gabriel Valley, there is competition,” Baugham said. “So if you want a piece of it, you’ve got to go after it.”

The Barona casino has tried to position itself as an upper-echelon destination since it opened a quarter-billion-dollar resort in January 2003. The expanded ranch-theme casino and 400-room hotel augmented an 18-hole golf course built in 2001. “Nobody in California will let players bet as much money as they bet at Barona,” said Don Speer, chairman of the tribe’s management consulting firm, Venture Catalyst. “There are players at Barona who have bet $100,000 a hand, many a player.

We have many players who are multimillion-dollar casino customers.” In addition to having a high-stakes gambling room like most large casinos, Barona claims to be the only California tribal casino with a “private gaming area” – two basement-level rooms with super high-limit slot machines and card tables, accessible only by a key-operated elevator or private limo port. Barona’s private gaming area is for prescreened clients with mid-six-figure credit lines – entertainers, professional athletes, business moguls – who don’t want to mingle with the masses while betting hundreds of dollars on each pull of a slot machine or thousands on each hand of cards.

Casino officials won’t give names, but they say one private room or the other – each with a lavishly appointed lounge and cash-free food and beverage service – is in use an average of three days a week. These patrons often arrive by charter jet or are flown in on charter helicopters that land on one of the Lakeside-area reservation’s two helipads. They’re greeted with a chauffeured limousine and a butler bearing a silver platter of caviar. “That’s just part of the cost of doing business,” said Lee Skelley, the Barona casino’s assistant general manager. “If they’re helicopter-worthy, it’s free.”

Also free for high rollers, known in casino industry parlance as “whales,” are luxury hotel suites, spa visits, rounds of golf and meals. Only a few of the largest and most lavish Las Vegas resorts, such as Wynn, MGM Grand and the Venetian, have private parlors, catering to top clients with credit lines above $500,000, said Jerry Markling, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. He said private gambling parlors were banned in Nevada until about three years ago.

Las Vegas gambling resorts have already been moving VIP sales teams into Los Angeles County. Wynn Casinos and MGM Mirage both have offices near Barona’s in San Gabriel. Barona says it is the first tribal casino to open an office in the Los Angeles area, where all of Southern California’s Indian gaming resorts have been advertising heavily for years. The staff at Barona’s 1,000 square-foot office suite, which is across from a Hilton hotel, has spent much of its time since moving to San Gabriel networking in the community. “The office people are going to become members of that community,” Skelley said.

“They’ll join the Rotary club, the chamber of commerce, the businessmen’s association . . . and market our casino.” Harrah’s, which manages the Rincon tribe’s North County gambling resort in addition to its Nevada properties, has had a marketing office in Century City for years and acquired two others in Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach last year as part of its corporate buyout of Caesars Palace. “We’re not surprised that Barona has opened an office in Los Angeles,” said Harrah’s Rincon spokeswoman Sheryl Sebastian.

“The L.A. market is important to the growth of the casino market in San Diego.” Operators of the other largest Indian gaming resorts in San Diego and Riverside counties, Pala and Pechanga, say they have no plans to open sales offices in Los Angeles. Jerry Turk, Pala Casino’s managing partner, said he didn’t know why Barona was setting up shop in San Gabriel, but he assumed it might be because of the large Asian communities there and in several of the valley’s 30 other cities.

“Every property in Southern California tries to appeal to the Asian community, because Asians have a propensity to like to play table games,” he said. “If you went into any casino, including Pala, you would find one of the focuses is on the Asian community.” According to 2000 census figures provided by the Southern California Association of Governments, the population of San Gabriel Valley is 44 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, 22 percent Asian and 4 percent black.

San Gabriel, a city of 40,000 central to the 355-square-mile region, has a population that is 49 percent Asian-American. Alice Wong, past president of the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks Barona has strong odds of appealing to the area’s many affluent Asian professionals. “Asians are gamblers,” she said. “The big Las Vegas hotels and casinos like the Mirage and the Bellagio, they have special dinners for their special invitees. They fly people to Las Vegas. That happens all the time.” Wong, who owns an insurance agency, said many San Gabriel Valley gamblers might prefer San Diego to Las Vegas.

“It’s so close – a two-hour drive.” Skelley, the Barona assistant general manager, said San Gabriel’s Asian base is only part of the reason for opening an office there. He said the valley’s main appeal for Barona is its above-average income and its proximity to the Interstate 15 freeway corridor, which is easier to drive than Interstate 5. “We are conscious of the fact that there are a lot of Asians there,” he said. “We want to go to San Gabriel because it’s a thriving business center, and it has a direct access down 15 to Barona.”

Barona’s Los Angeles-area outreach staff will be going after moderate-to high-spending gamblers as well as the super-rich, Skelley said. “We aren’t looking for celebrities. We certainly are looking for business owners, people who play regularly in Las Vegas,” he said. “If we find some high-end business there, we’ll be really happy about it. We can certainly take care of them.”

Katrina Media Fellowship

March 16, 2006

Dear Friends and Colleagues-

 

OSI is pleased to announce the release of the RFP for the Katrina  Media Fellowship

http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/focus_areas/katrina.  

 

I encourage you to pass along the announcement to any eligible and

interested media professionals.

 

The Katrina Media Fellowships will support dynamic print and radio

journalists, photographers and documentary filmmakers to generate and

improve media coverage of issues exposed by Katrina. Applicants

should propose projects that will expand and deepen the public’s

understanding of race and class inequalities in the United States. Applicants may

also propose projects that will address the government’s response to

problems caused or illuminated by Katrina, the use or misuse of public funds,

the role of private contractors, the effectiveness of clean-up and

rebuilding efforts, citizen involvement in these efforts and lessons

learned that should inform the handling of future natural and man-

made disasters. In addition, applicants may propose projects that draw

attention to OSI’s current or past programmatic priorities using

Katrina as the frame. These priorities include access to legal services and

government assistance, criminal justice reform, improving end of life

care and access to health care and education reform. The RFP can be

viewed at http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/focus_areas/katrina/guidelines  . 

KT releases Valentine’s film shorts

February 06, 2006 ㅡ Korea’s top landline telephone carrier, KT Corp., is releasing three short films by renowned domestic directors on the Internet on Feb. 14 for Valentine’s Day.
The company said that it sponsored the production of the movies. The films will be given an off-line premier at a movie theater in southern Seoul; applications for tickets can be made online at http://www.ktfilms.com.
About 30 minutes long, each film has two major components: the main theme is love and the plots all involve phone numbers.
Kwak Jae-yong, best known as the director of the Asian hit, “My Sassy Girl,” made a fantasy movie titled “I can hear the memory.” Starring Sohn Tae-young and Lee Chun-hee, the movie depicts a near future in which banks store memories.
Featuring a Korean-American actor, Karl Yoon, and the actress Soh Yoo-jin, “I’m OK” by the director Kim Tae-gyun, is about a martial artist and a woman who wind up living together.
The last of the three films is by Chung Yoon-chul, the director of last year’s hit, “Marathon,” (“Mal-a-ton” in its Korean title). Called “Storm Hill,” the movie depicts an unusual love triangle caused by a phone number appearing in the dreams of the main characters.
“We plan to arrange various events and give out gifts to the people attending the Valentine’s Day off-line premier,” said Joo Yeong-bum, a managing director of public relations at KT. “We hope that the films please our customers and generate interest in fixed-line phones at the same time.”

by Seo Ji-eun spring@joongang.co.kr>

TV-film producer, Feb. 17

February 07, 2006
GALESBURG — Television and film producer David Axelrod will give a talk, “Writing and Producing Films for PBS, BBC and Hollywood,” at 4 p.m., Friday, February 17, in the Round Room, Ford Center for the Fine Arts, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. The talk is free and open to the public.

A 1967 Knox graduate, Axelrod has written, produced and directed several feature films, including the documentary “Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens.” The program, shown on the Public Broadcasting System’s Nova series, received the 2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Programming. He also worked on “The Great Transatlantic Cable,” “Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine” and “The History of Rock & Roll.”

Axelrod received his bachelor’s degree at Knox in English and his master’s degree from New York University’s Institute of Film and Television in 1969. On Thursday, February 16, the day before the lecture, Axelrod will receive a 2006 Knox College Alumni Achievement Award.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 46 states and 43 nations. Knox’s ‘Old Main’ is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.
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For actor Daniel Dae Kim, life’s a beach

Though his Lost character Jin has it rough as a castaway on a mysterious island, the actor is enjoying the work and the Hawaii life.

By Associated Press
Published February 9, 2006


HONOLULU – Beaten, kidnapped and tossed in a pit, Jin Soo Kwon hasn’t had many pleasant days on ABC’s hit drama Lost.He’s stranded on a mysterious island with plane-crash survivors who don’t speak his language and carry way more baggage than the suitcases they brought on ill-fated Oceanic Airlines Flight 815.

In real life, actor Daniel Dae Kim, 37, who plays Jin, the Korean tough guy, couldn’t be happier. He’s living with his family in Hawaii, where the show is shot, he’s earning a regular paycheck doing what he loves, and a day at the office means hitting the beach.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” Kim said. ” Every day I’m at work and I look out at the ocean and see the crystal blue waves crashing on the beach, I just look up and thank the universe for putting me here.”

Working on Lost (which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC) wasn’t always so smooth for Kim, however.

In the series’ Emmy-award winning first season, Jin was portrayed as a detached and chauvinistic thug who was overly protective of his wife, Sun. The character drew sharp criticism from some Asian viewers, who accused Kim of perpetuating stereotypes .

But as audiences learned more of the character through flashbacks, and as Jin warmed up, so did his critics.

“All these characters have layers, secrets inside of them,” Kim said. “It was difficult, but the thing that kept me hopeful was my trust in the producers.”

Creator Damon Lindelof has said speaking English was not an option for Jin and Sun, who talk to each other only in their native language (although Sun, it was revealed, speaks English). He noted that subtitles are not used when Jin speaks to other castaways, because he wants the viewer to share the frustration of trying to communicate.

Kim, trained in classical theater, said acting in Korean has been a challenge . Not only did he have to master the language quickly, but he tried to shed his rural accent. Jin did speak perfect English in a short scene in which Hurley, played by Jorge Garcia, was dreaming and speaking Korean. “His pronunciation was fantastic,” Kim said. “I was going around saying maybe he should be the one speaking Korean and I’ll speak English and say ‘dude’ a lot.”

Born in Busan, South Korea, Kim grew up in the blue-collar steel town of Easton, Pa. He was on a path to becoming a lawyer but decided to pursue acting. It was an unpopular decision with his family.

After earning a master’s from New York University, he had recurring roles on 24, ER, and Angel. He had small appearances in Seinfeld and NYPD Blue as well as on the big screen in Spider-Man 2, The Hulk and Crash.

“It’s not about money or fame. I really enjoy the craft of acting,” he said. “Whether it’s on a small stage in front of 50 people or on a television screen in front of 20-million, it’s still what I enjoy doing. It’s the same.”

Unlike his character, Kim is easygoing, educated and quick to smile. Some fans have approached him with caution, however, fearing he’ll be like Jin.

Recently, Kim was featured as one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive.” Not bad for a married guy closing on his 40s with two sons, ages 9 and 4.

“It’s flattering,” he said. “It’s something you can’t ever take seriously. On a larger level, for Asian-Americans, I think it’s really a fantastic step.”

As for Lost, Kim said he’s just as anxious as devoted fans are to see how the stealthy story unfolds.

“We don’t have answers as actors,” he said. He does promise many more surprises and turns. “One thing viewers will be reminded of, the stakes are very high on this island. It’s always life and death.” [Last modified February 8, 2006, 15:03:03]

Lee explores stereotypes with grace

Directed by Grace Lee, ‘The Grace Lee Project’ portrays the lives of Asian American women

Shuang-Ning Ling

Grace Lee takes a cross-country journey to find other women with her name. Making the film helped her find her own identity and the strength to defy stereotypes of Asian Americans today.

Courtesy Grace Lee

Growing up as an ethnic minority in her predominantly white hometown in Missouri, it was a new experience for Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee to move to California. Along the way she learned of countless other Grace Lees from friends. They always turned out to be “soft-spoken,” “studious,” “overachieving,” “intelligent,” “Christian” and, as Lee wryly notes, piano players.

Fearing confinement to a life of figurative homogeneity, Lee embarks on an impulse journey across America and Korea. Motivated by what she humorously terms “existential dread,” she seeks out namesakes that both do and do not fit the standard Grace Lee bill.

I’ve wanted to name a future daughter Grace for most of my life. After viewing OFFScreen’s latest offering, The Grace Lee Project, however, I found myself to be one of thousands. Lee precisely highlights the influence of attaching preconceived notions to a name and the effect it has on one’s individuality. With a deceptively simple premise, she explores the stereotype of the Asian-American female. Altogether she creates a refreshingly layered approach to the documentary as a genre.

Lee’s wildly unscientific research is fun to watch. The Grace Lees she finds include a 16-year-old Harvard student, a Filipino cruise-ship singer and a significantly large number of women named for Grace Kelly. She is insistent, however, on finding the rebels or college dropouts who “fall through the cracks.”

“Stereotypes exist because there is often a grain of truth associated with them,” Lee admitted in an e-mail interview. The question is to what extent Lee’s unflinchingly self-centered project perpetuates the stereotypes she declaims. Along with the standard Grace Lees with Christian backgrounds, the more promising insurgents tend to fall back into conformity and submit to typecasting.

For instance, one Grace who attempted to burn her high school down was motivated by a desire to destroy her less-than-outstanding grade reports before her parents could receive them. There’s also a past lesbian activist who gave up her work in Korea to stop “bringing shame” to her parents. Her forbidden presence in the film is represented by a blurred-out image.

Lee reiterates that she is interested in exploring the contradictions within our identities and “how much they are shaped by our resistance to the forces that try to box us in as certain things.” Her playful approach serves as Project’s backbone and as a reminder not to take her voiceovers as seriously as the thornier issues covered.

Lee’s likeable ability to laugh at her own paranoid anxieties is complemented by the film’s portrayal of two truly atypical Grace Lees — the 88-year-old Detroit African-American rights activist and an unmarried mother who risked her life to rescue a friend from marital abuse.

Not knowing how the documentary would end was one of Lee’s difficulties during filmmaking. Perhaps this is why the film concludes abruptly, as Lee reconciles the similarities and differences she shares with her alter-egos. In the end, a name like Grace Lee may be forgettable, but The Grace Lee Project successfully illustrates there is more to people than their names.