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Suu Kyi’s payments have been claimed as the Myanmar junta increases pressure on her.

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Suu Kyi's payments have been claimed as the Myanmar junta increases pressure on her.
Suu Kyi's payments have been claimed as the Myanmar junta increases pressure on her.

Suu Kyi’s payments have been claimed as the Myanmar junta increases pressure on her.

 

In a broadcast on state television aimed at discrediting the ousted civilian government, a Myanmar building magnate with links to military rulers said he personally gave more than half a million dollars in cash to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement by Maung Waik could pave the way for more serious charges to be brought against Suu Kyi, who has been detained since the military took over on Feb. 1, while security forces have steadily used lethal force against a popular rebellion demanding the restoration of democratically elected leaders.

Suu Kyi has also been accused of corruption by the military, which claims she was given $600,000 and gold bars by a political ally. So far, she and President Win Myint have been charged with inciting violence, possessing walkie-talkies, and violating a pandemic order that prohibits public gatherings.

Maung Waik, who has previously been convicted of drug trafficking, said on state television that he gave cash to government ministers to support his businesses. He said the funds included $100,000 given to Suu Kyi in 2018 for a charitable organization named after her mother, $150,000 in 2019 for an unknown cause, $50,000 in February, and $250,000 in April, all for an unknown reason.

According to Myanmar’s state-run newspaper Global New Light, the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the allegations and has agreed to prosecute Suu Kyi under the Anti-Corruption Statute.

Meanwhile, the country’s U.N. ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, has been given an arrest warrant on treason charges, according to the newspaper.

The charge stems from his remarks at the United Nations on Feb. 26 in which he condemned the coup and urged the international community to take “the strongest possible steps” to restore democracy in his country.

According to the newspaper, Mahn Win Khaing Than, the civilian leader of Myanmar’s government in exile, was also charged with treason. On Saturday, the acting vice president and a member of Suu Kyi’s political party vowed to continue supporting a “revolution” to depose the military.

Residents in a Yangon suburb set fire to street barricades on Thursday to prevent riot police from entering.

Big plumes of smoke could be seen rising over the Tha Mine area in the city’s Hlaing township, and another barricade was burning ferociously in the middle of a residential area, according to video. Residents set them on fire after hearing that a column of police vehicles was on its way, according to one resident who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.

Building barricades – and sometimes burning them – has become a popular strategy used by junta opponents around the country to block police and army movement. The barriers also shield them from the increasingly common use of live ammunition against them.

According to media and social media posts that included images of the victims, at least two people were shot dead in Kalay, Myanmar’s northwestern region, on Wednesday. According to reliable estimates, security forces have killed over 200 people since the coup.

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Labor dispute continues as King Soopers, union remain at bargaining table

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Labor dispute continues as King Soopers, union remain at bargaining table

As Denver-area King Soopers workers walked the picket lines for a sixth day, negotiators for the union and Colorado’s largest grocery chain met Monday in contract talks that have been marked by each side accusing the other of unfair labor practices and refusing to bargain in good faith.

Heading into the fourth straight day of talks, union representatives said there had been little progress even though they “moved more than 12 offers back and forth” with the company. Company representatives said the Union of Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 hadn’t offered any new proposals on wages, health care or pensions Friday.

The meeting Friday lasted 68 minutes. It was the first bargaining session since Jan. 6 when the union rejected a proposal it described as “riddled with concessions” that King Soopers wants from workers.

“We spent the first day in negotiations listening to corporate executives scream, yell at the members and show utter disdain and disrespect for the workers,” Kim Cordova, union president, said in a video on the UFCW Local 7 Facebook page.

King Soopers spokeswoman Jessica Trowbridge said in an email Monday that the union “continues to choose rhetoric and confusion to distract from their failure to represent their members and allow the company to put more money in their paychecks.”

The company wants the union to let its members vote on the offer turned down by the union’s bargaining committee.

The strike involving more than 8,000 employees at 68 stores in Boulder, Parker and the metro area started Wednesday, a day after the union rejected King Soopers’ “last, best offer.” The proposal included $170 million in wage increases, health care benefits and bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 upon ratification of the contract.

King Soopers’ contracts with the stores on strike expired Jan. 8. Other contracts with King Soopers and City Market, both owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger, expire later in January and in February.

The UFCW Local 7, which represents 17,000 grocery workers in Colorado and Wyoming, agreed to extend contract talks with Albertsons, which owns Safeway and Albertsons grocery stores.

King Soopers has proposed increasing its starting pay to $16 an hour. The union called the proposal inadequate, saying it’s only 13 cents above Denver’s minimum wage. The union’s offer includes starting pay of $18.56 and the restoration of “hazard” pay that the company gave when the coronavirus pandemic began and ended a couple of months later, in May 2020.

Wages are important to Jay Burnham, a King Soopers employee for nearly 30 years.

“But the main issue right now, the reason we voted to strike, is because of unfair labor practices,” said Burnham, who works at a Glendale store. “They’re bringing people to stock shelves who are not part of the union.”

The UFCW Local 7 filed a lawsuit in federal court in late December that said King Soopers is using third-party staffing services to do union-covered work.

King Soopers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on Jan. 10 that accuses the union of bargaining in bad faith.

“This is a real test of, not just wills, but market power,” Jeffrey Zax, an economics professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said of the strike. “In the pandemic environment, the question of whether either party has an accurate assessment of their relative market power is an interesting one because market power has shifted.”

Worker shortages have given labor more leverage in the market, Zax said. Millions of people haven’t returned to their pre-pandemic jobs or quit because of concerns about COVID-19, lack of child care or the desire to find different work.

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Kirill Kaprizov steps up to get Wild hard-fought point against Avalanche

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Kirill Kaprizov steps up to get Wild hard-fought point against Avalanche

DENVER — The thing about star players is they tend to show up when their team needs them most. That’s what winger Kirill Kaprizov did for the Wild on Monday afternoon at Ball Arena.

After a controversial call gave the Colorado Avalanche the lead late in the game, the 24-year-old Russian promptly tied the score 3-3 to help the Wild force overtime. When they fell behind, there was no sulking on the bench from Kaprizov and his teammates, no feeling sorry for themselves.

Instead, the Wild responded with arguably their best shift of the game, earned an offensive zone draw in the process, and Kaprizov scored seconds after Ryan Hartman won the faceoff.

“I felt like my head was going pop off,” Wild coach Dean Evason said, crediting his team for its response after the Avalanche took the lead in the third period. “They held their composure. We yelled a few times and caught ourselves as a team. Things could go real sideways, and they didn’t.”

Though the Wild ultimately lost 4-3 in a shootout, the fact that they got a point out of the matinee felt like a win.

“I’m very, very proud of the way we competed,” Evason said. “If that could ended in a tie, that would have been better. But we did enough things to have success.”

Not surprisingly, Kaprizov was at the epicenter of the Wild comeback, scoring a pair of tying goals in the final 20 minutes. He always seems to shine brighter when the spotlight is on him.

“He’s on a mission every time he goes out there,” winger Jordan Greenway said. “When it comes down to the end, and there’s a little more pressure, he steps up, for sure. He’s been doing really good for us.”

Asked why he’s so effective in winning time, Kaprizov made it sound like it’s no big deal, replying, “You just focus more and play better in those situations.” That answer is actually fitting  considering how easy he makes the game look at times.

If Kaprizov was the Wild’s star on Monday, goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and winger Kevin Fiala deserve credit as best supporting actors. They helped keep the Wild in the game when it could have gone the other way in a hurry.

With starting goaltender Cam Talbot still out with a lower-body injury, Kahkonen got the nod once again for the Wild, and he continued to shine between the pipes.

While he allowed a pair of goals in the first period, those were largely due to the Wild taking a couple of careless penalties in succession.

Less than 30 seconds into the 5-on-3, winger Mikko Rantanen collected a loose puck on the doorstep, and promptly put the Avalanche up 1-0. Then, a couple of minutes later, rookie center Alex Newhook extended the Avalanche lead to 2-0 with a blast from the slot.

“You have to try and stay out of the penalty box as much as you can against these guys,” Kahkonen said. “We know that, and I think from then on, we did a good job of playing hard and playing the right way.”

After catching their breath at intermission, the Wild started the second period with a flurry, getting a goal from Fiala roughly 30 seconds in to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The tenor of the game changed midway through the second period when Greenway inadvertently made contact with goaltender Darcy Kuemper in the crease. While he initially stayed in the game, Kuemper left shortly thereafter in favor of backup goaltender Pavel Francouz.

“I haven’t looked at it,” Greenway said. “I think he was maybe out of the crease a little bit. I didn’t even really try to intentionally give it to him. I just skated through and ended up clipping him.”

Regardless of intention, Kuemper did not return to the game, and the Wild took advantage by peppering Francouz with shot after shot. It paid dividends early in the third period when Kaprizov finished off a pass from winger Mats Zuccarello to tie the score 2-2.

That set the stage for some controversy in the final minutes as MacKinnon scored to put the Avalanche in front 3-2. It was initially ruled no goal on the ice, and while replay never actually showed the puck crossing the goal line, the officials seemingly used logic to overturn the original call.

Though the Wild clearly did not agree with the officials, they used their frustration as fuel, and Kaprizov tied the score 3-3 less than a minute later. He launched himself full speed into the glass after scoring the goal, clearly excited to be a part of the

“It was good,” said Kaprizov, who admitted he wasn’t happy with his play in the first two periods of the game. “I was really excited to get those.”

Neither team scored in overtime, then in the shootout, Zuccarello, Fiala, and Kaprizov failed to score for the Wild. Still, the Wild walked away with their heads held high as they boarded the team charter back to Minnesota.

Asked if he was impressed with the way his team forced overtime in the end, Fiala replied, “Not impressed because I know my team.” He added that the Wild had no doubt on the bench that they could tie the game.

“We never quit no matter what,” Fiala said. “That’s a great thing about us.”

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Thousands gather as Denver’s Martin Luther King Jr. Marade returns to the streets after last year’s pandemic disruption

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Thousands gather as Denver’s Martin Luther King Jr. Marade returns to the streets after last year’s pandemic disruption

Wearing a purple shirt bearing the message “Proud of the Skin I’m In,” Denver resident Berlyn Borne carried two signs with her to the Martin Luther King Jr. Marade, including a framed drawing of King alongside Malcolm X and athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, fists aloft in their iconic pose from the 1968 Olympics.

“This one I bring every year,” she said.

Borne’s been attending the Denver Marade — in-person once again Monday after going virtual last year due to the pandemic — for about 25 years, and said she used to bring her two children when they were younger. But now that they’re 26 and 28, she takes pictures and video of the Marade to send back to them in Georgia, where they now live.

“Everybody can be a part of this,” she said, adding that she hopes the community gets involved just as people did during the civil rights movement. “We still need that same drive today, and take the same action that they took.”

Thousands of people gathered in Denver to honor King’s legacy and participate in the 37th annual march and parade along Colfax Avenue from City Park to Civic Center downtown.

Holding her 5-year-old daughter Lucille Jacobs, Emily Lay, who recently moved to the Denver area from Texas, said it felt “a little surreal” to be surrounded by so many people.

When asked what the day represents to her, Lay said, “My daughter is biracial. So it represents a world where she can be herself and not have to worry about any of the things that we had to worry about in the time of Martin Luther King Jr.”

The day’s events began at City Park, where a memorial statue of King stands, and local speakers and politicians reflected on the slain civil rights leader’s work and the progress that still has to be made.

“We have gone backwards, and as a generation, we have dropped the ball,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, noting that legislation passed in 19 states to restrict voting access shows his generation has dropped the baton from the previous generation.

“I have a dream today that you pick up that baton as you walk down Colfax Avenue today, and you realize the power of that baton that was handed off to us,” Hancock said.

Other Colorado elected officials at the event, including U.S. Sens. Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper, shared a similar message about the importance of protecting voting rights, especially as the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Democratic-sponsored legislation meant to counter Republican-led voting restrictions at the state level.

“This is a huge fight that we’re in right now. It’s a fight for our democracy,” Bennett said.

Keynote speakers included former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who, while in the statehouse, repeatedly introduced legislation to establish an official Colorado holiday in King’s honor, and his wife and former state Rep. Wilma Webb, who successfully got legislation passed to create the state holiday in 1984.

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