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Protests swell after Myanmar junta raises specter of force

Protests swell after Myanmar junta raises specter of force

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Protesters gathered in Myanmar’s biggest city on Monday despite the ruling junta’s threat to use lethal force against people who join a general strike against the military’s takeover three weeks ago. More than 1,000 protesters gathered near the U.S. Embassy in Yangon despite barriers blocking the way, but left to avoid a confrontation after 20 military trucks with riot police arrived nearby. Protests continued in other parts of the city, including next to Sule Pagoda, a traditional gathering point.

Factories, workplaces and shops were shuttered across the country Monday in response to the call for a nationwide strike. The closings extended to the capital, Naypyitaw. The junta had warned against a general strike in a public announcement Sunday night on state television broadcaster MRTV.

Supreme Court refuses to hear Pa. election case: The Supreme Court dealt a post-election defeat Monday to Republican officials in Pennsylvania by refusing to hear their appeal of state court rulings that allowed for the counting of mail ballots that were sent by Election Day, but arrived up to three days later. Three conservative justices dissented, arguing the court should clarify the law before the next election. Pennsylvania’s attorney general had urged the court to turn down the appeal because the election was over and the case was moot.

At issue, however, was a potentially important question for the 2024 election about whether state legislatures or the state supreme courts could have the final word on a state’s election rules. Lawyers for Pennsylvania Republicans urged the court to rule that the Constitution gave only state legislatures the final word on the election rules. They pointed to a provision in a 2019 law that said mail ballots must arrive by Election Day.

National Spelling Bee to return in mostly virtual format: The Scripps National Spelling Bee will return this year in a mostly virtual format, with the in-person competition limited to a dozen finalists who will gather on an ESPN campus at Walt Disney World in Florida, Scripps announced Monday. Last year’s bee was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II it had been called off. Organizers said they did not believe a large gathering at the bee’s longtime venue — a convention center outside Washington — would be possible this year for the competition’s usual date around Memorial Day.

Instead of compressing the entire competition into a week — spellers routinely refer to Bee Week as a highlight of their young lives — the bee will be stretched over several weeks. The preliminary rounds will be held in mid-June, the semifinals on June 27 and the ESPN-televised finals on July 8. “We gave up on the idea of Bee Week early on because we knew we couldn’t bring hundreds of people to one location safely,” said Carolyn Micheli, the bee’s interim executive director.

William says hospitalized Prince Philip is OK: Prince William said Monday that his grandfather, Prince Philip, is “OK” as the 99-year-old royal consort remains in a London hospital for rest and observation. William was asked about Philip when he visited a coronavirus vaccination center in eastern England. “Yes, he’s OK, they’re keeping an eye on him,” William said, and gave a wink.

Philip was admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Tuesday after falling ill. Buckingham Palace said the husband of Queen Elizabeth II was expected to remain in the hospital into this week for a period of “observation and rest.” Philip’s illness is not believed to be related to COVID-19. Both he and the queen, 94, received a first dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus in early January.

Netflix documentary to examine man behind college admissions scandal: A Netflix documentary will use actor recreations of FBI wiretaps to tell the story of Rick Singer, the man at the center of the college admissions scandal that sent actors Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin and and several other prominent parents to prison. Netflix announced Monday that “Operation Varsity Blues” will be released on March 17.

Named for the FBI operation that exposed the scandal, the documentary will focus not on the convicted celebrities like Huffman and Loughlin, but on how Singer persuaded them and many other wealthy clients to cheat to get their children into elite colleges. The documentary is from filmmakers Chris Smith and Jon Karmen, whose previous credits include Netflix’s Fyre festival documentary and “Tiger King.”

Actor Matthew Modine plays Singer, the admitted mastermind of the operation who flipped and started working with investigators, secretly recording his conversations with parents and coaches.

— Associated Press

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