IMPORT BAN PUSHED: Legislation banning all imports from Myanmar has been introduced in Congress, with backing from Republicans and Democrats outraged by the country’s military dictatorship’s recent crackdowns against the democratically elected opposition. Two years ago, a similar Myanmar import-ban measure stalled as support dwindled from lawmakers who perceived a thawing in the military’s strong-arm stance. However, violent acts against the opposition over the weekend, which continued Thursday, led to a recasting of legislation and broader support. Since the military seized power in 1990, a growing number of U.S. retailers and other apparel importers have voluntarily halted business with Myanmar, where the military invests in the country’s garment production. Apparel is the country’s main U.S. export, accounting for around $300 million in annual sales. The legislation would also freeze Myanmar military assets in the U.S. and require the U.S. to oppose International Monetary or World Bank loans to Myanmar.
JEWELRY SCAM: Workers at seven New York jewelry shops molded gold into items such as belt buckles that were taken to Colombia and converted into cash, Federal officials said Thursday. Eleven workers at the stores, including six stores in the Diamond District in Manhattan, were arrested Wednesday and charged with money laundering. The workers were arrested as part of a two-year investigation that found they had taken part in a money ring designed to funnel cash back to drug lords in Colombia, said U.S. Attorney James Comey. The 11 workers were awaiting arraignment at press time Thursday.
NEW CHARGE: American Express announced its latest sponsorship recipient: the fashion house Boudicca, which is designed by Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby. The sponsorship, announced Thursday in London, provides funds for staging fashion shows and other growth initiatives for emerging designers. The financial services company last sponsored Alexander McQueen, with whom it continues to collaborate.