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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — A plan to stage a coup against Bolivia’s president was not what Gen. Tomás Peña y Lillo was expecting when he entered the military headquarters in La Paz last Wednesday.

The leader of Bolivia’s retired service members said he was surprised to get a call that morning from army chief Gen. Juan José Zúñiga with a request to report for talks about how to advocate for imprisoned soldiers.

It was a coveted meeting, so he rushed over to find Zúñiga surrounded by officers asking for their help in “defending democracy.” Peña y Lillo claims he demurred, but tanks were already rumbling out of the barracks toward the presidential palace.

“It’s a tragicomedy,” Peña y Lillo, now a fugitive wanted for his participation in the alleged coup attempt, told The Associated Press by phone from an undisclosed location.

Like many Bolivians, he said he struggled to piece the story together, recalling how “there had been a lot of talk in the military that (Bolivian President Luis) Arce would hand the government over to Zúñiga” as protests roiled the country over shortages of dollars and fuel.

The retired general’s comments mark another surreal turn in the nation’s efforts to establish the facts of what happened on June 26, when military forces stormed downtown La Paz, stunning the country and spinning off waves of rumors from the mundane to the absurd.

A week after the purported rebellion roiled the South American country that has seen no fewer than 190 coups since its independence in 1825, Bolivians who thought they’d seen it all say they’ve never been more confused.

“This is so strange, so unbelievable,” said Marcia Tiñini, a 58-year-old teacher in La Paz. “First I believed the government and felt solidarity, but now I don’t know what to say.”


SAO PAULO (AP) — The indictment of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for money laundering and criminal association in connection with undeclared diamonds from Saudi Arabia marked the far-right leader’s second formal accusation, with more potentially in store.

The indictment on Thursday by Federal Police, confirmed by two officials with knowledge of the case, followed another formal accusation in March against Bolsonaro, for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Once Brazil’s Supreme Court receives the police report with the latest indictment, the country’s prosecutor-general, Paulo Gonet, will analyze it and decide whether to shelve it, ask for additional police investigation or file charges and force Bolsonaro to stand trial.

It’s still early to say how likely the last option is, but the police indictment already marked a turning point in the case, said legal expert Renato Stanziola Vieira, president of the Brazilian Institute of Criminal Sciences.


BANGKOK (AP) — New fighting has broken out in northeastern Myanmar, bringing an end to a Chinese-brokered cease-fire and putting pressure on the military regime as it faces attacks from resistance forces on multiple fronts in the country’s civil war.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army, one of three powerful militias that launched a surprise joint offensive last October, renewed its attacks on regime positions last week in northeastern Shan state, which borders China, Laos and Thailand, and the neighboring Mandalay region with the support of local forces there.

Since then, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army has joined in, and by Friday, combined forces from the two allied militias had reportedly encircled the strategically important city of Lashio, headquarters of the regime’s northeastern military command.

This is the next phase of October’s “1027” offensive, said Lway Yay Oo, spokesperson for the TNLA, which last week said the military provoked retaliation with artillery and airstrikes despite the cease-fire.

“In phase two, our number one aim is the eradication of the military dictatorship, and number two is the protection and safety of local people,” she said.


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A man who stabbed South Korea’s opposition leader in the neck earlier this year was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday, court officials said.

The knife-wielding man attacked Lee Jae-myung, head of the liberal Democratic Party, South Korea’s biggest political party, in January after approaching him asking for his autograph at an event in the southeastern city of Busan. After being detained by police, he told investigators that he wanted to kill Lee to prevent him from becoming South Korea’s president.


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — In parts of Afghanistan where there are no street names or house numbers, utility companies and their customers have adopted a creative approach for connecting. They use mosques as drop points for bills and cash, a “pay and pray” system.

Now the national postal service wants to phase this out by putting mailboxes on every street across the country, part of a plan to modernize a service long challenged by bureaucracy and war.

The lofty aspirations include introducing access to shopping via e-commerce sites and issuing debit cards for online purchases. It will be a leap in a country where most of the population is unbanked, air cargo is in its infancy and international courier companies don’t deliver even to the capital, Kabul.

The changes mean Afghans will pay higher service fees, a challenge as more than half the population already relies on humanitarian aid to survive.

The Afghan Post, like much of the country, still does everything on paper. “Nobody uses email,” said its business development director, Zabihullah Omar. “Afghanistan is a member of the Universal Postal Union, but when we compare ourselves to other countries it is at a low level and in the early stages.” . . Post offices in Afghanistan are vital for women wanting to access services or products they would otherwise be denied, since they are often barred from entering ministries or other official premises.

But the spectre of the Taliban’s edicts targeting women and girls also looms at the Afghan Post.

At the entrance to the main Kabul branch, a sign tells women to correctly wear hijab, or the Islamic headscarf. One picture shows a woman with a red cross over her visible face. The other has a green check mark over the face because only her eyes are seen.


BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO leaders plan to pledge next week to keep pouring arms and ammunition into Ukraine at current levels for at least another year, hoping to reassure the war-ravaged country of their ongoing support and show Russian President Vladimir Putin that they will not walk away.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterparts meet in Washington for a three-day summit beginning Tuesday to mark the military alliance’s 75th anniversary as Russian troops press their advantage along Ukraine’s eastern front in the third year of the war.

Speaking to reporters Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO’s 32 member countries have been spending around 40 billion euros ($43 billion) each year on military equipment for Ukraine since the war began in February 2022 and that this should be “a minimum baseline” going forward.

“I expect allies will decide at the summit to sustain this level within the next year,” Stoltenberg said. He said the amount would be shared among nations based on their economic growth and that the leaders will review the figure when they meet again in 2025.

NATO is desperate to do more for Ukraine but is struggling to find new ways. Already, NATO allies provide 99% of the military support it gets. Soon, the alliance will manage equipment deliveries. But two red lines remain: no NATO membership until the war is over, and no NATO boots on the ground there.

At their last summit, NATO leaders agreed to fast-track Ukraine’s membership process — although the country is unlikely to join for many years — and set up a high-level body for emergency consultations. Several countries promised more military equipment.


cross-posted from:


Despite sanctions by Western countries against Russia due to the Ukraine war, the country has become a high-income economy from an upper-middle income economy. In its latest rankings, the World Bank has promoted the Russian economy to the top income category.


The Spanish government has a plan to prevent kids from watching porn online: Meet the porn passport.

Officially (and drily) called the Digital Wallet Beta (Cartera Digital Beta), the app Madrid unveiled on Monday would allow internet platforms to check whether a prospective smut-watcher is over 18. Porn-viewers will be asked to use the app to verify their age. Once verified, they'll receive 30 generated “porn credits” with a one-month validity granting them access to adult content. Enthusiasts will be able to request extra credits.


Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor emphasises that companies, including Autel Robotics—a Chinese electronics and drone manufacturer—must comply with international law. They should take immediate action if they know or reasonably should know that their products are being used for serious violations. Euro-Med specifically urges addressing the growing use of Autel Robotics drones by Israel in its ongoing genocide against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.

Since the very beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022, Autel Robotics has published statements deploring the use of any drone product to harm people or property. Despite this, Autel’s drones have been extensively employed for military purposes.

From the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Autel’s drones have proven to be popular on both sides. These drones have also been extensively utilised by the IDF in the Gaza Strip since the start of the attack on 7th October 2023. Initially used for surveillance and intelligence gathering, including indoor operations, they were later used to fire directly at Palestinian civilians, including children, women, and the elderly.

In addition to aerial and artillery bombardment and ground incursions, the Israeli army has escalated its deliberate killings and extrajudicial executions of unarmed Palestinian civilians in various parts of the Strip. This includes direct targeting with snipers, electronic-controlled quadcopters, and small drones in shelter centers, hospitals, streets, and populated residential areas.


Viktor Orbán, Europe’s most pro-Russian leader, met Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Friday on a rare trip to Russia that drew strong condemnation from other European leaders.

Orbán’s visit to Moscow came days after he made a similar unannounced trip to Kyiv, as the Hungarian prime minister attempts to position himself as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine.

Shortly after landing in Russia for his first trip to the country since Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Orbán published a photo with the caption: “The peace mission continues. Second stop: Moscow.”

At the Kremlin, the two leaders held talks that a senior Moscow aide described as a “frank conversation” covering all issues related to Ukraine.

Speaking at a joint conference with Orbán afterwards, Putin signalled he was not ready to compromise on the maximalist demands he made of Ukraine last month.

Putin repeated his earlier ultimatum to end the war, demanding Kyiv cede more land, withdraw troops deeper inside its own territory and drop its Nato bid.

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