Thailand's junta chief on Friday ruled out elections for at least a year to have time for political "reforms", defending the recent military coup in the face of rising international alarm. "The (ruling military regime) have a timeframe of one year and three months to move towards elections," said army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha in a televised national address over a week after the army takeover. Only after this could elections be held. Thailand's military seized power on May 22 -- the 19th actual or attempted putsch in its modern history -- and set about rounding up scores of political figures, academics and activists.
Veteran actor Gerard Depardieu who fled his native France in protest over a new wealth tax is now paying a rate of only six percent in his newly adopted country of Russia, the Izvestia daily reported Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Depardieu a Russian passport in 2013 after he left France in protest at having to pay a 75-percent tax rate. The 65-year-old actor filed his tax return on time in the remote Mordovia region where he has registered as a self-employed businessman, the deputy chief of the region's tax service, Sergei Shalyayev, told Izvestia, refusing to divulge the amount.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had tried to convince Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to be a candidate in the race for president, media said on Friday. Israeli media began reporting Netanyahu's last-minute attempt on Tuesday, when candidates had to present 10 MPs' signatures to be eligible for the position. Wiesel, who lives in New York, told top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot on Friday that Netanyahu had called him three times and then tried to pressure him through mutual friends, but the 86-year-old Romanian-born Nobel Peace Prize winner refused. Netanyahu's efforts to draw the Jewish-American writer and political activist who does not hold Israeli citizenship into the presidency race were reportedly part of his attempts to prevent the election of Reuven Rivlin of his own Likud party as president.
German industrial giant Siemens plans to eliminate about 11,600 jobs around the world as part of a major restructuring, a company spokesman told AFP on Friday. "These jobs will be cut," the spokesman said, confirming remarks made by chief executive Joe Kaeser to a conference of investors and analysts in New York on Thursday. Another 4,000 jobs will be cut as part of a regrouping of regional activities. Siemens said in early May that it expected its markets "to remain challenging in fiscal 2014" with a sustainable recovery not expected until late in the fiscal year.
Beleaguered Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg faced calls to expel Lord Rennard from the party on Friday after the peer apologised to four women who accused him of harassment. Rennard, a former Lib Dem strategist, confessed that he "may well have encroached upon 'personal space'" of the female party members, though he stopped short of admitting to sexual harassment. Three of the four party members who made the allegations, which emerged over a year ago, are now calling for Rennard to be permanently expelled from the party, according to BBC reports. "The real question here is, 'Should the Lib Dems accept him back on the benches in the House of Lords?' And I don't think the answer to that is yes," she told BBC News.