Banks need to change, UBS tells UK politicians
Switzerland

Banks need to change, UBS tells UK politicians

The banking sector "needs to change" after it became "too arrogant" in the run-up to the infamous Libor rate-rigging scandal, the head of the investment bank division of UBS told British lawmakers in London on Wednesday.

Pregnant cow rescued after fall into septic tank
Switzerland

Pregnant cow rescued after fall into septic tank

In an operation requiring all the delicacy of a surgical procedure, firemen in a Bern village succeeded in rescuing a pregnant cow after it fell into a septic tank on Wednesday.

Swiss border police seize elephant tusk in Basel
Switzerland

Swiss border police seize elephant tusk in Basel

Swiss border police made an unusual find when they searched a train in Basel at the weekend: an elephant tusk meticulously hidden in a Frenchman's bag, police said on Wednesday.

Defence Minister ‘sets the bar too low’: critics
Sweden

Defence Minister ‘sets the bar too low’: critics

Sweden’s defence minister faced a barrage of criticism on Wednesday after she said it was “enough” for Sweden only to be able to defend itself militarily for a week if it came under attack.

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Sweden

Plane slips off runway at Stockholm airport

A plane bound for Munich slid off the tarmac at Stockholm's Arlanda airport during take-off on Wednesday afternoon. No passengers were injured.

Lööf rules out polygamy in Centre Party row
Sweden

Lööf rules out polygamy in Centre Party row

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf cut short her holiday on Wednesday in an attempt to tackle and revise her party's radical new suggestions on immigration, polygamy and changes to compulsory education.

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France

Family ‘held for a year in squalid flat’

French authorities on Wednesday opened an investigation into the shocking case of a mother and her four children who appear to have been kept locked up for at least a year in squalid conditions in their council flat.

Cologne Cathedral gets bad vibrations
Germany

Cologne Cathedral gets bad vibrations

One of Germany's most important landmarks is being literally undermined by a new underground train line - visitors to Cologne Cathedral have reported vibrations and noises since a nearby station went into operation.

‘Swedish prayer call debate treats Islam like a static religion’
Sweden

‘Swedish prayer call debate treats Islam like a static religion’

Ignorant politicians have allowed a vocal minority of the Swedish Muslims who don’t want to adapt to life in a secular and democratic state to dominate the debate about calls to prayer at Sweden's mosques, argues contributor Nima Gholam Ali Pour.

Industry bounces back slightly amid weak Q4
Germany

Industry bounces back slightly amid weak Q4

Industrial powerhouse Germany achieved a slight bounce in production in November after a weak October, official figures showed on Wednesday, but still seemed to have suffered a disappointing end to 2012.

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Switzerland

Millions of domestic workers denied rights: report

The number of domestic workers worldwide has surged by 60 percent since 1995 to more than 52 million, but despite their growing numbers most are still deprived of basic rights, the UN's Geneva-based labour agency said on Wednesday.

‘Rude’ Parisians try to clean up their act
France

‘Rude’ Parisians try to clean up their act

The "City of Light" may draw more tourists than most world capitals, but Paris less than sparkles to the legions of visitors shocked to find its residents can be rude, brusque and snobbish.

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Norway

Statoil plans $10-billion Norwegian Sea project

Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil and its partners presented plans on Tuesday to develop a Norwegian Sea gas field and build a pipeline at a cost of 57 billion kroner ($10 billion).

Truck crashes into bus stop injuring five children
Germany

Truck crashes into bus stop injuring five children

German police arrested on Wednesday morning a truck driver who crashed into a bus stop, injuring five children, including two schoolgirls seriously, and spilling gravel from the vehicle all over the road.

Peugeot blames crisis as sales plunge
France

Peugeot blames crisis as sales plunge

French auto giant Peugeot, recently rescued by the government, reported on Wednesday a 16.5-percent plunge of sales last year because of problems in southern Europe and Iran and despite strong demand in Russia and China.

Daughter says Klaus Kinski raped her
Germany

Daughter says Klaus Kinski raped her

Pola Kinski, daughter of legendary German actor Klaus Kinski, has told a German magazine that she was sexually abused by her father over 14 years from the age of five.

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France

Hollande refuses to save Bardot elephants

French President François Hollande will not intervene in the case of two ailing zoo elephants whose death sentence led Brigitte Bardot to threaten to go into exile in Russia, his office said on Wednesday.

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Switzerland

UNHCR slams Qatar for poet’s life sentence

The UN's human rights agency has criticized the jailing and treatment of Qatari poet Mohammed al Ajami, whose writings have landed him a life sentence.

Pot growers hoard cache of illegal weapons
Switzerland

Pot growers hoard cache of illegal weapons

A Swiss couple busted for a major pot plant growing operation in Biberist, a town in the canton of Solothurn, also harboured a large cache of weapons, cantonal police said on Wednesday.

H&M targets women with new fashion brand
Sweden

H&M targets women with new fashion brand

H&M, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, said on Wednesday that it will launch a chain of stores targeting women in seven European cities, in a bid to attract new customers.

Swedish school makes Minecraft a must
Sweden

Swedish school makes Minecraft a must

A school in Stockholm has made headlines after introducing compulsory Minecraft lessons for 13-year-old students, with teachers hoping the Swedish computer game will encourage the children to develop their thinking.

Russian shoppers drop in on Dresden for Christmas
Germany

Russian shoppers drop in on Dresden for Christmas

Shop owners in the eastern Germany city of Dresden have been celebrating this week as the annual influx of Russians arrived to celebrate their Christmas and New Year, which for most involves a hefty shopping spree.

Jewel raid suspect dies after police shooting
Sweden

Jewel raid suspect dies after police shooting

The 26-year-old man shot in the head by Swedish police in connection with a jewellery store robbery in Södertäjle last week died in hospital on Wednesday morning.

Merkel rides high as partner FDP nose-dives
Germany

Merkel rides high as partner FDP nose-dives

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner the Free Democratic Party has been hit by a new opinion poll which found that just two percent of Germans would vote for them. Luckily for Merkel, her Christian Democrats are picking up the slack.

Polluter-pay garbage plan hits snags in Vaud
Switzerland

Polluter-pay garbage plan hits snags in Vaud

A scheme introduced on January 1st to charge residents for the garbage they produce in Lausanne and almost 200 other municipalities in the canton of Vaud is off to a rocky start, according to media reports.

TeliaSonera rebuffs minister’s ‘time-out’ call
Sweden

TeliaSonera rebuffs minister’s ‘time-out’ call

TeliaSonera will not order senior managers accused of corruption stemming from the Nordic telecom giant's dealings in Uzbekistan to take time off, despite calls by a Swedish minister who called recent revelations "very serious".

Surgery figures expand for obese young Swedes
Sweden

Surgery figures expand for obese young Swedes

More young Swedes are going under the knife to lose weight, with 450 obese patients under the age of 25 opting for surgery in 2011, a choice proving more and more popular in Sweden.

Catholic Church thwarts child abuse investigation
Germany

Catholic Church thwarts child abuse investigation

Church officials have apparently thwarted a comprehensive investigation into widespread child abuse at Catholic institutions in Germany.

Brits accused in Sweden garlic smuggling racket
Sweden

Brits accused in Sweden garlic smuggling racket

Sweden has issued an arrest warrant for two Britons suspected of smuggling millions of dollars' worth of garlic into Sweden from Norway.

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Sweden

Retrial for man convicted in ‘shaken baby’ case

A father convicted of shaking his infant daughter to death has been granted a retrial by Sweden's Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) in a case that could result in a re-examination of other cases of "shaken baby syndrome".

Court eases lockdown on neo-Nazi terrorist
Germany

Court eases lockdown on neo-Nazi terrorist

A court in Munich has eased the imprisonment conditions of suspected neo-Nazi terrorist Beate Zschäpe, since the other members of her far-right gang are dead.

Cyber Cyrano saves woeful web wooers
Germany

Cyber Cyrano saves woeful web wooers

Two Germans have launched the country's first internet dating ghost-writing service for those too busy to woo women online. The Local's Jessica Ware spoke to a cyber Cyrano de Bergerac.

Poland probes Swede’s Holocaust ash art claims
Sweden

Poland probes Swede’s Holocaust ash art claims

Polish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a Swedish artist's claims he used the ashes of Holocaust victims in his artwork, an official said on Tuesday.