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Switzerland

Spaniard suspected of major Swiss bank fraud

A former asset manager with the Geneva branch of Swiss private bank Vontobel is suspected of defrauding wealthy Spanish clients of “dozens of millions of francs,” according to a media report.

‘Devil’s couple’ escape life term for murder
Switzerland

‘Devil’s couple’ escape life term for murder

A Geneva court of appeal on Thursday cut to 20 years a life prison sentence against a man and woman — dubbed the “devil’s couple” by the media — for brutally murdering a pregnant woman.

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Switzerland

Vaccinations slash measles rates, WHO says

The global number of measles deaths dropped by 71 percent between 2000 and 2011 largely thanks to a boost in vaccination efforts, the Geneva-based World Health Organisation says.

Average Swedes ‘sweet-toothed meat-lovers’
Sweden

Average Swedes ‘sweet-toothed meat-lovers’

The average Swede is just over 40 years old, enjoys a bag of sweets per week, yet likes to keep active, according to the 2013 Statistical Yearbook of Sweden from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån -SCB).

Swiss finance risks ‘wasting away’: banker
Switzerland

Swiss finance risks ‘wasting away’: banker

Switzerland must immediately settle its tax rows with countries such as France or its banks will lose many clients, the head of the Swiss Private Bankers Association (SPBA) says.

‘Loves gays’, worships God, fights gay marriage
France

‘Loves gays’, worships God, fights gay marriage

At Sunday's anti-gay marriage demo in Paris, a self-styled 'fag-hag' and 'spin doctor for Jesus' got the loudest cheers. In the first of a new series, The Local takes a closer look at the all-singing, all-dancing paradox that is Frigide Barjot – this week’s French Face of the Week.

Borg rejects call for mortgage-repayment law
Sweden

Borg rejects call for mortgage-repayment law

Sweden's Finance Minister Anders Borg said Thursday that he is not in favour of forcing home owners to pay down their mortgages, outlined in a proposal by the Riksbank head that caused a stir on Tuesday.

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France

France wins EU support for Mali operation

France won support from European Union nations on Thursday for its military campaign in Mali and offers of military aid, possibly including troops, at emergency talks on the crisis.

‘Don’t fear the word power’: equality minister
Sweden

‘Don’t fear the word power’: equality minister

Gender equality has fallen off many Swedish citizens' list of top-priorities, several speakers noted at a labour and equality conference in Stockholm on Thursday.

Princess offers to save Bardot’s elephants
France

Princess offers to save Bardot’s elephants

It seems French actress Brigitte Bardot might not have to go into self-imposed exile in Russia over two elephants after all, thanks to Monaco's royal family.

‘Train crash might have been an accident’
Sweden

‘Train crash might have been an accident’

As sightseers flocked to the train that remains lodged inside a Stockholm house after a cleaning lady crashed it on Tuesday, officials have backed down and admitted the incident may indeed have been an accident.

Bundesbank axes advice over death penalty
Germany

Bundesbank axes advice over death penalty

The Bundesbank has shelved plans to offer technical assistance to Bangladesh in anti-counterfeiting efforts because of the country's plans to impose the death sentence for counterfeiting.

Fine for first Rhineland wolf kill since 1879
Germany

Fine for first Rhineland wolf kill since 1879

A 72-year-old hunter who shot the first wolf seen in the Rhineland since 1879 - claiming he thought it was a dog - has been fined €3,500 after genetic tests confirmed it had indeed been a protected species.

Kid traps grandpa on freezing Munich balcony
Germany

Kid traps grandpa on freezing Munich balcony

A 72-year-old German man has been hospitalised with hypothermia after his toddler grandson locked him out on the balcony - trapping him in sub-zero temperatures for five hours.

Hostage crisis: Military operation underway
France

Hostage crisis: Military operation underway

France and Norway confirmed on Thursday that an operation was underway at the Algerian gas plant where Islamist militants were holding dozens of foreign hostages.

Laila Bagge’s homeless mobile phone flap
Sweden

Laila Bagge’s homeless mobile phone flap

She’s a familiar face on Swedish television, but it was her venting blog post about a homeless man's mobile phone that caught the nation’s attention this week. Laila Bagge Wahlgren is The Local's Swede of the Week.

Sweden greenlights Gripen fighter purchase
Sweden

Sweden greenlights Gripen fighter purchase

The Swedish Armed Forces will buy 60 JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets, at the top of a 40-60 range stated in an agreement last year, the Swedish government said on Thursday.

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Switzerland

Swiss central bank to post lower profits

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) says it expects to post a profit of about six billion francs ($6.4 billion) for 2012 — less than half of what it made in 2011.

Armstrong is in the past: Tour de France chief
France

Armstrong is in the past: Tour de France chief

Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme said Thursday that disgraced rider Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles because of doping, "was already in the past".

Now Berlin airport won’t open before 2015
Germany

Now Berlin airport won’t open before 2015

Berliners and would-be visitors can forget about the capital's new airport for a while. A personnel shuffle saw the project manager pack his bags and leave this week as the technical boss said he did not expect take-off before 2015.

Germans hunting Mr or Ms Right not having kids
Germany

Germans hunting Mr or Ms Right not having kids

Germans choose not to have babies because they have not found a suitable mother or father for their child rather than due to financial concerns, a government report released on Wednesday suggests.

Star British pilot set for Swiss balloonfest
Switzerland

Star British pilot set for Swiss balloonfest

Brian Jones, the Englishman who circled the world in a balloon with Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard in 1999, is participating at the 35th annual international ballooning festival at Château d’Oex, getting under way later this month in the canton of Vaud.

French homes are ‘most over-valued in world’
France

French homes are ‘most over-valued in world’

Anyone who thought they got a good deal on their dream cottage in Brittany or plush apartment in Paris, might want to think again. According to calculations made in a survey by The Economist magazine, buyers in France might have paid as much as 50 percent over the odds.

Ikea funds local schools to boost hiring efforts
Sweden

Ikea funds local schools to boost hiring efforts

Ikea is donating 16 million kronor ($2.46 million) to help improve schools near its headquarters in southern Sweden to make it easier for the furniture giant to recruit workers to the area.

Payday for woman denied job for being ‘too young’
Sweden

Payday for woman denied job for being ‘too young’

A woman who was denied a job as a receptionist for being "too young" has been awarded a settlement of 50,000 kronor ($7,700) by Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen).

What’s on in Germany:  January 17 – 23
Germany

What’s on in Germany: January 17 – 23

This Week's Highlights: A Charlie Chaplin ballet in Leipzig, Kurt Weill concerts in Berlin, and President Obama's inauguration broadcast live in Munich.

Telekom cuts 1,200 jobs in reshuffle
Germany

Telekom cuts 1,200 jobs in reshuffle

Deutsche Telekom will cut 1,200 jobs in Germany by June in what it termed "reorganization" rather than a downscaling operation, the Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.

Federal cabinet rejects minimum wage bid
Switzerland

Federal cabinet rejects minimum wage bid

The federal cabinet is opposing an initiative to establish a minimum wage in Switzerland, arguing that the labour market is functioning well and that there is already sufficient protection against “wage dumping”.

Dordogne and Nice under snow as France freezes
France

Dordogne and Nice under snow as France freezes

The Dordogne region in France was on alert on Thursday after heavy snowfalls overnight, which reportedly left thousands of residents without electricity.

Lower Saxony poll kicks off key year for Merkel
Germany

Lower Saxony poll kicks off key year for Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Sunday face their first test at the polls ahead of this year's general election, with a state vote in Lower Saxony that could prove decisive for her flailing coalition partners the FDP. AFP's Deborah Cole reports.

Scallop wars: France fines British captain
France

Scallop wars: France fines British captain

The captain of a British trawler convicted of illegally dredging scallops in French waters was fined €20,000 on Wednesday in the latest episode in a simmering Anglo-French battle over the valuable shellfish.

Hollande ‘echoes Bush’ in tough anti-terror talk
France

Hollande ‘echoes Bush’ in tough anti-terror talk

With its talk of "destroying" enemies and confronting "jihadi terrorists", France has adopted a language of war for its intervention in Mali that few expected from Socialist President Francois Hollande.

Doctors warn Swedes are abusing painkillers
Sweden

Doctors warn Swedes are abusing painkillers

Since the Swedish government reformed the pharmacy system three years ago, Swedes are popping paracetemol-based painkillers like never before, warn doctors working with overdose and accidental poisoning cases.

Playing the Jewish card in Germany
Germany

Playing the Jewish card in Germany

Can a German criticize Israel and not be anti-Semitic? Miriam Widman comments on the latest chapter of Germany’s complicated and often troubled relationship with the Jewish people.

‘Tight schedules for trucks up the risk’
Sweden

‘Tight schedules for trucks up the risk’

Swedish police have dismissed the theory that faulty winter tyres are to blame for Tuesday's massive car crash, which involved nearly 100 cars and killed one person, but say they have pinpointed the three trucks that initially collided.

Gothenburg traffic drops with new toll fee
Sweden

Gothenburg traffic drops with new toll fee

The new year's day introduction of a congestion charge has deterred one in five drivers from taking a spin in central Gothenburg.

Court fines British bishop for Holocaust denial
Germany

Court fines British bishop for Holocaust denial

A German court has fined renegade British Bishop Richard Williamson €1,800 ($2,400) for denying key facts about the Holocaust.

Men take on more household shopping
Germany

Men take on more household shopping

German men seem to be learning how to manoeuvre supermarket trolleys - and although women still do more shopping than their menfolk, the gap is shrinking, new data shows.