Man retrieving ball drowns in Aar River
Switzerland

Man retrieving ball drowns in Aar River

A 26-year-old Tunisian man drowned on Wednesday in a section of the Aar River in the canton of Bern.

Violent crime prisoner dies from hunger strike
Switzerland

Violent crime prisoner dies from hunger strike

A Swiss prisoner jailed for violent crime in 2009 died on Wednesday after launching a hunger strike more than ten weeks ago to try to win his freedom, security authorities in the canton of Zug said.

Technology turning the French on to virtual sex
France

Technology turning the French on to virtual sex

Sixteen percent of young French people admit to having had virtual sex, and one in ten say they have made a sex tape. These are just two of the more eyebrow-raising results of a survey into how technology is changing the erotic habits of the French.

Spain recognizes Maduro victory in Venezuela
Spain

Spain recognizes Maduro victory in Venezuela

Spain has recognized the Venezuelan authorities' decision to confirm Nicolas Maduro as the winner of Venezuela's tight presidential election after initially expressing doubts over the outcome of the vote.

French executive is kidnapped by mistake
France

French executive is kidnapped by mistake

Kidnappers have apologized to the wife of a Frenchman they took hostage in Madagascar this week after admitting they got the wrong man. Despite the mistake the hostage takers are still demanding a €244,000 ransom payment.

Rodent police launch war on Paris rats
France

Rodent police launch war on Paris rats

Better weather and warmer air bring everyone back on to the streets of the French capital, including the city’s millions of scurrying rats. And that can mean only one thing – it’s rat extermination season for one dedicated Paris police squad.

The five hottest names in Swedish fashion
Sweden

The five hottest names in Swedish fashion

With summer fast approaching, The Local offers up five iconic names in Swedish fashion design so readers into who's hot and what's hip can find their way in the trendy world of Swedish fashion.

Gang kingpin put back behind bars
Spain

Gang kingpin put back behind bars

A Spanish court ordered the return to prison on Tuesday of a Chinese art dealer suspected of leading a massive money-laundering gang in Spain pending his possible trial, judging him a flight risk.

‘Plan for degree courses in English is deluded’
France

‘Plan for degree courses in English is deluded’

The French government is planning a controversial change in the law to allow more university courses to be taught entirely in English, in a bid to attract foreign students. Author Frederic Werst, one of a group of writers against the project tells The Local why the idea is "deluded".

Johansson out as most common Swedish name
Sweden

Johansson out as most common Swedish name

For years, Johansson has been the most common surname in Sweden, but fresh statistics reveal the storied name can no longer lay claim to the top spot.

UK cheese seller’s charm melts Swiss hearts
Switzerland

UK cheese seller’s charm melts Swiss hearts

When Michael Fontana-Jones moved to Switzerland from London eight years ago, he took on the brave mission of persuading a country renowned for its own cheeses to try his native Cheddar and Stilton. Here, he tells The Local how he fared.

New in German cinemas: ‘I Give It a Year’
Germany

New in German cinemas: ‘I Give It a Year’

Find movies playing in English in Germany with The Local’s cinema guide.

Reinfeldt breaks silence on Boston bombing
Sweden

Reinfeldt breaks silence on Boston bombing

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt commented on the Boston Marathon bombings for the first time on Wednesday, admitting it is "impossible" to completely prevent such attacks, either in Sweden or the United States.

Rat poison-laced bread puts 25 in hospital
Germany

Rat poison-laced bread puts 25 in hospital

Twenty-five office employees were hospitalised on Tuesday after eating bread rolls scattered with rat poison. Staff thought they had been left a present when the box containing the bread appeared on the company's doorstep.

France announces plan to cut deficit by 2014
France

France announces plan to cut deficit by 2014

France announced a plan on Wednesday to bring its public deficit below the EU limit of 3.0 percent of GDP by 2014, one year later than expected. The project involves higher taxes, and finding savings in France's extensive social security system.

Jobs minister talks down Spain’s youth exodus
Spain

Jobs minister talks down Spain’s youth exodus

Spain's Employment Minister Fátima Báñez said on Tuesday young people were exercising "external mobility" when they moved overseas for work, a choice she saw as completely normal.

Inter-faith advocate to lead French Catholics
France

Inter-faith advocate to lead French Catholics

France's Catholic church has a new leader as of Wednesday after Monsignor Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseilles, was elected president of the French conference of bishops. He succeeds Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois.

H&M set to dress Sweden’s Olympians
Sweden

H&M set to dress Sweden’s Olympians

Swedish clothing giant H&M announced on Wednesday that it would be dressing Sweden's athletes for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Sochi.

Postal strike leaves letters in limbo
Germany

Postal strike leaves letters in limbo

Millions of letters and parcels lay undelivered on Wednesday in Germany as postal workers walked out in a fight for more pay. In bigger cities, demonstrations are planned.

Spring has sprung but not for long
Germany

Spring has sprung but not for long

After months of mournful longing, spring has finally sprung in Germany. But before you run gleefully into a beer garden stripping off as you go - temperatures are set to fall again this weekend.

Top Catalan clan faces dirty dealing charges
Spain

Top Catalan clan faces dirty dealing charges

Long seen as the foremost champion of Catalan nationalism and a symbol of opposition to the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Jordi Pujol now finds the image of his family tarnished in Spain by financial scandals involving two of his sons.

Treble-chasing Bayern blast into Cup final
Germany

Treble-chasing Bayern blast into Cup final

High-flying Bayern Munich kept alive their dreams of becoming Germany's first team to win the treble by booking their German Cup final berth with a 6-1 win at home to VfL Wolfsburg in Tuesday's semi-final.

One in ten Swedish newborns to live to 100
Sweden

One in ten Swedish newborns to live to 100

Statistics Sweden has predicted that eleven percent of girls born in 2012 will live to be older than 100, with about six percent of boys reaching the same age.

Police detain four over cow-killing blaze
Sweden

Police detain four over cow-killing blaze

Police have detained four people in connection with a fire that killed 70 cows in the barn of an agricultural high school about 50 kilometres south of Stockholm.

France tops EU ranking for horsemeat products
France

France tops EU ranking for horsemeat products

France has been more affected by the horsemeat scandal than anywhere else in the EU, according to a new study by the European Commission. The report found France more products labelled as beef tested positive for horsemeat in France than any other country.

Greenpeace targets Syngenta on bee deaths
Switzerland

Greenpeace targets Syngenta on bee deaths

Greenpeace activists claiming pesticides decimate bee populations demonstrated on Wednesday at the headquarters of Swiss agrichemical giant Syngenta, hanging a huge banner outside.

‘Spain’s language laws are like paedophilia’
Spain

‘Spain’s language laws are like paedophilia’

Former-actor-turned-politician Toni Cantó has put his foot in it by saying the ruling Popular Party’s stringent language laws should be illegal in the same way that paedophilia is.

Provincial judges hurt Germany’s image abroad
Germany

Provincial judges hurt Germany’s image abroad

A Munich court's provincial pedantry has damaged Germany's image abroad, just as the country seeks justice for an unprecedented series of racist murders by neo-Nazis, writes The Local's Marc Young.

Nine German stereotypes debunked
Germany

Nine German stereotypes debunked

Why isn't everyone wearing Lederhosen? It's easy for foreigners to stereotype Germany, but this week's Local List is dedicated to debunking common myths.

Madrid mayor cops heat over bodyguard bill
Spain

Madrid mayor cops heat over bodyguard bill

The mayor of the Madrid district of Majadahonda is under fire for spending over a quarter of a million euros a year on a troop of personal bodyguards.

Two Swiss charged in US for aiding tax evasion
Switzerland

Two Swiss charged in US for aiding tax evasion

The US justice department has charged a Swiss banker and a Swiss lawyer with helping American citizens evade paying taxes by stashing millions of dollars in secret offshore accounts.

Petroplus refinery set to close after court ruling
France

Petroplus refinery set to close after court ruling

The French Petoplus refinery looks set to shut down, after 85 years of operating, after a commercial court rejected last-ditch bids to rescue it, saying that the proposed business plans were not robust enough.

Fatal Alps bus crash blamed on ‘brake failure’
France

Fatal Alps bus crash blamed on ‘brake failure’

A French prosecutor investigating a fatal bus crash in the Alps in which the British driver of the vehicle was killed and four passengers seriously injured said brake failure was the probable cause. The driver has been praised for his courage.

Riksbank holds interest rate at one percent
Sweden

Riksbank holds interest rate at one percent

Sweden's benchmark interest rate will remain at one percent for longer than previously planned, the Riksbank announced on Wednesday citing the need to "support the recovery" in a time of timid economic development in the US and Asia, and less solid gains in Europe.

Eight charged over 1992 Falcone mafia killing
Italy

Eight charged over 1992 Falcone mafia killing

Italian prosecutors on Tuesday charged eight new people over the 1992 mafia bombing assassination of judge Giovanni Falcone -- an attack that profoundly shocked the country.

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Spain

Police nab Basque boss over airport ETA honour

A court in Spain charged a Basque nationalist on Tuesday with incitement to terrorism for helping to stage an homage to the suspected former leader of the armed Basque separatist group ETA who died last month at a Paris hospital.

Madrid marathon to honour Boston victims
Spain

Madrid marathon to honour Boston victims

Participants in the Madrid marathon later this month will pay tribute to those killed and injured in Boston, the president of the Spanish race, Guillermo Jimenez said on Tuesday.

King’s daughter appeals corruption case call-up
Spain

King’s daughter appeals corruption case call-up

Spanish King Juan Carlos' youngest daughter on Tuesday lodged an appeal against her summons as an official suspect in a graft investigation centred on her husband, a judicial source said.

Eurovision gets security hike after past threats
Sweden

Eurovision gets security hike after past threats

Swedish police announced on Wednesday an increase in security at Malmö's Eurovision Song Contest in May, including metal detectors for spectators and extra bomb-sniffing dogs from around the country.

‘France needs solidarity – not Thatcherism’
France

‘France needs solidarity – not Thatcherism’

Margaret Thatcher's death has provoked a fair amount of soul-searching in France over whether the country could do with some Thatcherite economic remedies to haul its ailing economy back to life. Here, those on the French left explain why France is better off without Thatcherism.

Disgraced ex-minister branded ‘pathetic’ by PM
France

Disgraced ex-minister branded ‘pathetic’ by PM

France's disgraced former budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac gave his first televised interview on Tuesday since he quit his post after being charged with tax fraud. France's PM described it as a "pathetic" communications ploy.

Woman finds bag of human bones
Germany

Woman finds bag of human bones

The authorities in the northern German city of Kiel on Wednesday hoped to determine the origin of a bag of human bones discovered on the side of the road.

Study: teens better with money than thought
Germany

Study: teens better with money than thought

More than half of German 15 to 20-year-olds save regularly and almost all of those who took out a loan in 2012 paid it back without a hitch, a study released on Tuesday revealed.

Kids read and write better on iPads: Swedish study
Sweden

Kids read and write better on iPads: Swedish study

Young children using tablets such as the iPad are better at writing than their counterparts using pens and paper, a new Swedish study has revealed.

The Hives lose court case against The Cardigans
Sweden

The Hives lose court case against The Cardigans

One of Sweden's most successful rock bands, The Hives, has to pay 18.5 million kronor ($2.9 million) to Swedish pop group The Cardigans, a court ruled Tuesday.

Daimler unloads EADS stake for €2.2 billion
Germany

Daimler unloads EADS stake for €2.2 billion

German car manufacturer Daimler said Wednesday it pocketed €2.2 billion ($2.9 billion) from the sale of its remaining 7.5-percent stake in the European aerospace and defence group EADS.