Switzerland is ‘worst place to make friends’
Switzerland

Switzerland is ‘worst place to make friends’

When it comes to economics, Switzerland tops the tables, according to a new survey of expats, but the experience of living in the country is less favourable, particularly when it comes to making friends.

Austria’s Swiss football coach to stay put
Switzerland

Austria’s Swiss football coach to stay put

Switzerland's Marcel Koller will stay on as Austria's national football team coach until 2015, the football federation (OeFB) announced Wednesday, despite the team's failure to qualify for the World Cup next summer.

‘Hands off my Hooker’ campaign sparks uproar
France

‘Hands off my Hooker’ campaign sparks uproar

There was outrage in France on Wednesday over a provocative “Hands off my Hooker” campaign which has enlisted 343 self-proclaimed "scumbags" to oppose the abolition of prostitution.

Swedish firms ‘help Georgia spy on citizens’
Sweden

Swedish firms ‘help Georgia spy on citizens’

Technologies supplied by Swedish telecom firms Ericsson and TeliaSonera are helping authorities in the former Soviet republic of Georgia spy on their citizens, according to Swedish media reports.

‘Gadget-happy Swedes risk patient privacy’
Sweden

‘Gadget-happy Swedes risk patient privacy’

Three million Swedes had their medical journals on an unsafe database for eight months, which has outraged IT security observers and shows how modern technology can be at unnecessary odds with patient confidentiality, warned Sweden's Pirate Party.

Hingis questioned over husband’s assault claims
Switzerland

Hingis questioned over husband’s assault claims

Former Swiss tennis ace Martina Hingis has been questioned by investigators over claims that she assaulted her French husband Thibault Hutin at their home in the canton of Schwyz, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

Bigotry against curvy women ‘as bad as racism’
France

Bigotry against curvy women ‘as bad as racism’

When fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld blamed France’s healthcare deficit on "fat people" this month, it was the final straw for French activist Betty Aubrière. She tells us why her group is suing Lagerfeld, and how bigotry against curvy women is as bad as racism and homophobia.

Expats: Germany great for kids, bad for friends
Germany

Expats: Germany great for kids, bad for friends

A global expat study has named Germany as the world's best country for raising children abroad and the second best place for expats to live in the world. But it scored badly for social life, making friends and staying healthy.

Private US firms ‘spying in Germany’
Germany

Private US firms ‘spying in Germany’

Private American companies play a major role in US spying in Germany, with at least 90 firms helping to feed classified information to Washington, German news weekly Stern reported on Wednesday.

France hits back at US spying allegations
France

France hits back at US spying allegations

France on Wednesday slammed as "unlikely" US allegations that European spy agencies shared phone call records with US intelligence, as a transatlantic surveillance row intensified.

Sweden ‘fourth best country in the world’
Sweden

Sweden ‘fourth best country in the world’

Sweden has been rated as the fourth best destination in the world in a new ranking by the Lonely Planet travel guide, thanks to its emerging pop-culture, it's food, and the fact that the north holds the setting for next year's European Capital of Culture.

Photo of the day: Greens in Hollande jibe balls up
France

Photo of the day: Greens in Hollande jibe balls up

French Green party activists were left furious this week when the Socialist government announced it was suspending a planned ‘ecotax’ aimed at encouraging environmentally friendly transport. However a ballsy protest campaign by young party activists backfired somewhat.

US spied on Vatican before conclave – report
Italy

US spied on Vatican before conclave – report

UPDATED: US secret services allegedly eavesdropped on cardinals before the conclave in March to elect a new pope, Italian weekly magazine Panorama claimed on Wednesday. The accusation was denied by the US intelligence agency, NSA, on Wednesday night.

Madeleine reveals royal baby’s gender: report
Sweden

Madeleine reveals royal baby’s gender: report

Sweden's Princess Madeleine, who announced in September that she is pregnant, has made known the gender of her first child, according to Swedish media reports.

Spain beats two-year recession blues
Spain

Spain beats two-year recession blues

Spain escaped from a two-year recession in the third quarter of this year with growth of 0.1 percent, official data showed on Wednesday, though unemployment remained extremely high.

Why French is the ‘world’s sexiest language’
France

Why French is the ‘world’s sexiest language’

The well-renowned seductive powers of the French language were given some recognition this week, when it was named the 'sexiest language in the world' in a poll of globetrotters. A linguistics expert tells The Local why it's all in our imagination.

Seven succulent sauces for Swedish meal time
Sweden

Seven succulent sauces for Swedish meal time

You can't get a meal in Sweden without some kind of sauce on the side, and it can be baffling at the best of times, claims Food blogger Maia Brindley Nilsson. She sets the record straight about Sweden's essential sauces.

Villagers outraged after artist pulls down church
Italy

Villagers outraged after artist pulls down church

An Italian artist has dismantled a church he bought on the internet in southern Italy to rebuild it at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, ruffling feathers among heritage authorities.

London’s cheapest suburb? It’s Barcelona
Spain

London’s cheapest suburb? It’s Barcelona

London's Sam Cookney caused a stir recently when he argued property prices in the UK capital were so high it would be cheaper to live in Barcelona and fly to work every day. Here he tells The Local what inspired his thinking.

Norway town beams in sun with giant mirrors
Norway

Norway town beams in sun with giant mirrors

A town in Norway on Wednesday began to get winter sun for the first time in its 100-year history after it started beaming down the sun from giant mirrors erected on hills to its north.

Zidane’s headbutt statue removed after protests
Italy

Zidane’s headbutt statue removed after protests

Qatar has removed a statue of Zinedine Zidane headbutting Italian player Marco Materazzi, after an outcry by conservatives, who slammed the art work as anti-Islam idolisation.

Qatar removes Zidane statue after outcry
France

Qatar removes Zidane statue after outcry

A statue in Qatar that immortalises the headbutt delivered by French football legend Zinedine Zidane to Italian player Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final has been removed following angry complaints that it was a violation of Islamic values.

Progress’s Per Sandberg in party meet scuffle
Norway

Progress’s Per Sandberg in party meet scuffle

Per Sandberg, the de facto leader of the Progress Party's anti-immigration faction, had to be pulled off another senior party member after attacking him at the party's annual congress this spring, the VG newspaper has reported.

Pensioner’s ‘mummified’ body found in closet
Italy

Pensioner’s ‘mummified’ body found in closet

The body of a 68-year-old woman, wrapped in bed sheets and sitting upright on a chair, has been found in the bedroom closet of a villa near Cuneo, northern Italy. The grim discovery of "The Holy woman", made on Sunday by her son-in-law, has rocked the small village of Borgo San Dalmazzo.

‘Dig up dictator Franco’: Spanish socialists
Spain

‘Dig up dictator Franco’: Spanish socialists

Spanish socialist party PSOE is calling for the remains of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco to be exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen claiming that "the perpetrator of a totalitarian regime" should not be kept in a basilica.

ENI surprises with firm profits
Italy

ENI surprises with firm profits

Italian oil major ENI reported unexpectedly strong results for the third quarter on Wednesday, despite a drop in production due to "geopolitical factors" in Nigeria and Libya.

Statoil surprises with strong summer profits
Norway

Statoil surprises with strong summer profits

State-backed Norwegian oil giant Statoil turned in surprisingly strong profits for the third-quarter on Wednesday. The group announced a net figure of 14.3 billion kroner (1.76 billion euro, $2.42 billion).

Church spends €130m on new Munich offices
Germany

Church spends €130m on new Munich offices

The construction bill for a new Catholic Church service centre in Munich has reached €130 million, more than triple the original estimate when work began in 2011.

Develop your career with an MBA: It’s an adventure
Sweden

Develop your career with an MBA: It’s an adventure

What can an Executive MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics do for you? Alumn Stéphane Egret explains how the programme changed his personal outlook and professional perspective for the better.

Spain’s intel boss to speak on US spy scandal
Spain

Spain’s intel boss to speak on US spy scandal

The head of Spain's intelligence services will address parliament over reports of US telephone-spying in Europe that have tested relations with Washington, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Wednesday.

France’s Catholic school ‘cougar’ hails victory
France

France’s Catholic school ‘cougar’ hails victory

After 20 years of "loyal service" as a classroom supervisor at a Catholic school on the French Riviera, Veronique Bonazzola was unceremoniously fired, after appearing as a scantily-clad "cougar" in a rap video (see below). But this week, she was handed a "victory against injustice".

Women’s quotas closer after coalition talks
Germany

Women’s quotas closer after coalition talks

The first rounds of coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democratic Party have put a minimum quota on the number of women in German boardrooms back on the table.

‘€20 million ransom paid to free French hostages’
France

‘€20 million ransom paid to free French hostages’

As four French hostages arrived in Paris on Wednesday after spending three years in captivity at the hands of Al Qaeda militants in Niger, sources claimed that a ransom of over €20 million was paid to free the men. The French government has denied any money was handed over.

Germans: ‘We’ve found second solar system’
Germany

Germans: ‘We’ve found second solar system’

A team of German scientists claim to have discovered a “second solar system” made up of seven planets orbiting a star similar to our own.

Free schools shun ‘bad pupils’ and ‘black music’
Sweden

Free schools shun ‘bad pupils’ and ‘black music’

State-funded, privately-run free schools may be turning away students with less aptitude, in breach of the law, with an undercover TV show revealing one school principal condemning "black music" and back-to-front baseball caps.

‘Tax cheats are enemies, not foreigners’ – Kyenge
Italy

‘Tax cheats are enemies, not foreigners’ – Kyenge

Tax evaders are to blame for stealing places in schools, not foreigners, Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said on Wednesday.

Massive data breach a ‘national security risk’
Sweden

Massive data breach a ‘national security risk’

Three million Swedes may have had their medical journals available to prying eyes, after a large-scale IT failure affected patients in Stockholm and Gotland.

German spies forced to deny US bug claims
Germany

German spies forced to deny US bug claims

UPDATE: The head of German foreign intelligence denied on Wednesday that Berlin was carrying out bugging operations from its embassy in the United States in a deepening espionage row.

Israel defends itself before UN rights body
Switzerland

Israel defends itself before UN rights body

Israel defended its record before the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, marking an end to its 18-month boycott of the body over scrutiny of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Animal-loving Catalans back circus animal ban
Spain

Animal-loving Catalans back circus animal ban

The Spanish region of Catalonia on Tuesday launched a bid to ban circus shows using animals, two years after it put a stop to bullfighting.

Taxi driver returns €250,000 to passengers
Germany

Taxi driver returns €250,000 to passengers

A taxi driver in Bavaria found €250,000 on the back seat of his cab on Sunday. He found the elderly couple it belonged to and turned down a finder's reward, accepting just €12 as a fare to return the money.

Duomo seeks Russian cash for €15m restoration
Italy

Duomo seeks Russian cash for €15m restoration

The organization responsible for the restoration of Milan’s iconic Duomo has travelled to Russia in an attempt to secure a €15 million investment to restore the monument in time for the 2015 Milan Expo.

Official: Brazil’s Diego Costa chooses Spain
Spain

Official: Brazil’s Diego Costa chooses Spain

Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa has confirmed his intention to play for Spain rather than Brazil, the country of his birth, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Tuesday.

Nuclear plant shutdown announced for 2019
Switzerland

Nuclear plant shutdown announced for 2019

The utility operating the Mühleberg nuclear power plant in the canton of Bern announced on Wednesday that it plans to shut down the facility in 2019.

France ‘spied on French phones for the US’
France

France ‘spied on French phones for the US’

The international row over spying took a new twist this week with US officials telling the Wall Street Journal that electronic spying on French and Spanish phone records was carried out by those countries' intelligence services and not by the National Security Agency.

Italian writes play about Lehman collapse
Italy

Italian writes play about Lehman collapse

The 2008 collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers is to be brought to the stage next month in a play described as a bit like watching the film "Titanic".

Much-changed Barça still too good for Celta
Spain

Much-changed Barça still too good for Celta

Barcelona moved four points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga as they eased to a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Tuesday.

Spain was spying for the US: NSA boss
Spain

Spain was spying for the US: NSA boss

The international row over US spying took a 180-degree turn on Tuesday when the head of the US spy agency the NSA stated that tracking of Spanish and French phone records was carried out by those countries' intelligence services and not by his organization, as European media reports had earlier suggested.

Norway world’s most prosperous country
Norway

Norway world’s most prosperous country

Norway has been ranked the world's most prosperous country for the fifth year in a row by the Legatum Prosperity Index, increasing its lead on Switzerland in the number two position.

Italy’s trove ‘worth more than Brits’ crown jewels’
Italy

Italy’s trove ‘worth more than Brits’ crown jewels’

Riches from a Neapolitan treasure trove said to be worth more than the British crown jewels are going on show in Rome in an unprecedented exhibition of emeralds and diamonds once owned by popes and kings.

VIDEO: Reindeer eyes change colour in winter
Norway

VIDEO: Reindeer eyes change colour in winter

You've heard about Rudolf's red nose, but until recently scientists had no idea that reindeers' eyes switch from gold in summer to a deep blue in winter.

US and Germany look to rebuild trust
Germany

US and Germany look to rebuild trust

UPDATE: German political and intelligence envoys are due to hold talks with US officials in Washington on Wednesday on rebuilding a "basis of trust" after alleged US tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

Moldovan dancer was Concordia captain’s lover
Italy

Moldovan dancer was Concordia captain’s lover

A Moldovan dancer who was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia when it sank off Italy killing 32 people told a court on Tuesday that she was Captain Francesco Schettino's lover.

French parents learn US brand of discipline
France

French parents learn US brand of discipline

French parents have traditionally relied on the tried and trusted method of discipline to raise their kids but change is in the air. Classes teaching how to be better parents, which have flourished in English-speaking countries, have begun taking France by storm.

French sue Lagerfeld over ‘fat slurs’
Germany

French sue Lagerfeld over ‘fat slurs’

A group representing full-figured women has launched legal action against German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld over comments he made, in which he blamed France’s welfare deficit on “fat people”.

Swedish restaurant reported for ‘gypsy soup’
Sweden

Swedish restaurant reported for ‘gypsy soup’

A Swedish restaurant has been reported to the police after offering "gypsy soup" on its daily menu, listing that all the ingredients had been stolen.

VIDEO: Norway star sets beard alight on birthday
Norway

VIDEO: Norway star sets beard alight on birthday

Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie celebrated his birthday on Tuesday by cramming his beard with candles, setting them alight and singing a special birthday song as flames lapped around his mouth and wax ran down his face.

Swedish kids protest parents’ phone addiction
Sweden

Swedish kids protest parents’ phone addiction

One third of children in Stockholm have complained about their parents' excessive phone use, with paediatricians warning that phone-dependent parents may hinder the emotional and cognitive development of their kids.

Tedious praise of ‘perfect Swedish society’
Sweden

Tedious praise of ‘perfect Swedish society’

Politicians and pundits love to praise Sweden, but sometimes they go a bit too far in relishing and embellishing the country's national myth, argues historian and liberal commentator David Lindén.