IOC awaits Putin’s reply to Lausanne invitation
Switzerland

IOC awaits Putin’s reply to Lausanne invitation

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit its headquarters in Lausanne following the Sochi Winter Olympics, the committee said on Thursday.

Youth leader who fled Utøya to step down
Norway

Youth leader who fled Utøya to step down

Eskil Pedersen, the Labour party youth leader sharply criticised for fleeing Utøya when Anders Breivik attacked in 2011, has announced that he is stepping down from the role.

Foreign cheese increases Swiss market share
Switzerland

Foreign cheese increases Swiss market share

Cheese is a staple part of the Swiss diet, a fact confirmed by figures released on Thursday that show residents of Switzerland ate even more of it in 2013 than in the previous year. But foreign varieties are increasing their market share in the Alpine country.

Angry Sarkozy rejects corruption allegations
France

Angry Sarkozy rejects corruption allegations

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday angrily rejected allegations of corruption that have threatened his political career, in his first public reaction to a phone-tap scandal that has gripped France

Ukraine envoy in Geneva warns of Russian attack
Switzerland

Ukraine envoy in Geneva warns of Russian attack

Evidence suggests Moscow is preparing a large-scale assault in southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, the crisis-hit country's ambassador to the United Nation in Geneva warned on Thursday.

Central bank maintains low rates and franc floor
Switzerland

Central bank maintains low rates and franc floor

Switzerland's central bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate unchanged and restated its longstanding pledge to prevent the Swiss franc from gaining too much value.

Ikea founder leaves Switzerland for Sweden
Switzerland

Ikea founder leaves Switzerland for Sweden

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, has moved back home to Sweden from Switzerland after four decades abroad. The elderly Swede plans to spend his days with family, but also to keep working.

Here’s what Hidalgo says she’ll do for Paris
France

Here’s what Hidalgo says she’ll do for Paris

Anne Hidalgo is the favourite to become the first ever female mayor of Paris. Days before Parisians are set to vote Hidalgo tells The Local what she would do about the dirty Paris air, Sunday shopping, the nightmare of flat hunting, and the Paris nightlife. Oh, and those love locks.

Rome’s ‘No gypsies’ sign sparks furore
Italy

Rome’s ‘No gypsies’ sign sparks furore

A bakery sign in Rome banning "gypsies" from entering has sparked outrage in Rome, with one organization likening it to those in Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa.

Rare Vatican manuscripts to be digitized
Italy

Rare Vatican manuscripts to be digitized

Ancient manuscripts in the Vatican library penned from East Asia to the Pre-Colombian Americas will be digitized by a Japanese company as part of a global project to make the collection available for free viewing by the public.

Tiny Canary hatches green energy plans
Spain

Tiny Canary hatches green energy plans

A Spanish island hopes to become the first in the world fully powered by renewable energy later this year when it launches a new wind and water energy plant, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Top 10: Italy’s tackiest souvenirs
Italy

Top 10: Italy’s tackiest souvenirs

Italy has tried to crack down on the sale of trashy souvenirs, with the city of Pisa imposing hefty fines on shops caught selling underpants with its famous tower resembling a penis, but others have been harder to weed out.

Swedes milk profits from China dairy market
Sweden

Swedes milk profits from China dairy market

New figures reveal that the Chinese and Middle Eastern markets have put a swing in the step of Sweden's giant milk cooperative Arla.

Paris: French ‘spiderman’ scales 186m skyscraper
France

Paris: French ‘spiderman’ scales 186m skyscraper

Daredevil Alain Robert, nicknamed the French 'spiderman', once again defied belief and his own fear of heights when he scaled the 186 metre high Total Tower in the La Defense business district of Paris on Thursday.

Why expats should vote at the Euro-elections
Sweden

Why expats should vote at the Euro-elections

The European Parliament elections have long been democracy’s poor relation, with only four in ten people using their votes last time around. With the next election approaching in May, the EU’s man in Stockholm tells James Savage why people - and expats in particular - should pay more attention.

What’s so great about… Hamburg?
Germany

What’s so great about… Hamburg?

A fascinating mix of contrasts - chi-chi shopping streets, history-laden docks, villa-lined leafy avenues, tough neighbourhoods and a famed red light district, Hamburg rewards those looking for something specific.

Olympic champion Höfl-Riesch to retire
Germany

Olympic champion Höfl-Riesch to retire

Germany's triple Olympic champion Maria Höfl-Riesch on Thursday announced her retirement following an injury-hit season that deprived her of the World Cup overall title but did win her the downhill crown in her final campaign.

Intimate revenge video puts Swede behind bars
Sweden

Intimate revenge video puts Swede behind bars

A Swedish court has sentenced a man to prison for repeatedly publishing an intimate video featuring his ex-girlfriend.

Bulgari to fund Rome’s Spanish Steps renovation
Italy

Bulgari to fund Rome’s Spanish Steps renovation

Luxury jeweller Bulgari on Thursday answered the Italian government's appeal for help in financing a renovation of Rome's famous Spanish Steps.

Wildcats claw their way back from brink of doom
Germany

Wildcats claw their way back from brink of doom

Wildcats are making a comeback in rural areas of western Germany. Experts said on Wednesday that there were around 300 living in the region.

600,000 Spaniards head overseas to flee crisis
Spain

600,000 Spaniards head overseas to flee crisis

Over 600,000 Spanish citizens have left Spain since the country's economic crisis began give years ago, new government figures show.

Driver takes wrong turn into Paris Metro station
France

Driver takes wrong turn into Paris Metro station

It seems the manic hunt for parking spaces in Paris is forcing drivers into some tight spots. The search went awry for one driver on Wednesday who accidentally drove into a Metro station entrance on the Champs Elysées of all places.

Claim for carpet price error fails to fly
Germany

Claim for carpet price error fails to fly

An auctioneer who valued a carpet at €900, only for its anguished owner to see someone else sell it for €7.2 million has been told he will not have to pay compensation to the owner who missed out on the windfall.

Airbus chief: ‘I no longer think like a Frenchman’
France

Airbus chief: ‘I no longer think like a Frenchman’

France needs to learn to love companies in the way the UK and the US does. That's the view of Fabrice Brégier, the CEO of France-based aviation giant Airbus, who spoke to The Local and other media on Thursday. Brégier says he is a Frenchman, but "no longer thinks like one".

Justice Minister sells Spain to US Jews
Spain

Justice Minister sells Spain to US Jews

Spain's Justice Minister told American Jewish groups on Wednesday why the European country is offering citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, an event he has labelled "the biggest mistake in Spanish history".

Four ‘wild kids’ found locked in flat since birth
France

Four ‘wild kids’ found locked in flat since birth

Social services in Paris made a shocking discovery when they found four children, aged between two months and six years old, they believe have been kept locked in the same apartment since birth by their parents. The two eldest "could barely talk or walk".

Valencia goes up in flames for Las Fallas
Spain

Valencia goes up in flames for Las Fallas

Valencia celebrated the end of its annual Las Fallas festival on Wednesday night with the dramatic annual burning of the festival sculptures, known as La Cremà.

‘Hotties were always allowed in’
Germany

‘Hotties were always allowed in’

Sifting through Munich's riff-raff is no easy task - Klaus Gunschmann did it for two decades at the door of the city's most famous nightclub, P1. The empire he ran - as doorman and boss, turns 30 this year - he's our German of the Week.

Merkel: we’ll increase sanctions on Russia
Germany

Merkel: we’ll increase sanctions on Russia

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the EU would target more figures with travel bans and assets freezes over the Ukraine crisis, and also warned of economic sanctions

Facebook campaign for sick baby pays off
Spain

Facebook campaign for sick baby pays off

This ten-month-old baby has just received some very good news indeed. Meet The Local's youngest ever Spanish Face of the Week Mateo Schell.

Norway ship reaches Malaysia Air ‘crash site’
Norway

Norway ship reaches Malaysia Air ‘crash site’

A Norwegian ship was on Thursday the first vessel to reach the area of the Indian Ocean where possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was spotted by Australian authorities earlier this week, Höegh Autoliners, the ship's owner has reported.

East Germany in colour – everyday propaganda
Germany

East Germany in colour – everyday propaganda

The official view of everyday life in socialist East Germany was beaming children and happy farmers rather than grey concrete and queues - as is shown in a new exhibition of official colour photos from the GDR.

Swedish court clears teacher who yanked pupil
Sweden

Swedish court clears teacher who yanked pupil

UPDATED: A Swedish teacher who pulled a misbehaving student out of the classroom will not have to pay damages to the pupil's family, a district court said in a ruling welcomed by the teachers' union.

Swiss exports show ‘Olympic form’: report
Switzerland

Swiss exports show ‘Olympic form’: report

Bucking concerns over the strong franc, Swiss exports showed “Olympic form” in February, jumping 7.1 percent over the same month a year earlier to 17 billion francs ($19.2 billion), a government report said on Thursday.

Jailed Norwegian faces death after stops eating
Norway

Jailed Norwegian faces death after stops eating

Joshua French, the Norwegian ex-soldier jailed for more than four years in Congo, has stopped eating, leading his lawyer to speculate that "it is only a matter of time" before he dies.

Ikea founder moves back to Sweden after 40 years
Sweden

Ikea founder moves back to Sweden after 40 years

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, has moved back home to Sweden after four decades abroad. The elderly Swede plans to spend his days with family, but also to keep working.

Norway cancels Russia meetings over Crimea
Norway

Norway cancels Russia meetings over Crimea

Norway has cancelled a string of future diplomatic meetings with Russia in protest at the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

France delays decision on Russia warship deal
France

France delays decision on Russia warship deal

France will not make a decision on whether to scrap a controversial €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) deal to sell two Mistral warships to Russia until October. Paris hsa come under pressure to cancel the sale because of Russian agression in the Crimea.

Fake firemen cite safety check to enter homes
Sweden

Fake firemen cite safety check to enter homes

Swedish emergency services have warned people against opening their homes to people who claim they are firemen calling in to check the fire alarm.

Sicilian mafia boss was ‘dissolved in acid’
Italy

Sicilian mafia boss was ‘dissolved in acid’

In a scenario reminiscent of a Hollywood film, a Sicilian mobster who went missing in 2002 is thought to have been dissolved in acid, after being strangled with a seat belt by his enemies, police said this week.

PSG team to net ‘€1m for Champions League title’
France

PSG team to net ‘€1m for Champions League title’

If the players of PSG didn’t already have enough motivation to win the club’s first Champions League title, they certainly do now. Reports in France say each player will be rewarded with a €1 million ($1.4 million) bonus if they bring the trophy to Paris.

Rental cap for busy areas draws closer
Germany

Rental cap for busy areas draws closer

Germany took a step towards rental capping measures to prevent rent in property hotspots from being more than 10 percent above average for the area, with a 40-page draft law published on Thursday.

Cop caught swapping gun for hard drugs
Spain

Cop caught swapping gun for hard drugs

A Civil Guard policewoman in northern Spain has been freed on charges after it was revealed she had given a local drug dealer her gun in return for 150 grams of speed.

Ferguson credits Verbier for recent weight loss
Switzerland

Ferguson credits Verbier for recent weight loss

Sarah Ferguson credits her time in Verbier, the mountain resort town in the canton of Valais where she has a holiday home, for helping her lose 45 pounds (20 kilograms) since last October, according to a Swiss magazine report.

Most depression patients get poor treatment
Germany

Most depression patients get poor treatment

Even though one in five Germans will suffer from depression at some time in their lives, more than half of those who become badly ill do not receive sufficient medical help, according to new figures.

Caffeine-fuelled game binge puts boy in coma
Norway

Caffeine-fuelled game binge puts boy in coma

A 14-year-old Norwegian boy has been hospitalized with kidney failure after drinking four litres of a caffeine-laced energy drink during a marathon 16-hour computer games binge.

Aussie jailed for racist tirade at French tourist
France

Aussie jailed for racist tirade at French tourist

An Australian man has been jailed for an abusive tirade against a French tourist in which he told her to "speak English or die", according to reports on Thursday. A video of the shocking incident went viral around the world.

Sister Act: Italian nun wows in singing contest
Italy

Sister Act: Italian nun wows in singing contest

A charismatic nun has wowed judges on an Italian reality TV show with her powerful rendition of Alicia Keys' hit “No One”. Watch her heavenly performance below.

Murky future looms as Christian Dems fête 50th
Sweden

Murky future looms as Christian Dems fête 50th

The Christian Democrat party has faced an uphill struggle for political influence in "family-hostile" Sweden and against socialist and liberal press, leader Göran Hägglund said on Thursday as the party turned 50.

Four missing after army helicopter explodes
Spain

Four missing after army helicopter explodes

Four soldiers remain missing after a military helicopter exploded near the Canary Island of Fuerteventura late on Wednesday evening during exercises.

Stoltenberg held winter talks in US on Nato role
Norway

Stoltenberg held winter talks in US on Nato role

German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed Jens Stoltenberg as the next Nato Secretary General as early as October, opening the way for talks throughout the winter with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Norway's DN business newspaper has reported.

Henrik Stenson in drive to claim the Masters
Sweden

Henrik Stenson in drive to claim the Masters

Sweden's top golfer Henrik Stenson is heading into this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill with the Masters on his mind, and with plans to dominate the year's first major showdown.

China’s richest man bids for Madrid landmark
Spain

China’s richest man bids for Madrid landmark

China's richest man Wang Jianlin has made a massive bid to buy a historic Madrid skyscraper, offering hope that a key part of the city centre could be rejuvenated, a source said on Wednesday.

Speeding French mayor: ‘I was just drying the car’
France

Speeding French mayor: ‘I was just drying the car’

Just days before the local elections a French mayor has invited ridicule by telling police officers the reason he was speeding at 60km/h over the limit was because he was trying to dry his vehicle after going to the car wash. But did the cops fall for his excuse?

Ikea recalls kids’ items over strangulation fears
Sweden

Ikea recalls kids’ items over strangulation fears

Swedish budget furniture maker Ikea has recalled almost 3 million canopies used for a children's bed, citing fears their design might put kids at risk of being strangled.

Three held after blast in southern Sweden
Sweden

Three held after blast in southern Sweden

Two men in their mid-twenties and one older woman were arrested on Wednesday night after an explosion in a storage room in Sweden's south.

Child killing shows mafia ‘code of conduct’ is myth
Italy

Child killing shows mafia ‘code of conduct’ is myth

The brutal murder of a three-year-old boy in a mafia ambush in southern Italy shows that the so-called "code of honour" among members of organised crime groups is pure myth, according to experts.

Italian smuggler undone by bulging underpants
Switzerland

Italian smuggler undone by bulging underpants

An Italian man was stopped by police on a Swiss train after a bulge in his trousers turned out to be €40,000 in banknotes stuffed into his underwear.

Berlusconi surrenders his ‘knighthood’
Italy

Berlusconi surrenders his ‘knighthood’

Italy's billionaire magnate Silvio Berlusconi voluntarily withdrew from an order of knighthood on Wednesday following a tax conviction, meaning supporters will no longer be able to use his favoured nickname, "Il Cavaliere".

Russell Crowe attends papal audience
Italy

Russell Crowe attends papal audience

Hollywood's Russell Crowe, star of the big budget biblical epic "Noah", attended Pope Francis's general audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday, but did not get the pontiff to agree to a screening of the film.

Germans buy half their wine at Aldi and co
Germany

Germans buy half their wine at Aldi and co

Practically every second bottle of wine bought in Germany comes from one or other of the country's fable discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi.

‘Rome thinks it is still an empire’: Veneto president
Italy

‘Rome thinks it is still an empire’: Veneto president

Rome treats Venice and the surrounding area "like the suburbs of the Roman Empire", the president of the Veneto region said Wednesday, as local residents vote on whether to split from Italy.

IMF chief Lagarde denies wrongdoing over payout
France

IMF chief Lagarde denies wrongdoing over payout

The chief of the IMF Christine Lagarde again insisted she was innocent of any wrongdoing in relation to a high profile corruption probe when she was questioned by prosecutors in France on Wednesday. "I have always acted in the interests of my country," she said.