Swiss cheer Cuba and US on resuming relations
Switzerland

Swiss cheer Cuba and US on resuming relations

Switzerland has extended congratulations to the United States for its decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961 by opening a an embassy in Havana.

US head of Fifa ethics committee quits
Switzerland

US head of Fifa ethics committee quits

Sepp Blatter, the Swiss leader of Zurich-based Fifa, said on Wednesday that he was "surprised" by the resignation of top corruption investigator Michael Garcia over the handling of his inquiry into the Qatar and Russia World Cup bids.

Waiting to be smuggled into Austria
Austria

Waiting to be smuggled into Austria

Asadullah, a 23-year-old Afghan man, wears a broad smile that belies his circumstances. Shivering in an abandoned brick factory, he waits to be smuggled across the nearby border into Hungary, gateway to his real destination – Austria.

Austrian jihad teen girl ‘likely killed’
Austria

Austrian jihad teen girl ‘likely killed’

According to David Scharia, a senior Israeli expert of the United Nations Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTED), one of the two teenage girls who fled to Syria in Spring to join the jihad has been killed in fighting.

Prostitute beats off taxman in Oslo court
Norway

Prostitute beats off taxman in Oslo court

A prostitute won a landmark victory against police in an Oslo court on Wednesday, when it ruled that police were wrong to claim taxes for the money she had made selling sex in the Norwegian capital.

Checking out snow sport alternatives to skiing
Switzerland

Checking out snow sport alternatives to skiing

You don’t have to ski to enjoy Switzerland in the winter. From snowshoeing to ski-jöring, non-skiers have plenty of ways to amuse themselves in the colder months. The Local's Caroline Bishop runs down some of the options.

Do the French really not care about Christmas?
France

Do the French really not care about Christmas?

An opinion poll published this week concluded the French were the least bothered about Christmas of all northern European countries. But do the French really not give a s**t about Santa? Or are these polls best ignored?

‘Breakthrough’ in train strike: union
Germany

‘Breakthrough’ in train strike: union

The head of the train drivers union GDL claimed a "breakthrough" late Wednesday in talks with Deutsche Bahn, which may herald the end of a spate of train strikes which have caused travelling misery and cost the rail operator around 100 million euros.

Middle East civil rights urged at Geneva meet
Switzerland

Middle East civil rights urged at Geneva meet

An international conference in Geneva on Wednesday called on both Israelis and Palestinians to respect humanitarian rights laws in the occupied territories, but was condemned by Israel as a "political exercise".

Italy arrests 18 over illicit China bank transfers
Italy

Italy arrests 18 over illicit China bank transfers

Italy's financial police on Wednesday arrested 18 people suspected of making illicit cash transfers totalling more than a billion euros, most of them to China through a British company.

Denmark has its hottest year on record
Denmark

Denmark has its hottest year on record

For the first time ever, the annual average temperature in Denmark is at double digits, a feat that meteorologists say is “unthinkable without climate change”.

First woman joins Swiss central bank board
Switzerland

First woman joins Swiss central bank board

The Swiss National Bank on Wednesday named IMF executive Andréa Maechler as its first ever female board member.

Chocolate-fed monkey terrorizes Marseille
France

Chocolate-fed monkey terrorizes Marseille

An aggressive monkey, fed on a diet on Kinder chocolate, had been terrorizing a neighbourhood in the French city of Marseille in recent weeks until it was finally tamed by police, with the help of a Taser gun.

Uncle charged with 8-year-old’s death
Sweden

Uncle charged with 8-year-old’s death

A man and a woman have been formally charged for fatally beating an 8-year-old girl - a child murder case that has dominated the headlines in Sweden all year.

Roma coach to ‘fight’ charge of hitting steward
Italy

Roma coach to ‘fight’ charge of hitting steward

Roma coach Rudi Garcia said he will fight "with every means possible" to clear his name after being accused of trying to slap a stadium steward during his side's win at Genoa.

What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Germany

What does Dresden have against Muslims?

The Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) was unknown three months ago. Now it's making Dresden famous - for all the wrong reasons.

Madrid: police seize 220,000 dangerous toys
Spain

Madrid: police seize 220,000 dangerous toys

Over 220,000 toys have been seized from toy-sellers in Madrid in an operation named Black Toy, with police saying they posed a serious risk to child safety.

Amazon strike extended to Saturday
Germany

Amazon strike extended to Saturday

Union Verdi announced on Wednesday that its members at two Amazon distribution centres would extend a planned three-day strike through the rest of the week, while four more sites saw new walkouts.

Sweden and Romania to discuss begging surge
Sweden

Sweden and Romania to discuss begging surge

Romania's Social Affairs and Labour Minister Rovana Plumb has accepted an invitation to Stockholm in January to discuss the rising number of Roma people begging in Sweden's major towns and cities.

‘If my husband died for Isis I would accept it’
Spain

‘If my husband died for Isis I would accept it’

Fears are growing over increased radicalization of women in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta with local leaders saying a lack of opportunities is exacerbating the problem.

French scientists claim high testosterone linked to love of spicy food
France

French scientists claim high testosterone linked to love of spicy food

After carrying out experiments with 114 men and some red hot chili sauce French scientists have concluded there is a clear link between testosterone levels and an appetite for all things hot and spicy.

Tango treat for birthday boy Pope Francis
Italy

Tango treat for birthday boy Pope Francis

Hundreds of couples performed a tango on St Peter's square on Tuesday in a birthday treat for Pope Francis, who hails from Argentina, the birthplace of the celebrated sultry dance.

Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå
Sweden

Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå

After a recent trip to the wild north, The Local's Oliver Gee recommends eight things to do in Umeå when the sun isn't shining. Which at this time of the year, is almost all day.

SAS plane ‘near miss’ fears blamed on weed
Sweden

SAS plane ‘near miss’ fears blamed on weed

Russia's ambassador to Denmark has made light of Swedish concerns over a Russian military jet's alleged near-miss with a passenger plane, suggesting Swedish authorities may have smoked too much cannabis.

Natural disaster losses fall in 2014: Swiss Re
Switzerland

Natural disaster losses fall in 2014: Swiss Re

Extreme weather and other natural and man-made disasters caused $113 billion (90.6 billion euros) in economic losses in 2014, reinsurer Swiss Re said Wednesday.

Italy eyeing partial privatizations in 2015
Italy

Italy eyeing partial privatizations in 2015

Italy hopes to sell off major parts of the postal service, air traffic control company and national railway in 2015 after the "unfavourable" market of 2014, the economy minister has said.

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Switzerland

Geneva talks on Iran nuclear plan continue

World powers resumed negotiations in Geneva with Iran on Wednesday over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, more than three weeks after they last met and gave themselves another seven months to conclude a deal.

Russia on ‘near miss’: Swedes high on pot
Denmark

Russia on ‘near miss’: Swedes high on pot

Russia's ambassador in Copenhagen says the Swedish authorities should lay off the weed, while adding that Danish and Swedish officials are on "a very dangerous path".

Paris show on women’s periods ‘breaks taboo’
France

Paris show on women’s periods ‘breaks taboo’

A renowned French photographer is inviting a Paris audience with an open mind to venture into the world of women's menstrual cycles at an exhibition she's perhaps appropriately called 'The Curse'.

Bosses put Italy’s corruption bill at €300bn
Italy

Bosses put Italy’s corruption bill at €300bn

Italy would be €300 billion better off if it had acted decisively against corruption in the wake of the "tangentopoli" scandal of the early 1990s, according to an eye-opening new report from the country's bosses.

Russia in clear over death of German MP
Germany

Russia in clear over death of German MP

A post-mortem on a prominent German MP and critic of Vladimir Putin showed no signs of foul play, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Italy president to step down within weeks
Italy

Italy president to step down within weeks

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has announced he will leave office within weeks, well before the expiry of his term in 2020, setting the stage for the election of a new head of state.

Copenhagen makes way for world’s biggest jet
Denmark

Copenhagen makes way for world’s biggest jet

Part of a major renovation project will include the widening of runways to accommodate the Airbus A380 in an effort to attract the huge aircraft to the Danish capital.

‘Tear Down This Plaque’ row over GDR sign
Germany

‘Tear Down This Plaque’ row over GDR sign

A historic Berlin museum is facing calls to pull down a plaque commemorating the former East German communist leader Erich Honecker.

Princess mocked over bank account mix-up
Spain

Princess mocked over bank account mix-up

Spain's Princess Cristina has paid a civil bond totalling €587,000 ($730,000) owed in a fraud case against her into the wrong bank account, prompting Spaniards to take to Twitter to lampoon the scandal-hit royal.

‘Reform business inheritance tax’ court tells MPs
Germany

‘Reform business inheritance tax’ court tells MPs

Judges at the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said on Wednesday that the government must change rules reducing tax on inherited family-owned businesses within 18 months.

Solberg: the fight for freedom isn’t won
Norway

Solberg: the fight for freedom isn’t won

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg placed her focus on the international security situation at her traditional six-monthly press conference on Wednesday, and condemned Tuesday’s Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan.

Working in Paris: Making a career out of odd jobs
France

Working in Paris: Making a career out of odd jobs

When many expats come over to Paris their major concern is getting a job, and hopefully a good one. But writer William Prendiville’s argues, that even in the midst of an economic crisis it’s possible to survive in Paris for many years thanks to odd jobs. And plenty of them.

Rafa Nadal to strip for Tommy Hilfiger ads
Spain

Rafa Nadal to strip for Tommy Hilfiger ads

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal has been named the new face of US fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, a role which will see him stripping for an underwear advertising campaign.

France to pump millions into hard-up ‘hoods’
France

France to pump millions into hard-up ‘hoods’

French President Francois Hollande has set his sights on tackling inequality in France by confirming his government will stump up €5 billion to revamp the country’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It's alongside a new bill to prioritize funds for struggling schools.

Cabinet agrees to send 100 army trainers to Iraq
Germany

Cabinet agrees to send 100 army trainers to Iraq

MPs in the Bundestag will vote in January on a controversial plan to send 100 soldiers to Iraq to train Kurdish fighters battling terrorist group Isis.

Cabinet ministers rapped for accepting new limos
Switzerland

Cabinet ministers rapped for accepting new limos

Critics are complaining that Swiss federal government ministers are getting early Christmas presents in the form of expensive new limousines as official cars at a time when the government is planning hefty budget cuts.


White Christmas unlikely for most of Austria
Austria

White Christmas unlikely for most of Austria

Austria’s unusually mild weather for the time of year is good news for the Christmas markets as people are not so tempted to stay at home and keep warm, but does mean that there’s not much chance of a white Christmas for most of Austria’s cities and low lying areas.

Top ten Christmas gifts to take home from Spain
Spain

Top ten Christmas gifts to take home from Spain

Still stressing out about what to take home to your family and friends for Christmas this year? Have no fear: the Local has rounded up a dozen of the very best gift ideas from Spain.

Swedes get their mouths round tongue twisters
Sweden

Swedes get their mouths round tongue twisters

'Tis the season for some silly news stories. The Local took to the streets of Stockholm to see how well people could pronounce some of the nation's top tongue twisters.

Austria draws red line on nuclear plants
Austria

Austria draws red line on nuclear plants

Austria is not happy that the EU's planned €315 billion growth scheme could be used to fund the construction of nuclear power plants.

‘Swedes should be proud’: Melinda Gates
Sweden

‘Swedes should be proud’: Melinda Gates

The Local's blogger Natalia Brzezinski talks to American philanthropist Melinda Gates about why Swedes should be proud of their country, this year's Nobel Prizes and the importance of women having a strong voice.

Grunting pigs avert cattle raid in Campania
Italy

Grunting pigs avert cattle raid in Campania

An attempted cattle raid at a farm in the Campania region was sabotaged…by grunting pigs.

Germany’s Homer Simpson is actually 85
Germany

Germany’s Homer Simpson is actually 85

He might be bald, and fat, but onscreen Homer Simpson doesn't look a day over... let's say 45. Unlike the actor who voices Homer for German audiences who is, in fact, 85 and still going strong.

What did the Danes Google most in 2014?
Denmark

What did the Danes Google most in 2014?

Online behemoth Google has released its most-searched terms for 2014. So, what were the Danes most interested in this year?

Homeless man froze to death at busy station
Austria

Homeless man froze to death at busy station

A homeless Slovakian man froze to death on a bench outside Vienna’s Hütteldorf station on Tuesday morning - despite hundreds of commuters passing him on their way to work.

Boy denied blood tests over €38 unpaid bill
Italy

Boy denied blood tests over €38 unpaid bill

A nine-year-old boy was denied blood tests at a state health centre in Tuscany, because his mother could not afford to pay the €38 bill.

Child grills Swedish PM on daylight savings
Sweden

Child grills Swedish PM on daylight savings

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven made headlines on Wednesday after responding to a 7-year-old's letter which queried the need for daylight savings' time in Sweden.

Violent theft on France’s public transport rises
France

Violent theft on France’s public transport rises

Thieves on France's public transport are increasingly using violent methods rather than pick pocketing when targeting their victims, the country's Interior Ministry warned on Wednesday.

Former Catalan ex-leader named in fraud probe
Spain

Former Catalan ex-leader named in fraud probe

A judge on Tuesday summoned a powerful political figure in Spain's Catalonia region, Jordi Pujol, as a fraud suspect at a politically sensitive time for the region with breakaway aspirations.

Scalpers profit from sold-out AC/DC Zurich gig
Switzerland

Scalpers profit from sold-out AC/DC Zurich gig

Tickets for AC/DC, the veteran Australian hard rock band, sold out on Tuesday for a Zurich concert in six minutes but media reported tickets were being resold within an hour at five times the price.

Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Spain

Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan

Updated: A man described as obese has been arrested after he gatecrashed a live nativity scene in southern Spain and jumped onto the back of young donkey. The animal died two days later.

Get tuned in to Sweden: Useful online services
Sweden

Get tuned in to Sweden: Useful online services

The longer you're in Sweden, the more you learn about life and getting around...but it can still be confusing. Here are a few valuable online resources to help you out.

Greens and Left demand follow-up on US torture
Germany

Greens and Left demand follow-up on US torture

Opposition parties are calling for the government to adopt a harsher stance towards the USA after the US Senate published a report into CIA torture last week.

Greenpeace fined €25k over nuclear protest
Spain

Greenpeace fined €25k over nuclear protest

A Spanish court on Tuesday fined Greenpeace and 16 of its activists €20,000 ($25,000) for damage caused during a protest at a nuclear plant but acquitted them of other, more serious charges.

Danes’ Christmas giving hits record heights
Denmark

Danes’ Christmas giving hits record heights

Some 5,000 families will receive a bit more Christmas cheer this year thanks to the record amount of donations to the Danish People's Aid's annual Christmas drive.

‘The Hoff’ to star in NYE at Brandenburg Gate
Germany

‘The Hoff’ to star in NYE at Brandenburg Gate

David Hasselhoff will sing to a crowd of hundreds of thousands to see in the New Year at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate - the same spot where he famously sang "Looking for Freedom" after the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.

Rome ups the stakes in row over marines
Italy

Rome ups the stakes in row over marines

UPDATED: Rome threatened to withdraw its ambassador from India Wednesday on as a diplomatic row over two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission escalated.

Comfort eating craze in Sweden’s capital
Sweden

Comfort eating craze in Sweden’s capital

More than one in ten people living in Stockholm have admitted to comfort eating, amid fears of growing obesity and stress in the city.

France’s Alstom ‘to pay $700m’ in US for bribery
France

France’s Alstom ‘to pay $700m’ in US for bribery

French industrial giant Alstom has agreed to pay $700 million to settle US corruption charges related to the paying of bribes, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

‘Essential beauty’ tips, by France’s SNCF rail chiefs
France

‘Essential beauty’ tips, by France’s SNCF rail chiefs

France's state-owned rail company SNCF has been slammed for being sexist over a document they published giving female employees "essential beauty" tips.

Swedish free schools sent profits to Cyprus
Sweden

Swedish free schools sent profits to Cyprus

Two entrepreneurs behind a major Swedish free school chain avoided paying taxes by moving their profits to Cyprus, it has emerged.

Bordeaux vineyards set to produce ‘rare’ vintage
France

Bordeaux vineyards set to produce ‘rare’ vintage

It was another poor harvest this year for that most famous of French wines, but Bordeaux enthusiasts can celebrate a "rare" vintage blessed by an abundance of autumn sun, local producers say.

Bird flu scare prompts pre-Xmas turkey cull
Germany

Bird flu scare prompts pre-Xmas turkey cull

Health officials have ordered a mass cull of thousands of poultry after a bird flu outbreak was confirmed as the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain.