Austria’s credit rating downgraded
Austria

Austria’s credit rating downgraded

The credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings has downgraded the sovereign debt of Austria - specifically for long term foreign and local currency ratings - from AAA to AA+, with a stable outlook.

Wawrinka powers into Dutch tourney semifinals
Switzerland

Wawrinka powers into Dutch tourney semifinals

Stan Wawrinka was untouchable on serve in the opening set as the Swiss powered into the semifinals of the ATP Rotterdam World Tennis event on Friday with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win over Gilles Müller, from Luxembourg.

Peeping Toms strike at Norway tanning salons
Norway

Peeping Toms strike at Norway tanning salons

As Norway mulls a ban on cancer-causing tanning salons, a new peril has emerged, with a spate of peeping toms filming customers as they soak in the artificial rays.

Three quarters of Somali children in Norway poor
Norway

Three quarters of Somali children in Norway poor

Three quarters of children of Somali origin in Norway now live in poverty, according to new figures from Statistics Norway, and numbers are on the rise.

France rejects UK claim over HSBC files
France

France rejects UK claim over HSBC files

France's Finance Minister Michel Sapin rejected on Friday an accusation from British authorities claiming that France barred them from accessing leaked HSBC files containing the names of thousands of alleged tax evaders.

French hotels declare war on Airbnb
France

French hotels declare war on Airbnb

French hoteliers have taken action against holiday accommodation options such as Airbnb, penning an open letter to the prime minister urging him to even out the competition.

‘Paris is the ‘best city’ for sex, not dating’
France

‘Paris is the ‘best city’ for sex, not dating’

After Paris was judged to be the best city in the word for dating in a recent survey, Paris-based freelance writer Sam Davies argues that it's not "dating" that the City of Light deserves accolades for, just that Parisians are always "up for it".

Study: Dogs can read basic human emotions
Austria

Study: Dogs can read basic human emotions

A study at Austria's University of Veterinary Medicine has provided evidence that suggests dogs are able to read the emotions on human faces, allowing them to differentiate between happy and angry expressions.

Weak krona is ‘mixed blessing’ for expats
Sweden

Weak krona is ‘mixed blessing’ for expats

The krona is at its weakest since the financial crisis. So what are the implications for foreigners living in Sweden – or planning a future move? The Local has asked four experts.

Skiers heading to the Alps face travel chaos
France

Skiers heading to the Alps face travel chaos

Parisians heading off to the ski slopes at the start of the school holidays could face an ordeal to get to the mountains with traffic chaos forecast for all roads leading to the French Alps. And remember what happened last time...

‘Beaten’ missing Malmö boy found in Denmark
Denmark

‘Beaten’ missing Malmö boy found in Denmark

A nine-year-old boy who went missing after a controversial altercation with guards at Malmö train station on Monday has been found safe in Jutland.

Power failure leaves 500 stuck on French train
France

Power failure leaves 500 stuck on French train

Around 500 people have spent most of the day stuck inside a train in western France, after a power failure saw the carriage grind to a halt early on Friday morning. Rail operators have warned that other passengers in the area could face delays all day.

Court orders €800m bond in stocks probe
Spain

Court orders €800m bond in stocks probe

The former IMF head Rodrigo Rato and other fellow bankers were ordered to pay a bond of €800 million in troubled lender Bankia stocks probe.

Anti-Semitism group without Jews sparks row
Germany

Anti-Semitism group without Jews sparks row

Jewish groups say that there is no easy fix to the Interior Ministry's mistake of launching an anti-semitism commission without a single member of Jewish heritage.

Merkel to discuss ‘global crises’ with Pope
Italy

Merkel to discuss ‘global crises’ with Pope

German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week is to visit France for talks with President Francois Hollande and the Vatican, where she will meet Pope Francis, Berlin said on Friday.

‘Worst idea ever’ to end English education
Denmark

‘Worst idea ever’ to end English education

The suggestion by the Danish People's Party that Denmark's universities should stop offering courses in English was roundly criticized by political opponents and The Local's readers, who said that the real losers would be Danish students.

Hundreds of migrants on way to Italy ‘on dinghies’
Italy

Hundreds of migrants on way to Italy ‘on dinghies’

Hundreds of Africans have left Libya aboard rubber dinghies, just days after more than 300 perished in a similar attempt to reach Italy, Italian coastguard officials said on Friday.

US Air Force sends tank busters back to Germany
Germany

US Air Force sends tank busters back to Germany

US European Command announced that a wing of specialized anti-tank aircraft would be sent to Germany, as tensions mount in eastern Europe over the Ukraine crisis.

Tetra Pak heir is latest Swede in HSBC scandal
Sweden

Tetra Pak heir is latest Swede in HSBC scandal

Sigrid Rausing, the granddaughter of Tetra Pak founder Ruben Rausing, has been accused of storing her fortune in a secret HSBC Swiss bank account to avoid paying taxes.

Germany to close Yemen embassies
Germany

Germany to close Yemen embassies

Germany announced Friday it had temporarily closed its embassy in Yemen and were pulling staff out because of ongoing violence in the troubled country.

Society conman arrested for ‘doing a runner’
Spain

Society conman arrested for ‘doing a runner’

A law student famous in Spain for conning his way into King Felipe's swearing-in reception and other official events was arrested Friday after leaving a restaurant without paying the bill, police said.

Golden pension for no-show politician’s widow
Italy

Golden pension for no-show politician’s widow

Sicily's regional parliament is paying a €1,000 a month pension to the widow of a former lawmaker who never took his seat in the assembly, officials confirmed Friday.

Italy shuts Yemen embassy over violence
Italy

Italy shuts Yemen embassy over violence

Italy and Germany said on Friday they had temporarily closed their embassies in Yemen and were pulling staff out because of ongoing violence in the troubled country.

Did Hollande’s lover get protection over ‘threats’?
France

Did Hollande’s lover get protection over ‘threats’?

French President François Hollande has come under fire after a magazine revealed his lover has been jetting about France in a "state-owned car" along with her own bodyguards. France's finance minister has suggested it could have been prompted by something sinister.

VIDEO: 15-metre whale cut up on Danish beach
Denmark

VIDEO: 15-metre whale cut up on Danish beach

The rotting corpse of a sperm whale was brought to land and chopped into pieces on Friday. See video of the strange and somewhat gruesome sight here.

Three survive plane crash near Västerås
Sweden

Three survive plane crash near Västerås

A plane with three people on board crashed on Björnön, an island just outside Västerås, west of Stockholm on Friday afternoon, but all the passengers survived.

Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
Spain

Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad

A new advert has just been released starring footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones, in which he shows off his, dubious, Spanish skills to help people learn common holiday phrases.

Former far-right man lends Pegida support
Austria

Former far-right man lends Pegida support

Former far-right Austrian politician Ewald Stadler has voiced his support for Germany’s “anti-Islamization” movement Pegida, and has said he would be prepared to offer legal advice to Pegida members in Germany and Austria, who are afraid of being criminalized.

Be my Denglisch Valentine, Liebling
Austria

Be my Denglisch Valentine, Liebling

Sometimes, one language alone just doesn't have the right words to express your feelings. Denglisch and The Local are here to help tell that special someone just how you feel. The Local's Sabine Devins has prepared a wonderful set of pre-made Denglisch Valentine's day cards, to share your cross-cultural love.

Lost ‘beaten’ Malmö boy found in Denmark
Sweden

Lost ‘beaten’ Malmö boy found in Denmark

UPDATED: A nine-year-old boy who went missing after a controversial altercation with guards at Malmö train station on Monday has been found safe in Jutland in Denmark.

UN envoy: Assad ‘part of solution’ in Syria
Austria

UN envoy: Assad ‘part of solution’ in Syria

Any peaceful solution to the fighting in Syria must involve President Bashar al-Assad, the United Nations envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said in Vienna on Friday.

Feminists protest Fifty Shades opening
Norway

Feminists protest Fifty Shades opening

Norwegian feminist groups protested against the much hyped soft-porn blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey at the film’s first public showing in Oslo on Friday night, claiming it celebrates abuse of women.

Italy’s economy ‘among EU’s worst’ in Q4 2014
Italy

Italy’s economy ‘among EU’s worst’ in Q4 2014

Italy's economy stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2014 thanks to sluggish domestic demand, going against the European trend in which most countries registered growth, figures released on Friday show.

Austrians see Greece as ‘least trustworthy’
Austria

Austrians see Greece as ‘least trustworthy’

Austrians trust Sweden the most and Greece the least out of the 28 EU member states, according to a recent survey by the APA-OGM Trust Index.

Schindler warns of high franc after profit rise
Switzerland

Schindler warns of high franc after profit rise

Schindler Management, the Swiss elevator and escalator company, almost doubled its profit in 2014 from the previous year on the back of higher revenues but it warned that the strong franc would cut into margins for this year.

In My Voice: On Africa’s fascination with China
Sweden

In My Voice: On Africa’s fascination with China

IN MY VOICE: NFGL member Adventino Banjwa adds his voice to the currenct debate on China-Africa relations - a somewhat critical perspective, he admits. What are your thoughts?

Denmark to suck all oil out of the North Sea
Denmark

Denmark to suck all oil out of the North Sea

Denmark has plans to be fossil-fuel free by 2050 but until then it is going to suck every possible drop of oil out of the North Sea, the climate minister said.

How to tackle Sweden’s bizarre mating rituals
Sweden

How to tackle Sweden’s bizarre mating rituals

As Valentine's Day approaches, Maddy Savage brings you the last in our recent series of guides to dating in a country where women will fight to split the bill and sex is never a taboo.

Some very Denglisch Valentines
Germany

Some very Denglisch Valentines

Sometimes, one language alone just doesn't have the right words to express your feelings. Denglisch and The Local are here to help tell that special someone just how you feel.

Azerbaijani rights activist hides in Swiss embassy
Switzerland

Azerbaijani rights activist hides in Swiss embassy

A prominent Azerbaijani rights activist, who is wanted by the tightly-controlled Caucasus country's authorities and risks imminent arrest, is hiding in the Swiss embassy in Baku, officials confirmed on Friday.

Wenders takes Golden Bear for a lifetime in film
Germany

Wenders takes Golden Bear for a lifetime in film

Renowned director German Wim Wenders was presented with the Berlinale's Golden Bear for a lifetime of movie achievements on Thursday evening.

Hotel staffed by refugees opens in Vienna
Austria

Hotel staffed by refugees opens in Vienna

A hotel with a social conscience is opening in Vienna this weekend. The Roman Catholic charity Caritas is opening a budget hotel close to the Prater and providing jobs for people with a refugee background.

Baby dies in ambulance as hospitals are full
Italy

Baby dies in ambulance as hospitals are full

A newborn baby in Sicily died in an ambulance on Thursday because there were no bed spaces in three local hospitals, prompting Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin to launch an investigation.

Spanish consumer prices accelerate fall in January
Spain

Spanish consumer prices accelerate fall in January

Consumer prices in Spain dropped by 1.5 percent year-on-year in January, official data showed on Friday, their seventh straight month in negative territory, after falling 1.1 percent in December.

Abba’s Frida releases ‘odd’ mountain song
Sweden

Abba’s Frida releases ‘odd’ mountain song

The Swedish pop star has recorded a song dedicated to Zermatt, a mountain resort town in Switzerland, which is close to the famous Matterhorn mountain, first climbed 150 years ago.

What a Messi: Artworks sold off for charity
Spain

What a Messi: Artworks sold off for charity

His fancy footwork has earned him the Golden Boot award three times but now Lionel Messi has been immortalized by two of the world´s most famous contemporary artists and sold off for charity.

A party that makes Oktoberfest look civilised
Germany

A party that makes Oktoberfest look civilised

Large parts of Germany come to a standstill for carnival, the six days before Lent when half the nation lets its hair down for a wild party that shouldn’t be missed, writes David Crossland.

‘Wives provoke violence’, say third of Spanish men
Spain

‘Wives provoke violence’, say third of Spanish men

A new study has lifted the lid on young Spaniards’ attitudes, revealing they are generally single home birds, who - at least among the men - retain some old-fashioned views about male-female relationships.

From knives to dog poo: Ten strange French superstitions
France

From knives to dog poo: Ten strange French superstitions

While the French might not fear Friday the 13th like in other countries, they remain a superstitious bunch. To avoid you mistakenly bringing any bad luck to your French friends here's some Gallic superstitions you need to be aware of.

Ten phrases to arm you for your Italian date
Italy

Ten phrases to arm you for your Italian date

Just like English, the Italian language has some interesting expressions when it comes to love and dating. We’ve put together a list of ten of phrases – just in time for Valentine’s Day.

France optimistic despite meagre growth figures
France

France optimistic despite meagre growth figures

France's economy minister put on a brave face on Friday despite the latest economic figures showing the French economy is struggling to register any growth, unlike their friends on the other side of the Rhine.

Italy eager to bounce back against England
Italy

Italy eager to bounce back against England

The coach of the Italian rugby team Jacques Brunel told The Local on Thursday that he hoped that Italy would play as well as they did in 2013 when they will face England at Twickenham this Saturday, despite a big loss against Ireland in Rome last week.

Canalis’ breast slips out at Opera Ball
Austria

Canalis’ breast slips out at Opera Ball

The Vienna Opera Ball proved to be a glitzy occasion on Thursday night, with star guest Elisabetta Canalis dancing so enthusiastically she had a wardrobe malfunction, and supermodel Naomi Campbell turning up as a surprise last-minute guest.

Trans prostitute murder suspect arrested
Austria

Trans prostitute murder suspect arrested

A 32-year-old Serbian man has been arrested in connection with the murder on January 19 of a 35-year-old transsexual activist in Haymerlegasse 22 in Vienna's Ottakring district.

Lucerne police seek carnival mask robber
Switzerland

Lucerne police seek carnival mask robber

With carnival season launching on Thursday in many parts of Switzerland, a robber took advantage of the festive situation to hold up a branch of the Lucerne cantonal bank.

Danish youth get their very own island
Denmark

Danish youth get their very own island

Recently eyed as a potential 'StartUp Isle', a 70,000 square metre island off the coast of Copenhagen will instead become Youth Island after it was purchased on behalf of the Danish Guide and Scout Association.

Barcenas: Stop my trial, I need a holiday
Spain

Barcenas: Stop my trial, I need a holiday

The disgraced former treasurer of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, recently released on a €200,000 bail, has asked the judge overseeing his corruption case if he can take a 14-day holiday.

Flights hit as Paris airport strike continues
France

Flights hit as Paris airport strike continues

Workers at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris continued their strike on Friday that could see around 20 percent of flights being postponed or cancelled. Delays can also be expected on most flights.

Karneval revellers keep first responders busy
Germany

Karneval revellers keep first responders busy

Alaaf! The Rhineland is in full Karneval swing, but not all the festivities were peaceful, as police were called to dozens of fights and pulled revellers out of the crowds on Thursday.

Italian tennis stars face ban for match-fixing
Italy

Italian tennis stars face ban for match-fixing

Italian pair Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali have been provisionally suspended for 40 days pending a corruption inquiry, Italian press said on Thursday.

France seals first deal to export Rafale fighter jets
France

France seals first deal to export Rafale fighter jets

France announced on Thursday it will sell 24 Rafale fighters plus a frigate to Egypt in a €5.2 billion ($5.9 billion) deal that marks the first foreign contract for the multi-role combat jet.

Top photo prize for Italy’s sea rescue mission
Italy

Top photo prize for Italy’s sea rescue mission

An Italian photographer on Thursday won a prestigious World Press Photo prize for his image of boat migrants being saved by the navy, an award which comes the same week more than 300 are feared to have drowned en route to Italy.

Strong Q4 sparks economic boost for 2014
Germany

Strong Q4 sparks economic boost for 2014

The German economy, Europe's biggest, expanded surprisingly strongly in the fourth quarter of 2014, driven primarily by robust consumer spending, official data showed on Friday.

France not ready to sell warships to Russia
France

France not ready to sell warships to Russia

French President Francois Hollande said Thursday the conditions were "still not right" to go ahead with the sale of two Mistral warships to Russia despite Moscow having backed a new Ukraine peace plan.

Swedes confused over gender neutral toilets
Sweden

Swedes confused over gender neutral toilets

Gender neutral toilets in a northern Swedish town have left visitors to the local library feeling flushed.

Five dead in Norwegian rig blast
Norway

Five dead in Norwegian rig blast

The death toll from a blast which ripped through a Norwegian oil rig off Brazil has risen to five, with another four people still missing, the rig's Oslo-based owner said on Thursday.

French media rapped for Charlie Hebdo coverage
France

French media rapped for Charlie Hebdo coverage

UPDATED: France's major TV and radio networks were formally rapped by the French broadcast regulator on Thursday for what it considered to be serious "breaches" in their coverage of the recent Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

Ten of the weirdest Danish superstitions
Denmark

Ten of the weirdest Danish superstitions

Just in time for Friday the 13th, we break down ten superstitions held by modern-day Danes, from bird poop and elves to the "annoying answer" behind why Danes say 7-9-13 while knocking under the table.

Hamburg student’s killer jailed for 70 years
Germany

Hamburg student’s killer jailed for 70 years

A US man who shot dead an unarmed German exchange student was sentenced to serve 70 years on Thursday in a case that tested the limits of some American states' cherished self-defense laws.

Norway oil fund may have peaked: governor
Norway

Norway oil fund may have peaked: governor

Norway’s gigantic oil fund may have peaked in size as the oil price slumps, the governor of Norway’s central bank has warned, calling for tighter rules on government spending.

Russian ‘spin’ letter sent to Swedish politicians
Sweden

Russian ‘spin’ letter sent to Swedish politicians

Help us stem the crisis in eastern Ukraine or the “possibility of a peaceful life for over 800 million Europeans” is threatened, a letter sent from Russia to Swedish politicians says.

Italy ‘dying’ as birth rate hits historic low
Italy

Italy ‘dying’ as birth rate hits historic low

Italy registered 509,000 births in 2014, the lowest total since the country's unification in 1870, according to official statistics, prompting a government warning that the country is "dying".

How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie
Sweden

How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie

If you have lived in Sweden for a while, you may be aware that Swedes love berry picking. But if you don't want to wait for a Swede to whip up a blackberry pie ('björnbärspaj') for you, food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local.