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The Economist: Europe

The Economist: Europe

With a growing global circulation (now more than 1.5 million including both print* and digital) and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognized and well-read current affairs publications. The paper covers politics, business, science and technology, and books and arts, concluding each week with the obituary.

Articles by The Economist: Europe

How Germany is integrating its refugees

5 days ago

NAURAS NERAPI lived a comfortable life in Aleppo as a manager at a French catering company. Then came the Syrian war. He fled through Turkey and the Balkans to Germany, arriving in September 2015. “They put me on a bus but I didn’t know where I was going,” he explains. At a reception camp in Berlin he offered to help with the cooking. Today he speaks good German, lives in a shared flat and works as a chef. “In Aleppo I was left with nothing. Germany has been really good to me.”His arrival coincided with a pivotal point in Angela Merkel’s career. As thousands made their way north and west, the chancellor declared “We can manage this,” and kept Germany’s borders open. Some 900,000 people arrived that year. Many predicted social chaos and Mrs Merkel’s downfall. Her apparent cruise to victory

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Serbian guest workers head for Slovakia

5 days ago

DEJAN, a 51-year-old Serb standing outside a scruffy apartment block for migrant workers in Nitra, an hour’s drive from Bratislava, the Slovakian capital, couldn’t be happier. He has a job in a factory making parts for televisions and earns €450-750 ($540-900) a month, depending on the season. Back in his hardscrabble town of Zajecar, in eastern Serbia, there are hardly any jobs and even if he could find one, he reckons he would earn only around €180 a month. But Slovakia’s booming factories are desperate for labour, and they are turning to Serbia to find it.Serbia and Slovakia have old historical ties. Their languages and culture are close. Two of central Bratislava’s streets are named after Serbian heroes. And so the number of Serbs coming to work in Slovakia has been climbing since

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Campaigning in Germany

5 days ago

“HELLO! I’m Cornelius Golembiewski from the CDU. Could I give you our manifesto and a leaflet about Johannes Selle, our local candidate?” The woman at the door beams: “We already voted by post, so don’t worry!” Mr Golembiewski wishes her a good day and pulls out his phone, opens an app called Connect17 and taps a smiley face. “When we started, we were the only party that did this,” he explains. Along with other young activists, he is plying the hilly streets of Jena, in the state of Thuringia, doing something new to continental Europe: door-to-door canvassing.Elections here traditionally involve posters, street stalls and rallies, but not the doorstep campaigning common in America and Britain. Tighter privacy laws prevent parties from holding data on individuals. Continentals more often

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Norway’s centre-right coalition is re-elected

5 days ago

GRONLAND, a bustling neighbourhood in central Oslo, may be the Platonic ideal of European multiculturalism. Outside a polling station on a pedestrian square, young couples—some Norwegian, others immigrants from Pakistan, Syria, Poland and Somalia—strolled along pushing prams. Ayaan Aden, a 28-year-old student in a black headscarf, had just cast her vote for the opposition Labour Party. She was angry at the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Norway’s immigration minister, who belongs to the populist Progress Party (FrP). “They’re saying we’re forced to wear the hijab,” Ms Aden said. “It’s my own decision!”The immigration minister, Sylvi Listhaug, had spiced up an otherwise dull campaign by travelling to Sweden and impugning its laxness towards migrants. Labour, traditionally Norway’s largest party,

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Bicycles and bans are reshaping the city

5 days ago

THE quayside roads that wind along the Seine used to throb with hurtling traffic. Today, potted palm trees have been ranged along the tarmac. Joggers and cyclists enjoy the waterside calm. On a stretch of the right bank opposite the Eiffel Tower formerly used as a convenient express route, cars have been squeezed into a single lane, leaving the other to bicycles. Over the centuries, the French capital has been the backdrop to many warring tribes. Today’s conflict pits contemporary urban combatants: enraged car owners, and everybody else.A sense of siege is keenly felt by the capital’s motorists. Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor, is waging “a war against cars”, said Le Monde earlier this year. Parisians, says Pierre Chasseray of “40m Motorists”, a lobby group, are “living in daily hell”.As

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Mr Juncker’s Indian summer

5 days ago

A YEAR ago Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, surveyed his dominions and found them wanting. “Never before”, he told the European Parliament in his annual state-of-the-union address, “have I seen such little common ground between our member states.” Battered by economic and political crises, the European Union was staring into the abyss. Britain had just become the first country to vote to leave the club, and populists were on manoeuvres across the continent. Difficult elections loomed. “Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis,” Mr Juncker said.Twelve months on, the mood has lifted so dramatically that last year’s fears have come to seem almost quaint. There is a whiff of change in the air, explained by two things. The first is a sense of

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Turkey’s president invokes a millennium-old battle

12 days ago

IN A mighty motorcade, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, descended on the sleepy town of Malazgirt near the Armenian frontier on August 26th. He came to celebrate a millennium-old victory that Turks hail as the dawn of Muslim domination of these once-Christian lands.Largely forgotten in the West, the battle of Manzikert in 1071 saw Seljuk Turks, led by King Alp Arslan, crush an imperial Byzantine army said to be twice their size. This Turkic push into Anatolia laid the foundation for the Seljuks’ eventual successors, the Ottomans, who took Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, in 1453 and whose empire at its peak extended from the gates of Vienna to the Indian Ocean.Mr Erdogan’s commemoration of a 946-year-old battle is a bid to woo Turkish nationalists. Having foiled a coup in

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Torture returns to Turkey

12 days ago

THE masked special-ops officers barged into their apartment in Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s south-east, in the dead of a December night, says Tulay Yer-Celik. For the next two hours Mrs Yer-Celik, her month-old son and her mother-in-law listened as the agents beat her husband, Omer, in the next room. The violence ended only when the police arrived. Mr Celik, a journalist for the pro-Kurdish Dicle Haber Agency, one of over 150 news outlets shut down since last year’s bloody, abortive coup, was detained in Diyarbakir for two weeks. He was then transferred to a maximum-security prison near Istanbul, where he remains. His crime, according to an indictment that appeared only in late June, was to have published news stories based on the hacked e-mails of Turkey’s energy minister. He faces a sentence

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Emmanuel Macron is trying to change France’s psychology

12 days ago

STRANGE rituals have been taking place behind closed doors in Paris this summer. While much of Europe basked on the beach, elaborate rites and unfamiliar incantations could be overheard in the French capital. Paranormal activity was detected at unusual hours. In 300 hours of talks, which led to the unveiling last week of 36 reforms to the country’s notoriously complicated labour rules, it looked as if President Emmanuel Macron’s government and union leaders were simply negotiating a technical overhaul of France’s rigid employment law. In fact, they were exorcising some of the country’s most troublesome demons.For decades, the spirit of Karl Marx and his inheritors has hovered over thinking about French labour reform. In 2000, when the Socialist government of Lionel Jospin introduced the

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Why Germany’s Social Democrats have no hope

12 days ago

IF GERMANY’S centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have a future, it probably looks like Carsten Schneider. The dynamic 41-year-old MP grew up in a tough Plattenbau, or communist-era tower block, but says he was made by the local school: “That’s social democracy,” he tells a crowd in Weimar. “The risk of poverty is especially high among single parents,” he explains, “and 90% of the time that is single mothers.” He goes on to describe how he successfully pushed to raise the age limit for certain sorts of child benefit payments. Polite applause greets him.Around the corner, amid the sausage stands of Weimar’s bustling marketplace, voters seem unappreciative. Asked about the SPD, one woman sipping a beer replies: “They are not so bad…but they bring too little. They don’t have enough imagination

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Some good news from Italy

13 days ago

AT THE end of each summer Italian business leaders, politicians and journalists mingle with foreign guests at the Ambrosetti Forum in the Villa d’Este by the shores of the lovely Lake Como. This year, the breezes off the lake carried something not scented in almost a decade: a whiff of optimism about the Italian economy.GDP in the second quarter was up by an annual 1.5%, and on September 5th the government’s statisticians said that leading indicators pointed to “a reinforcement of the prospects for growth”. The previous week, they had sounded a less positive note, reporting that the unemployment rate had risen from 11.2% in June to 11.3% in July. But even that held a kernel of promise. The unemployment rate measures the proportion of jobseekers out of work, and in July some 115,000

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Despite fears of wolves, forests are spreading fast in France

19 days ago

“THE wolf must be taken in hand,” said a retired shoemaker to nods from farmers and officials gathered in a village hall. Francis Palombi, an aspiring parliamentarian, turned often to fears of the old predator while campaigning in Lozère, a densely forested department in southern France, early this summer.Wolves were eradicated from France before the second world war, but have appeared in growing numbers since the early 1990s in the south and east, after a few sneaked in from Italy. Between 300 and 400 are thought to wander forests and mountainsides. For city folk, their return sounds charming. Mr Palombi twigs that those who care for grazing animals think otherwise.Drive the winding roads that cross Lozère and complaints about wolves and other rural problems are legion. Phone connections

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The Free Democrats eye a return to power

19 days ago

NEW posters across Germany seem to be promoting a men’s perfume. Closer inspection reveals that they are advertising the Free Democrats (FDP), a pro-business political party. Slogans such as “impatience is a virtue too” bespangle black-and-white photos of a bestubbled man in an open-necked shirt. Corny they may be, but these images of Christian Lindner tell of a political renewal.For decades the third force of German politics, the party won a record 14.6% of the national vote in 2009. But over four years in coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) it achieved little. Its promised tax cuts went missing. At the election in 2013 its support fell to 4.8%, meaning that it was ejected from the Bundestag (parliament) for failing to reach the required 5% threshold. Mr Lindner, then

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The Netherlands may let children have more than two legal parents

19 days ago

FOUR years ago Pepijn Zwanenberg, a club DJ and a city-council member for the GreenLeft party in Utrecht, sat down with his boyfriend Ivo and their friend Janette to plan having a child together. They wrote a letter agreeing to make medical decisions by consensus, to live within cycling distance of each other and to enter mediation in case of quarrels. “Straight people often have kids by accident, or take it for granted. We thought about it much more seriously,” says Mr Zwanenberg. Two years later Janette gave birth to their daughter Keet. All three consider themselves Keet’s parents. But Ivo, who is not her biological father, has no legal connection to her. In the Netherlands, as almost everywhere else in the world, a child can have only two parents in the eyes of the law.Dutch gay-rights

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How Recep Tayyip Erdogan seduces Turkish migrants in Europe

19 days ago

EUROPE’S relations with Turkey have long been coloured by mutual fascination, dependence and mistrust. Spellbound after visiting Constantinople in 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany wrote to his friend Tsar Nicholas II, “If I had come there without any religion at all, I certainly would have turned Mahommetan!” But if today’s Europeans rely on this awkward partner to keep refugees away and share intelligence on terrorists, Turkey’s slide into paranoid authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes it a far less enticing partner. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said this week that Turkey is leaving Europe with “giant steps”.The relationship is complicated by the economic and military ties that bind Turkey and Europe, but above all by the large number

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The post-attack truce between Catalonia and Spain will not last

26 days ago

IT HAS become a heartbreaking routine. This week Barcelona has seen the outpourings of solidarity and defiance in the aftermath of terrorism that have acquired a grim familiarity for Europeans. Like their peers in London, Paris and elsewhere, the jihadists who caused carnage on August 17th were attacking Europe’s very way of life, one of freedom, tolerance, openness and hedonism. They slaughtered 15 people and injured some 130 from more than 30 countries, most of them on Barcelona’s great boulevard, the Ramblas.Many Spaniards had hoped to be spared. They suffered the murder of 192 people in the jihadist bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid in 2004. But of late Spain has played only a minor role in military operations in the Middle East and north Africa. Its security services are

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Ukraine’s reform activists are under attack

26 days ago

“AUTHORITIES confirm they’ve made progress in an investigation into the finances of anti-corruption activist Vitaliy Shabunin,” drones the anchor of an American television network, News24, in a clip recently shared across Ukrainian social media. There is only one problem: there is no News24, and the anchor is not a journalist but an actor hired through a freelance site, Fiverr.com. “I assumed the video was a prank his friends were playing on him,” says the actor, Michael-John Wolfe.The “fake news” bulletin was an illustration of the increasingly hostile environment facing anti-corruption activists, journalists and reformist officials in Ukraine. “I cannot escape the feeling that we’re living through a counter-revolution,” writes Yaroslav Hrytsak, a historian at Ukrainian Catholic

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Germany’s far-right party will make the Bundestag much noisier

26 days ago

A CHEER goes up as Jens Maier takes the podium at a packed sports club in Dresden. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) candidate for the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, rails against Angela Merkel’s refugee policies: “Who has to live with these ‘new citizens’? Whose children have to go to school with their children? Who produces the wealth they feed off?” Germany, he concludes, needs MPs “imbued with a sense of responsibility towards their own people” who can “show up the incompetent establishment”.At the federal election in 2013 the just-founded AfD narrowly missed the 5% vote share required to make it into the Bundestag. Since then it has ditched free-market Euroscepticism for anti-Islam nationalism as its guiding ideology. Though it has fallen back from highs of around 15% in polls

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Eastern Europe’s wave of emigration may have crested

26 days ago

WHEN Richard Fetyko left his native Slovakia in 1992 for a high-school study-abroad programme, he planned to return at the end of the year. Instead he spent 22 years in America, earning university degrees and working in banking and on Wall Street. “I didn’t really see myself able to apply my skills in Slovakia,” Mr Fetyko says. But as Slovakia’s economy matured, that started to change. In 2014 he got an offer from an investment firm in Bratislava, and came home.Mr Fetyko was part of a wave. From 1992 to 2015, so many people left eastern Europe that its population shrank by 18m, or about 6%, according to UN figures. The trend accelerated as the region’s countries entered the European Union. It was a sour turn for the EU’s new members: rather than making them as rich as western Europe,

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Emmanuel Macron finds change is often unpopular

27 days ago

TWO months ago France’s young leader could do no wrong. Emmanuel Macron defied all the rules to win the presidency at the age of 39. He secured a parliamentary majority for a party that did not exist 15 months before, and wowed the French with his muscular treatment of unsavoury foreign leaders. But summer has soured the mood. When ministers return to work next week after an uncommonly short break, they will find a president who has slid faster in the polls than any other under the Fifth Republic.After his first 100 days in office Mr Macron’s approval rating dropped to 36%, according to Ifop, a pollster (see chart). At a comparable point, François Hollande, his hapless Socialist predecessor, was ten points higher. Given that unemployment has begun to fall, the euro-zone economy is picking

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Russian culture wars take centre stage

August 17, 2017

THE posters had been printed, and most of the tickets sold. The ballet, a celebration of the life of the gay dissident dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, promised to be a progressive production by the standards of the main stage of Russia’s famed Bolshoi Theatre: in videos of the rehearsal, male dancers can be seen twirling in high heels. But just days before the show was due to open in July, the Bolshoi’s director, Vladimir Urin, declared that the troupe was, apparently, not up to snuff and cancelled the premiere, replacing it with an old standby, “Don Quixote”.Critics called it blatant censorship of the play’s homosexual themes. State media fuelled this speculation, citing anonymous sources that said the order had come directly from the minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky, a nationalist

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IKEA goes to Serbia

August 17, 2017

EUROPEAN integration takes different forms. For governments like Serbia’s it means struggling with thousands of instructions from the EU on how to build a modern state. Yet for thousands of ordinary Serbs, since IKEA opened in Belgrade on August 10th, it means spending the weekend like millions of other EU citizens: buying furniture from the Swedish megastore and struggling with the instructions on how to put it together.If it had been anywhere else in Europe, the opening of the 400th IKEA store would hardly have been news, let alone an occasion for national soul-searching led by Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic. In a newspaper article he penned an ode of praise for IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad, its founder. In his youth, wrote the president, Mr Kamprad had been a member of a wartime

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Silvio Berlusconi may manage a political comeback

August 17, 2017

TO ANYONE outside Italy it may seem unthinkable. But the hottest political topic in a searing Italian summer is the expected resurrection of Silvio Berlusconi. Ejected from office by his own lawmakers in 2011, and convicted of tax fraud two years later, the TV and property magnate-turned-politician will be 81 next month. Still derided for hosting Bacchic “Bunga Bunga” parties while running the country, Mr Berlusconi is due to go on trial, charged with bribing his young female guests to perjure themselves in earlier proceedings. Yet, as one commentator noted, on his return from the summer recess in September, modern Italy’s longest-serving prime minister can expect to be “treated with respect by all”.Why? Mr Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, has barely crept back from the low point it hit

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Germany’s new divide

August 17, 2017

WHEN Helmut Kohl was buried on July 1st, Germans reflected approvingly on his legacy: the scars of the country’s east-west division are gradually healing. Yet as its longitudinal split closes, a latitudinal one is growing.Imagine that Germany were sundered once more, this time into north and south. The south would contain the Länder (states) of Saarland, the Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria from the former west, plus Thuringia and Saxony, the two southernmost states of the former east. South Germany’s border with north Germany would track what linguists call the Uerdingen line separating “high” and “low” dialects of German.It would be an equal split. Each Germany would contain half of the population, five of the ten largest urban regions and similar proportions of

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Charlemagne: Russian culture wars

August 17, 2017

THE posters had been printed, and most of the tickets sold. The ballet, a celebration of the life of the gay dissident dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, promised to be a progressive production by the standards of the main stage of Russia’s famed Bolshoi Theatre: in videos of the rehearsal, male dancers can be seen twirling in high heels. But just days before the show was due to open in July, the Bolshoi’s director, Vladimir Urin, declared that the troupe was, apparently, not up to snuff and cancelled the premiere, replacing it with an old standby, “Don Quixote”.Critics called it blatant censorship of the play’s homosexual themes. State media fuelled this speculation, citing anonymous sources that said the order had come directly from the minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky, a nationalist

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Poland’s ruling party picks a fight with Germany

August 17, 2017

POLAND lost a fifth of its population in the second world war. Vast swathes of Warsaw were razed to the ground and the city still bears the scars. Damage to the capital alone amounted to $45bn, according to an estimate in 2004 by city hall. Yet Poland got nothing in compensation. In 1953, under pressure from the Soviet Union, its communist government renounced any claim to reparations from the then East Germany, ruled by a fellow-communist regime. (West Germany made payments to Greece, Israel and Yugoslavia.)Now the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) has put reparations back on the agenda, after an unsuccessful attempt by MPs in 2004 to get the matter raised. It echoes calls by the Greek government two years ago. Poland is already locked in a row with the European Commission

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Why France and Italy can’t help clashing

August 10, 2017

CAST your mind back to July 9th, 2006. Italy had just won the World Cup. Charlemagne was in Rome and joined the rumbustious football fans marching through the centre. A great victory, he said to the young woman next to him. “Yes,” she shot back. “And all the better for having been won against the French.”France and Italy are no exception to the rule that a country’s relations are often trickiest with its immediate neighbour. The final had seen an Italian flattened in a style that would have made Asterix and Obelix proud. In extra time, with the French unable to penetrate Italy’s tight defence, their star player, Zinedine Zidane, turned on the man marking him, Marco Materazzi, and head-butted him. Mr Zidane had been provoked: Mr Materazzi later admitted that he “spoke about his [opponent’s]

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Agrokor, the supermarket whose collapse threatens the Balkans

August 10, 2017

IN CROATIA idyllic scenes can alter quickly. On good days, its holiday resorts are a haven for swimmers and sailors. But only a few miles inland, there are barren mountains where tempests can blow up fast and then whistle along the coast. This year (see article) fires were an added hazard.A particularly dark storm-cloud is now hanging over the country’s business world, with the potential to depress the entire region, spoiling the optimism spurred by good tourist numbers and signs of accelerating growth. This follows the collapse into state hands of a food-and-retail chain whose myriad customers and creditors are still waiting to see the scope of the disaster.Agrokor was the biggest private concern in Croatia and the western Balkans. It epitomised a cosy relationship between state and

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Russia’s biggest war game in Europe since the cold war alarms NATO

August 10, 2017

SEPTEMBER will be an edgy time for NATO’s front-line member states. For a week in the middle of the month, Russia will be running what is being described as the biggest military exercise in Europe since the end of the cold war. The build-up is already under way.Zapad (“West”) exercises take place every four years and date from Soviet times, when they were used to test new weapons and tactics. Zapad 2017 is expected to involve at least 100,000 Russian troops. It will extend across the country’s Western Military District and Belarus, which has a border with three NATO members. By next week, most of the advance elements of the forces taking part in the exercise will have arrived. The rest, expected a fortnight later, will include the First Guards Tank Army, a famous unit from the second world

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Explaining the lack of rain in Spain (and Italy)

August 10, 2017

THE Gonella Hut, more than 3,000 metres up on the Italian side of Monte Bianco, should be bustling with climbers in August. Instead, it is empty. Davide Gonella, the manager, closed it at the end of last month for lack of water.“The snowfield we use for our supply had gone,” he says. The high summer temperatures that have seared southern Europe this year were only partly to blame. When he reopened his refuge in early June, Mr Gonella could already see the snowfield was much smaller than usual, because so little snow had fallen last winter.It is a story repeated with variations from the north-western edge of Spain to the south-eastern tip of Italy. At Bracciano outside Rome, rainfall in the first half of the year was more than 80% below its ten-year average. This has shrunk the lake of the

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