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News Today Explored Wed 23rd Feb 2022

Woolworths shares tumble on lower results

Australian supermarket chain Woolworths reported lower first-half operating income, resulting in shares dropping 10.6% to reach their lowest level in six months.

Difficulties with supply chains, and staff isolation due to Covid infections combined with a return to normalised shopping instead of pandemic induced stockpiling to bring down earnings.

Group Chief Executive Brad Banducci said that in spite of the challenging first half of 2022, the company had good sales momentum and an improved performance is expected going forward.

The half-year financial results also revealed another $144 million in unpaid wages, on top of the $427 million already revealed last year. Dividends have been cut for this half, due mainly to the spin off of the Endeavour drinks division.

Food and Grocery suppliers pushing for higher prices

Australian supermarket suppliers have been agitating for higher prices from retailers to offset rising freight costs.

Prices are expected to rise 6.8 per cent on average this year, covering grocery, frozen and fresh food goods. Delivery and warehousing prices have continued to rise, with fresh food prices increasing higher than wages which remain flat.

South African 'Operation Dudula' protests against illegal migrant workers

Operation Dudula (Zulu for 'drive back') is a growing movement against illegal migrant workers in an unemployment plagued South Africa. This week the focus was in HIllobrw near Cape Town where 2000 people gathered to protest against what they say is foreigner gaining employment over locals.

The leader of the movement, Soweto man, Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini, says law enforcement is failing the country and he is seeking to restore it. He wants to see unskilled jobs prioritised for South African nationals.

The government is working on a quota for foreign workers in South African companies.

New opposition party in Zimbabwe draws crowds

The first political rally of Zimbabwean opposition leader, lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa, has drawn thousands of new supporters at a rally on Sunday. The Citizens Coalition for Change will put forward candidates for the March 26th council and parliamentary vacant seat election.

Problems plague Zimbabwean politics including beatings, detentions and harrassement of oppositon parties by the ruling party security forces.

Australia acting against global anti-corruption alliance - warning

Australia's signature on the Open Government Partnership, a 2015 seventy eight country initiative was designed to fight corruption in policy making, is in doubt.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received a warning from the organisation's chief executive that membership would be reviewed after his failure to act on promises and to meet deadlines.

Committments were made to improve donations transparency, a hot issue currently in Australia, and bolster anti-corruption framework neither of which has occurred. The governments election promise to introduce a federal anti-corruption body has been reneged on with no plans to bring a bill forward this term.

A 2021-2023 Action Plan has not been received for two consecutive cycles.

Nepalese reject US funded infrastructure over sovereignty concerns.

Funding toward a 300km electricity line and road upgrade by a US government aid agency has met with opposition among concerns about loss of sovereignty, undermining of Nepalese laws and oversight. Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said in parliament that it would be an important tool for the country's development however parliament is undecided over whether to accept the grant.

Large crowds of protestors who gathered on Feb 20th to express their oppostition were dispersed by tear gas and water cannons by the Kathmandu police.

Oil and gas prices leap at Putin sends Russian soldiers into Ukraine

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has blocked the opening of the Nord 2 pipeline, as gas leaped up ten percent and oil rose one per cent yesterday.

The pipeline is full of gas and ready to go, and until recently was considered irrelevant to Putins machinations on the Ukraine border as a 'commercial decision'. Germany relies heavily on Russian gas piped in, as it does not have a terminal to take in supplies of LPG from ships.

The US and its allies have announced sanctions on Russia, limiting financial market access to the two Russian state banks and well connected wealthy Russian citizens. Harsher penalties are still on the table.

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