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Germany's annual Oktoberfest festival is finally on again for this fall, following a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The head of the famous Bavarian beer festival in Munich said Thursday the celebrations will be held without any pandemic restrictions from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. Some 487 beer breweries, restaurants, fish grills, wine vendors and others will be present and opening hours will be even longer than in the past, with the first beer tents opening at 9 a.m. in the morning and closing at 10:30 p.m. The last orders will be taken at 9:30 p.m. A one-liter (two-pint) mug of beer will cost between 12.60 to 13.80 euros ($12.84-14.07) this year.

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Employees at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Massachusetts on Thursday became the latest workers at a major company to approve a labor union. The store in Hadley is the first Trader Joe’s with an employees union. Workers at two other company locations have initiated unionization efforts. The workers in Hadley are organizing under the name Trader Joe’s United, which will be an independent union and not affiliated with a larger existing union. Now that it's been approved, the next step is putting together a negotiating committee to hammer out a contract with the California-based company.

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Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron are visiting several African countries this week. Lavrov, in his travels across the continent where many countries are suffering drought, has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices, while Macron has accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest — words calculated to appeal to listeners in post-colonial Africa.

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As inflation surges around the world, politicians are scrambling for ways to keep food affordable as people increasingly protest the soaring cost of living. One knee-jerk response has been food export bans aimed at protecting domestic prices and supplies as a growing number of governments in developing nations try to show a nervous public that their needs will be met. For business owners, the rising cost of cooking ingredients has prompted them to raise prices. For consumers, it has meant paying more for the same or lesser quality food or curbing certain habits altogether. Food prices had been steadily climbing because of drought, supply chain issues, and high energy and fertilizer costs. Export bans add to the crunch.

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The toxic chemical methanol has been identified as a possible cause of the deaths of 21 teenagers at a bar in the South African city of East London last month. Methanol was found in all of their bodies and investigations are continuing to determine whether the levels of the toxic chemical were enough to have killed them. Dr. Litha Matiwane, Eastern Cape provincial deputy director for clinical service, said at press conference in East London Tuesday that authorities are still awaiting the conclusive results which are being conducted at a laboratory in the city of Cape Town. Methanol is a toxic form of alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide or an alternative source of fuel.

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Long lines are back at outside food banks around the U.S. as working Americans overwhelmed by inflation increasingly seek handouts to feed their families. Many people are coming for the first time amid the skyrocketing grocery and gas prices. The food banks struggle to help even as federal programs provide less food, grocery store donations wane and cash gifts don't go nearly as far while U.S. inflation hits a 40-year high. Charitable food distribution has remained far above amounts given away before the coronavirus pandemic, even though demand tapered off somewhat late last year.

AP
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The takeover of Sri Lanka's presidential residence and other official buildings was a dramatic turning point in monthslong protests that have shaken the country, and the ultimate push that forced the president to say he will resign. For months, demonstrators have camped outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office in the capital, demanding he quit for severely mismanaging the economy. Many have accused Rajapaksa and his powerful, dynastic family of corruption and policy blunders that tipped the island nation into its worst economic crisis. People’s patience has grown increasingly thin in recent months, with the crisis sparking shortages of fuel, medicine, food and cooking gas.