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ASIAN (B) | Huewire | Opnion News | Forum |Diversity In America - Part 4

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ASIAN (B)

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ASIAN (B)

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Try New Ways to Combat Soda Slump

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Coca-Cola
Co.


KO 0.07%

,

PepsiCo
Inc.


PEP 0.94%

and

Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Inc.


DPS -0.19%

have been remaking themselves for the past decade, adding products like kombucha tea and coconut water as consumers migrate to less sugary drinks.

But the three drink giants, set to report their fourth-quarter earnings this week, have recently embraced different strategies to combat the long slide in soda sales.

PepsiCo said Thursday it is launching a colorful seltzer water brand called Bubly, making it the latest drink company to go after a larger piece of the flavored sparkling water market. The market grew by more than 15% last year to $2.4 billion, according to research firm Euromonitor International, led by

National Beverage
Corp.’s

La Croix.

PepsiCo will need Bubly and more to reinvigorate its North American beverage unit, its largest, whose profit dropped 10% last quarter. The company blamed disappointing results on cooler summer weather and too much marketing focus on healthier brands. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the segment to report fourth-quarter revenue of $5.9 billion, down from $6.3 billion a year ago.

To offset the drop, PepsiCo has leaned on its snack business, which includes brands such as Doritos and Sun Chips, and a companywide cost-cutting initiative that has yielded annual savings of around $1 billion. But analysts worry the Purchase, N.Y.-company is making things worse for itself by not keeping drink prices in line with those of competitors.

Dr Pepper, the smallest of the three drink rivals, revealed plans last month to merge with Keurig Green Mountain, a company best known for its single-serve coffee pods, in a $19 billion tie-up that has industry-watchers both stumped and intrigued.

Executives from the two companies say the deal will allow Keurig and its owner, the European investment firm JAB, to add their coffees to Dr Pepper’s distribution network and strengthen Dr Pepper’s e-commerce capabilities.

While it could give Keurig’s sales a needed boost, implications are less clear for Dr Pepper’s faltering soda business, which includes brands like A&W Root Beer and 7UP. When Dr Pepper reports earnings Wednesday, its investors will want to know what to expect, beyond a $103.75 per share special cash dividend.

“I’m not sure anything they say will matter for the stock, given the M&A,” Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj said. “But I think we’d like to see if there’s any sign explaining why this sudden sale.”

Coca-Cola is betting four new flavors of Diet Coke in sleeker cans with names like “Zesty Blood Orange” will help it hold on to soda drinkers a little longer.

The Atlanta-based company’s Diet Coke sales have dropped every year since 2006, though Coca-Cola managed to keep its soda volumes flat last quarter. The results were helped by Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which like Diet Coke is artificially sweetened and calorie-free.

While Diet Coke is still the third-largest carbonated soft drink brand in the country, according to industry publication Beverage-Digest, the new flavors are competing with a larger-than-ever bevy of alternatives including fizzy waters and other flavored no-calorie and low-calorie drinks.

The new drinks hit shelves after the fourth-quarter ended, but Coca-Cola might hint at early results when it reports earnings Friday. Investors will also want to see how much refranchising bottling operations boosted the company’s operating profit margin last quarter.

Write to Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com



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ASIAN (B)

Purdue Pharma to Stop Promoting OxyContin to U.S. Doctors

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Privately held drug company Purdue Pharma LP said it would stop promoting OxyContin and other opioids to doctors, 22 years after the painkiller linked to widespread addiction hit the U.S. market.

The company will continue selling the products, but Purdue’s sales force “will no longer be visiting offices to engage in discussions about opioid products,” the company said, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg. Doctors and other prescribers who have questions about the drugs will have to contact Purdue’s medical affairs department,…



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ASIAN (B)

Macron Tested as Two Ministers Face Sexual Assault Allegations

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PARIS—French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself for months as a crusader against sexual misconduct and a champion of victims speaking out. Accusations recently leveled at two members of his own cabinet, however, are testing that stance.

While Mr. Macron hasn’t spoken publicly about the allegations, behind closed doors he has encouraged the ministers to stand their ground, according to senior officials.

Interior…



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U.S. Considers Boosting Asia Forces With Special Marine Units

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The Pentagon is considering plans to send heavily armed, versatile Marine Corps Expeditionary Units to East Asia, curtailing some deployments in the Middle East as it repositions forces in response to growing Chinese influence, military officials said.

The move would be among the first tangible steps by the Trump administration to expand the U.S. military presence in Asia after announcing its National Defense Strategy last month.



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ASIAN (B)

South Korea Has a Strong Economy, Fast Internet—And a Big Gender Gap

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SEOUL—South Korea took barely a generation to transform itself from a poor military dictatorship into a modern democracy with a powerhouse economy and the world’s fastest internet connection speed.

But it left its women behind. The nation of 50 million has the widest gender wage gap among the 35 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and ranks in the lowest tiers in international comparisons of overall gender equality.



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ASIAN (B)

Detained Bookseller Says Sweden Is Using Him as a 'Chess Piece'

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BEIJING—A Swedish bookseller detained by Chinese authorities surfaced Friday in a police-arranged appearance in which he accused Stockholm of using him for political gains.

The case of Gui Minhai, who was seized off a Chinese train while traveling in the company of Swedish diplomats last month, has triggered broad condemnation, with Sweden’s foreign minister decrying the act earlier this week as a “brutal intervention” and protesting a lack of consular access to its citizen.



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ASIAN (B)

Pence Sat During Opening Ceremony. Some Koreans Took Offense.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—U.S. Vice President

Mike Pence

can’t attend a sporting event these days without attracting a controversy.

Four months after causing a ruckus by leaving a National Football League game after some players protested during the national anthem, Pence drew criticism from some Koreans after he remained seated as the unified Korean team entered the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night.

Pence snapped back on Saturday, saying he was proud to have stood only for the Americans.

During the Opening Ceremony, Pence sat while top officials from North and South Korea—and most of the stadium—rose from their seats to cheer the arrival of the joint team, which was formed last month through a last-minute intervention from the International Olympic Committee.

Pence’s move earned a rebuke from North Korea, who accused him of abusing the Olympics “for a political purpose,” and even from some in the South who criticized his decision to remain seated, as well as his failure to meet with North Korean leaders at a pre-Opening Ceremony VIP reception.

The vice president “does not applaud [North] Korea or exchange pleasantries [with] the most oppressive regime on earth,” Pence’s communications director, Jarrod Agen, wrote in a tweet Saturday.

Instead, Agen said, Pence “stands and cheers for U.S. athletes” and “hangs out with U.S. athletes instead of dining with [the] Kim regime.”

During the Opening Ceremony, Pence and his wife Karen sat just one row in front of

Kim Yo Jong,

the sister of North Korea’s leader, and

Kim Yong Nam,

the Pyongyang regime’s ceremonial head. The two sides didn’t interact throughout the two-hour-long ceremony.

There is no protocol requiring guests to stand for the host country’s arrival, according to a person familiar with the matter. It was not immediately clear what the heads of U.S. official delegations had done to mark the arrival of the host country’s team.

Pence also missed meeting the North Korean dignitaries at the VIP reception, held just before the Opening Ceremony. Pence arrived late, and then left after five minutes, saying that he was due at a dinner with U.S. athletes.

White House officials denied that he had been deliberately late to the reception to avoid the meeting, or that he was caught off guard by the close proximity to those officials during the opening ceremony.

White House officials added that they knew exactly who was going to be in the seating area with South Korean President

Moon Jae-in

at the Opening Ceremony, and that Pence could have opted to sit with the U.S. delegation. But doing so, they added, would have left the North Koreans alone with the South Koreans and Japanese Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe.

“We wanted to show the alliance seated together. We wanted the North Koreans to see the vice president, Abe and Moon sitting directly in front of them for the Opening Ceremonies, and it would show that that alliance is strong,” a White House official said.

In Pyongyang, the backlash against Pence’s behavior in Pyeonchang was fierce. One commentary described Pence as having “let out a torrent of abuse pointing an accusing finger at the others’ event, instead of just sitting to watch it as a guest.”

“His behavior is nothing but an ugly sight being reminded of crazy Trump,” read the commentary, attributed to Kim Chol Myong published by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency.

“We never sent the high-level delegation to South Korea in order to create the possibility of a dialogue with Americans by meeting them who are not worth human beings.”

Sign up to receive our Olympics Briefing. Reporting live from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Get the smartest insights delivered to your inbox.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at louise.radnofsky@wsj.com and Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com



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ASIAN (B)

Turkish Helicopter Is Downed in Northern Syria

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ISTANBUL—A Turkish military helicopter was downed in northern Syria on Saturday during Ankara’s offensive on Syrian Kurdish militia, President

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

said.

Speaking in Istanbul on Saturday, Mr. Erdogan didn’t mention by name the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, but said that those responsible would pay for it.

The Turkish military said in a statement that two soldiers were killed when its attack helicopter crashed and was destroyed at around 1 p.m. local time.

A spokesman for the Kurdish militia, Mustafa Bali, said his fighters downed the chopper in Raju, northwest Afrin.

In a video posted online by the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, a helicopter is seen flying over a tree-lined hill and another helicopter is captured during its crash. A helicopter is seen firing two rockets in the area as plumes of smoke from the crash rise over the trees.

After Mr. Erdogan declared “one of our helicopters was also downed,” the Turkish prime minister said that the cause of the helicopter’s crash was not yet clear.

“We don’t have exact evidence or document to determine that it went down with any outside interference,”

Binali Yildirim

told reporters in the western province of Mugla.

Turkey launched a military offensive on Jan. 20 to oust the YPG from Afrin, citing national security. Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization and an extension of an insurgency within its own borders that has fought for Kurdish autonomy for more than three decades.

Twenty-one Turkish soldiers have died since the beginning of the operation.

“We are in a war. We will have losses but we will also cause losses,” Mr. Erdogan said in Istanbul.

Syria has been gripped by a new and escalating round of violence in recent weeks. Aside from the Turkish offensive in Afrin, the Syrian government has escalated its attacks on two of the largest and most important remaining opposition-held areas, in Idlib province in northwestern Syria and on eastern Ghouta, a region near the capital Damascus. The violence has left hundreds killed and wounded as the Syrian government and its allies sought to consolidate their hold on remaining opposition-controlled areas.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

called Saturday for urgent international action, saying the past week in Syria “has been one of the bloodiest periods of the entire conflict.” The commissioner said the “no-holds-barred nature” of the assault included attacks on nine medical facilities and the death of 277 civilians between Feb. 4 and Feb. 9 in both Idlib and eastern Ghouta. There were also reports of the government using of toxic agents in residential areas.

In eastern Ghouta, nearly 400,000 residents are trapped by a tightening government siege and the violence. In Idlib, the largest area controlled by the opposition, at least two million people reside.

“Even by Syria’s atrocious standards, these are exceptionally deplorable developments — and a cruel irony given that both have been declared ‘de-escalation areas’,” Mr. Al Hussein said.

Both Idlib and eastern Ghouta are part of Russia-negotiated de-escalation areas, which are meant to freeze the lines of conflict and allow in humanitarian aid.

Mr. Al Hussein said the prevailing climate of impunity and the paralysis of the U.N .Security Council, divided between allies and foes of the Syrian government, calls for the Syrian conflict to be referred to the International Criminal Court, and a more concerted effort by the parties involved to bring about peace.

“The conduct and management of this war has been utterly shameful from the outset, and the failure to end it marks an epic failure of global diplomacy,” Mr. Al Hussein said.



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Lebanon, Once a Bastion of Political Freedom, Cracks Down on Speech

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BEIRUT—The case of a popular Lebanese talk-show host charged with insulting the president is the latest sign that a country once held up as a bastion of political freedom in the Middle East is taking an authoritarian turn.

Prosecutors charged the host, Marcel Ghanem, after he allowed two Saudi journalists on his show to accuse the government of supporting terrorism because it didn’t crack down on the militant and political group Hezbollah.



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Why Businesses Are Pushing for Better Child Care in America

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Stephanie Jamieson,

a 37-year-old working mother, is losing her child-care provider later this year and fears that a dearth of options could impinge on her ability to keep working.

In Ludington, Mich., the lakeside city of 8,000 where Ms. Jamieson lives with her husband, a title examiner, and 3-year-old son, local day-care centers have long wait lists. “It’s frustrating not knowing if I’m going to find something in time,” she said.

Her boss is fretting, too.

John Wilson,

chief executive officer of Western Land Services, doesn’t want to lose Ms. Jamieson, manager of the title division there. He has swung in action, joining a group of Michigan business leaders to push for state legislative action to improve child care.

“With this labor shortage, businesses are having to dig deeper into their employees lives to figure out what’s holding them back,” Mr. Wilson said, “when in the past, they didn’t have to think about it.”

Historically low unemployment is forcing headway on an issue that has been around since women entered the workforce: child care. Businesses increasingly see it as an issue vital to their operations and communities, and policy makers from New Hampshire to Michigan to Colorado have identified it as key to freeing up workers to fill stubborn vacancies and building a talent pipeline.

In Louisiana, a coalition of corporate and university leaders delivered a blunt assessment in a mid-January op-ed in the

Shreveport Times

: “One of the fixes to our labor shortage is as obvious as the fact that the snow is frozen: Make it easier for parents to get quality, affordable child care.”

In Washington, Congress early Friday passed a budget deal that when written into detailed spending legislation in the coming weeks would add $5.8 billion over two years to a federal program that helps states provide child care to low-income families.

Robert Varnedoe,

president of

Lee Container
,

a Georgia-based plastic container company, said retaining workers at its Iowa manufacturing operation has grown “extremely hard.”

The Iowa plant’s 200-plus workers skew female and young. Mr. Varnedoe said company officials wondered: “What would make a lady not come to work? Well, number one, she is sick or her kids are sick, or someone who is babysitting didn’t show up.”

So, a Lee affiliate bought a former school building, partnered with a day-care provider to staff it and late last year opened a child-care center. “We did it out of necessity,” Mr. Varnedoe said. “We’ve just got to get creative.”

Nearly one in three families spend 20% or more of their household income on child care, prompting some parents to leave the workforce entirely, according to

Care.com
,

a resource for families seeking caregivers.

In New Hampshire, Republican

Gov. Chris Sununu

considers expanding full-day kindergarten a priority. Beyond benefiting children educationally, he said, it will help the workforce in the Granite State, where the 2.6% unemployment rate in December tied for second lowest in the nation.

There is “huge business case” for full-day kindergarten, Mr. Sununu said in an interview. As he talks to out-of-state companies about moving to New Hampshire, he said, executives and employees mention that expanded kindergarten isn’t offered everywhere in the state.

“We were kind of standing out like a sore thumb,” Mr. Sununu said.

New Hampshire has recently authorized using gambling revenue to help towns fund longer kindergarten programs.

Full-day kindergarten is mandatory only in about 13 states, according to the Education Commission of the States, a research organization. Many other states, like New Hampshire, offer it but with caveats, such as tuition or required approval at the local level.

Mr. Sununu’s argument that full-day kindergarten could bolster the workforce is supported by New Hampshire residents like

Brian Stisser.

In the hot job market, Mr. Stisser and his wife, who both work in technology, often get out-of-state job offers. As parents of a 3-year-old, they’re tempted to leave the state for cities with public, full-day kindergarten, which isn’t currently offered in their town of Merrimack.

On a recent night at Merrimack’s century-old white clapboard town hall, however, the school board agreed to ask voters to approve full-day kindergarten. One school board member noted that doing so would help keep workers in the area.

Mr. Stisser agreed. “We need to do things that are going to attract and not turn off young families,” Mr. Stisser, 30, said in the hall outside the meeting room. Full-day kindergarten, he added, is “an economic issue.”

Opportunities like expanded kindergarten “really start to weigh on the equation” of whether to stay in New Hampshire or not, he said.

“That’s ultimately what is going to drive our decision,” Mr. Stisser said. “We want what is best for our son.”



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