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Coke-funded Group Swayed China’s Obesity Efforts, Papers Say

A group funded by the food industry undermined China’s efforts to keep obesity rates in check by overemphasizing the importance of physical activity rather than dietary habits, according to new research.

The International Life Sciences Institute, created in 1978 by a former Coke executive, is funded by companies including McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Red Bull. It sponsors scientific research and conferences on food through its 17 international branches.

Its small, but influential, China branch organized obesity conferences focusing on physical activity, with speakers including Coke-funded researchers and a Coke executive. The group enjoyed close ties to government health agencies because of the stature of its long-time leader, according to papers published in The BMJ and The Journal of Public Health Policy . A national exercise program for school children called “Happy 10 Minutes” was modeled after a pet project of the former Coke executive who founded ILSI.

Susan Greenhalgh, the papers’ author and a researcher of Chinese society at Harvard, noted the difficultly in trying to untangle how much of China’s emphasis on exercise in recent years can be attributed to ILSI’s influence. But she said ILSI’s activities highlight the difficulty in assessing how food makers may be skewing public policy around the world.

“There’s virtually no research on the incredibly complicated network by which ILSI Global and all its branches have been influencing obesity science,” she said.

Chinese health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement, ILSI did not directly address the research findings but said it “does not profess to have been perfect in our 40-year history.” It said it has instituted guidelines in recent years to ensure scientific integrity.

“The journey to best-in-class nutrition and food safety science research has been a circuitous one. Not surprisingly, there have been bumps along the way,” the statement said.

The food industry has long faced criticism that it plays up the importance of physical activity to deflect attention away from its products. Mike Donahue, former chief spokesman at McDonald’s, said such efforts may be seen as nefarious, but are intended to put foods in the context of overall lifestyles.

In 2004, for instance, McDonald’s launched a campaign featuring ”Adult Happy Meals ” with pedometers and events where Ronald McDonald promoted exercise. Donahue said the campaign was partly in anticipation of the documentary “Super Size Me” that detailed how a diet of McDonald’s led to poor health.

“It’s playing offense rather than defense,” he said.

In the U.S., prominent politicians and groups often collaborate with food makers on high-profile campaigns to improve public health. Industry efforts aren’t always transparent, however, and there has been growing interest in uncovering businesses’ hidden influence.

In 2015, The New York Times reported Coca-Cola was funding a nonprofit led by obesity researchers. The Associated Press subsequently obtained emails showing Coke’s role in shaping the nonprofit, which the company envisioned would run a political-style campaign to counter the “shrill rhetoric” of “public health extremists.”

Amid backlash over the revelations, the Atlanta-based company pledged to be more transparent about its health efforts. In a statement responding to the new paper, the company said it recognizes that “too much sugar isn’t good for anyone” and that it is rethinking how to reduce the sugar in its drinks around the world.

While the food industry’s influence in the U.S. is well-established, Greenhalgh said conflicts of interest and collaboration with industry are not seen as problems in China.

“The whole political discourse around it is totally different,” she said.

Greenhalgh said ILSI’s influence in China stemmed from its former leader, who remained a senior adviser until her death last year. The group still shares an office with a government health agency, but its influence may be waning without its former director, Greenhalgh said.

Meanwhile, obesity has become an increasing concern in China. In 2016, China’s updated dietary guidelines said sugary drinks should be discouraged. The following year, obesity and was one of the health issues targeted in a government nutrition plan.

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Бойовий корабель Північного флоту Росії прибув до окупованого Севастополя

Великий протичовновий корабель Північного флоту Росії «Сєвєроморськ» прибув до окупованого Севастополя.

Як повідомляє прес-служба Чорноморського флоту Росії, корабель ввійшов у Чорне море 9 січня і взяв курс на Севастополь.

«На озброєнні корабля знаходяться вісім пускових установок ЗРК «Кинджал» (64 ракети), дві чотириконтейнерні установки ракето-торпед «Раструб», реактивні бомбометні установки РБУ-6000, артилерійські установки АК-100 і АК-630М. Також на борту базуються два вертольоти Ка-27», – заявили у міністерстві.

Глава місії України при НАТО Вадим Пристайко раніше заявив, що у Чорне море все частіше заходять кораблі Альянсу.

25 листопада російські силовики неподалік Керченської протоки відкрили вогонь по українських кораблях, захопили їх і 24 членів їхніх екіпажів. Троє моряків при цьому були поранені. Усіх захоплених українців утримують у СІЗО в Москві. Українська влада визнає їх військовополоненими.

Дії Росії в районі Керченської протоки критикують у низці європейських країн і США. У НАТО заявили, що уважно стежать за розвитком подій у Керченській протоці і закликали до стриманості й деескалації напруги.

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China Says Trade Talks are Making Progress

China’s Commerce Ministry says that the United States and Beijing made progress in discussions about structural issues such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property rights during trade talks this week. But the lack of details from both sides following the meetings highlights the uncertainty that remains, analysts say.

The talks, which were originally scheduled to wrap up on Tuesday stretched to the evening and into Wednesday.


U.S. officials have said the talks are going well, a point Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng echoed on Thursday at a regular briefing.


“The length of the meetings shows that both sides were serious and sincere about the talks,” he said. “Structural issues were an important part of this round of talks and there has been progress in these areas.”


Gao did not comment, however, on whether he was confident that the talks could be wrapped up in the 90-day period laid out by President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.


Also, he did not say when the next round of talks might be held or who might attend, only that discussions between the two sides continue.


In early December, Washington and Beijing agreed to hold off on raising tariffs and to try and reach a deal before the beginning of March. Structural issues and concerns about barriers to investment in China are seen as some of the biggest obstacles to the deal.


On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told the U.S cable news Fox Business Network that the administration is expecting something to come out of the talks.

“We are moving towards a more balanced and reciprocal trade agreement with China,” she said, adding that no one knows yet what that agreement will look like or when it will be ready.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office gave only a few details about the talks in Beijing, noting in a statement that the discussions “focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States.”

At the briefing, Gao did not provide any details about what further purchases China might make.

Darson Chiu, an economist and research fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said the pledges China made looked similar to those it had offered earlier last year. He said it was hard to be optimistic about this first round of talks.

“It looks like short-term compromises have been made, but it remains to be seen if both superpowers are able to resolve their [structural] conflicts,” Chiu said.


He said that if more compromises are made when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meets U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, an official who is viewed as being more hawkish on trade with China, the crisis will only be halfway averted.


“I don’t think the U.S. will easily remove tariffs that have been imposed on Chinese goods. This is what China has wished for, but I think the U.S. will wait and see,” Chiu said.


Issues such as intellectual property enforcement are very difficult and complex, notes Xu Chenggang, a professor of economics at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. China can say it will do more, but it already has laws for intellectual property protection.


“Really here the key is the reality,” Xu said. “It’s the enforcement of the law and the enforcement of the law is an institutional issue,” which depends on the independence of China’s judiciary system.


Washington has given Beijing a long list of changes that it would like to see from intellectual property rights protection enforcement to industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers.

The United States has said that any deal with China must be followed up with ongoing verification and enforcement.

If the two sides are unable to reach a deal by March, President Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 percent and to possibly levy additional tariffs that would extend to all imports from China.

Joyce Huang contributed to this report.

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Поліція розслідує напад на депутата в Кривому Розі як замах на вбивство

У Кривому Розі за фактом нападу на депутата від ВО «Батьківщина» Центрально-Міської райради міста Вадима Мірзояна відкриті два кримінальні провадження. Інформацію про це Радіо Свобода підтвердили в міській поліції.

За інформацією поліції, провадження відкритті за статтями «хуліганство» та «замах на вбивство».

Правоохоронці повідомили, що напередодні ввечері отримали з однієї з лікарень повідомлення про доправлення депутата з численними травмами. Нападників встановлюють.

Водночас у Криворізькій парторганізації «ВО «Батьківщина» повідомили Радіо Свобода, що станом на четвер постраждалий перебуває у тяжкому стані. Травми виявились більш тяжкими, ніж при первинному огляді. Депутата вже прооперували, передбачається, що для відновлення йому знадобиться тривала реабілітація.

9 січня в Кривому Розі невідомі жорстоко побили депутата райради Вадима Мірзояна. В партійній організації Кривого Рогу називають напад на депутата «політичним замовленням» і пов’язують його з депутатською діяльністю постраждалого, нагадуючи про два інциденти з нападами на офіс Інгулецької райорганізації партії, скоєні раніше.

Це не перший напад на депутата місцевої ради на Дніпропетровщині за останній час.

У грудні поліція відкрила кримінальні провадження за статтями 15 (замах на злочин), 115 (умисне вбивство) та 187 (розбій) Кримінального кодексу України через замах на депутата Анатолія Костенка від «Радикальної партії Олега Ляшка» з Павлоградського району. 

Тими ж днями в Криничанському районі внаслідок розбійного нападу загинув депутат районної ради Олександр Грушка. 

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Напади талібів у Афганістані: 32 працівники спецслужб загинули

Як мінімум 32 співробітники афганських безпекових служб і проурядових збройних загонів загинули внаслідок атак «Талібану» вранці 10 січня, повідомляє афганська влада.

Таліби здійснили напади в чотирьох провінціях: Кундузі, Баглані, Тахарі на півночі країни, а також у західному Бадгісі.

Голова району Кала-е-Заль в Кундузі Ахмад Фахім Карлук заявив, що внаслідок сутичок із талібами в цьому регіоні загинули 10 солдат, ще 11 дістали поранень. За його даними, загинуло також 25 талібів.

В сусідніх Баглані і Тахарі місцева влада повідомляє про загибель 16 загиблих військовослужбовців і «важкі втрати» з боку талібів.

Речник губернатора Бадгісу Джамшид Шагабі заявив, що в провінції загинули шестеро спецслужбовців, ще десятеро були поранені.​

Читайте також: Трамп розмірковує, чи виводити американські війська з Афганістану – віце-президент​


Відповідальність за напади взяло на себе екстремістське угруповання «Талібан», заявив його речник Забінулла Муджагід.

Урядові сили Афганістану самостійно протистоять угрупованням після виведення більшості військ НАТО у 2014 році. У країні залишається близько 16 тисяч військовослужбовців Північноатлантичного альянсу.

20 грудня стало відомо про наміри американського президента Дональда Трампа вивести в недалекому майбутньому з Афганістану не менше ніж п’ять тисяч військовослужбовців. Ця новина надійшла на наступний день після заяви Трампа про намір вивести дві тисячі військових із Сирії.

Як заявив у листопаді 2018 року президент Афганістану Ашраф Гані, 29 тисяч афганських поліцейських і солдатів загинули з початку 2015-го, відколи Кабул перебрав на себе основну відповідальність за безпеку країни. Протягом цього ж часу загинули 58 американців.

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No Solution Quite Yet for Terrified Saudi Refugee in Thailand

The ordeal of Saudi Arabian refugee Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun continues for now, with Australia’s foreign minister telling reporters in Bangkok Thursday no asylum deal had been reached yet.

Al-Qunun, who barricaded herself in a hotel at Bangkok airport to prevent officials from deporting her after fleeing her family in Kuwait, has been granted refugee status by the United Nations refugee office and is hoping to receive asylum in Australia.

The 18-year-old Saudi refugee has said her family would kill her if she were forced back and there had been hopes Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s visit to Thailand might signal a breakthrough on her asylum case.

“There is no possibility that Ms. al-Qunun will be going back with me, as you put it, today,” she told reporters at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. “That is because there are steps which are required in the process which Australia and any other country considering such a matter would have to go through. We will go through those according to our own system and our own process,” she said.

She commended Thailand for referring al-Qunun’s case to the UNHCR and reiterated that Australia was now engaged in the assessment process of her asylum claim as required.

When pressed if Australia had cancelled al-Qunun’s visa after she was arrested, Payne declined to comment.

After learning of the UNHCR’s decision to grant her refugee status on Wednesday al-Qunun’s twitter account tweeted: “Don’t let anyone break your wings, you’re free. fight and get your RIGHTS!”

Al-Qunun has told AFP her family subjected her to psychological and physical abuse and would kill her if she returned. Thailand’s chief of immigration police, Surachate Hakparn, has said his country will not deport her to possible death.

During her trip, Payne met with her Thai counterpart, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

She said she had also raised the case with him of Australian permanent resident Hakeem al-Araibi, who was arrested in Bangkok more than a month ago over an Interpol Red Notice warrant issued by Bahrain — the country he fled as a refugee.

“The Thai government is most certainly aware of the importance of this matter to Australia. I do note that there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr. al-Araibi and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities in relation to this,” she said. “We are, as I’ve said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr. al-Araibi to Bahrain.”

Al-Araibi, a professional footballer, was arrested while on holiday in Thailand with his wife.

In 2014 Bahrain sentenced him in absentia to 10 years for allegedly vandalizing a police station.

He denies the charge and was granted refugee status in Australia in November 2017.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson commended Thailand in their decision not to send al-Qunun back to Saudi Arabia.

He said her father, who has flown to Thailand with her brother to try and lobby for her return, was the equivalent of a municipal mayor in the highly conservative Saudi Arabian province Ha’il.

“And actually his tribe is one of the largest tribes in Saudi Arabia, so it’s quite influential and she certainly would have faced grievous physical harm and perhaps death if she had been sent back based on what I’ve been told by our researcher and others,” he said.

But he wondered why the same treatment had not been afforded to al-Araibi.

“Because this guy is a refugee, he’s been recognized by the Australian government and was pretty much on the cusp of actually getting his citizenship,” he said.

“So it’s surprising that on one hand you have the very quick and welcome action on this case of Rahaf, but on the case of Hakeem it’s still stuck based on a Bahrain request to Thailand to send him back to a situation where he would certainly face imprisonment, torture and worse.”


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US Upbeat After 3 Days of Trade Talks in Beijing

Three days of trade talks in Beijing between the United States and China ended Wednesday with the White House expressing optimism.

“We expect something will come out of this,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told the Fox Business Network. “We are moving towards a more balanced and reciprocal trade agreement with China.”

But Sanders said no one knows yet what that agreement will look like or when it will be ready.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office gave no details on the talks in Beijing other than saying they are “focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States.”

But it also said any deal with China must be followed up with ongoing verification and enforcement.

There was no comment from Beijing on the talks, which were supposed to last just two days, but were extended for a third day after progress was apparently being made.

These were the first direct talks between U.S. and Chinese officials since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in December in Argentina and agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war.

Both sides imposed heavy tariffs on each others’ exports last year after Trump complained about China’s theft of U.S. technology and pressure on U.S. companies doing business there to hand over such information.

The U.S. has also long complained about China’s government subsidies that make Chinese products cheaper than U.S. goods on the world market.

China says it is trying to protect its own economic interests and has accused the U.S. of violating international trading rules.

Asian stocks surged at the conclusion of the trade negotiations. Hong Kong was up 2.1 percent and Tokyo up more than 1 percent.

But U.S. indexes posted modest gains.

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Japan’s Abe to Meet UK PM May as Brexit Crunch Approaches

Japan’s Shinzo Abe is likely to urge British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday to do everything she can to avoid a disorderly Brexit that some of Japan’s leading companies have warned could be a disaster.

Japanese firms have spent more than 46 billion pounds  ($59 billion) in Britain, encouraged by successive British governments since Margaret Thatcher promising them a business-friendly base from which to trade across Europe.

Future unsure

The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain — with options ranging from a disorderly exit from the EU to another membership referendum — because British lawmakers are expected on Jan. 15 to vote down the deal May struck with the EU in November.

Abe welcomed the deal in November and investors fear that if it is defeated then the world’s fifth largest economy would be plunged into a chaotic no-deal Brexit that would severely disrupt supply chains.

Abe and May will discuss the economic opportunities that exist for both nations as the U.K. leaves the European Union, Downing Street said ahead of the meeting.

‘Natural partners’

“The U.K. and Japan are natural partners,” May said. “As the U.K. prepares to leave the EU, we raise our horizons towards the rest of the world. Our relationship with Japan is stronger than ever, and this visit will enhance cooperation in a wide range of areas.”

For Abe, however, Britain’s trading relationship with Europe after Brexit will be high on the agenda. He told reporters before his departure to Europe that he would convey Japan’s position on Brexit to May, reports said.

When the two met at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in December, Abe asked for May’s support to avoid a “no deal” and to ensure transparency, predictability and legal stability in the process.

Japanese carmakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda build roughly half of Britain’s nearly 1.7 million cars and have warned about the loss of any free and unfettered trade with the European Union after Brexit.

Blunt warning

The country’s ambassador to Britain, Koji Tsuruoka, issued a blunt warning about Brexit in February when he said Japanese companies would have to leave Britain if trade barriers made them unprofitable.

“If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the U.K. — not Japanese only — then no private company can continue operations,” he said. “So it is as simple as that.”