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Economy

Sweet! Upcoming Tax Scares UK Into Taking It Easy On Sugar

Beverage companies have responded to the planned tax by reducing the sugar content of their drinks.

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Richard Martyn-Hemphill

LONDON — Sugar hasn't just played its part in Britain's reputation for tea, cakes and bad teeth; it's also a major contributor to the country's obesity and diabetes crisis. A U.K. parliamentary briefing paper published last week lays it bare: Over a quarter of the population are now classified as obese — the second highest rate in Europe after Hungary and the sixth highest in the world. There are nearly 3.7 million diagnosed diabetics in the country, according to Diabetes U.K. Related costs to the National Health Service are in the ballpark of $200 million per week, pretty close to the amount the U.K. spends on its EU membership fee each week after rebates.

It's an issue you might think would weigh on the mind of Prime Minister Theresa May, herself a diabetic, though not a known sugar addict. In fact, May has been, at best, a part-time flagbearer for sugar intake reduction, having scrapped such a tax as one of her first moves in 2016, a cave-in to heavy industry pressure. That will hopefully change this April, when a tax on sugary products — announced last year by Chancellor Philip Hammond as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy — comes into effect.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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