France to add illegal drugs to GDP calculation, but not prostitution

The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) said it will partly yield to Eurostat regulations aimed at harmonizing the GDP estimates of member states. Starting from May, Insee will include revenues from the sale of illegal drugs when calculating the national income, as it’s done in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and the UK.

Another Eurostat demand remains unmet, however, with Insee still refusing to cover revenues from prostitution, because it is difficult to determine whether sex workers freely consent to their job. “We are maintaining our position on this point,” head of Insee’s national accounts department, Ronan Mahieu said as quoted by AFP.

At the time when Eurostat requested member states to follow the new regulations, Mahieu noted, that, in accordance with the EU guidelines, “illegal transactions must be taken into account only when there is mutual consent.”

The addition of illegal drug trade numbers are nothing to be excited about, Mahieu said. It will only “marginally” increase France’s GDP – estimated at €2.2 trillion – adding just “a few billion euros,” and won’t change the growth figure for 2017, he said.

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Half of US military bases affected by climate change – Pentagon report

“Changes in climate can potentially shape the environment in which we operate and the missions we are required to do,” said the US Department of Defense in a report accompanying the survey. The conclusion comes from qualitative surveys conducted by personnel at each site. A military site is defined as a base, camp, post, station, center under DoD jurisdiction.

Survey respondents were asked to assess their sites based on six categories: flooding due to storm surge; flooding due to non-storm surge events (rain, snow, river overflow); extreme temperatures (hot and cold); wind; drought and wildfire.

The highest counts were for drought (782) followed by wind (763) and non-storm surge related flooding (706). About 10 percent of sites indicated being affected by extreme temperatures (351), while flooding due to storm surge (225) and wildfire (210) affected about 6 percent of sites, according to the survey.

“Nearly 50 percent of sites (1,694) reported they had no effects to any assets from the effects,” the report said.

The Pentagon issued the report Friday in response to a congressional request to assess its installations for vulnerabilities to climate-related security risks, in order to help identify vulnerabilities and adaptive strategies. While

The report included examples of climate change effects at some of the US sites, along with maps.

One of the examples cited was the Fort Irwin Army base in California. A late summer monsoon in August 2013 dropped several inches of rain in a short period, causing substantial property damage as storm waters flowed into the site.

“More than 160 buildings in the cantonment area were flooded and sections of Fort Irwin’s extensive training area also sustained major storm damage. Training structures were toppled and supporting electronic target and communications systems were damaged,” said the report. It took months to remove storm debris and many buildings were closed for repairs.

At the Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey, the October 2012 Hurricane Sandy sent high winds, storm surge and intense precipitation to the site resulting in $24 million in damages to the 2.9 mile-long pier.

“Nearly eight miles of water and sewer piping were destroyed at the base and particularly along the pier,” the report said.

At the US Air Force’s Cape Lisburne Long Range Radar Station on the northwest Alaska coast, the seawall that protests the gravel airstrip has been affected by “sea ice fluctuations, increasing water temperatures, thawing of permafrost soils and the effects of wave action.”

“Over the past decade the runway’s seawall has been depleted and eroded by wave action and extreme weather events. The damaged rock reinforcement became ineffective, and the 5.450 linear foot wall had to be replaced at a cost of $46.8 million,” the report said. “Our warfighters required bases from which to deploy, on which to train, or to live when they are deployed. If extreme weather makes our critical facilities unusable or necessitate costly or manpower-intensive work-arounds, that is an unacceptable impact.”

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Feds drop corruption case against Democratic senator

The US Department of Justice moved Wednesday to dismiss a corruption indictment against Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who was facing a retrial along with co-defendant Salomon Melgen. Last week, a federal judge acquitted both men of seven out of 18 counts, but left in the most serious charges. Menendez expressed gratitude and relief for having the case dropped. He is seeking reelection this year. The DOJ’s anti-corruption office initially charged him in April 2015 for allegedly trading his political influence for luxurious gifts and campaign contributions.

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Russia testing helicopter drone capable of carrying ‘serious weaponry’

The helicopter was developed by Russian Helicopters, a Rostec subsidiary. The aircraft features a coaxial rotor and is expected to have liftoff weight of up to 500 kg, the corporation said in a statement Wednesday.

It will be able to carry payload of up to 150 kg and travel at speeds of 150 km/h (93 mph). Its maximum flight time is expected to be some four hours according to Rostec. The drone will be transported and controlled from a special vehicle based on the Russian-made KAMAZ truck.

Two prototypes of the new UAV are currently undergoing ground tests, with the development team fine-tuning the navigation systems, command-receiving unit, radio equipment and other systems.

“The machine shows great promise both for the military and civil markets. Its possible field of application is very wide. Such a drone can carry powerful observation systems, serious weaponry, which the widespread modern helicopters cannot lift,” Rostec industrial director Anatoly Serdyukov said.
The flight tests of the unmanned helicopter are expected to be carried out later this year.

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FBI objections to memo ‘spurious’, says House Republican Nunes

The memo, commissioned by Nunes (R-California), alleges impropriety by FBI and Department of Justice officials investigating claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies,” Nunes said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

It is clear, he continued, that “top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”  

Nunes was responding to a statement by the FBI issued earlier in the day, expressing “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The bureau said it was given only a “limited opportunity” to review the memo before the committee voted to release it.

Nunes’ critics, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), the ranking Democrat on the committee, raised similar objections.

On Monday night, the House Intelligence Committee approved the public release of the memo in a vote split along party lines. President Donald Trump now has until Friday to decide whether or not to allow the memo’s release, according to the House rules.

It is widely expected that he will do so. On Tuesday evening, Trump told a Republican lawmaker he would do it “100 percent” as he prepared to deliver his first State of the Union address.

White House chief of staff John Kelly also indicated that the memo’s release was imminent.

It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it,” Kelly said during an interview on Fox News Radio. 

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