Drugs and prostitution add £10bn to UK economy

Prostitutes and drug dealers are set to give Britain a £10bn boost as the country revamps the way it measures its economy.

Britain said on Thursday it would include prostitution and illegal drugs in its official national accounts for the first time. The move is one of the changes planned for September that will add up to 5 per cent to the UK’s gross domestic product.

September’s revisions will change the official size and shape of the economy and rewrite recent economic history.

The UK is not alone in updating how it measures its economy to meet international standards. Last week, Italy’s statistical office said it would start to include, among other activities, the sale of cocaine and prostitution. And last year the US expanded its definition of investment, which added 3.6 per cent to the size of 2012 GDP.

In its first attempt to measure illegal activity other than smuggling, the Office for National Statistics said prostitution would add £5.3bn to GDP in 2009 and illegal drugs would add £4.4bn.

The ONS breakdown reckons that each of the UK’s estimated 60,879 prostitutes took about 25 clients a week in 2009, at an average rate of £67.16. It also estimates that the UK had 38,000 heroin users, while sales of the drug amounted to £754m with a street price of £37 a gram.

Overall, the changes announced on Thursday will add £33bn or 2.3 per cent to the 2009 level of GDP. The ONS has not yet calculated the effects on more recent years. Other changes – which will reflect new international standards adopted by all EU member states – will be announced in June.

A new way of measuring “non-profit institutions serving households” – such as charities – will add an even bigger £24bn or 1.7 per cent to 2009 GDP.

People who build their own houses will add £4bn, or 0.3 per cent.

Joe Grice, chief economic adviser at the ONS, said: “As economies develop and evolve, so do the statistics we use to measure them.

“These improvements are going on across the world and we are working with our partners in Europe and the wider world on the same agenda. Here in the UK these reforms will help ONS to continue delivering the best possible economic statistics.”

European statistical guidelines say illegal transactions in which all parties consent should be included in measurements of an economy’s size. The UK will join Estonia, Austria, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and Norway in adding prostitution and illegal drugs to its GDP.

However, they have not proved easy to measure. The ONS estimates the number of prostitutes in the UK in 2004 by extrapolating the number from a survey in London that year. It then makes assumptions about the number of clients a prostitute sees each week, the number of weeks worked each year and the payment per client.

Finally, it assumes that the number of prostitutes has increased over time in line with the size of the male population aged over 16.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“This is a weak assumption based on the market for prostitutes’ services,” the ONS acknowledges in an annex to the report. “It is necessary because we have no time series data for the number of prostitutes.”

It has also used data from the Netherlands to assume prostitutes spent the equivalent of €125 a year on clothes and €0.50 a client on condoms in 2007.

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Self-Balancing One Wheel Motorcycle – Ryno

RYNO is a modern urban transportation product for people who need to move around quickly either for work or personal reasons. It’s a one wheel self-balancing all electric motorcycle designed and produced by Oregon based firm RYNO Motors.

With this motorcycle you are not restricted to the street or bike lane. It is perfect for busy cities where the traffic conditions are bad as you can use it to move quickly and efficiently. In order to be operated,

RYNO needs to be used as a bicycle for left and right movements, for back and forward movements everything is managed by the electric system. The top speed of this motorcycle is 10 miles per hour and it produces zero emissions.

Charging is very easy to do, it can be done just in a normal AC outlet. Wonder what is the cost of a product like this? Around $6000. Most will think that it is expensive, but considering it’s efficiency in time, the price is justified.

Here’s Where The US And EU Get Their Fuel [MAPS]

United States

map oil

European Union

oil map

Using data from the World Trade Organization we created these maps to show which foreign nations the United States and European Union get most of their fuel imports from.

The World Trade Organization defines fuels as petroleum, natural gas, coal, and other energy products.

Russia is a prominent trading partner for both the EU and the United States.

Clever Photos Turn Trash Bags Into Beautiful Swarms of Birds

A flock of starlings—called a murmuration—can spin through the sky in a tightly choreographed display of stunning beauty. Researchers studying the mass movements of these birds see similarities to how electrons line up when magnetized. Photographer Alain Delorme sees plastic bags.

“I have always found plastic bags across my path, no matter where I travelled in the world,” Delorme says. “This plastic bag could be anywhere—even hanging on a tree. I thought that it had to fly to land there.”

Delorme finds swarms of starlings fascinating and frightening, his appreciation of their grace dampened by memories of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Bags fluttering through the air or strewn in the gutter, draw a similar reaction, but for different reasons. The ubiquitous sacks–billions are used each year (.pdf) in the United States alone–are increasingly seen as an environmental menace, as they can take centuries to decompose. Dozens of countries and scores of cities have adopted measures to regulate or ban the bags in an effort to curb pollution, and recyclable and biodegradable bags are becoming more common.

Murmurations is the Parisian photographer’s amalgam of frightening starlings and an examination of the problems caused by plastic bags. At first glance, the 14 pictures are beautiful swarms of starlings heading home at dusk. A second look reveals that the birds are not what they seem.

“I took photos of plastic bags individually [using] a light box to get the bags’ transparency,” he says. “There is a different bag for every swarm, shot 150 to 200 times. I then duplicated the bags, so in total you have at least 10,000 bags per image. I utilized plastic bags with a thin texture, in different colors–those you find in the markets.”

The project took a year and a half to finish and demanded untold hours at the computer. But Delorme is no stranger to the laborious discipline of post-production. In high school he created a 33-foot-long montage of factories. His series Totem exaggerated the loads hauled by Chinese workers by sticking together thousands of photographs of consumer goods. In Little Dolls, he altered girls’ faces to resemble Barbie.

Political commentary permeates Delorme’s work, but he keeps an arm’s distance from outright activism. Finding inspiration in consumer society, consumption and waste, he hopes to provoke discussion without beating viewers over the head. Although his current preoccupations easily could be addressed through straight photojournalism, he prefers a subtle approach to draw people in and to hold them for a moment.

“Today things go so fast,” says Delorme. “People do not take the time anymore for more in-depth analysis and miss lots of information. I like the idea that curiosity here pays off: If you’re curious enough to get closer, you realize that the swarm of birds is actually made of plastic bags and you get the idea.”

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners wins LSE Global Centre for Social Sciences competition (PHOTOS)

Aerial View of LSE Square by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has just been revealed as the winner of the RIBA andLondon School of Economics competition to design the LSE’s New Global Centre for Social Sciences.

Rogers Stirk Harbour won the £90 million (US$145M) project against finalists OMA (The Netherlands); Grafton Architects (Ireland); Heneghan Peng (Ireland); and Hopkins Architects (UK). Bustler had previously featured the shortlisted entries.

“The brief for the new Centre called for world-class architecture which matches LSE’s international academic reputation. The brief also specified the need to demolish and redevelop of a number of existing buildings on Houghton Street and Clare Market on the School’s Aldwych campus.”

LSE Square

LSE Square

“Professor Craig Calhoun, Director of the LSE, chaired the Jury Panel which made the final decision after presentations from the five shortlisted teams. He commented:

‘From an extremely strong field of submissions, LSE has chosen Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create a new structure at the heart of our campus. They have designed beautiful, dynamic buildings around the world and they offered an elegant, thoughtful submission to this competition. RSHP grasped that this would be a building at once for the university and for the city, an enhancement to public as well as academic space. My colleagues and I are delighted that the RSHP team will now work with us to complete the design and add to the excitement of our terrific London location.'”

View from departmental tea point and relaxation area.

View from departmental tea point and relaxation area.

Collaboration and study spaces within the atrium.

Collaboration and study spaces within the atrium.

“Director of Estates and Jury Panel Member Julian Robinson said: ‘Each of the five proposals gave us pause for thought with innovative design responses. We intend this to be a seminal piece of university architecture so it was important we took time to get the decision right. The RSHP proposal goes beyond the School’s brief by giving us a new public square in the heart of the campus. We are looking forward to developing the designs with the RSHP team and are confident that the result will produce a highly sustainable and outstanding piece of architecture.'”

Active atrium space

Active atrium space

“Ivan Harbour, Senior Partner leading the project at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said ‘We are excited to be working with the LSE and we look forward to an open dialogue with the school, so that together we can create the best environment possible for the university and its students. Our new addition to the campus will enrich the urban context and reflect the essence of the LSE.'”

The atrium is a creative hive offering a range of spaces suited to different moods and activities all in the highest quality environment.

Click above image to view slideshow
The atrium is a creative hive offering a range of spaces suited to different moods and activities all in the highest quality environment.

“As part of the decision making process, a public exhibition was held where LSE staff, students and visitors were able to vote for their favourite design from the shortlist. This vote was taken into consideration by the School’s jury panel when they met. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners won the public vote by an overwhelming margin.”

Ground floor campus plan.

Ground floor campus plan.
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