Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Investigations: Move Over 1%, Richest 0.01% Clean Up

Apparently, it sucks to be a one-percenter. That's because the richest one percent of people aren't getting wealthier as quickly as the really rich - the 0.1-percenters - not to mention the crazy, insane rich - the 0.01-percenters.

The eye-opening chart in this New York Times article tells the story. While incomes of the bottom 90 percent of American households have remained flat since 1913 (even falling since the 1970s after inflation), the top one percent have seen modest gains, earning about $1.3 million today (in real 2012 dollars), according to the World Top Incomes Database, which compiled the data for the New York Times story.

That's about double what they earned in 1913, according to the chart. (The exact amount they earned in 1913 wasn't immediately apparent in the story or database.)

Now for the really rich: the 0.1-percenters. These blessed individuals earn about $6 million today - up from about $2 million in 1913.

But that gain is still peanuts compared to the 0.01-percenters, whose household income has exploded from under $5 million in 1913 to $31 million today - a more than six-fold increase.

And to think of all the hatred spewed at the poor one-percenters.

UPDATE: On a related note, I just came across this interesting Bloomberg story on the huge and ever-widening gap between CEO and worker pay.

CEOs in the U.S. earned an estimated 20 times that of rank-and-file workers in the 1950s.

Today, that ratio has widened more than 10-fold to 204-to-1, the story reports amid a good discussion of stalled government attempts to get more transparency from corporations about executive compensation.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Investigative Reports: U.S. Drone Hits Based on Flimsy "Geolocation" Intel

U.S. drone assassinations are often based on flimsy and unreliable intelligence, such as the location of a cell phone SIM card, according to this interesting investigative report by former Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald and journalist Jeremy Scahill, who both specialize in intelligence issues.

The SIM card "geolocation" intelligence is rarely confirmed by a human source on the ground to make sure the possessor of the SIM card is actually the intended target, they write on Greenwald's new investigative reporting website, The Intercept.

The target is often selected simply because of "metadata" activity deemed to be suspicious--such as repeated contact with other suspected militants--and isn't verified through other methods, says the story, citing an anonymous former drone operator who is troubled by the assassination program.

Unintended Deaths

The imprecise targeting has led to the killing of unintended and unknown people, the story says.

While a Guardian columnist, Greenwald reported extensively on whistleblower Edward Snowden's unprecedented revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's massive dragnet spying operations on Americans and non-citizens alike.

The Intercept promises "aggressive and independent adversarial journalism" on a range of issues.

It has also posted a second piece featuring never-before-seen aerial photos of NSA and other U.S. intelligence facilities.

Read more about the latest NSA revelations in this Democracy Now! interview with Greenwald and Scahill.

State Lawmakers Seek to Cut Off NSA

In related news, state legislators in Maryland, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington and California have proposed bills to deny water and electricity to NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, and other facilities of the agency, this news item says. The moves are in protest over the NSA's sweeping spying programs.

One bill now before the Maryland state legislature also bans the use of NSA-derived evidence in state courts and prevents state universities from partnering with the agency on research.