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Category Archives: poverty and wealth

as part of an ongoing series investigating the global stolen cellphone trade, reports that Colombian drug cartels have moved into illegal smartphone trafficking as a lucrative source of money. Smuggling operations currently span the Americas — and even extend as far away as Spain and Singapore — driven by high import prices for such handsets as iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and Blackberries. Cartels have moved into the space mainly because it’s a far safer endeavor than the drug trade. Law enforcement is more likely to operate around narcotics, but many countries don’t have structures in place to stem the flow of illegal phones. As a result, the market has boomed to being worth around $30 million a year. However, the effect on everyday life in Colombia has been severe. Stealing phones often results in violence, to the point that one Colombian newspaper commented that holding a phone in public had become a “death trap.”

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If you feel you’re falling behind in the income race, it’s not just your imagination. The wealth gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99% in the U.S. is as wide as it’s been in nearly 100 years, a new study finds.

For starters, between 1993 and 2012, the real incomes of the 1% grew 86.1%, while those of the 99% grew 6.6%, according to the study, based on Internal Revenue Service statistics examined by economists at UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

The top 1% is defined as familes with incomes above $394,000 in 2012.

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