HARD NUMBERS

2 million: The demilitarized zone that stretches for 155 miles along the 38th parallel between North and South Korea is estimated to hold up to 2 million landmines. Teams from the two countries this week began their first joint-clearance operation in more than a decade, part of the still-fragile thaw between Seoul and Pyongyang.


 

45: A Chinese naval vessel approached “within 45 yards” of a US destroyer near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Sunday. The encounter, which US authorities described as “unsafe and unprofessional,” comes as the worsening trade dispute between the two countries has led to a rise in tensions, including a recent decision to scrap a planned visit to Beijing by US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

 

1: Despite a growing list of people, companies, and countries that are subject to sanctions, so far in 2018, the US Treasury Department office in charge of sanctions has brought just one new enforcement case, related to the unauthorized sale of telecommunications services in South Sudan. Overall, the number and size of judgments pursued by the US Office of Foreign Asset Control has been on the wane since 2014, when it imposed $1.2 billion of fines in 23 cases.

 

1/4: The 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, which hit peak intensity 100 years ago this autumn as millions of soldiers demobilized after World War I, infected a quarter of all people alive in the world at the time. Some estimates put the pandemic’s total death toll as high as 100 million – more people than were killed in World Wars I and II combined.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

What do people think is driving the stock market's recent record high gains?


Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

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In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 220 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least 19 Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was experiencing "brain death," citing a lack of coordination and America's fickleness under Donald Trump as reasons to doubt the alliance's commitment to mutual defense. NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – was formed in the wake of World War II as a counterweight against Soviet dominance in Europe and beyond. Its cornerstone is that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. But disagreements over sharing the cost of maintaining military readiness have caused friction between the alliance's members in recent years. In 2014, the bloc agreed that each member state would increase their own defense spending to 2% of their respective GDP over the next decade. But so far, only seven of 29 members have forked out the money. Here's a look at who pays what.