Hard Numbers

2,000: The cost of obtaining a Venezuelan passport has risen to around $2000, more than 68 times the average monthly wage and double the price only a year ago. Around 5,000 people continue to flee the country’s collapsing economy and democracy every day.


 

54: Last Sunday, which marked the 17th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, saw 54 people killed across the country in just 24 hours. The conflict has taken the lives of 30 to 40 Afghan security forces and at least 13 civilians a day.

 

26: A survey of wealthy countries by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation found that the quality of democracy has deteriorated in 26 of 41 nations over the past four years, with 19 states including Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Mexico and the United States showing a relatively sharp downward trend.

 

24: Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation as US ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, will have spent roughly 24 months in the post by the time she leaves at the end of 2018. That’s a shorter tenure than Obama-era appointees Susan Rice (four and a half years) and Samantha Power (just under three and a half years) served in the role, but longer than President Trump’s national security adviser and frequent UN critic John Bolton’s 16-month stint in Turtle Bay during the George W. Bush administration.

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 Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known.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.