Hard Numbers

450,000: Venezuelan crude output has fallen 450,000 barrels per day, or 23 percent, over the past six months amid an exodus of employees at state-run oil giant PDVSA. Even as other major oil producing nations benefit from the 65 percent increase in oil prices since last June, Venezuela and its long-suffering population won’t experience the same lift.


30: China paid nearly $30 billion in licensing fees and royalties for foreign technology in 2017, up from just $8 billion a decade earlier. Excluding Ireland and the Netherlands, which account for an outsized portion of such payments due to the large number of multinationals headquartered within their borders for tax purposes, China ranks second globally behind the US and ahead of Japan, South Korea, and India.

25: With the resignation of Britain’s home secretary earlier this week, the government of Prime Minister Theresa May has lost six senior cabinet members since it was formed last June. That makes it the least stable government in the UK in 25 years. Mrs May is still a long way from Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who during his tenure lost, on average, one cabinet member every 35 days.

9.1: Nearly three-quarters of Liberians have cell phones, but only 9.1 percent of the African nation’s citizens have electricity. While the Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann recently used this juxtaposition to illustrate how nimble private investment in telecoms has outpaced plodding public spending on Liberia’s power grid, my big takeaway is that people are astonishingly resilient — I say this as someone who can barely keep his phone charged.

3.1: China enticed the Dominican Republic to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish relations with Beijing by dangling a $3.1 billion package of investments and loans, a Taiwanese official told Reuters. That’s roughly 50 percent more than the total trade that the Dominican Republic says it conducted with China last year.

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 Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known.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