Hard Numbers

15: Voters in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, head to the polls on Sunday to vote in the country’s first municipal elections since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power in 2011. A new Gallup poll finds that 15 percent of Tunisians say their local economy is getting better. 50 percent say it’s getting worse.


1: French economist Thomas Piketty estimates that offshore assets held by wealthy Russians exceed one year of Russia GDP. It’s a measure of the extent to which Russia’s natural wealth no longer lives in Russia.

37: China’s trade as a percent of GDP fell from 65% in 2006 to 37% in 2016, making it less reliant on exports for economic growth and less vulnerable to a trade slowdown. Combine that with an ability to muzzle domestic mediaand China enters negotiations with the US on trade with a pretty strong hand.

24: The number of Russians applying for asylum in the United States hit a 24-year high in 2017, up 39 percent from the previous year, according to a report from Radio Free Europe.

25: A Pew Research study published this week finds that 90 percent of Americans say a respectful tone of debate among political leaders is important. Just 25 percent say this accurately describes the political debate in the United States.

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 Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known.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