What We’re Watching: Mexico boosts the minimum wage again

Maximizing Mexico's Minimum Wage – Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office as Mexico's president last year on promises to reduce income inequality in his country. To accomplish this, he raised Mexico's unusually low minimum wage last year by 16 percent. On January 1, the wage will rise another 20 percent, roughly seven times the current rate of inflation. Supporters say the move will boost purchasing power and alleviate poverty. Critics warn that it will stoke inflation and discourage companies from hiring new workers. For perspective, even after these two hikes, the Mexican minimum wage will still be barely US $6.50… per day.


North Koreans Outside North Korea – There are almost 100,000 North Koreans working outside their home country, mainly in China and Russia. The NK government wants them to stay put, because the money they send home to their families helps keep North Korea's economy afloat. But a United Nations resolution, introduced two years ago in response to North Korean missile tests, says all these workers have to go home by December 22. Think they'll go?

Vito the Bionic Cat – If you've read reviews of the new film adaptation of "Cats," the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, you know there's a solid chance it's the worst movie ever made. Like your Friday author, you probably had no intention of seeing it anyway. Fortunately, there has been good news this week in the world of real cats. For the first time in history (we think), veterinary surgeons have successfully attached prosthetic legs on an Italian cat. Vituzzo—his friends call him Vito—lost both hind legs in a car accident. Today, his new bionic legs have made him an Internet superstar. Somebody should make a movie about that.

What We're Ignoring

Impeachment Games – Reportedly, some Democrats want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to refuse to send the freshly-passed Articles of Impeachment to the Senate until Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican Senate Majority, agrees to allow more witnesses and evidence into the proceedings. We can ignore this proposal, because the Democrats have zero leverage here. Republicans are happy to delay the trial because the uncertainty would create turmoil for the presidential campaigns of Democratic Senators Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, and Booker—and because it will appear to some voters that Democrats are playing games with a process they've thus far tried to treat with solemnity.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

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It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.

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India's supreme court to weigh in on citizenship law – India's southern state of Kerala filed a lawsuit in India's Supreme Court, claiming that a contentious new citizenship law that's caused nationwide protests is discriminatory and violates India's secular constitution. Kerala is the first state to legally challenge the new law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, which opens a path to Indian citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries— provided that they are not Muslims. In addition to the Kerala action, at least some of the 60 petitions filed by individuals and political parties are also likely to be heard by the court next week. Amid a climate of deepening uncertainty for India's 200 million Muslims, we're watching closely to see how the court rules.

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Vladimir Putin has held power for twenty years now, alternating between the prime minister's seat and the presidency twice. He has made himself so indispensable to Russia's political system that even the speaker of the legislature has mused that "without Putin, there is no Russia." The constitution says he can't serve as president again after his current term ends in 2024 – but he'll find a way to keep power somehow. As he starts to lay those plans, here's a look back at his approval rating over the past two decades.