Hard Numbers

8: Eight years ago today, Syria plunged into civil war. According to the UN, nearly half the people who lived in that country in 2011 have been driven from their homes, and hundreds of thousands have been killed. President Bashar al-Assad has won the war, but fighting continues.

37: A poll conducted earlier this year found that 37 percent of Britons who prefer to remain in the European Union would be upset if a close relative married a strong leave supporter.

2 million: The number of new births in China fell by 2 million to 15.2 million in 2018. It was the second straight year of decline in the birthrate since China ended its "one child" policy in 2015. More than half of respondents who said they were delaying having children cited the high cost of raising a child.

84 million: Some 84 million Indians, equal to the population of Germany, have become eligible to vote since India's most recent national elections in 2014.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.