HARD NUMBERS

40: As a Russian friend has reminded me many times, a look at Moscow won’t help you see Russia. While the capital is wearing its finest colors for the World Cup, infrastructure outside major Russian cities remains in decay. According to the country’s official statistics bureau, when Putin came to power in 2000 there were 68,100 schools. Today, there are just 41,100, a fall of nearly 40 percent. Since 2000, the number of hospitals has fallen from 10,700 to just 5,400.


38: According to a just-published survey, Europeans say immigration is the most important issue facing the EU, with 38 percent of mentions. (That’s up from just 14 percent in autumn 2017). This week’s migration controversy involving Italy and Spain, which we highlighted on Wednesday, and an ongoing policy dispute within Germany’s governing coalition suggest these issues will continue to generate heat in European politics.

113: During this election campaign season in Mexico, at least 113 candidates, prospective candidates, and current and former politicians have been murdered, according to Etellekt, a public policy consultancy. Hundreds of candidates have backed out of their races, and others still on the ballot refuse to campaign in public. Two more weeks until election day.

4: JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce firm, has built a Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack, and ship 200,000 orders a day. The facility has four employees, all of whom are there to service robots.

93 million: Net inflows of foreign direct investment to North Korea amounted to just $93 million in 2016. Compare that number with $12 billion into South Korea. In other (possibly related) news, Swedish automaker Volvo still awaits payment for 1,000 sedans shipped to North Korea in the 1970s.

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.