HARD NUMBERS

68.5 million: Some 68.5 million people were recorded as forcibly displacedby persecution, conflict, or other forms of violence at the end of 2017, the largest number ever, according to the new report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Despite all the political noise about migration in the developed world, 85 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.


3 million: Around three million Chinese tourists visit the United States each year, spending more money per trip on average than visitors from other countries. That makes travel the rare industry where the US enjoys a trade surplus with the People’s Republic. But as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing heat up, could Chinese vacations get cut short?

100: Starting this September, 100 percent of workers at bakeries, electronics stores, and furniture shops in Saudi Arabia will have to be Saudi nationals. Well, on paper at least. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is pushing the quotas as part of his attempt to wean the Kingdom’s economy off its dependence on oil-funded largesse, is having trouble finding home-grown talent that’s willing to work in these positions.

39: Just 39 percent of Japanese adults use social networking sites, according to a recent Pew study, the lowest of any advanced economy. The report found that a median of 60 percent of people across 17 more affluent countries used online social networks in 2017–18. In 19 developing countries, median use was 53 percent, up sharply from just 34 percent half a decade ago.

37: A band of Afghan peace marchers arrived in the country’s capital, Kabul, on June 18 after walking for 37 days to demand an end to the Afghan war. The journey concluded as the Taliban declared an end to a surprise three-day ceasefire coinciding with the Eid-al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan. It was the first-ever ceasefire in the country’s 17-year long war. 

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.