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.

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.