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3 winners and 4 losers from the first 2020 presidential debate

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The 2020 presidential campaign has featured surprisingly stable polling: Former Vice President Joe Biden has been ahead consistently, and he’s still ahead by a high single-digit margin.

This is all happening amid the outbreak of a major pandemic, the collapse of the economy, a nationwide surge of protests demanding racial justice, an unexpectedly rapid jobs bounce-back, a second wave of Covid-19 deaths, a rise in the murder rate, and the release of a half-dozen insider books about the Trump administration full of shocking depictions of official misconduct.

Under the circumstances, President Trump needed the first debate against Biden to go his way. It’s hard to believe that any debate could change the tide that much. It’s also hard to believe anyone who tuned in to Tuesday night’s exchange gleaned actual information about public policy in the United States. Biden spent relatively little time describing his plans for the country, focusing mostly on parrying Trump’s attacks and occasionally trying to appeal to the ordinary humans who are suffering in America’s current circumstances. Trump, meanwhile, slung a nonstop barrage of nonsense that completely overwhelmed moderator Chris Wallace’s feeble efforts to enforce the rules.

But if Trump’s theory was that Biden would melt under the pressure, it didn’t happen. He stood his ground, he delivered his talking points, and while it’s doubtful he picked up a ton of new supporters, he’s not the candidate who needs them most.

Here’s who won and who lost in the mess of the first presidential debate.

Winner: Cross-talk and malarkey

The debate opened with what was allegedly an exchange about Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, then pivoted to a discussion of health care, and rapidly degenerated into nonsense as Trump interrupted so compulsively that it was impossible to extract any kind of coherent comment from either candidate.

That, in turn, produced an unorthodox zinger from Biden: “Will you shut up, man?”

Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The debate regained some equilibrium after a topic shift to Covid-19, but the basic process kept breaking down again and again. Pre-debate briefings from the Trump camp made it clear that the president’s strategy would be to behave aggressively, but Trump’s decision to try to stomp all over the basic debate format was surprising. The result was to basically ruin the show, making the program often impossible to follow or learn anything from.

Given that Biden already had a substantial lead and the debates are a rare high-profile opportunity for Trump to turn it around, that’s probably a win for the challenger. The idea, evidently, was to rattle Biden and expose his supposed mental infirmity — but it didn’t work because the mental infirmity is more blatantly false Facebook meme than reality.

—Matthew Yglesias

Loser: The “Biden has dementia” theory

For months now the Trump camp has been lying and saying that Biden won’t leave his basement, and for weeks they’ve been increasingly explicit in arguing that he has dementia. Because this isn’t true, they’ve been making the case for it largely via doctored videos and lying about a particular image of Biden sitting for an interview with Telemundo.

The problem with this, as Team Trump seems to have belatedly realized, is that you normally don’t lower expectations for your opponent pre-debate. Biden did not excel in any of the Democratic Party primary debates. But before his one-on-one encounter with Sen. Bernie Sanders just before the primaries wrapped up, some members of Sanders’s camp ran this exact dementia play — to disastrous results when the two men met live onstage, where Biden delivered his completely normal humdrum performance and it played as a triumph.

Consequently, much of Tuesday was taken up with charges from Trumpland that Biden was planning to cheat in the debate with the use of some sort of illicit performance-enhancing drug or secret earpiece. As wild lies to hedge against earlier wild lies, this wasn’t a terrible last-ditch effort. Fox News even trotted out Brit Hume before the debate to warn the audience not to believe their lying eyes and claim that just because Biden doesn’t seem like he’s suffering from dementia doesn’t mean he isn’t.

But then the debate happened, and Biden was … fine.

Let’s be honest: There’s a reason his 1988 and 2008 campaigns didn’t set the world on fire — he just does not have the charisma level of a Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barack Obama. But he’s a totally normal politician who can stand up there and do his talking points and zingers for 90 minutes just like anyone else. Throwing the “my opponent is senile” Hail Mary may have made a certain amount of strategic sense for Trump given that at this point, he is not going to come up with a viable plan to fight Covid-19 or alter the public’s entrenched perception of him. But it just doesn’t work because it’s not true.

—MY

Loser: Racial justice

Wallace chose “race and crime in our cities” as a debate topic, framing both lawlessness and city living as explicitly racialized and positing some kind of trade-off between equity and public safety that there’s no evidence for. Trump, naturally, ate it up, castigating all racial justice advocates as “anarchists,” blaming Democratic-run cities for all crime problems (homicides are also up in the small number of GOP-run cities), and slamming his opponent’s supposed desire to defund the police (Biden in fact advocates for more police).

Basic questions about the existence of racial justice outside the narrow scope of law enforcement went unaddressed. So did the fairly extensive evidence that there is significant racial bias in police stops, a much wider issue than the question of how to handle the specific, egregious cases that end with a civilian death and national controversy.

Biden held his own in the exchange, parrying Trump’s claims on police funding and, likely for the first time, introducing a national audience to the reality that the Trump administration has repeatedly proposed cuts in police funding.

But the actual topic of racial justice was incredibly ill-served by this narrow and poorly framed debate.

—MY

Loser: Chris Wallace

A presidential debate moderator has one main job: to let both sides speak and share their vision for the country, with minimal interruption and proper time limits. By that standard, moderator Chris Wallace failed.

The tone was set early, when Trump almost immediately started interrupting Biden when it was his time to speak. Trump’s interruptions made it nearly impossible to hear what Biden was saying, and caused the debate to repeatedly break down into unintelligible yelling and arguments about whether the candidates were following the debate’s rules and time limits.

Debate moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Wallace at times tried to stop the interruptions. But he repeatedly blamed both Trump and Biden, when Trump was clearly doing far more of the interrupting. At one point, Wallace seemed to give up altogether, saying, “I’m going to ask a question about race, but if you want to answer something else, go ahead.”

It wasn’t until an hour and 10 minutes into the debate, out of an hour and a half, that Wallace called Trump out: “Mr. President, your campaign agreed both sides would get two-minute answers uninterrupted. Your side agreed to it. And why don’t you observe that?”

Even after that, Trump continued to interrupt Biden. Wallace never really claimed control of the stage. He even had to declare, “This is the end of this debate,” when it was over, signaling he couldn’t even successfully bring the program to an end.

This almost certainly wasn’t the debate that Wallace wanted. And it left Americans with a largely incoherent mess.

—German Lopez

Winner: China

One of the best books I’ve read on US foreign policy in the past few years is 2016’s America Abroad, by Dartmouth professors Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth. One of the book’s central argument is that the United States is not only the world’s most powerful country, but so far ahead of its competitors on conventional metrics — like military power and technological advancement — that no country could feasibly catch up in the near future. China in particular, they argue, is far less capable of overtaking the United States than is generally understood.

It’s a contrarian argument, but a compelling one. Or at least it would be if the US weren’t suffering from a crippling level of internal division. No country, no matter how powerful, can effectively wield power abroad when it’s preoccupied by internal divisions. No government can feasibly end American global hegemony — except for the American one.

What we saw tonight, the muddled mess and anger, reflects the paralyzing levels of internal division currently wracking the United States. Sure, the proximate cause is Trump’s personal style, and the clear personal animosity between the two men on display. But it also reflected the dangerously polarized nature of American politics at this particular moment, even on fundamental issues of how our political system should work.

At the very end of the debate, for example, Trump wouldn’t even pledge to accept defeat — responding to Wallace’s question on this front by encouraging his followers to show up at polling stations in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold in a key battleground, “because bad things happen in Philadelphia.”

This wasn’t just ugly in an aesthetic sense; it was ugly in a more fundamental one, a sign of a system breaking down as rival camps within it no longer universally accept the rules of the game. And nobody benefits more from this kind of internal discord in the world’s most powerful state than China.

—Zack Beauchamp

Winner: Speaking directly to the American people

As of last week, a staggering 200,000 people in the US are confirmed dead of Covid-19 — yet moments of compassion, let alone acknowledgment from Trump, have been few and far between.

In some of his strongest statements during the debate on Tuesday, Biden drew a stark contrast: Speaking directly into the camera, he addressed Americans who may have lost a family member during the pandemic, or suffered devastating job losses as the economy has plummeted in recent months.

“How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the kitchen table because someone died of Covid?” he asked, while maintaining eye contact. “How many of you are in a situation where you lost your mom or dad and you couldn’t even speak to them and had a nurse holding a phone up so you could, in fact, say goodbye?”

Joe Biden speaks directly to the television audience during the debate.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

This remark — and others like it — offered a brief glimpse of humanity in a debate filled with cross-talk and insults, and was among the most effective in highlighting how Biden would govern differently than Trump has. Even as the president falsely emphasized how effective his coronavirus response has been yet again, Biden provided a sense of what leadership looks like when a president actually cares about what people are going through.

“It’s not about my family or his family, it’s about you,” Biden said. The dueling statements on Tuesday made clear that only one of the men onstage felt this way.

Li Zhou

Loser: America’s safety

Wallace, the debate moderator, asked Trump to disavow and condemn white supremacists. He didn’t do it, instead merely telling the Proud Boys group to “stand by” while criticizing left-wing movements like antifa.

Set aside, if you can, the moral failure of Trump refusing to denounce white supremacists. That’s horrible enough. But he’s the commander in chief, and not condemning white supremacists is a dereliction of duty — since they are the greatest domestic terrorist threat to the United States.

“Racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up most of the recent domestic terrorist threats, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee this month. The Trump-friendly Department of Homeland Security has drafted memos making the same point. And the State Department has, for the first time ever, designated white supremacist groups as terrorists.

There’s a reason Trump’s own administration makes that case. The past few years have seen mass shootings perpetrated by white nationalists in the US, and their danger to the homeland has of late surpassed that of radical Islamic groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS (though those groups still remain dangerous). To think of white supremacy, then, is to think of an ideology that animates a major national security risk.

Yet when confronted with the chance to shout it down, Trump didn’t. That’s wrong on its own, but it’s also shocking to see the president not denounce a threat to millions of Americans.

Worse now, the one specific white supremacist group he was asked to denounce — the Proud Boys — are already celebrating that moment. “Trump basically said to go fuck them up!” one group leader said after that debate moment.

—Alex Ward


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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

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(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

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Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

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From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

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