Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

World

A political scientist explains why the GOP is a threat to American democracy

Published

on

It sounds hyperbolic to say that American democracy is broken, but an honest glance at the country — at our institutions and the broader political culture — makes it hard to conclude otherwise.

As things stand, one of our two major political parties is committed to suppressing as many votes as possible, and the leader of that party, the president of the United States, has said outright that he won’t accept the legitimacy of the election process if he doesn’t win.

If, under those conditions, Trump either wins the election or loses and throws the country into a bitter, protracted fight over the results, it doesn’t seem all that alarmist to suggest the US will have descended into what political scientists sometimes call a “weak democracy” or even “competitive authoritarianism.”

But I really don’t want to be overly alarmist, so I reached out to Pippa Norris, a political scientist at Harvard University and one of the leading authorities on global democracy. I wanted to know her honest assessment of the state of American democracy, why she thinks the upcoming election is a true turning point for the country, and what the US will have to do moving forward to undo the damage done in the past several years.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing

If American democracy was a patient, how would you describe its condition?

Pippa Norris

I’d say the patient has not been well for a long time. The patient is obese and doesn’t exercise.

Sean Illing

You like to say that democracy is not an “all or nothing” process — it’s more like a continuum with peaks and valleys and lots of movement over time. Would you say that the biggest weakness in the American system right now is this combination of the intractability of our Constitution and the fact that one of our major parties, the Republican Party, is basically invested in an anti-democratic, countermajoritarian agenda?

Pippa Norris

It’s true that we’re facing an existential crisis in part because the Republican Party has put all of their appeals into a shrinking sector of the electorate — mostly white, mostly older. And they’re using their power to change the rules of the game to favor their own party. That’s all true.

The point about the intractability of the Constitution is also true. There’s something called the Comparative Constitutions Project. They look at the longevity of constitutions and how much change is ideal and how much change is dysfunctional. So you don’t want a constitution that changes all the time because that leads to instability and you need to have rules of the game that everybody can agree upon. But you also can’t have a constitution that’s fundamentally unchangeable.

America is just off the charts in terms of the rarity of changes. It’s not just that we have so few changes; it’s the combination of institutional arrangements that make change almost impossible. America’s Constitution really doesn’t change, and we don’t look abroad for constitutional innovations.

Sean Illing

Can you give me an example of a good constitutional innovation from around the world?

Pippa Norris

Almost every new democracy or country going through a transition always sets up a central and effective independent election management system. Now, they’ve all got different degrees of independence. But nevertheless, if there’s an election dispute, there’s an independent executive to say what the results are and to provide a mechanism for handling legal disputes that isn’t tainted by politicized courts.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Supreme Court. It can be an election court, often common in Latin America. Or there may be other mechanisms which provide informal resolutions. America has all these decentralized forms of electoral administration, which means that just one local area, which had one local problem in its ballot or its count or its regulations, could really derail the whole of the presidential election, particularly if it’s Broward County in Florida or somewhere else in Georgia or somewhere else in Michigan or wherever it is.

The point is that other countries around the world have developed ways of dealing with these issues and America just hasn’t learned or adapted.

Sean Illing

Is the Republican Party, in its current manifestation, the biggest obstacle to making the sorts of changes we need to make?

Pippa Norris

It is. I’ve done a global party survey in December 2019, asking over 2,000 experts where they place mainstream political parties worldwide on a range of issues, from taxes to health care to environmental policy. And the US results are quite remarkable. If we’re just looking at OECD [post-industrial] countries and trying to measure whether parties favor or oppose checks and balances on the executive, if they’re committed to basic pluralistic values, and if they respect or undermine liberal democratic principles, what you find is that the GOP is surprisingly extremist.

The position of the GOP on these issues is close to parties like Golden Dawn in Greece [a neo-fascist party], Fidesz in Hungary, or the Law and Justice party in Poland. These are illiberal parties cutting back on the freedom of press and stamping out democratic freedoms in their countries. And these are the only parties in the developed world that really compare to the Republican Party in terms of their commitment to what we’d call authoritarian values.

So in a two-party system, you would expect a party like the GOP to naturally position itself somewhere around the center of the ideological spectrum to appeal to the median voter and to maximize its vote in general elections, like the Democratic Party tends to do. And the Democratic Party, for what it’s worth, basically scores the same as most of the standard middle-of-the-road European center-left parties.

But what’s happened is that the GOP has now gradually moved much, much further away from that center, a process that Trump has accelerated. Now, the problem is that you’d expect them to change course if they lose badly in the election, because that’s where most American voters are located in a normal curve.

The problem is that primary voters and donors are often more extreme than ordinary Americans. Seats are often uncompetitive, due to gerrymandering. And it often takes more than one heavy electoral defeat to get a party to shift course. You can think of them a bit like ocean liners. They’re sailing along in one direction. Under new leadership, they may try and move to port or to starboard, but it takes time to turn around, partly because after defeat, the incumbents who are reelected can blame Trump’s leadership and events like Covid-19, rather than their core policy appeals.

It may take a couple of electoral shocks for the GOP to learn the lessons, reverse course, and begin to nominate more moderate Lincoln Republicans and mainstream appeals.

Sean Illing

Is it still accurate to call the US a liberal democracy?

Pippa Norris

Well, remember, I like to think of democracy as a continuum. What that suggests is that you can slide up or down as things improve or deteriorate.

So we could, for example, be closer to what’s called an “electoral democracy,” meaning that elections still work but many other institutions don’t. The judiciary may be undermined or press freedoms may be undermined. These are the kinds of things you see in countries in which democracy is backsliding. When this happens, strongman rulers come to power and they basically reinforce their position through amending or changing constitutions. That’s a very common strategy to make sure that they get elected time and time again.

America is still a liberal democracy insofar as we still have the formal institutions you’d expect to find in a liberal democracy. And there’s still freedom of speech and assembly. There’s still the expectation that the loser of an election will step aside. But the US is sliding toward electoral democracy. Whether it gets even worse depends on what happens this November.

Sean Illing

You say, rather ominously, that everything turns on what happens in November. If Trump wins, if the GOP’s countermajoritarian strategy is rewarded, what then?

Pippa Norris

We’ve got at least these two scenarios. Number one, there’s a landslide and the Democrats win so overwhelmingly that the system essentially staggers back to where it was and, hopefully, Biden brings in some much-needed reforms. If confidence in elections returns, if there is basically a change in the Senate, as well as in the presidency, then you could see America returning to the system that was there with Obama — deeply imperfect, but working.

If there’s a narrow result and the Electoral College is very narrow, and it is one where Biden gets the edge, then there’s going to be so many disputes and confidence is going to go down. We’ve already seen the cracks in places like Michigan, where, let’s be honest, domestic terrorists were plotting to kidnap the governor, and we can expect to see more of this extralegal violence as social trust and tolerance keeps eroding. That’s hard to get your head around, but it’s real and it’s absolutely on the table.

If Trump returns to office, then things are going to get worse. We know that when authoritarian populists come in the first term, they’re just trying out ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t. But they’re almost always more moderate. The second term is when it’s much more problematic. And the worst case would be something like Hungary, where illiberal populists have destroyed the foundations of the electoral system in ways most people don’t really understand. It all happened right in front of people’s eyes, but not enough attention was paid early on — and now it’s too late.

Sean Illing

If Trump loses, what’s the path to democratic restoration look like?

Pippa Norris

We need reforms — lots of reforms. Corruption and the role of money in politics is a core problem. We haven’t heard much about this lately because more attention has been paid to issues like voter suppression, with good reasons, but it’s a fundamental issue standing in the way of nearly everything else.

We have to restore the integrity of the Department of Justice. If you don’t have an umpire you can trust, then where can you go? We need impartiality and independence. There are two meanings of the “rule of law” and they often get misunderstood. When Trump says “rule of law,” what he really means is the power of the law to control the system, as opposed to the power of the law to check the executive and the legislative branch in effective, independent, impartial ways. It’s clear which one we need.

It will sound nuts, but I really think we need a bipartisan commission to start a conversation among moderate Republicans and Democrats and progressives about the larger problems of American democracy beyond voter suppression and beyond gerrymandering and beyond corruption in politics. When there’s a real crisis in governance, you have to get out of single party and you have to forge a new consensus. Many countries, including Britain, have done things like this and it’s important. You can think of it like a democratic audit, one that engages the public in a real dialogue.

Again, I know this sounds silly, but when the problems run this deep, all of civic society has to be engaged in this enormous rebuilding effort. We all have to ask, “What are the key issues in America?” and frame them in ways that cut through the conventional Republican-Democrat frame.

Sean Illing

What gives you the most hope about our political future?

Pippa Norris

The mobilization has been fantastic. A lot of the mobilization has gone in dangerous directions, as we just saw in Michigan. But on the other side, we have all this energy dedicated to improving the country in big and small ways. If you look at the number of women running for office, if you look at the Black Lives Matter movement, if you look at how many people have taken to the streets to call for change — that’s all exciting and necessary. We need that energy. It tells us the country isn’t asleep at the wheel any longer, that people are waking up.

Democracy is on the ballot in this election — everybody knows it. And people are mobilized either for or against it. As long as this energy can be contained and positively channeled, there’s hope for real, lasting change. We just have to avoid violence. Plenty of countries have disputed elections, but we have to manage that conflict without violence. Once that line is crossed, it’s hard to go back.

I’ll just end by saying that a crisis is an opportunity. Just like Covid is an opportunity to rethink the nature of work, so the crisis which America’s going through is an opportunity to rethink how we’re running our liberal democracy and explore the possibilities of serious and moderate reforms, and maybe learn from other countries. Our problems won’t disappear, but with effective reforms and a renewed commitment to change, there is at least hope.


Will you help keep Vox free for all?

The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World

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

Published

on

(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.

Source

Continue Reading

World

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

Published

on

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.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


Will you help keep Vox free for all?

The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.

Source

Continue Reading

World

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

Published

on

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.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending