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A Real-Life Killmonger is Trying to Decolonize European Museums

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In one of the most arresting scenes in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, the character Erik Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, speaks to a curator at the fictitious Museum of Great Britain in London. Killmonger asks the curator about different artifacts in the exhibit, and when he tells her that he plans to take the object from Wakanda, the curator objects. “These items aren’t for sale,” she tells him. “How do you think your ancestors got these?” Killmonger responds. “You think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it, like they took everything else?”

Although the fictional Killmonger dies at the end of the movie, a real-life Killmonger lives: Mwazulu Diyabanza has spent the summer of 2020 trying to reclaim African art from museums across Europe. In June, he took a north-central African funeral post from the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. In July, he took a sword from the Museum of Africa, Oceanic, and Native American Arts in Marseille. And in September, just a few weeks ago, he took a Congolese statue from the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal in the Netherlands.

“I don’t think I’m like Killmonger, he’s a fictional character,” Diyabanza told VICE News. “But, my approach is compatible. I can play that role, but I know how to get away with things without murdering people, and how to be effective with my actions.”

Nevertheless, Diyabanza said that when he watched Black Panther, he was struck by the infamous art scene. “They represented our artifacts that were of extreme importance in African history, created by groups of people who were great patriots and representatives of the continent,” he said. “And, there was a restoration of truth in the Black Panther narrative. The truth is restored behind these objects and how they were taken, and the narratives of colonialism and violence are brought forth.”

Diyabanza and his colleagues livestreamed their activities on Facebook while denouncing colonial theft. They were apprehended by museum security every time, but Diyabanza’s goal, in addition to reclaiming these artifacts of importance, is to “take a message to those who carried out macabre violence, rapings, and killings, and let them know they have not won or prevailed. They don’t own these objects, or us.”

These issues are personal for Diyabanza, as well. He said his family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and were royalty on his mother’s side dating back to the 15th century. His grandfather, he said, was the governor of the Mpangu province and in absence of the king was in charge. During the tenure of his grandfather, Diyabanza said, Europeans arrived and stole artifacts from him and their community. These items have remained in family lore, among them, a hat made from multiple animal skins, an intricate cane, a copper Lemba bracelet, and a leopard skin worn in rituals that honored ancestors. Diyabanza has spent years trying to track down these objects, and thinks he has located a few of them in museums all over the world.

In fact, Diyabanza claimed that when he was at the Afrika Museum in the Netherlands, he actually saw his grandfather’s bracelet. “From generation to generation people are told about these objects. Being there, and seeing the bracelet, was extremely moving. I was emotional to see the wealth that belongs to me in other people’s hands, that was taken through violence and brutality and then put on display.” The Lemba bracelet, traditionally made of copper or gold, is engraved with a profile of a person. Though there are several of these bracelets, Diyabanza said that they are all unique and the different engravings symbolize authority, wisdom, or different virtues. Today, different Lemba bracelets can be found at museums all over the world, from the World Museum in Liverpool to the Brooklyn Museum in New York. According to Diyabanza, the bracelet at the Afrika Museum was in a glass case, which is why he didn’t take it. (The Afrika Museum has not responded to repeated requests for comment.) He doesn’t plan to ask for dispensation anytime soon, though. “I have the right to take back art without asking for permission,” he said, “because you do not ask thieves if you can reclaim your stolen property.”

Diyabanza is the international spokesperson for Unité Dignite Courage, a Pan-African organization that he said boasts thousands of members and sympathizers from all over the world. Inspired by Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Steve Biko, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Marcus Garvey, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the goal of the group, Diyabanza said, is “total liberation.” Diyabanza splits his time between Paris and Lomé, Togo, and helps the group plan campaigns beyond the repatriation of art: “We are working to have foreign troops, especially the French, removed from African soil, we want to remove vestiges of colonialism like the CFA Franc [West and Central African currencies that are guaranteed by France], and we want to eliminate technical assistance, aid, and development cooperation as conducted by Western countries.” They also want to assist in reviewing and decolonizing educational material across the continent, and have started working on that at their center in Lomé.

Now, Diyabanza and his fellow organizers face three trials over the next four months in France and the Netherlands, as well as a possible prison sentence. “They are using radical action to call attention to a problem European and American museums and authorities would rather wish away so they can return to the unjust and shameful status quo,” Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, a professor of African and African diaspora art at Princeton University, told VICE News. “I assume the museums involved understand the point of this brand of activism,” he said. “If they don’t, they should.”

In response to Diyabanza’s June actions in Paris, French culture minister Franck Riester told French reporters that he “condemns with the utmost firmness these acts which damage heritage…While the debate on the restitution of works from the African continent is perfectly legitimate,” he added, “it can in no way justify this type of action.” The museum director of the Afrika Museum in the Netherlands, Stijn Schoonderwoerd, told the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, a Dutch public broadcast organization, that “these people wanted to make a statement and to do it publicly.”

Questions about the restitution of stolen art have haunted museums for decades. These issues are not unique to Africa: Greece’s pleas for the return of the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum and the reclaiming of Chinese artifacts and resulting museum break-ins have been discussed for years. However, while museums around the world have recently expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, many institutions have yet to deal with their own culpability and theft of African art. Diyabanza said that these shows of solidarity, while commendable, are not sincere: “The fight against racism happens on the surface but doesn’t address the root of the issue, the colonial domination.”

The British Museum, one of the largest museums in Europe, is one such institution. The museum has been criticized by activists for their holding of the Benin Bronzes, a set of reliefs looted from modern day Nigeria by the British army in the late 19th century. It possesses 69,000 African artifacts, but it is far from alone.

At the Musée Royale de l’Afrique Centrale in Belgium, there are 180,000 African artifacts. At the Humboldt Forum in Germany, 75,000. The Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, the museum from which Diyabanza first attempted to take art, claims 70,000 African objects. A 2018 report, commissioned by the President Emmanuel Macron and conducted by Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy, unsurprisingly found that up to 90 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s art is located outside Africa. The study, now referred to as the Sarr-Savoy report, concluded that these objects should be returned to their countries of origin.

The restitution of African art and objects isn’t unprecedented; a saber once owned by Omar Saidou Tall, a leader in Senegal, was returned by France in an emotional 2019 ceremony. France has also said it will return 26 artifacts—just several of the thousands requested by Benin—to the country from the Quai Branly museum by 2021. Belgium recently returned the tooth of assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba to his family, and the remains of Saartjie Baartman, a Khoisan woman kidnapped and abused by France in the 18th century, were returned to South Africa after repeated requests in 2002.

Germany has said it would look into restitution as well, and designed guidelines in 2019 for the repatriation of stolen artifacts. Among these items are human remains from Herero and Namaqua genocide in Namibia, where German soldiers slaughtered tens of thousands of people at the turn of the 20th century. Museums in the Netherlands have claimed that they are interested in repatriating art too, and The Afrika Museum, the latest site of Diyabanza’s actions, indicated in 2019 that they are in favor of returning stolen goods. Despite these calls to action, it still remains to be seen if most of these pieces will actually be returned to their countries of origin.

Regardless, the conversations around the decolonization of museums and restitution is “no longer a background murmur,” said Okeke-Agulu. Instead, “The high-profile intervention of President Macron, the coverage given [by] the Sarr-Savoy Report, and the insistent pressure from African public intellectuals, governments and governmental agencies, and social media chatter have made restitution arguably the biggest issue facing major European and American museums today.”

Calls for reparations have reverberated outside of the art world as well: Over the past few months, several countries across Africa have started to demand reparations from colonial oppressors. Namibia recently turned down a reparations offer from Germany, deeming it “not acceptable.” In August, Burundi requested $43 billion for reparations from Belgium and Germany. The Democratic Republic of Congo has called for reparations from Belgium in light of a recent “apology” from King Philippe of Belgium for decades of violent colonial rule.

Diyabanza recognizes that there could be challenges when African art finally returns home. But that conversation “will happen within Africa and with Africans. This art belongs and belonged to families, dynasties, clans, villages, and people across the continent. There’s a dialogue that needs to occur to understand to whom this art should be returned, especially allowing art to be reintegrated into people’s daily lives the way these artifacts were meant to be used before slavery and colonialism.” To make this happen, he believes people from all over the world would have to join the cause. “We’re calling out to the African diaspora to join the movement, but also to Western people,” he said. “It’s a matter of ethics and justice, and we can’t let people that perpetrated such violence win.”

Diyabanza is calm in the face of the upcoming cases. “I’m going into these trials knowing that it is an injustice and a way for countries to oppress,” he said. “I am serene.”

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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.

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


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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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