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Forget Trump. Hong Kong Protesters Have Strong Views About Joe Biden.

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Hong Kong protester John Wang* worries that if Joe Biden wins, China wins.

The U.S. presidential election is three weeks away, and supporters of Hong Kong’s democracy movement believe the outcome will have a direct impact on the future of the embattled city

“If Biden is elected, they will have one more pawn they can use,” said the financial worker, who like many people interviewed for this article did not want to be identified by their real name for fear of violating a new national security law.

If the Democratic nominee is successful in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump, some Hongkongers worry he could give a free pass to the Chinese government to continue the erosion of democratic freedoms in the city.

“When there is no single country in the world and no truly powerful person to check and balance the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP), then all human rights oppression, bullying and corruption that has occured in China today will spread to every corner of the world, every country, every place, and even every people,” said Wang, who would vote for Trump if he had a ballot.

Experts say there’s nothing to indicate that Biden’s China policy will be more relaxed than the Trump administration’s. But Wang fears Biden would be played and manipulated, while Trump would be tough and aggressive. And the fact that Beijing allegedly prefers Biden is itself a disqualifying factor, in his opinion.

Part of his suspicions come from beliefs that Biden played a key role in helping bring China into the global fold without any changes in its human rights policies. There are also the widely circulated conspiracy theories about Biden and his son Hunter, which the Trump administration has played up repeatedly. The claims accuse Hunter of engaging in sketchy business with companies involved in human rights abuses. 

“The CCP also knows that the difference between [Joe Biden] and Donald Trump is that he can be bought,” he said, alluding to the younger Biden’s business interests in China and Ukraine, which have been a punching bag for Trump.

A July poll for Newsweek found that 36 percent of Hongkongers with all political affiliations supported Trump, 33 percent were for Biden, and 31 percent didn’t know. In some ways, the breakdown mirrors views about a Biden presidency held by Democratic voters. The Hongkongers who are in favor of Biden are rarely thrilled about his candidacy but still consider him a better option than Trump who is seen by non-supporters as everything the movement is fighting against. Even if Biden is not the optimal choice, the reasoning goes, at least he upholds the basic values of democracy, while Trump is busy dismantling them.

“I don’t like Joe Biden very much, but I do not hate him. But I hate Donald Trump, and that’s why I support Joe Biden. I hate – hate – Donald Trump,” said an IT-worker in his forties.

He was certain Biden would be at least as tough on China as Trump; he only wished the Democratic nominee would be a bit more vocal about it, so as to not project the image he was scared to take a stand. As the international political attitude towards China has changed over the last few years, so has Biden’s. In the last half-decade, China’s human rights record has taken center stage in debates about the country, and world leaders, including Biden, have grown less tolerant of China’s human rights abuses, Cheung said.  

Shi Ng*, a student at an international high school, agreed.

“My overall impression of Biden is that he has recognized this threat to human rights that’s around, he just isn’t loud about it,” he said. “I don’t see him going the extra mile for Hong Kong, but I don’t see a scenario where he won’t end up doing the right thing.” 

Who is more ‘weak’ on China?

Biden’s current policy platform aligns naturally with the long-standing values of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, and the narrative that China constitutes a threat has bipartisan support. Democrats, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have also backed the implementation of legislation in support of Hong Kong, including the Human Rights and Democracy Bill

In fact, since the beginning of the demonstrations in Hong Kong about a year ago, Biden has repeatedly criticized Trump’s stance on China for being “weak,” even blaming clampdowns against dissent in Hong Kong on the President. 

The sweeping national security law, which criminalized just about any form of dissent in Hong Kong, was passed under President Trump’s watch. In response, the administration imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions. It removed Hong Kong’s special status with the United States, stripping them of a range of economic benefits. Then it imposed diplomatic sanctions on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 10 other officials involved in the crackdowns. 

The Trump administration has also imposed sanctions on persons and companies involved in the human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province. But Trump has also been accused of cozying up to authoritarian leaders. He called China leader Xi Jinping “a friend of mine” and an “incredible guy,” and, in spite of his sanctions, Trump allegedly told Xi that building concentration camps for Uighurs was “exactly the right thing to do.”

“It’s no wonder Beijing is acting with impunity. Time and again. President Trump has surrendered our values and reassured China’s autocrats they have a like-minded partner in the White House,” the Biden campaign said in a statement in July, also promising to be “strong, clear and consistent in standing up for our values.” 

In Ng’s view, Biden would likely have implemented the same policies that Trump has to combat China’s human rights abuses. His main concern was that, with Trump garnering so much support in Hong Kong, Biden would never be able to satisfy protesters should he win. 

“I think people in Hong Kong should give Biden’s presidency a shot. After a couple of years, they may see that things aren’t as bad as they originally thought. But I worry that people may not be open-minded and continue to insist that ‘Trump would have done better,'” he told VICE News.

Differences and similarities

According to Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London, Biden’s ability and readiness to cooperate across borders would be the main contrast between his China policy and Trump’s. 

“It’s likely that Biden would make life slightly more difficult for China by putting more effort into creating a common front between Western countries and other significant powers, but Trump irritates the hell out of the Chinese government,” he told VICE News, referring to the president’s rhetoric and unpredictability on China. 

Jeffrey Ngo, a prominent face of Hong Kong’s democracy movement and former chief researcher of Demosisto, said that Biden “carries a lot of baggage” but that the two candidates actually have many things in common on Hong Kong.

Ngo has often faced online harassment from pro-Trump Hongkongers for voicing criticism against the president. And while he did not think Biden was the best Democratic candidate during the primaries, he emphasized the importance of recognizing the bipartisan nature of the more recent approach to China. 

“Because the bipartisan consensus already exists, and that consensus is to be tough on China and to support human rights in Hong Kong, I think the difference between the two candidates is perhaps less than most people think,” said Ngo, who describes himself as an “activist historian” and is a working towards a PhD at Georgetown University.

From his perspective, Biden’s history of being open to improving relations with Beijing and the role he played in bringing China into the World Trade Organization (WTO) during Bill Clinton’s presidency have hurt him. To Hongkongers quick to dig up the history, he has a lot of trust to rebuild.

“He was very much part of Clinton’s idea that it was a fundamentally good idea to embrace China, and I think most Hongkongers reject that in light of events transpiring today,” Ngo told VICE News. “But a lot of what he says aligns with [those] supporting human rights in Hong Kong.”

But from all indications, it would appear that Biden has had something of an epiphany on China-related issues. Biden says he will be at least as hardline on China as Trump – and according to experts, there’s no reason not to believe him.

“The Democrats did not anticipate China being as strong as it is today. They thought China was so underdeveloped and therefore not a threat, and they assumed that there was plenty of time,” said Ann Lee, a professor and author who has written multiple books on US-China relations. “The bottom line is that everyone in Washington now sees China as a threat to US supremacy…Hong Kong is just one of many different fronts.”  

Biden has threatened harder sanctions than Trump has imposed. The Democratic Party’s 2020 policy platform likewise set a stronger tone when it comes to the party’s China policy, and Biden’s campaign has consistently played down Trump’s supposed hard line on China. 

The Case of Hunter Biden

Biden’s reputation in Hong Kong has been the victim of much intense speculation, which has been fueled by scrutiny and misinformation around Hunter Biden’s business relations in China. Rumors that Joe Biden’s integrity on China-related issues is for sale have flourished in pro-Trump circles in Hong Kong, and they often echo unfounded allegations that Trump has made against the former vice president’s family. 

“Look, as a Hongkonger, I don’t believe in Joe Biden. He has a nickname here in Hong Kong, ‘China Joe,’ because he has personal interests there. Especially his son Hunter Biden has a lot of business interests with Chinese businessmen,” said Nicholas Tsang*, a 20-something year-old worker in the financial sector. 

Some believe that Hunter Biden was gifted large sums of money by the Chinese government in order to sway his father into engaging in favorable trade deals during his vice presidency, though there is no evidence for the claim. 

“Worst of all was the last eight years under President Obama and Biden, where his son gets a billion and a half dollars, and then they’re supposed to be tough on China. Doesn’t work that way,” Trump said in a 2019 interview with Fox Business. 

There is no proof that the younger Biden’s actions in China have been illegal in any way, and it is unclear where the $1.5 billion sum came from. Relatives of both Democrats and Republicans alike have long engaged in business dealings in China, including Trump’s own children. Forty-one of Ivanka Trump’s trademark requests in China were sped up after Trump was elected. 

Tsang alleged that Hunter Biden had directly contributed to the development of Face++, the surveillance technology that can “recognize anyone, anywhere.” The software was used to monitor Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang – a practice its developers Megvii has since distanced itself from.  

The company Hunter Biden served on the board of, BHR Partners, did invest in Megvii in 2017, but that was before it was clear what the company’s technology would be used for. Hunter Biden resigned from the board of the company when it became clear it could spell trouble for his father’s presidential campaign. To squash any accusations that conflicts of interest could occur, he also vowed to stop taking foreign work for other companies should his father win the presidency. 

But as Brown from King’s College London pointed out, having business ties with what will soon be the world’s largest economy is not exactly unusual. 

“Well, you know Trump has business interests in China, too. I think it’s hard to find people who don’t. Everyone has to deal with that, so I don’t think that’s super significant. And I don’t think that the links Biden has are as significant as those of Trump’s,” said Brown. 

Still, Biden’s record as a whole means that some Hongkongers feel they cannot rely on him. 

“I can understand that Hongkongers support Trump, because there is no doubt this bipartisan shift happened under Trump’s watch, so it is natural to associate a tough-on-China approach with a Trump administration,” concluded Ngo from Georgetown. “Biden has promises, and it is up to people whether or not to trust those promises.” 

Joyce Leung contributed reporting.

Names marked with * have been changed to protect sources from potential prosecution under the national security law in Hong Kong.

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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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