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How old should a president be?

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Part of the May Issue of The Highlight, our home for ambitious stories that explain our world.


Four years ago, the United States elected its oldest president to date. In the coming weeks, 74-year-old President Trump and 77-year-old Joe Biden, the former vice president and now Democratic nominee, will face off after a Democratic primary in which the other top contenders were 78 (Sen. Bernie Sanders) and 70 (Sen. Elizabeth Warren).

The graying ballot has led many to suggest that the stress of presidency is not for the aged, or that it might be time to cap the age of future candidates. But we couldn’t pin down the one aspect of this thorny issue that would matter most to voters. With longer life spans and improved health among older Americans, is it true that age affects a president’s performance? Could an old president ever represent the interests of the young? So Vox asked experts on opposing ends of the age spectrum — one specializing in the elderly, and the other, the politics of the young — to answer this question: How old should a president be?

Ultimately, the question elicits no easy answer. But in asking our writers to tackle the idea, we can better understand how age affects and intersects with the most powerful role in our nation.


The “youth vote” is new. But don’t assume it necessarily favors a young president.

Lately, it’s been hard to ignore the unbearable oldness of American politics. Donald Trump, the country’s oldest first-term president at 74, was born the year the bikini was invented. Joe Biden, the 77-year-old Democratic nominee, is older than the microwave. Bernie Sanders, 79, was born shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the same year you could first buy a packet of M&Ms. Two of the highest-profile women candidates for president — Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren — were also born in the 1940s, at least a decade before little girls started to play with Barbie dolls.

The graying of the American presidency is especially notable because our nation’s most visionary presidents have typically been young. Theodore Roosevelt, who became the youngest president ever at 42, had the foresight to preserve roughly 230 million acres of public land for future generations to enjoy. John F. Kennedy, inaugurated at 43 with the cry that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans,” found some common cause with the civil rights movement, vowed to put a man on the moon, and started the Peace Corps to spread American values (via American young people) around the world. Barack Obama, who became president at 46, shielded young undocumented immigrants from deportation and committed to the Paris climate agreement, aimed at preserving the planet for future generations.

The youngest presidents tended to think more clearly about policies that would benefit future generations, and were less circumscribed by longstanding norms and prejudices.

Even famous presidents who seem like great men of history would have been considered young, fresh faces in our current climate. Abraham Lincoln was in his early 50s when he shepherded the nation through the Civil War, younger than Kamala Harris. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was 51 — the same age as Cory Booker — when he started implementing the New Deal to pull America out of the Great Depression. One of those New Deal initiatives was the National Youth Administration, which provided “work study” for young Americans who were out of a job; the Texas division of the NYA was led by a young Lyndon B. Johnson, who, years later, would take the oath of office at 55. He had already created Medicare and Medicaid as part of his “Great Society” by the time he was Amy Klobuchar’s age.

Young, glamorous candidates have typically fared better in general elections, but the votes don’t always break down according to age. The idea of the “youth vote” is actually relatively new, and these young presidents weren’t necessarily defined by their support from young voters. Until the early 2000s, young people tended to vote roughly the same way as their parents did. Even the baby boomers, although slightly more liberal than their parents, favored Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. In fact, Barack Obama was the first president to owe his decisive victory to youth enthusiasm. After a series of “youthquakes” in the primaries helped Obama beat Clinton, and a massive mobilization of college students and young people, two-thirds of voters under 30 chose Obama over John McCain in 2008.

But young voters tend to connect with big, bold ideas for America’s future, rather than policies that seem stuck in the past. So it’s no surprise that our current presidential contenders — both in their 70s — have struggled to connect with young Americans. Roughly two-thirds of people ages 18 to 29 disapprove of Trump, according to a Harvard Institute of Politics study that has tracked youth attitudes across his presidency, and it’s not hard to see why: From withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement to threatening protections for young immigrants to weakening student debt oversight, Trump’s policies have favored his older base over the next generation of Americans.

And while Joe Biden has actively tried to reach out to the young voters who favored his more progressive opponent, he’s struggled to build youth enthusiasm around a message that is more about a return to a gentler past than a vision of a bold new future.

But young voters’ attraction to big, bold ideas doesn’t always lead young voters to young candidates; in 2020, they actually favored the oldest contender, Bernie Sanders, and remained cool to millennial Pete Buttigieg. Yet Sanders’s 2020 bid failed, in part because he based his electoral strategy on a massive surge in youth turnout that didn’t materialize as much as his campaign expected. Youth support is important, but without massive turnout, it can’t deliver a win. And generational change is almost always more complicated than it appears.

Of course, medical and lifestyle advances — like the decline of smoking — have meant that people in their 60s and 70s are likely healthier and stick around longer than people the same age in earlier eras. Still, US leadership is trending old not because voters favor older leaders, but because the system protects incumbents — and because the campaign finance system makes it harder than ever to raise the money necessary to unseat a sitting leader.

It’s no secret that millennials are worse off financially than their parents were at their age (due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gen Z is likely to be similarly strapped for cash). At the same time, the infusion of corporate money into political races has made running for office exorbitantly expensive: By the early 2010s, the average House of Representatives race cost about $1.5 million, roughly double what it cost to run when boomers were first entering the political arena in the early 1980s. Even the average state legislature race cost more than $80,000.

In other words, politics got more expensive at the exact moment when the rising generation of young people were most financially strapped: If millennials couldn’t afford to buy a home or a car, how could they mount a bid for Congress? If they can’t run for Congress, how could they ever run for Senate or president?

Without a new generation of leaders breathing down their necks, the established leaders are simply sticking around and aging in place. And if America can’t build a bench of young political talent willing and able to step into the arena, there may be nobody left to replace them.

— Charlotte Alter

Charlotte Alter is a national correspondent at Time covering political campaigns and youth social movements. Her first book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America, was published in February.


There are unexpected strengths to an aging mind

Come November, we’ll have two septuagenarian candidates facing off. If they’re not geezers, they’re geezer-adjacent. Should we be worried?

A president’s schedule requires fortitude, patience, and intense concentration. A typical day includes a series of high-level meetings and events, including briefings by Cabinet members and White House staff, meetings with congressional and foreign leaders, and delivering remarks at various press events. There are official visits to important allied countries, international meetings such as the United Nations General Assembly each fall, and political events in key states. The president signs (or vetoes) legislation but is also the chief executive of the largest employer in the US, a diplomat, and commander in chief of the armed forces. It’s a grueling job physically and cognitively, and it’s natural to question whether there is an upper age limit on meeting such demands.

Looking at the health of former presidents doesn’t necessarily provide any answers. Our presidents have ranged widely in age, and age hasn’t always correlated with mental and physical fitness. George W. Bush (age 54 at inauguration, 62 when he left office) was up at 5:15 each morning and in bed by 9 pm. But Bill Clinton, one of our younger presidents at just 46 when elected, had a quadruple bypass operation on his heart just three years after leaving office. Our oldest president before Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, who was elected at 69, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after he left office.

It is true that our brains slow down with every decade after 60, but slow isn’t necessarily bad. Our slow, deliberate cognitions tend to be more accurate than snap judgments. And although our brains shrink with age, size isn’t everything; if it were, then there would be no smart children, and people with enormous heads would be smarter than everyone else — and they aren’t.

And although the societal narrative is that we tend to lose mental ability as we age, some brain functions actually improve. For example, we see positive changes in mood and outlook, punctuated by the exceptional benefits of experience. Many older minds can intuitively synthesize a lifetime of information and make smarter decisions based on decades of learning from their mistakes. (Not every older adult, of course — we can all think of exceptions.) The aging brain changes, thanks to neuroplasticity. It changes itself, heals itself, and finds other ways to do things. Abstract reasoning can actually improve.

To cognitive scientists like myself, wisdom is the ability to see patterns where others don’t see them, to extract common points from prior experience and use those to make predictions about what is likely to happen next. Oldsters aren’t as fast, perhaps, at mental calculations and recalling names, but they tend to be much better and faster at seeing the big picture. And that results from the accumulated set of things we’ve seen and experienced — what we call crystallized intelligence. Naturally, the more you’ve experienced, the more of this type of intelligence you are able to tap into.

It’s also important not to focus too much on how many birthdays a person has had. Some people remain vigorous well past 80. Just look at Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, a now 104-year-old competitive runner who took home two gold medals in the senior games last year. Or Eubie Blake, the late ragtime composer and pianist who in 1979 turned in one of his most delightful performances on Saturday Night Live at age 92. Neuroscientist Brenda Milner remains an influential researcher at age 101, and the Dalai Lama, 84, recently published his 125th book.

A big part of how well one’s mental capacities fare at any age revolves around healthy practices concerning sleep, diet, and exercise. These become particularly important after age 65 but aren’t always easy for a busy president to accomplish. Good diet and exercise help us sleep, allowing us to consolidate and strengthen memories. It’s a myth that older adults need less sleep than younger adults. One night of disrupted sleep can lead to memory difficulties for up to two weeks. I asked the Dalai Lama the key to his productivity and energy, and, without missing a beat, he said, “Nine hours of sleep every night.”

On CBS This Morning in January, I proposed that we should find a term that’s less emotionally laden than old people. I suggested we try oldsters, because it sounds like youngsters and hipsters. But 65-year-old Gayle King wasn’t having it. And so to Gayle, and the rest of the country, how’s this: Perhaps older adults should de-stigmatize and proudly take back the word geezer.

Our next president is likely to either start out as a geezer or become one in office. But instead of associating an older president with cognitive limitations, we should be looking at the science, which suggests that an aging mind might be better at making big-picture decisions, or — due to age-related increases in empathy and compassion — be skilled at bringing people together. We’ve had great presidents and not-so-great presidents, but the idea that age is correlated to their performance is simply not true. Ultimately, aging varies so much from person to person that the number of birthdays you’ve had doesn’t say much about who you are.

— Daniel J. Levitin

Daniel J. Levitin is a neuroscientist. His newest book is the New York Times bestseller, Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives.


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

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(CNN) —  

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

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

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

Coffee

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

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

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

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

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

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

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

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

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

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

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

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

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

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

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

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

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

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

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

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

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

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

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

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

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

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

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

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

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

Beauty

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

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

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

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

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

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

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

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

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

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

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

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

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

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

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

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

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

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

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

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

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

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

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

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

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

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

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

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

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

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

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

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

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

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

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

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

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

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

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

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

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

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

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

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

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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

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Open Sourced logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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