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‘It’s Going to Change Everything’: Inuit Face a New and Worrying Climate

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Tipping Point covers environmental justice stories about and, where possible, written by people in the communities experiencing the stark reality of our changing planet.

It’s time to wake up. On Global Climate Day of Action, VICE Media Group is solely telling stories about our current climate crisis. Click here to meet young climate leaders from around the globe and learn how you can take action.

In Paulatuk, a remote Arctic hamlet in Canada, Inuit Elders remember immense icebergs that once floated along this stretch of the Northwest Passage, the iconic Arctic waterway that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

“You never see those anymore,” said one Paulatuk resident at a workshop, part of a series that aimed to document Inuit perspectives on the future of the Northwest Passage. The workshops, held in 2015 and 2016, were organized by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a nonprofit that protects Inuit rights in Canada.

“The whole aspect of our traditional lifestyle is changing because of the Northwest Passage,” said another workshop participant, this one held in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of Canada, which sits at the western end of the passage. “Open seas, late freezing, early thaw, longer free water season, or free-ice season… It’s going to change everything.”

Over the past two centuries, the Northwest Passage, which spans roughly 1,450 kilometers, has earned a reputation to outsiders as intractable and haunted due to the capricious interplay of its ice, snow, and sea. The marine ice pack has proved deadly to many who tried to chart the Northwest Passage—most infamously the doomed Franklin expedition—making it an encumbrance to commerce and colonization.

Now, the passage is becoming busier as warmer temperatures reduce the sea ice, enabling more ships to traverse it. The Arctic, as a whole, is an emerging center of commercial activity and a geopolitical stronghold that is already contested between governments. A wide range of corporate, federal, and military interests are mobilizing to capitalize on the Arctic’s growing accessibility to vessel traffic, heralded by the projected loss of ice cover.

Indigenous peoples of the north are finding themselves at the center of a geopolitical climate change bomb that they did not cause. Attuned to the complex patterns of sea ice for millennia, they are now experiencing dramatic shifts to the natural landscape and the larger marine food web they rely on.

As the people with the most intimate knowledge of these coasts and seascapes, the rights and wishes of Inuit must be the top priority in discussions of the Arctic’s future.

“We know what the law of the sea is,” said Dalee Sambo Dorough, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an NGO that represents approximately 180,000 Inuit across four countries.

“Every international legal instrument should have our views and perspectives at the forefront,” she told VICE News from Anchorage, Alaska. “Everything that happens throughout the entire Arctic Ocean and its coastal seas is interconnected, and we know this.”


Arctic communities have experienced the undeniable effects of the climate crisis for decades. The Arctic is warming at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world on average—and even three times higher in some communities—causing waterways like the Northwest Passage to lose more ice every year.

Average Arctic temperatures are higher than they have been for tens of thousands of years, according to a 2014 study. This trend was most recently emblematized by a record Arctic temperature of 38 C (100.4 F) in Siberia this June, amid devastating wildfires.

“When climate change becomes more progressive (like we have seen over the years), it’s first noticeable in the Arctic, whether that is the Arctic waters, or the land, but Inuit experience this firsthand before anybody else in the world,” Crystal Martin-Lapenskie, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, told VICE News.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) aims to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, an increase that is all but inevitable at this point. The next best limit is a 2 C rise, which we may hit by 2100 without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“For Inuit, this difference is profound,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, in a 2019 Macleans op-ed. “The difference between a 1.5 C world and a 2 C world is a sea-ice-free summer every 100 years rather than at least once in 10 years.”

Such rapid changes have profound implications for Inuit lives and livelihoods. The thaw of permafrost, a layer of soil that remains frozen all year, is causing damage to people’s homes that may eventually affect millions of Arctic residents. Coastal erosion and extreme weather events have already forced many Inuit communities to move from their traditional lands to new locations.

Subsistence hunting and fishing sustain many Inuit communities, both as food and income, but warmer temperatures are already disrupting Arctic food webs.

In the Alaskan city of Kotzebue (also known as Qikiqtaġruk), the diminishing presence of thick sea ice has interrupted the marine ecosystem, putting the community’s traditional seal hunts and subsistence diet at risk.

“Last year there were so many people who, because the ice left so fast, they just could not get anything,” Kotzebue resident Lance Kramer told VICE News in July. “We had to go miles and miles to find ice and hunt seals there. And even then, we didn’t get what we needed.”

“Never before has that happened in my lifetime or any of our Elders’ lifetimes,” Kramer said.

Some studies predict that, within decades, it will be common for there to be virtually no summer sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean.

Though some inland communities rely more on land animals such as caribou, most Inuit traditions, livelihoods, and diets are deeply interwoven with marine mammals. Narwhal, beluga whales, bowhead whales, ringed seals, and walrus are not only a source of food, clothes, and tools, but an integral part of Inuit ritual life.

“Traditional activities that are synced up with migratory opportunities become out of sync,” said Alex Whiting, who is not Indigenous but has lived in the Arctic for decades and serves as director of Kotzebue’s environmental program.

“There’s a natural rhythm and pattern to not only fish, wildlife, and bird movements having to do with the winter and summer season, but also a whole slew of traditional gatherings and harvesting activities that are synced up, too,” he told VICE News.

“We are thinking about our new accessibility that translates to increased traffic, increased chances of accidents, and oil spills.”

As the Northwest Passage and other Arctic waterways become more accessible to vessels, increased shipping activity will place even more pressure on these vulnerable ecosystems, and the communities interlinked with them.

“Vessels pose multiple potential risks to Arctic marine mammals” such as ship strikes and noise pollution, Donna Hauser, a marine ecologist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, told VICE News.

Arctic marine mammals are “sentinel species,” Hauser noted, which means they are likely to be the first animals to suffer measurable effects of environmental stressors like climate change. This makes them a kind of harbinger of what’s to come for a region’s overall biodiversity.

An uptick in shipping also presents the possibility of major oil spills or other industrial accidents. This is sadly not a hypothetical for Arctic communities; the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989 still looms large for Indigenous communities upended by it.

“We are no longer thinking of the Northwest Passage as the route that takes us beyond our communities,” said Nancy Karetak-Lindell, a former Member of Parliament for the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

“We are thinking about our new accessibility that translates to increased traffic, increased chances of accidents, and oil spills.”


In the face of these enormous challenges, Inuit communities are developing creative approaches to mitigate the risks of climate change. The establishment of Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, which covers 108,000 square kilometers at the eastern entry of the Northwest Passage, is one example.

The area “plays a pivotal role in ensuring that food and resources are protected for those who rely on this,” Martin-Lapenskie said.

Further east, the Inuit-led Pikialasorsuaq Commission aims to conserve the biodiversity of a large stretch of open water between Greenland and Canada.

Besides anticipating the negative effects of shipping in the Northwest Passage, Inuit communities also want to ensure that they can share in the benefits of the increased commercial activity, including tourism.

In another Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami workshop, participants were often enthusiastic about welcoming tourists to their communities, but they also expressed concern that visitors would not reciprocate respect for their culture—by disrupting burial sites, taking artifacts, or trafficking drugs.

“They wanna see all those old, cool sites that our ancestors lived in,” said a workshop participant from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. “But are they disturbing anything? Are they touching anything? We don’t know.”

Workshop participants from many communities also “worried that people might return home with strong opinions on Inuit culture, and on what people should or should not be doing, particularly regarding issues such as the seal hunt.”

These concerns foreshadow the urgent need to ensure that Inuit interests and Indigenous knowledge remain central to any development of their traditional lands.

“Indigenous knowledge, as some may be aware, is having experienced firsthand what you see, hear, and do over the course of generations by way of survival,” said Martin-Lapenskie. “Inuit have been very open about the different changes in environment, from land to ice thickness, to waterways—these all have changed over many generations and shared through storytelling.”

“We have a right to a seat at the table.”

Martin-Lapenskie is part of a new generation of activists making huge strides in the international movement for climate justice. She joined other Inuit youth leaders in emphasizing the need for food security, infrastructure, and transportation for Arctic communities at last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid. Their message is also gaining traction through social media, despite spotty broadband connectivity in many Arctic communities.

These approaches have helped boost the signal of the climate crisis in the Arctic. But there is still more work to be done to ensure that escalating activity in the Northwest Passage doesn’t continue to marginalize the region’s Indigenous peoples.

“This discussion about the Northwest Passage, more often than not, is being thought of in the context of commodities, and the removal of commodities from the Arctic for the rest of the world’s enjoyment and use,” Dorough said. “To some extent, the fact that there are people within the region—Inuit—who inhabit the region, doesn’t even cross the radar screen for those who are calculating shipping times and how much fuel they are going to save per day.”

These short-term interests, weighed against the deep cultural history and natural resources of the region, bring back to mind the ill-fated Franklin expedition. Sir John Franklin, along with Terror commander Sir Francis Crozier, were not strangers to the Arctic; they had racked up years of previous experience in the region.

But the Arctic was not their homeland, a reality that is still reflected in the name “the Northwest Passage,” which is Eurocentric both in its navigational orientation and its implication that the waterway is simply a place to pass through.

For more than a century, the most important clues about the last gasps of the expedition were provided by Inuit who interacted with survivors and found remains of the dead. This Indigenous knowledge not only fell on deaf ears back in England, but was viciously rejected in a smear campaign.

This marginalization of Inuit knowledge still stings today, according to young people who attended an Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami workshop in Iqaluit. Some mentioned how Franklin was known as “the finder of the Northwest Passage,” even though “Inuit knew about it” all along. Others talked about how Elders had passed down orally the location of the doomed ships: “They always knew it was there, but I think they’ve been waiting to be asked.”

Since Franklin’s time, the Northwest Passage has been navigated by many nations. The sea ice in the region still imposes dangers to its visitors, but the larger threat is clearly the change imposed on these waterways by the actions of the rest of the world. Few may have visited the Arctic in person, but our collective behavioral fingerprints are all over it.

The thawing of the Northwest Passage is attracting the attention of many international stakeholders. But Inuit are not mere “stakeholders,” Dorough emphasized. They are rights-holders who must keep a long view of the future, especially as others look only to the next financial quarter.

Inuit “have a responsibility to safeguard those resources, to safeguard those lands and territories, not only for here and now, but for centuries to come,” she said. “That’s a huge responsibility, and by virtue of that alone, we have a right to a seat at the table.”

Follow Becky Ferreira on Twitter.

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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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