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What to Do If You’re Dreading a Whole Month at Home for the Holidays

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“Happy” “Holidays” 2020 is a series about feeling connected and vaguely festive during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re someone who lives far away from your family of origin—far enough to usually skip the Thanksgiving trip and just go home for Christmas—this year might be a little different than usual. Flying or driving a long distance for only a few days may not feel worthy of the hassle of getting tested and quarantining for two weeks upon return, not to mention the risk. Enter: your mom’s dream of you coming home for a whole month—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and are you sure you can’t stay for New Year’s?

While this plan makes logistical sense (you’ll work remotely; you can save some money), emotionally, it might already feel like a low-humming stress soundtrack in your life, even if the trip is weeks away. Maybe it’s because you haven’t been home for that long since high school, or because you usually have a hard four-day limit when it comes to tolerating your dad’s relentless pessimism, or because you won’t be able to take a breather at your best friend’s house like you usually do. It’s not that you don’t love your family—you just don’t want poor communication patterns or useless arguments to outweigh the good moments.

If you just deeply exhaled in agreement, but also genuinely want to go home, here are some things you can do to get yourself ready (without stressing yourself out even more).

Pinpoint exactly what you’re worried will happen.

You probably already have a vague image of what you reaaaaaaally don’t want to experience when you’re home. It could be your parents arguing and looping you into their conflict; your mom criticizing your appearance (or, in her words, “helping you”); or your dad paraphrasing Fox News headlines over breakfast. You probably also know your usual reaction (yelling back, storming off, or silently gnawing the side of your cheek) won’t help, either.

“After four days in our parents’ house, we tend to start regressing and acting like a teenager again, so be realistic about the patterns that you already know are there,” Andrea Bonior, a therapist and author of Detox Your Thoughts, told VICE. “It really is about figuring out what you’re most afraid of, and what you can anticipate happening, and then thinking about the best ways to build in a pause, or strategize responses in difficult situations.”

Practice switching into “observing mode” if you feel baited or pushed into arguing.

If you have a family member who finds any kind of healthy boundary-setting on your part “disrespectful,” and will do anything to pull you into an argument, your emotional survival toolbox might need to expand a bit.

In clinical psychologist Lindsay C. Gibson’s iconic book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, she notes the importance of switching to “observing mode” when you sense yourself getting upset. It’s essentially a practice in detaching as soon as you see someone needling you in an attempt to get you to snap at them. Observing means making the choice to view the situation like an outsider might, and recognizing that certain statements are meant to nudge or shock you.

Bonior agreed with this sentiment, and suggested you create a sort of mantra around the idea that your “best self” won’t let things escalate (especially since you’ll probably be the one blamed if a fight erupts). That might look like calmly saying you agree to disagree, no matter how much you disagree or how frustrated you are. Eventually, the other person will likely tire out from trying to elicit a response.

Of course, shouldering the burden of keeping the peace is a lot to take on, which is why Bonior strongly encouraged taking a walk or going to read a book if you’re starting to feel drained. Anything you can do to further detach and give yourself space is crucial.

Decide how you’ll handle impossible arguments—like politics—and  stick to the plan.

Unless your family is perfectly aligned in their political views, or somehow has a great track record of never sharing them (how??), the timing of going home for a month right after one of the most significant elections in U.S. history might be weighing on you. It can be doubly hard when you feel pressure to push back on bad-faith views, while knowing full well that it’ll only lead to a screaming match each time.

If you know you’ll never get anywhere because your family is committed to misunderstanding you, Bonior suggests simply having a conversation beforehand about avoiding politics or other similarly-polarizing discussions, and then being disciplined about it. But, she said, this really “There’s a huge difference between families that know that [certain topics are] a hot button, and don’t want to get into it,” she added, “versus families where it’s a hot button, but one person steamrolls the other.”

If you know your family might initially agree to the “no politics” rule, only to quickly violate it during even the most benign conversations, you’ll have to be more active in how you navigate dinner talk. It can be something as subtle as finishing your meal quickly and excusing yourself to go call a friend, or more direct, like once again reminding them that you disagree and don’t want to talk about it, and then leaving the room. You can also try to be proactive about conversations by throwing out open-ended questions,  rehashing beloved childhood memories, or asking for advice. You could also or make plans to do things together, like decorate the tree or play a board game, when you start to feel tension.

The key is to not get drawn in to a passionate (but likely useless) debate, which brings us to…

Figure out what alone time during a pandemic—at home with your family, while it’s cold outside—will look like.

“Even if you generally get along well, you are going to be spending an intense and long amount of time with people,” Bonior said. You’re bound to get on each other’s nerves and feel distressingly cooped up. At the same time, you also won’t have the usual options of ducking out in a coffee shop or your high school friend’s living room.

That’s why creating an escape hatch for yourself is vital. It can involve small, tangible things, like doing some stretches in your room, or calling a friend while you take a walk around the neighborhood. Or it can be a more in-the-moment decision, like saying you’re going to run an errand with a sibling when you’re feeling overwhelmed and ready to snap. This might also be a good time to get back into a project you’ve been putting off or start a workout routine—anything that you can use as an excuse to be alone more, and that also has the benefit of making you feel good.

You may also want to think about the family activities you normally agree to out of obligation, and see if there’s a way to get out of them. For instance, my parents always want to watch movies together, and I used to always say yes out of guilt, but on top of dealing with serious screen fatigue, I also realized I don’t always have it in me to listen to my dad talk over half the movie and watch my mom grow increasingly snippy until a maybe-fight occurs. Instead, I’ve started saying that I want to go read a book in their fancy bathtub—something I never get to do in my Brooklyn apartment.

Try to frame alone time as “I just need to recharge” or “I really need to go for a run to feel good” instead of “I need to get away from you!”—it will likely go over better that way.

Act more like a true guest by cooking your own meals and doing your own laundry.

Through a combination of your mom refusing to let you lift a finger in the kitchen and your own desire to not have to think about meal prepping, it’s easy to slip into letting your parents, well, parent.

The problem is, this makes it so much easier to feel like a teenager and subsequently let all the old patterns from high school reemerge. It makes complete sense, too: If your parents are used to only seeing you at most a few times a year for short spurts, and they end up cooking for you or putting your dirty laundry in the machine, it’s harder for them to remember that you’re a separate adult with your own viewpoints and who knows how to take care of themself. As Jennifer Peepas has previously written for VICE, using good housemate etiquette—like loading your dishes into the dishwasher or cleaning all your shedded hair off the bathroom floor—solidifies the fact that you’re a grownup.

As Bonior said, “It’s a nice signal of independence, but also it’s just a nicety for whoever you’re staying with.” It’s better for everyone if your parents aren’t constantly in hosting mode, no matter how “OK” they say they are with it, or how territorial they get about being the only ones to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever small things you can do, even if it’s setting the table or picking up groceries, can help smooth things over in a big way.

Find a way to replicate the social interactions that have gotten you through 2020 so far.

Just like you’ll want alone time, you’ll need some kind of socializing or friend interactions with people who are not your family to tide you over. But since indoor hangouts aren’t safe (and your old friends might not even be home this year), you’ll have to get creative.

Bonior suggested looking back on the virtual or socially-distant interactions you’ve enjoyed most so far this year. Maybe you like talking masked walks or calling your best friend for three hours while you do laundry, but dread Zoom happy hours with more than three other people. Or maybe you’ve been feeling lonely in general and don’t feel like you can count on your close friends to be around as much as they usually are, but want to find a way to interact with someone.

Your holiday game plan might include things like setting up a recurring brunch Zoom in advance, joining a virtual book club or trivia league, creating a friend Slack, or even just consciously committing to be the first to call your friends more. Having a support system or better place to be when family starts wearing you down makes a huge difference.

Realize that your being home for this long is just as much an adjustment for your family as it is for you.

It can be hard to feel so much preemptive tension at the prospect of going home—something that’s supposed to inspire feelings of safety and warmth, not the beginning of a panic attack. But the fantasy of a perfect family—and the idea that home exists in a time capsule and hasn’t changed since you were in high school—is part of the problem.

Bonior emphasized the importance of remembering that the childhood home you remember is different from the one that exists now, where you don’t live there full-time and play an active role in the day-to-day operations. “Part of it is really understanding that this is someone else’s space,” she added. “It doesn’t mean it’s not home home, but right now, these are people who have gotten used to living without you there.”

And remember that you’ve likely changed in ways that may seem like a shock to your family. That’s not to say you should hide who you are now, but it’s good to remember that your parents aren’t necessarily obstacles to a relaxing trip as much as people who require some understanding and adjustment, too. At the very least, do what you can to go into this clear-eyed: stop telling yourself that a full month home (bookended by two major, notoriously stressful holidays) is going to be effortlessly joyous, and that any deviation from that is a moral failing. Even that knowledge—that you will get annoyed with each other, that you may even have some fights or harder conversations about your relationship—can make the whole experience a little lighter and easier for everyone.

Follow Julia Pugachevsky 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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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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