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Which video is fake? These clues will tell you

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Spotting fake video

Manipulated video is everywhere. After all, our favorite movies and TV shows use editing and computer-generated imagery to create fantastical scenes all the time. Where things get hairy is when doctored videos are presented as accurate depictions of real events. There are two general kinds of deception:

  • Cheapfakes: These are videos that are altered using classical video editing tools like editing dubbing, speeding up or slowing down, or splicing together different scenes to change context.
  • Deepfakes: These are videos that are altered or generated using artificial intelligence, neural networks and machine learning.

Edward J. Delp, a professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, has been studying media forensics for 25 years. He says wider access to AI software and advanced editing tools means almost anyone can create fake content. And it doesn’t need to be sophisticated to be effective.

Edward. J Delp, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
Edward. J Delp, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University

“People will buy into things that reinforce their current beliefs,” he says. “So they’ll believe even a poorly manipulated video if it’s about someone they don’t like or think of in a certain way.”

Delp’s team develops ways to detect fake videos. Here are some of his tips for spotting cheapfakes and deepfakes lurking around your social media feeds:

Focus on the natural details

“Look at the person in the video and see if their eyes are blinking in a weird way,” Delp says. The technology used to make deepfake videos has a hard time replicating natural blinking patterns and movements because of the way the systems are trained.

“Also, by watching their head motion, you may be able to see if there is unnatural movement.” This could be evidence that the video and audio are out of synch, or that there were time-based corrections made to parts of the video.

Make sure everything matches

“If it’s a head and shoulders shot, look at their head and body and what’s behind them,” he says. “Does it match, or is there a strange relationship between them?” Additionally: Does the lighting seem off? Does the person or some aspect of the scene appear “pasted on?” It could be manipulated.

Listen for clues

Last year a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi circulated online that was slowed down, making it look like she was intoxicated. “It was played back at a slightly lower frame rate,” Delp explains. “The problem is, the audio track would also slow down.” So not only was her speech slow – the other sounds in the video were, too. That’s a giveaway that something’s off.

Check the metadata

This is a more sophisticated strategy that Delp’s team uses, and it could be included in detection software employed in the future by, say, media outlets. “This embedded data tells you more about the image or video, like when it was taken and what format it’s in,” Delp says. That data, a black box of sorts, could offer clues to any manipulation.

Test your knowledge

Click on the video that you believe has been manipulated.

or

Credit: Stanford University/Michael Zollhöfer

Spotting fake audio

If you have a smartphone or have ever chatted with a virtual assistant on a call, you’ve probably already interacted with manipulated audio voices. But like fake video, fake audio has gotten very sophisticated via artificial intelligence – and it can be just as damaging.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan is the CEO and co-founder of Pindrop, a company that creates security solutions to protect against the damage fake audio can do. He says manipulated audio is the basis for a lot of scams that can ruin people’s lives and even compromise large companies. “Every year, we see about $470 million in fraud losses, including from wire transfer and phone scams. It’s a massive scale,” he says.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and Cofounder, Pindrop Security
Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and Cofounder, Pindrop Security

While some of these rely on basic tricks similar to cheapfake videos – manipulating pitch to sound like a different gender, or inserting suggestive background noises – Balasubramaniyan says running a few hours of someone’s voice through AI software can give you enough data to manipulate the voice into saying anything you want. And the audio can be so realistic, it’s difficult for the human ear to tell the difference.

However, it’s not impossible. When you’re listening for manipulated audio, here’s what to take note of:

Listen for a whine

“If you don’t have enough audio to fill out all of the different sounds of someone’s voice, the result tends to sound more whiny than humans are,” Balasubramaniyan says. The reason, he explains, is that AI programs find it hard to differentiate between general noise and speech in a recording. “The machine doesn’t know any different, so all of that noise is packaged in as part of the voice.”

Note the timing

“When you record audio, every second of audio you analyze gives between 8,000 to 40,000 data points for your voice,” Balasubramaniyan says. “But what some algorithms are going to do is just make a created voice sound similar, not necessarily follow the human model of speech production. So if the voice says ‘Hello Paul,’ you may notice the speed at which it went from ‘Hello’ to ‘Paul’ was too quick.”

Pay attention to unvoiced consonants

Make a “t” sound with your mouth, like you’re starting to say the word “tell.” Now make an “m” sound, like you are about to say “mom.” Do you notice the difference? Some consonant sounds, like t, f and s, can be made without using your voice. These are called unvoiced consonants or, in the world of audio forensics, fricatives. “When you say these fricatives, that kind of sound is very similar to noise,” Balasubramaniyan says. “They have different characteristics than other parts of vocal speech, and machines aren’t very good at replicating them.”

What it sounds like

Listen to this manipulated audio. Note the speed of the words and the placement of the consonants, and how they sound different from natural speech.

Credit: Pindrop Security

Spotting fake faces

Artificial intelligence can go as far as creating entire people out of thin air, using deep learning technology like those seen in sophisticated audio and video fakes. Essentially, the program is fed thousands and thousands of versions of something – in this case, human faces – and it “learns” how to reproduce it. StyleGAN is one such program, and it’s the artificial brain behind ThisPersonDoesNotExist, a website launched by software engineer Phillip Wang that randomly generates fake faces.

This technology can easily be used as the basis for fake online profiles and personas, which can be built into entire fake networks and companies for the purposes of large-scale deception.

“I think those who are unaware of the technology are most vulnerable,” Wang told CNN in 2019. “It’s kind of like phishing — if you don’t know about it, you may fall for it.”

Fake faces can actually be easier to spot than fake video or audio, if you know what you’re looking for. A viral twitter thread from Ben Nimmo, a linguist and security expert, details some of the most obvious clues using the fake faces below.

Examine accessories like eyeglasses and jewelry

Examine accessories like eyeglasses and jewelry

“Human faces tend [toward] asymmetry,” Nimmo writes. “Glasses, not so much.” Things like glasses and earrings may not match from one side of the face to the other, or may warp strangely into the face. Things like hats could blend into the hair and background.Credit: thispersondoesnotexist.com/Nvidia

Look past the face

Look past the face

“Backgrounds are even harder, because there’s more variation in scenery than there is in faces,” Nimmo writes. Trees, buildings and even the edges of other “faces” (if the picture is a cropped group photo) can warp or repeat in deeply unnatural ways. The same goes for hair — it might be unclear where hair stops and the background begins, or the general structure of the hair could look amiss.Credit: thispersondoesnotexist.com/Nvidia

Focus on ears and teeth

Focus on ears and teeth Focus on ears and teeth

Teeth and ears seem simple at a distance, but are highly irregular structures up close. Like the symmetry problem with glasses and jewelry, an AI program may have problems predicting the number and shape of teeth or the irregular whorls of an ear. Teeth may appear to duplicate, overlap, or fade into the sides of the mouth. The inside of an ear may look blurry, or the ears may look extremely mismatched.Credit: thispersondoesnotexist.com/Nvidia

Honing your intuition

Of course, tips for spotting manipulated media only work if something about the media – or the reaction to it – makes you suspicious in the first place. Developing the healthy skepticism and analytical power to sniff out these manipulations is not a job for your eyes or ears, but for your sense of judgment. Beefing up your media literacy skills can help you suss out when a piece of news seems suspect and help you take steps to confirm or discount it.

Theresa Giarrusso teaches media literacy to teachers, students and senior citizens across the country. She says there are different strengths needed to build media literacy.

Theresa Giarrusso, Media literacy educator and expert
Theresa Giarrusso, Media literacy educator and expert

“I’ve found that adults have the critical thinking skills and the history to spot misinformation, but they’re not digital natives. They don’t have the digital skills,” she says. “With teenagers, they have the digital and technical skills, but not the skepticism and critical thinking.”

Giarrusso outlines five different types of misinformation:

  • Manipulated media: Photoshops, edited “cheapfakes” and some deepfakes.
  • Fabricated media: Generated media, like fake faces, and some deepfakes.
  • False context: When a photo, piece of video or even entire event is taken out of content and attached to a different narrative.
  • Imposter media: When someone pretends to be a reputable news source, or impersonates a news source.
  • Satire: Misinformation knowingly created for the purpose of entertainment or commentary.

When you come across a questionable piece of information, whether it’s being shared on Facebook by an outraged relative or spurring controversy among politicians on Twitter, Giarrusso has some tips on how to verify or reject it:

Check multiple sources

This is known as the lateral reading method. “This is how people should be researching, and how fact-checkers research,” Guiarrusso says. “Open tabs and compare and contrast. Look into the source, and then the author. If it’s a publication you don’t know, research whether the site is reliable. Is the information being reported elsewhere, and if so, how?” she says. “It doesn’t help you to get information about a bad actor from a bad actor. You have to find out what other people are saying.”

Practice the SIFT method

This method, Giarrusso says, is from Mike Caulfield at the University of Toronto. The steps are as follows:

STOP: “Don’t like, comment or share until you’ve investigated,” Giarrusso says. “Part of good disinformation is that it makes an emotional response. It’s trying to provoke an emotional reaction so you will engage with it.”

INVESTIGATE: This is where the lateral reading skill comes in.

FIND other coverage: “Are other people reporting this, is it presented in the same way? Do they have a different perspective?” Giarrusso also warns of circular reporting, when all the outlets reporting a story lead back to the same original source.

TRACE claims, quotes and media back to the original source: “This is the biggest step for deepfakes and cheapfakes,” she says. “We’re not video editors or photo editors. But if you can find the original version, you can see if there are alterations.” For instance, in the case of the Pelosi video from last year that was slowed down, “if you went back to other videos from that event, it would be quite evident,” she says.

What makes living in a world of fake and manipulated media even more confusing is that such creations aren’t always used for evil. Deepfake videos can create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for consumers and, in the case of recent ads by the TV service Hulu, allow celebrities to put their face and voice on a project without actually being there at all. AI-generated audio can change the lives of people who can’t speak.

These technologies are growing rapidly in all directions, so our methods of detecting them and protecting ourselves have to as well.

“It’s an arms race,” says Balasubramaniyan. He worries about what may happen if someone with this sophisticated technology goes after a major world leader, or ends up inventing an entire event out of thin air.

“We’re going to have to keep developing technology and machines to stay ahead of that.”

So for now, the average person may not have sophisticated algorithms or years of expertise in spotting fake media. But their five senses – and a healthy amount of skepticism – can be a first line of defense.

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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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