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What Trump means when he says he ‘aced’ his presidential cognitive test

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President Donald Trump has been touting his mental stamina for years. Even before his 2016 election, Trump played up his intellectual acuity while downplaying that of his opponents, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

On a number of occasions, Trump questioned Clinton’s “stamina” on the campaign trail in 2016—an innuendo which led Clinton’s operation to assert her mental fitness. Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS, and all the many adversaries we face,” he said at one point.

He’s used the same line of attack against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in this year’s race—most prominently in an interview this past weekend in a lengthy interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace. Trump said he “aced” his most recent cognitive test and left his own doctors surprised by his mental capacity.

Wallace pushed back by pointing out that commonly available versions of these cognitive tests are not all that difficult to pass. Trump said that the final questions on the test are more complicated than the ostensibly simple ones at the beginning, and that Biden or Wallace would struggle to answer them. Wallace noted that the final questions on the test he himself took included correctly identifying a picture of an elephant and counting backwards from 100 by seven.

It’s unclear exactly which test Trump took. But an assortment of cognitive exams including the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE), a test for those with Alzheimer’s disease; the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) test, which Wallace referenced in his interview and followup segment on Fox News; and other common mini-mental status examinations are not particularly complicated.

That’s not to say they aren’t important when determining cognitive abilities. Questions range from redrawing shapes, remembering the order of numbers, and doing basic mental math on the spot, among other skills. These questions can help physicians determine if a patient is falling behind on a specific cognitive skill set and are commonly administered to people who may be at risk for, or show signs of, mental decline.

The situation is a bit more complicated for politicians, especially older ones. There’s no requirement for presidential candidates to release their medical records or take tests. That’s a voluntary task—but it becomes an issue when you have the two of the oldest presidential candidates sparring against each other. If elected again, Trump would be 74 years old on Inauguration Day; Biden would be 78. The risk of dementia increases dramatically with age, especially for people over the age of 65, according to the Mayo Clinic.

But it’s a sensitive issue from a medical ethics standpoint. Psychiatrists and other mental health experts, who examine everything from depression to cognitive decline, have been wary about expressing opinions on politicians’ mental and cognitive health if they haven’t treated them personally. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) even issued an official statement about speculation on then-candidate Trump’s mental acuity in 2016, asserting that it would be unethical.

Trump, however, has played up the issue on multiple occasions by attacking his political opponents and touting his own mental faculties. The testing metrics he’s using, though? Acing them is impressive mostly for patients in active cognitive decline.

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Don’t miss the most important news of the week! Take a look at Emprendenews

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IKEA reprints and delays the release of its 2021 catalog and other news by less than 5 minutes.

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Theft of $2.3M from GOP shows how campaigns are juicy targets for hackers

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When the Wisconsin Republican Party disclosed this week that hackers had stolen millions of dollars from its account—funds designated for President Trump’s re-election—Oren Falkowitz was not surprised.

A former NSA hacker who now runs cybersecurity company Area1, Falkowitz says political campaigns’ record levels of fundraising this cycle—and campaigns’ habit of boasting about the money they raise—has made them a prime target for cyber criminals. He points in particular to the popularity of Democratic and Republican parties’ respective fundraising platforms, ActBlue and WinRed, and tweets like this one:

In the case of the theft of the Wisconsin GOP, it’s unclear precisely how the hackers stole the money. Party chairman Andrew Hitt told the Associated Press the incident began with a phishing attack that allowed the hackers to pose as vendors. The party then paid $2.3 million worth of invoices from the fake vendors, wiping out much of its coffers.

The Wisconsin GOP did not respond to a request for further details about the attack, but Hitt’s description suggests it’s likely the hackers took over the email accounts of legitimate vendors and tricked party officials into paying the invoices.

In his comments to the AP, Hitt also said he was unaware of any other state GOP groups being targeted by similar attacks—a claim Falkowitz says is improbable

“Everyone is a ‘target.’ To say that one is unaware of people, or organizations being targeted is to be totally unaware of what the threat in cyberspace is,” he said.

Falkowitz says lax email security is what makes such phishing-based scams possible. And while anti-phishing software can help detect such scams, many in the political world are not using it. A recent report by Area1 revealed that few of the hundreds of election officials surveyed were deploying anti-phishing tools and many said they were conducting business using their personal emails.

While hackers posing as vendors is one threat to political campaigns, Falkowitz warns there’s also a risk of criminals taking over the emails of party officials to request money from ActBlue or WinRed.

Both ActBlue or WinRed provide plug-and-play donation tools for candidates and allied political causes, letting them easily add a “Donate” button to their websites. The platforms collect contributions from millions of small donors and then wire money to the various candidates and groups. And while they work to secure their own operations from hackers, they view securing campaigns as the role of the national parties.

“It is standard for groups of our size and nature to see attempted phishing attacks on a regular basis. We have a range of technical protections in place and conduct regular employee education on the topic. We are not aware of any successful attacks,” said a spokesperson for ActBlue who described campaign security as “not in our purview.’

WinRed, which handles donations for the Wisconsin GOP, did not respond to a request for comment about this week’s hacking incident.

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GlaxoSmithKline plc Just Beat EPS By 44%: Here’s What Analysts Think Will Happen Next

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GlaxoSmithKline plc Just Beat EPS By 44%: Here's What Analysts Think Will Happen NextGlaxoSmithKline plc (LON:GSK) shareholders are probably feeling a little disappointed, since its shares fell 3.9% to…


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