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4 winners and 5 losers from the last Biden-Trump debate

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The final debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, held on Thursday evening, was the first one of the entire campaign that actually felt like a debate.

The first debate was a chaotic disaster thanks to Trump’s constant interruptions; the second one didn’t happen because Trump refused to agree to debate virtually while he had Covid-19 (they had dueling town halls instead). This time around, better moderation and the handy use of a mute button allowed both candidates to express their thoughts — leading to a mix of actual substantive policy exchanges and less-than-coherent mudslinging about families and personal finance.

The format seems to have suited Biden, who seemed energized and on-target — getting in a number of strong attacks on Trump’s record on Covid-19, health care, and family separations. Trump was also better than he was in the first debate, where he came across as an unfit bully, but was outclassed on policy and unable to tell a particularly cogent story on the question of why Americans should care about Hunter Biden’s emails.

A deeper explanation follows of who won and who lost — and not just candidates.

Winner: Joe Biden

During the primary and general election, Biden hasn’t particularly shined on the debate stage. His answers meander and he mixes up words in ways that take the sting out from attack lines. But tonight, Biden was sharper and more on target — allowing his strong qualities, his command over policy and his ability to connect with ordinary Americans, to shine through.

During the first segment about the pandemic, for example, Trump said “we’re learning to live with it.” Biden responded with a possibly rehearsed, but nonetheless devastating response — “he says that we’re learning to live with it, people are learning to die with it.”

He continued needling Trump about his refusal to take responsibility for pandemic policy, provoking the president into the most embarrassing stumble from either candidate in the entire debate: “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault that it came here. It’s China’s fault.” It’s a line that you can bet will be in anti-Trump attack ad in very short order.

Biden was like this for much of the debate, clever and empathetic and even a little feisty.

Joe Biden responds to questions during the final debate.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

He got emotional about family separations (“violates every notion of who we are as a nation”), sounded a populist note on Trump’s obsession with markets (“‘the stock market is booming’ is his only measure of what’s happening”) and effectively hit Trump on his tenuous relationship with the truth (“I don’t know where he comes up with these numbers”). He even got in his favorite catchphrase — “there’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey.”

Was it an all-time great debate performance? No, I don’t think so.

But it was solid: strong when it really needed to be and certainly better than his opposition. With a lead of nearly ten points in the national poll averages, that’s more than enough to call this a win for Biden.

— Zack Beauchamp

Loser: Donald Trump

It is perhaps telling that any praise of President Donald Trump’s performance on Twitter during Thursday night’s debate involved terms like “well-tempered” and “composed,” an indication that the biggest hurdle Trump faced was Donald Trump himself.

Donald Trump appeared to take notes during the debate. He largely managed to avoid interrupting Joe Biden. He was coherent and, as opposed to the first debate, he did not seem entirely unhinged. This is the lowest of bars to clear, but he cleared it.

Still, far too many of his references only made sense

Teresa Martinez and her husband watch the final presidential debate from San Antonio, Texas.
Sergio Flores/Getty Images

if you watch a lot of Fox News and/or spend a lot of time on right-leaning Twitter. There are viewers to whom “the Big Man” is obviously Joe Biden and “the laptop from hell” is clearly a device that allegedly belonged to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden (who is not, as far as we know, running for the White House), but most of these obscure references to the Trump campaign’s attacks on Hunter Biden likely flew over most viewers’ heads.

Donald Trump could still win reelection. But currently, he is losing, in the polls and in the eyes of the public, as COVID begins to surge (again) and stimulus negotiations falter (again). “Well-tempered” and “composed” aren’t enough to get it done — especially when the subjects Trump most wishes to discuss are ones largely disconnected from those that matter most to voters.

—Jane Coaston

Winner: Kristen Welker

The first time Donald Trump was challenged on national TV by a female journalist this fall — by Savannah Guthrie, at his town hall on October 15 — he and his allies responded by throwing a massive temper tantrum. The second time, when CBS News’ Leslie Stahl attempted to interview him, he shut down the interview prematurely after using much of it to complain about her tough questioning.

In sports, this is known as “working the refs.” If you yell at the refs, or in this case the media, enough, maybe they’ll back down and refuse to ask tough questions, or fact-check, or ask meaningful follow-ups. They’ll give you a break.

It didn’t work with moderator Kristen Welker, despite Trump’s attacks against her before the event.

NBC News anchor Kristen Welker moderating the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020.
Jim Bourg/AFP via Getty Images

Welker, aided by a mute button (see below) whose absence made the first debate such a disaster, was able to deftly move the debate between different topics. She allowed each candidate ample time to speak, without letting the debate devolve into the unstructured cacophony that Chris Wallace presided over in the first debate.

And she actually challenged the candidates when their responses didn’t add up. When Trump insisted a vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready by the end of the year, she pointed out, “Your own officials say it could take well into 2021” and asked him to clarify. When Joe Biden criticized Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea, she asked, “You said you wouldn’t meet with Kim Jong-un without preconditions. Are there any conditions under which you would meet with him?”

That’s how you run a useful, informative debate, and basically everyone watching applauded. Neutral journalists like Steve Inskeep, Philip Rucker, and Yamiche Alcindor were rapturous. So were progressive viewers. And while conservatives criticized Welker for not allowing Trump more time to bring up Hunter Biden-related attacks, overall even people like Ben Shapiro and Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis had positive reactions. Perhaps the strangest endorser was Trump himself, who told Welker, “I respect very much the way you are handling this.”

Moderating a debate with as mendacious a liar as Trump is almost impossibly difficult, and Welker wasn’t perfect at holding him to the fact. But she did quite well overall, and managed to perform in a way that both Biden and Trump supporters agreed was fair — an almost miraculous achievement.

Dylan Matthews

Winner: The mute button

The first presidential debate didn’t go well. Pundits and journalists’ reviews ranged from “the worst presidential debate I have ever seen in my life” to “a shitshow.” And it was thanks to Trump, who spent the entire debate interrupting Biden — making it impossible for Biden to get a point in and stifling any semblance of a coherent conversation.

In response, the presidential debate commission decided to use a mute button. The Associated Press explained the set-up:

A representative of the Commission on Presidential Debates — not the moderator — is supposed to ensure each candidate has two full minutes of uninterrupted time to deliver opening answers on six major topics, according to debate commission chair Frank Fahrenkopf. A member of each of the Trump and Biden campaigns was expected to monitor the person who controls the mute button backstage, Fahrenkopf told The Associated Press, noting that the button would not be used beyond the first four minutes of each topic.

That this was necessary at all was a testament to Trump’s disregard for basic norms. In previous presidential debates, from primaries to general elections, the candidates would disagree, but they would at least let each other speak. Trump shattered that basic decorum, leading to a disaster of a debate last month.

Still, the mute button worked. Thursday’s debate was much more productive and substantive (to the extent any debate with Trump can be). At the very least, both candidates had a chance to voice their respective visions for America, and the public was able to follow what was going on.

—German Lopez

Loser: Medicare for all

“I support private insurance.”

Biden was unequivocal. He’s not the Medicare-for-all candidate Trump is looking for.

The president tried to turn the health care tables on Biden again, accusing the Democratic nominee of supporting “socialized medicine.” He wanted to lump Biden together with the more progressive Democrats who support a single-payer health care system.

The former vice president wasn’t having it. He wanted to remind voters he’d beaten several candidates — including the godfather of Medicare-for-all, Bernie Sanders — by promising to preserve private insurance.

“The reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination was I support private insurance,” Biden said. “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare.”

Democratic presidential Joe Biden speaks during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

To be clear: Some Americans had a private plan canceled when the ACA’s new rules took effect (but most of them qualified for new coverage); Biden’s plan as written would allow people who get private insurance through their work to enroll in a government-run public option, but only if they choose.

But it is certainly true that Biden was running as the candidate who wanted to build on the current system, not replace it.

Trump has tried to turn Medicare-for-all into an election-year bogeyman, part of his strategy to make Biden look like a stalking horse for the left. But Biden keeps rebutting that argument with a simple truth: He doesn’t support Medicare-for-all. His plan is to build on Obamacare with a plan that the Urban Institute estimates to provide insurance to every legal resident in the United States, including 25 million currently uninsured people.

At Thursday night’s debate, he said he’d even have a name for it: “Bidencare.”

—Dylan Scott

Winner: New York

Donald Trump would like you to think that New York is very, very bad, always and including during Thursday’s debate.

“If you go and look at what’s happened to New York, it’s a ghost town. It’s a ghost town,” President Trump said during the debate. He said the city that he was born and raised in was “wonderful” for so many years, but now it’s “dying,” because everyone’s leaving New York.

So here’s the thing: New York certainly has had its problems, and like anywhere it’s not perfect. But at least judging from the view from my Brooklyn apartment, things are kind of fine?

People wear protective face masks outside Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side in New York City on September 27, 2020.
Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City was hit hard early on in the pandemic in a way that was painful and heartbreaking. But the city and state have gone to great lengths to get the virus under control and, by and large, have been successful. New York has flattened the curve, and it’s stayed there, with leaders now focusing on so-called “hot spots” where cases are spiking.

On the economic front, yes, it’s difficult, and there’s no denying businesses are being hit hard. But the city is resilient. That said, cities and states across the country, red and blue, need economic help from the federal government right now — help the president could make happen.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of finger-pointing. If only this state had acted faster, this mayor. And early on in the outbreak, New York was deemed the “bad place.” Now, the city’s doing better, but it’s heartbreaking to see it spread to places like Wisconsin and South Dakota. Maybe if we hadn’t treated this like a New York problem and instead a United States problem early on, could things have been different?

On Thursday, Biden brought home the important point that it doesn’t matter which state people are in to gauge how good or bad they’re doing on the pandemic or how much people should care about them. “They’re all Americans,” he said.

It’s a lesson the president should learn.

—Emily Stewart

Loser: Senate Republicans

Biden made a pointed observation about the reality of stimulus negotiations on Thursday: Despite Trump’s repeated claims that he wants to “go bigger” on more aid, he hasn’t even been able to get his own party onboard.

When pressed about why there wasn’t another stimulus package even as millions of Americans grapple with unemployment, evictions, and business closures, Trump said that he wanted to get an expansive bill done — and tried to cast blame on Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats.

Biden, however, had a ready retort.

“The Republican leader in the United States Senate said he can’t pass it,” Biden said plainly. “He will not be able to pass it. He does not have Republican votes. Why isn’t [Trump] talking to his Republican friends?”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) speaks during a news conference following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon on October 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Biden’s statement spoke to one of the pervasive dynamics of the ongoing stimulus impasse. Throughout it, not only has Trump been an unreliable negotiator — even calling off talks via Twitter at one point — he’s never gotten the full backing of his party.

Senate Republicans earlier this summer were already dismissing a comprehensive stimulus option out of concern about adding to the national debt — and potential backlash from base voters down the line. More recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to discourage a larger compromise prior to the election.

Biden’s remarks were a forceful reframing of the blame game over the stimulus.

Li Zhou

Loser: Social justice

Biden and Trump effectively avoided answering nearly every question about race and the Black Lives Matter movement on Thursday. Instead of taking a moment to discuss how they’d combat inequality, the candidates pointed fingers in a game of “who’s more racist than whom.”

“I can’t even see the audience … but I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump said staring out into the dark.

“He pours fuel on every single racist fire,” Biden retorted, after defending his role in crafting the 1994 crime bill and rightfully clarifying that he did not use the term “super predators” to describe young Black men.

Since late May, millions of Americans have rallied in protest of police brutality and systemic racism following the police killings of Black people like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, making Black Lives Matter the biggest protest movement in American history. Though protesters have called for the defunding of the police, this rhetoric has not made its way to the debate stage. Instead, Trump has emphasized law and order in response to the protests and Biden has simplified the problem of systemic racism in policing to “a few bad apples.”

Demonstrators march during a Black Lives Matter rally calling for racial justice following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on June 28, 2020, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jason Whitman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Though asked why he called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate,” Trump was given space to keep pushing the lie that he’s been the best president for Black America since Abraham Lincoln. He also said claimed that the first time he heard about the Black Lives Matter movement was when protesters apparently chanted “pigs in a blanket” in response to police officers — the only moment in the debate when the president acknowledged the movement.

Biden, to be fair, tried his best to articulate his newfound vision of criminal justice — people not being locked up for drug use and fully-funded community policing — but it felt like too little, too late.

Fabiola Cineas

Loser: China

The question of which candidate would be tougher on China has been a constant throughline in this election. That was on full display at tonight’s debate.

I mean, really, China came up a lot. You’d think that would make it a winner, but if anything it showed how what may be the next president’s biggest foreign policy challenge has become a punching bag.

President Trump is much of the reason China got a lot of airtime. It feels like years ago (well, this summer) when he tried to make “Beijing Biden” a thing, but Trump has tried to make his tough-on-China policies a centerpiece of his campaign. Among those, he touts his trade war with China and his pushback on China’s handling of the coronavirus.

Biden, meanwhile, tried to make the case that his administration would get China to play by the international rules. “Not like he has done,” Biden said of Trump. “He has caused the deficit to China go up, not down, with China, up not down.” The vice president didn’t give specifics on how he would get China to play the rules at the debate, but Biden has already made it clear that he wants to reassert the US as a Pacific power.

Otherwise, it was a lot of familiar territory. Trump, once again, tried to deflect from his failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic by blaming China for the virus’s spread, saying “it was not my fault” that the pandemic came here. “It’s China’s fault.”

President Trump responds to moderator Kristen Welker during the final presidential debate.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Biden fired back by citing Trump’s praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping over the early handling of the outbreak. They wrangled over Trump’s China tariffs. Trump tried to claim that China was paying billions in tariffs; Biden, in an effective exchange, rightly said that wasn’t true.

Trump also brought up China’s windmills, for some reason. Biden, at least, called out China for meddling in US elections.

But beyond policy, many of the oddest — and hardest to follow — exchanges on China came over allegations of personal financial ties to Beijing. Trump tried to argue that Biden wasn’t tough on China because of business ties his son Hunter had there — and that somehow Biden made money off the deal.

Biden denied those attacks (and there’s no evidence to support them), and then flipped it on Trump, bringing up New York Times reporting that revealed Trump had a previously unreported bank account in China. It was a confusing exchange if you’re not totally immersed in all of the latest drama, but the main takeaway seemed to be: doing business in China is bad.

Taken together, China probably took the most hits outside of the two candidates on the stage. Tensions with China have escalated sharply in recent months, sometimes likened to a “Cold War.” How the next president will fix or change that might not be so clear from tonight’s debate — but an easing of tensions with China doesn’t look likely right now, no matter who wins in November.

—Jen Kirby


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World

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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