This piece was originally published August 27, and has been lightly updated.
During the final presidential debate Thursday night, both candidates were asked how they would combat climate change and support job growth. President Donald Trump offered few specifics, merely saying that that, “We have the Trillion Trees program. We have so many different programs. I do love the environment.”
But let’s be clear: If Trump is reelected president, the likely result will be irreversible changes to the climate that will degrade the quality of life of every subsequent generation of human beings, with millions of lives harmed or foreshortened. That’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands of lives at present that will be hurt or prematurely end.
This sounds like exaggeration, some of the “alarmism” green types are always accused of. But it is not particularly controversial among those who have followed Trump’s record on energy and climate change.
“As bad as it seems right now,” says Josh Freed of Third Way, a center-left think tank, “the climate and energy scenario in Trump II would be much, much worse.”
The damage has not primarily been done, and won’t primarily be done, by Congress, except through inaction (which is no small thing). Under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate has effectively abdicated its duty as a legislative body; it now mostly exists to approve far-right judges to the federal bench.
In what follows, I’ll assume that if Trump wins, Republicans keep the Senate — and that the situation remains as is, with Congress divided and gridlocked, unable to pass major legislation or effectively restrain Trump. (It is possible that Trump wins and Democrats take both houses of Congress, but thinking about that breaks my brain.)
I’m going to do a quick review of Trump’s record so far on climate and energy. By necessity, it is not comprehensive. The amount of damage done, not only on high-profile issues but through unceasing daily efforts to weaken and degrade the federal bureaucracy, could fill volumes. I’ll just look at the highlights, with a focus on what Trump wants to do and is more likely to get away with in a second term.
First, though, let’s talk about the main thing, which is that a Trump victory would make any reasonable definition of “success” on climate change impossible.
(Note: I asked lots of people for their thoughts on a second Trump term, and for the most part, they did not want to speak on record or in specifics, for fear of giving Trump ideas. The sense of dread is palpable.)
More Trump will ensure the continued escalation of global temperatures
We know from the latest IPCC report that the climate target agreed to by nations — no more than a 2° Celsius rise in global average temperatures — is not a “safe” threshold at all. Going from 1.5° to 2° means many more heat waves, wildfires, crop failures, migrations, and premature deaths. We know that every fraction of a degree beyond 2° means more still, along with the increasing risk of tipping points that make further warming unstoppable.
Hitting the 1.5° target would require the world to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Doing so would require industrial mobilization beginning immediately. Even hitting 2° would be desperately difficult at this point. There is no longer any time for delay; this is the last decade in which it is still possible.
We know that the US doing its part to reach net zero by 2050 would not be enough, in itself, to limit global temperature rise. By the same token, we know it is wildly unlikely that the rest of the world will be able to organize to meet that goal without US leadership. And in the face of active US undermining and opposition, it will be all but impossible.
Climate policy is complicated, but in the end, it comes down to replacing everything powered by fossil fuels with zero-carbon alternatives, and we know beyond any doubt that the Trump administration is devoted to the interests of its allies in the fossil fuel industry. Everything the administration has done since taking office reflects a single-minded zeal to release fossil fuel industries from regulatory restraints and to subsidize them through public policy.
US carbon emissions have been declining, down roughly 12 percent since 2004. That’s almost entirely due to the market-driven decline of coal in the electricity sector, a trend that analysts expect to continue. The Trump administration disingenuously takes credit for it. But it won’t be enough, on its own, to reduce emissions fast enough to stay on track for net zero by 2050. Not even close.
The US needs to completely transition off electricity generated by coal and natural gas, vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel, and buildings heated by natural gas and oil — and quickly.
Everything Trump has done pushes in the opposite direction. Four more years of Trump, backed by a Republican Senate, will mean a heavy drag on global efforts to control carbon. Progress on decarbonization will slow in the US, and the example America sets will slow other nations’ progress as well, making the aforementioned 10-year mobilization all but impossible. That is a difference that will reverberate for centuries.
Now let’s look at his record.
The US “has committed more to fossil fuel companies through federal and state policies than any other Group of 20 member has directed to all energy types — fossil and renewable combined — since the start of the pandemic.” https://t.co/PvzqfM87QX
— David Roberts (@drvox) August 18, 2020
Trump has steadily rolled back regulations on fossil fuel companies
“When I think about the horrors of a Trump term two, I think about lock-in of domestic policies,” says Sam Ricketts of Evergreen Action, “buttressed — and in places even made permanent — by his continuing to stack the courts.”
In his first term, Trump has blocked, weakened, or rolled back 100 environmental, public health, and worker safety regulations. Among them are virtually all the steps Obama took to address climate change, from the Clean Power Plan for the electricity sector to tighter fuel economy standards for transportation, emissions standards on methane for oil and gas operations, efforts to integrate a “social cost of carbon” for agency decision-making, reform of fossil fuel leasing on public land, and energy efficiency standards on light bulbs. (Trump also wants to go after toilets and showerheads.)
Every one of those decisions would have the effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmentalists have sued over all of them, and thus far, Trump has lost more cases than he has won. Many of the rule changes pushed through by his agencies are being rejected by courts for being rushed and shoddy.
Given another term, Trump’s agencies will have more time to fill out those arguments and resubmit those rules; almost any rule can be justified eventually. Meanwhile, the federal bench will be packed with more sympathetic Trump appointees ready to rubber-stamp those rules.
And if federal judges object, the administration can appeal the cases to the Supreme Court, where Trump will almost certainly have had the opportunity to replace a justice or two. With a solid 6-3 or 7-2 majority on the Court, virtually anything the administration wants will end up being approved.
For example, Trump’s Department of Interior tried to rescind Obama’s 2016 rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public land; the court recently rejected the attempt, calling it “defectively promulgated” and “wholly inadequate.” Given time and a friendlier court, the rule would be doomed. (Here’s a comprehensive tracker of all the rule changes so far, and their status.)
The administration is also going after other methane rules on oil and gas operations, and in the process, trying to change the EPA’s rulemaking process to make future regulations more difficult. That brings us to a key point.
The Trump administration is stacking the deck to advantage fossil fuels
Aside from all the rules the administration has eviscerated, is eviscerating, and plans to eviscerate, it is also pushing several changes to agency procedures that will make it more difficult to regulate in the future.
Under administrator Andrew Wheeler, the EPA has proposed to alter the way it does cost-benefit analysis to exclude consideration of a rule’s “co-benefits” — reductions in other pollutants that come as a side effect of reducing targeted pollutants. (A coalition of environmental groups has opposed the change, which violates EPA precedent, statutory intent, and common sense.) If the change goes into effect — as it surely will given another term and friendlier courts — all future air quality rules will be weakened.
The EPA has also promulgated a “secret science rule” that would exclude from consideration a wide swath of studies demonstrating the danger of air pollution (including its danger in helping spread Covid-19). Without those studies to rely on, justifying public health regulations would be more difficult going forward. The EPA’s own independent board of science advisers said the change would “reduce scientific integrity” at the agency.
Speaking of independent science advisers, starting under Pruitt, the EPA began pushing out science advisers who had received grants from the agency (which includes most of them) and replacing them with fossil fuel cronies. Amusingly, even a science board packed with Trump appointees has said that three of the agency’s major recent rule changes flew in the face of established science. Still, given another term to finish the job, Wheeler could effectively eliminate independent scientific review at the agency.
The administration has also gutted the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), which requires the federal government to rigorously assess the effects of its actions on the environment and local communities, and is one of the principal avenues through which communities of color and other vulnerable communities communicate their interests to the federal government.
In July, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released a proposed rule that would dramatically limit the range of federal agency actions to which NEPA applies, limit consideration of cumulative and indirect impacts (like climate change and environmental justice), and curtail public involvement in the decision-making process and judicial review. Given another term to see the change through, the White House could shape every major federal agency decision going forward.
The administration is also trying to revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its own (typically more ambitious) emissions standards. If it succeeds, it would sabotage not only California’s standards but those of the 13 states (and Washington, DC) that have adopted them.
And it won’t be the only way a vindictive Trump could go after his perceived enemies. “Blue states will be starved of federal funding, which means massive cuts that inevitably lead to a degradation in environmental enforcement and investment in cleaner energy,” says Freed, “but also likely big reductions in mass transit funding and aid to cities that will push more people into cars and more emissions.”
Over at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Trump appointees have pushed through a Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR). It’s quite technical (I explain it here), but the net result is that state policies meant to support clean energy will be cancelled out in regional energy wholesale markets. It would cost consumers billions of dollars and prop up uneconomic coal power plants.
The MOPR is also under litigation from multiple groups. Again, given four more years and a compliant Supreme Court, it will probably stick. And FERC’s Republican commissioners have said they want to expand its use.
FERC also recently pushed through reforms to PURPA (the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act) that would disadvantage small-scale clean energy projects. And it has long pushed an argument for ending net-metering programs (which incentivize rooftop solar) nationwide; that and other steps against distributed energy resources will likely feature in a second term.
At least in this term, the administration chose not to go directly after the EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding, which classifies greenhouse gases as pollutants subject to the Clean Air Act. Rumors abound that the administration will go after it in a second term, given a friendlier Supreme Court. That would take one of the only major existing regulatory tools against greenhouse gases in the US off the table.
Speaking of the Supreme Court, an emboldened conservative majority is likely to go after the Chevron doctrine, which gives federal agencies wide latitude in interpreting congressional directives. “I don’t think it’s a matter of if Chevron would be overturned,” says Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020, “just a matter of what case gets them to do it.”
Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have recently been making noise about radically limiting the ability of federal agencies to regulate at all, under a hyper-conservative interpretation of the “nondelegation doctrine.”
“It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of this issue,” my colleague Ian Millhiser writes. “Countless federal laws, from the Clean Air Act to the Affordable Care Act, lay out a broad federal policy and delegate to an agency the power to implement the details of that policy. Under Kavanaugh’s approach, many of these laws are unconstitutional, as are numerous existing regulations governing polluters, health providers, and employers.”
There may already be five conservative votes on the court for this radical lurch backward. If Trump gets another two SCOTUS appointments, it is all but a certainty.
Land, water, and wildlife are also getting the shaft
I’ve mostly been focusing on the EPA and energy, but Trump’s damage is omnidirectional.
Earlier this year, the administration gutted Obama’s Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule, removing pollution protections from a wide swathe of wetlands and streams.
Over at the Department of Interior, Trump’s first appointee, Ryan Zinke, went on an industry-friendly bender, weakening land and species protections, ramping up oil and gas leasing on public land, and purging senior staff and 4,000 jobs. He eventually resigned amid a hail of ethics investigations — so many the New York Times had to put together a guide — and some are ongoing.
Zinke was replaced by oil lobbyist David Bernhardt, who managed to get as far as rolling back a bunch of wildlife protections before also coming under investigation for conflicts of interest. He has held on so far, though, and has a long wish list (there’s a tracker here), with almost every proposed change devoted in one way or another to weakening wildlife protections and expanding oil and gas drilling on public land.
A second Trump term will almost certainly see a renewed push for more offshore oil and gas drilling, expanding on the recent opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A plan to open virtually all the nation’s coastal waters to drilling was put “on hold” after pushback from courts and coastal communities last year, but it will return, as will further delays for offshore wind projects.
Bernhardt also moved the headquarters of DOI’s Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction, Colorado (a fossil fuel hub), and gave DC staff 30 days to decide whether to follow. Predictably, and by intent, the move resulted in an enormous brain drain, as about half of the experienced staff left.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did something similar, moving the USDA’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture — research agencies investigating, among other things, lower-carbon regenerative agriculture — to Kansas City. Critics saw the move as an obvious bid to make filling positions and coordinating with other federal researchers more difficult, thus strengthening the influence of big, carbon-intensive industrial agriculture.
There is no telling how many more agencies Trump could gut given four more years. Many staff, at EPA and other agencies, have been holding on to hopes of a new president. If Trump is reelected, there’s likely to be a huge exodus of knowledge and talent from the federal government.
Trump’s foreign policy is entirely devoted to fossil fuels
Promoting fossil fuels has been one of the few consistent themes of Trump’s foreign policy.
He announced early on, amid a flurry of misinformation, that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. (That decision will go into effect on November 5.) Though some State Department staffers are still attending international climate meetings and participating in lower-level dialogues, top US leadership has spurned the entire process and shows no sign of reengaging.
Instead, Trump is trying to manage oil prices by making deals with cartels, bullying other countries to buy US oil, seeking to export liquid natural gas to India, and jostling with Russia and China over trade routes through the melting Arctic.
In a second term, Trump is unlikely to rejoin Paris; he’s much more likely to remove the US from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entirely. It is an open question whether the Paris framework could survive that at all.
Four more years of Trump would leave democracy, and hope for a safe climate, in tatters
The above constitutes a highly selective list, a small portion of the damage Trump has done to climate and energy progress across federal agencies and international agreements. There are plenty of other examples to cite, including his beloved trade wars, which he will undoubtedly expand in a second term. A recent analysis found that his solar tariffs to date have cost 62,000 jobs in the solar industry and blocked 10.5 gigawatts of new solar from coming online. (If you can stomach a more comprehensive list, check out this piece from the Global Current.)
The main bulwark against Trump’s changes so far has been the courts, but that bulwark will not hold against an administration with four more years to bolster its legal cases and appoint sympathetic judges.
Under Trump and McConnell, the Senate has already appointed 200 federal judges, almost a quarter of the total number. If McConnell keeps the Senate, the next four years could see half of federal judges being Trump appointees and a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. That would likely mean a rapid return to pre-New Deal jurisprudence, radically curtailing the reach of foundational environmental laws. Trump — or, more precisely, the Federalist Society — would be utterly unrestrained.
And that’s not even accounting for the possibility that Trump could simply ignore court judgments he doesn’t like, which seems to be the logical next step for an administration that has faced so little accountability for its law-breaking.
In a second term, especially if Republicans keep the Senate, there would be few tools left to use against Trump’s march into the fossil fuel past. Big businesses and financial institutions might exert some influence. The EU might impose a border adjustment tax. But most hope would fall on direct activism.
Yet activism is only going to get more difficult, as it tends to under authoritarian states. “It’s impossible to separate the massive, vicious assault on democracy and civil rights Trump would prosecute in a second term from the actions he would take on climate and energy,” says Freed. Many states have been passing laws ramping up the scope and severity of penalties for direct activism, increasingly being redefined as “domestic terrorism.” Trump’s use of federal forces to brutalize protesters in Portland is likely a preview of a much more extensive crackdown on civil disobedience in a second term. Some environmental groups are already having serious discussions about how to prepare their members.
There’s no sugarcoating it: If Trump wins the election and Republicans keep the Senate, democracy in America might not survive. At the very least, any hope of public policy to rapidly decarbonize the US is off the table. The US will push actively in the opposite direction.
I often think about this passage from a 2016 commentary in the journal Nature (signed by 22 noted climate scientists):
Policy decisions made during [coming years] are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.
Thousands of years.
Trump’s damage to the climate is not like his damage to the immigration system or the health care system. It can’t be undone. It can’t be repaired. Changes to the climate are, for all intents and purposes, irreversible. They will be experienced by every generation to come.
It is a cliché by now to call this the most important election of our lifetimes, but even that dramatic phrasing doesn’t capture the stakes. From the perspective of the human species as a whole, the arc of its life on this planet, it may be the most important election ever.
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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
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.
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.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
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.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
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.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
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.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
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.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
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.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
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.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
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.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
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.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
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.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
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.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
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.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
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.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
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.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
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.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
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.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
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.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
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.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
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.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
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.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
1/4 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. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
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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