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How an Israeli thinker became one of Trumpism’s foremost theorists

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It is a peculiar irony that one of the most influential theorists of President Donald Trump’s “America First” style of conservative nationalism is an Israeli citizen.

Yoram Hazony, president of the Herzl Institute think tank in Jerusalem, has become a mainstay of the American right. Michael Anton, a conservative academic who served as one of Trump’s senior advisers from 2017 to 2018, drew on Hazony’s vision of nationalism in formulating what Anton describes as “the Trump doctrine” in foreign affairs. Hazony’s new American organization, the Edmund Burke Foundation, held a 2019 conference that featured speeches from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tucker Carlson, Peter Thiel, and then-National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Hazony emerged out of an increasingly influential yet little-known Israeli-American conservative nexus. Though born in Israel, he spent his formative years in the United States, his worldview molded by his time as a Princeton undergraduate during the Reagan years. And though he built his career in Israel, the institutions he helped create there were funded in part by American donors — part of a broader campaign to establish an American-style conservative movement in a country with a very different kind of right-wing tradition.

During a trip to Israel, sponsored by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, I explored the influence of Hazony and the broader American-Israeli conservative intellectual movement. It is a world that holds extraordinary sway in the current Israeli Knesset (parliament), closely aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party.

Relative to some others on the new Israeli right, Hazony is not a pivotal figure in Jerusalem. (He declined to comment for this article.) But his rising star in Washington, and even some European capitals, points to something important about the globalization of conservatism: that right-wing movements from different countries are increasingly influencing each other, putting aggressive nationalism at the center of the broader Western intellectual and political right.

Hazony isn’t just a popular conservative writer: He is the embodiment of one of the most significant global trends of our time.

The Israeli-American conservative nexus

Eli, the West Bank settlement Hazony moved to after finishing his American education in the early 1990s, is one of many illegal Jewish communities in the majority-Palestinian territory. Started by a handful of settlers in 1984, Eli today boasts a population of over 4,000, growth that has come at the expense of nearby Palestinian communities.

During my trip, I drove up Route 60, the major north-south thoroughfare in the West Bank along which Eli sits. From the highway, Eli doesn’t look like a particularly remarkable place: a collection of the characteristically Israeli light-colored homes with red roofs that dot the West Bank, clearly distinguishable from nearby Palestinian villages.

You see small communities like this all around the West Bank, each one creating an Israeli-imposed security bubble that can justify land seizures and cut off Palestinian communities from each other. Eli is one cog in the vast machinery of the West Bank occupation; the larger and more entrenched these communities get, the harder it is to imagine Israel ever evacuating them — a seemingly necessary step if a contiguous, viable Palestinian state is to be created.

Eli is a physical symbol of the most aggressive right-wing form of Israeli nationalism, a religiously informed territorial maximalism that sees Jews and only Jews as the rightful owners of the biblical Holy Land.

A picture taken from the Palestinian West Bank village of Lubban ash-Sharkiya on January 16, 2017, shows a Palestinian woman standing in front of a view of the Jewish settlement of Eli.
Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images

A Palestinian village in the background behind houses at the West Bank Jewish settlement of Eli.
David Vaaknin/Washington Post/Getty Images

This expansionist project has been helped along by American money. An investigation by Ha’aretz, Israel’s center-left paper of record, found that evangelical Christian organizations and donors contributed between $50 million and $65 million to settlements between 1998 and 2018.

But American money hasn’t just supported the physical infrastructure of Israeli nationalism, it has also funded its intellectual infrastructure, a network of think tanks and publications that has helped entrench the settlers and their worldview in Israel’s halls of power.

Of the many US donors to right-wing Israeli causes, none loom as large in the intellectual realm as an organization called the Tikvah Fund, founded by American-born billionaire Zalman Bernstein in 1992. At the time, the right-wing intellectual tradition in Israel was institutionally weak — a point that became quite clear to Hazony after his time in the United States, where the conservative movement was more clearly established.

“In most countries, the role of defending the idea of the nation — the preservation and deepening of its heritage, its texts and holy places, and the wisdoms and social crafts which its people have acquired — belongs to political conservatives,” he wrote in the inaugural issue of Azure, an Israeli conservative journal he founded in 1996 and whose archives are currently hosted on Tikvah’s website. “What passes for a ‘national camp’ in Israel, the [right-wing] Likud and its sister parties, has no tradition of intellectual discourse to speak of. It has no colleges, no serious think tanks or publishing houses, no newspapers or broadcasting.”

Tikvah has worked to change that, shelling out $10-15 million annually — a meaningful investment in a small country like Israel — to create and sustain conservative institutions. (Tikvah also operates in the United States.)

Foremost among Tikvah’s Israeli grantees is the Kohelet Policy Forum, a libertarian and nationalist organization that Ha’aretz described as “the right-wing think tank that quietly ‘runs the Knesset.’” Yechiel Leiter, a senior fellow at Kohelet, told me that the Ha’aretz headline was “way overstated” but agreed that his organization has real clout in Jerusalem.

“Kohelet is influential, though it by no means runs the Knesset,” Leiter said. “An [economist] colleague of mine … he’s producing a policy paper every few weeks. And believe me, it is read by everyone serious.”

Tikvah has supported other conservative think tanks, like the Institute for Zionist Strategies and the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. It has created ideological publications, including the hard-right news site Mida and the policy journal Hashiloach — though neither of these is as influential as Israel Hayom, a free daily tabloid funded by American billionaire and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. Tikvah has also built educational institutions, such as the Jewish Statesmanship Center, aimed at training Israeli public servants.

Thinkers in the Tikvah orbit generally take an aggressive line on the conflict with the Palestinians, including a hardline defense of the West Bank settlement movement. Their papers and articles defend the wisdom and legality of the settlement enterprise; this June, Leiter published an open letter to American Christians calling on them to lobby Trump on behalf of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. It was signed “your friend from Eli.”

“There is no right-wing movement in Israel. What you see is a settler’s movement,” says Stav Shaffir, a former member of the Knesset for the center-left Labor Party.

This aggressive approach to security policy is quintessentially Israeli, strengthened by American money but hardly invented by it. Tikvah’s approach to the economy, on the other hand, is an attempt to import a version of all-American libertarianism that’s only weakly rooted in Israeli political thought.

Free-market economics are not historically popular in Israel, a country founded on a social democratic economic model that has traditionally enjoyed support from leading political parties. Despite a significant amount of deregulation and privatization since the 1980s, the voting public still supports the main pillars of Israel’s welfare state. The 2019 Israel Democracy Index, an annual assessment of public opinion, found that over three-quarters of Israelis support budget increases for health, education, and social services — while fewer than 5 percent support cuts.

Tikvah and its allies believe this Israeli supermajority is in dire need of some foreign education.

“Israel still needs to break free of the socialist mindset of its founding fathers,” Eric Cohen, Tikvah’s executive director, wrote in a 2015 essay. “Here is a clear instance where importing external ideas, in this case the ideas of the best free-market economists, can serve Jewish interests, Jewish values, and the success of the Jewish state. And here, too, American Jews have a role to play — and credit to claim.”

These organizations are not always so interested in advertising their role in bringing American ideas into Israel. Cohen did not respond to my request for comment on this article; Moshe Koppel, the chair of the Kohelet Policy Forum, downplayed his organization’s ties to the United States.

“Kohelet has no substantive connections with American NGOs and takes no position on any American issues not directly related to Israel,” he told me in email.

That may well be true, but there’s no denying the role American funding plays in the organization’s work: Kohelet receives millions annually from a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) called the American Friends of Kohelet Policy Forum. When I called the phone number listed on the organization’s tax filings, a man told me this was not the American Friends of Kohelet Policy Forum and hung up.

Hazony, perhaps the paradigmatic case of an Israeli whose worldview has been shaped by time in the States, has been a player in Tikvah-world. The organization provided early funding for perhaps his most influential creation, Jerusalem’s Shalem Center — a right-wing think tank that has morphed into Shalem College, Israel’s first American-style private liberal arts college.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to attend a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on October 15.
Alex Kolomiensky-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

But today, he is not on Shalem’s day-to-day leadership team, instead running the less-well-known Herzl Institute. Though he once worked closely with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — another Israeli right-winger who spent significant time in America — the two men had a falling out some time ago. Observers of the Israeli intellectual and media scene I met with in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv described Hazony as fairly marginal in domestic politics, even as the Tikvah-Kohelet world more broadly grows in influence.

“He’s so out of touch with the actual sensibilities of Hebrew-speaking Israelis that I think he’s completely irrelevant,” Avner Inbar, the co-founder of the progressive think tank Molad, told me. “Institutionally, the founding of the Shalem Center was influential. But it’s not him, personally.”

Leiter had a more positive view of Hazony, describing him as “an intellectual force to be reckoned with. At the same time, he agreed with Inbar that his influence was greater outside of Israel than within. “I don’t think his book on nationalism has drawn the same interest in Israel as it has in the United States,” Leiter said.

Hazony’s career arc, then, is something like a boomerang: the American conservative project of strengthening the Israeli right coming back home to the States.

How Hazony universalized American-Israeli conservatism

When Donald Trump became the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, it became clear that the old conservative paradigm did not adequately represent what the Republican Party had become.

The party of free markets had been taken over by a trade skeptic who (disingenuously) promised to protect Medicare; the party of American empire had been taken over by a man who (disingenuously) claimed to oppose America’s wars in places like Iraq and Libya. There was an urgent need to explain what he really stood for and how he had won — a task that the old American conservative elite, steeped in pre-Trump conservative dogma, wasn’t well-equipped to do on its own.

Enter Hazony. In a September 2016 essay in Mosaic (a Tikvah-funded conservative journal), he argued that Trump’s ascendance, together with the Brexit vote, represented an emergent divide in global politics — between nationalists, who believe countries should be free to choose their own destiny, and liberal imperialists, who wish to dissolve national borders and impose their secular, deracinated vision on an unwilling world.

“The painful debate over Donald Trump’s personal qualities and qualifications for the presidency has made it difficult to sustain a thoughtful discussion about the issues —primarily, the issue of American national self-determination — that catapulted him to the center of political attention,” Hazony wrote. “But no matter what happens in November, the political fault line that has been uncovered at the heart of Western politics is not going away.”

If you read Hazony’s work carefully, it becomes evident that his vision for the global right is a universalization of the Israeli settler’s mindset: a religious nationalism that has some key points of agreement with Trumpists and the European far right.

A man wrapped in a Trump campaign flag walks in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market during the Jewish holiday of Purim on March 11.
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

One of the core tenets of Zionism is that Jews are not fully safe in other countries; so long as they do not have their own state with a powerful military, Jews are fully at the mercy of non-Jewish national majorities who have proven themselves to be hostile time and again.

On the Israeli right, Zionist self-determination fuses with a (somewhat justified) sense that Israel has been unfairly targeted in international organizations like the United Nations into a doctrine of extreme self-reliance. The rest of the world will hate us no matter what, the logic goes; we should ignore what they think and take actions we think are best for ourselves — including seizures of Palestinian land in the West Bank justified by Biblical entitlement.

The depth and power of this thinking really struck me when I visited the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside the Palestinian city of Hebron. There’s a little park there named after Meir Kahane, an Israeli American rabbi infamous for his advocacy of violence against those he saw as threats to Jews or Israel. Kahane was convicted on terrorism-related charges in the United States in the 1970s and banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 on grounds that he and his Kach party advocated for anti-democratic and racist ideas (this was after he won a seat in Israel’s 1984 election).

Today, Kahane is celebrated as a hero by many in places like Kiryat Arba. The park there named after him houses the gravesite of Baruch Goldstein, a follower of Kahane’s who murdered 29 Muslim worshippers while they prayed at the Cave of the Patriarchs (a holy site in Hebron significant to both Jews and Muslims). When I walked over to Goldstein’s tombstone, I saw a smattering of small pebbles on top of it — a sign of care for the dead in Jewish tradition — left by his contemporary admirers. The inscription refers to Goldstein as a “martyr,” one who “gave his life for the Jewish people, its Torah, and its land.”

Hazony penned a ”heartfelt farewell” to Kahane after his assassination in 1990. While disavowing Kahane’s politics, including his “predilection for violent solutions,” he credited a meeting with the late rabbi at Princeton in the 1980s as a significant influence on his understanding of his own Judaism.

“We found ourselves drawn to Kahane in spite of ourselves because, unlike any other Jewish ‘leader’ we had ever met, he was willing to say what needed to be said,” Hazony wrote, describing the influence of Kahane on himself and his college friends. “He returned to us the belief that Judaism could have truth on its side, that it could be something we didn’t have to embarrassed about, that we should be proud to wear a kipa and make our stand on the world stage as Jews.”

In his 2018 book The Virtue of Nationalism, Hazony argues that international organizations and progressive Europeans alike mistreat Israel not primarily out of anti-Semitism per se, but out of a more generalized disgust about what Israel stands for. They believe in a world without borders and without defined nations; Israel is the exemplar of a country founded on the ideals of national self-determination and exclusive national rights to land, the antithesis of what progressives want the world to become.

Anti-Israel sentiment “is driven by the rapid advance of a new paradigm that understands Israel, and especially the independent Israeli use of force to defend itself, as illegitimate down to its foundations,” he writes. “If Germany and France have no right to exist as independent states, then why should Israel?”

In this way of thinking, Israel — by choosing to “make its stand on the world stage” as an avowedly Jewish state — is at the forefront of a global struggle over borders and nationalism.

Trump, Brexit, and electoral victories by European far-right populists like Germany’s Alternative for Deutschland represent Western conservatives finally waking up and joining the war against globalist imperialism that Israel has long been waging. Of course, this valorization of national self-determination is selective: Hazony’s book-length attack on “imperialism” never once mentions Palestinians.

National conservatism’s moment

Hazony’s political vision, which he calls “national conservatism,” has proven enormously attractive among segments of the American conservative movement.

His book was omnipresent in the conservative press after its 2018 release. The 2019 National Conservatism conference in Washington, DC, thrown by Hazony’s Edmund Burke Foundation, has been referred to by one popular conservative writer as that year’s “most important intellectual gathering.”

Its keynote speakers were some of the leading figures in the post-Trump “future of conservatism” conversations — Sen. Hawley, Fox’s Carlson, and venture capitalist Thiel. Hazony is working with some A-list American talent: Christopher DeMuth, the head of the influential American Enterprise Institute from 1986-2008, currently serves as the chairman of the National Conservatism Conference.

Somewhat ironically, given Hazony’s links to the Tikvah network, the way he talks to American audiences about economics sounds more traditionally Israeli than American free-marketeer. In his 2019 National Conservatism conference speech, he criticizes the pre-Trump American right for elevating the ideals of the free market over values of national cohesion and religious principle.

“These conservatives, in particular, forgot everything they ever knew about how to conserve anything,” he said. “They lost interest in the Bible, in Christianity and Judaism. Neither nationalism nor religion had any hold on them any longer. All that interested them was economic liberalism and the rights of the free and equal individual. Instead of conservatives, they became a revolutionary movement.”

You see here how the efforts to build cross-national ties between intellectual movements can morph the animating ideas behind them. American donors worked to reshape Israeli conservatism, effectively injecting American ideas into the Israeli political bloodstream. Now one of the Israeli beneficiaries of this American largesse has become more influential in America than his home country, thanks to fortuitous political timing. He is using that influence to pitch an Israeli version of conservatism that preserves the nationalism but eschews libertarianism — and American conservatives are listening.

The United States isn’t the only country where Hazony’s thinking finds receptive ears.

In early February, just before the pandemic shut the world down, the Edmund Burke Foundation hosted a National Conservatism Conference in Rome. Notable speakers included members of parliament in Sweden and the UK, a leading Polish member of the European Parliament, and French far-right politician Marion Marechal (granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the country’s leading far-right party). The marquee guest was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, widely seen as the most effective right-wing nationalist leader in Europe.

People hold Trump flags during a demonstration for personal freedoms in Rome, Italy, on September 5.
Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

During his appearance, Orbán — who invited Hazony to his office to discuss his book in 2019 — identified himself and similar leaders in Central Europe (like Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party) as exemplars of the kind of “national conservatism” the conference was promoting.

“What I represent here is not just a success story of a country, but a success story of a region. And everywhere in this region the governments are based on national sovereignty. They’re all national conservatives,” Orbán said. “You can have great hopes and expectations that the renovation and a new current, a new blood to national conservatism could come from Central Europe.”

The point here is not that Orbán’s ideas and doctrines sprung from a close reading of Hazony’s work. Rather, Hazony’s idea of a nationalist conservatism is consistent with the vision of Hungary that Orbán has been working towards since 2010. The Israeli-born, American-trained thinker is theorizing what the Hungarian politician is actually doing — and what Trump has been establishing in the United States.

There is an increasing sense of a “nationalist international” — the idea that various right-wing parties need to band together and fight against the liberal-progressive vision for a more globalized world. Some of the efforts to codify this idea, like Steve Bannon’s laughable organization called “The Movement” in Europe, have failed.

But the success of the American intervention in Israeli politics, and the global rise of Yoram Hazony, shows how it might actually work: how globalization can fuse political traditions of distinct conservative movements, connecting the halls of power in Washington to the settlers in Eli.


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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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