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Is Trump a fascist? 8 experts weigh in.



Is Donald Trump a fascist?

That question emerged in various forms pretty early in his 2016 presidential campaign, which began with a speech railing against Mexican immigrants, and gained steam after he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December 2015, as a response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

At that point, the Muslim ban proposal, I contacted five fascism experts and asked them if Trump qualified. They all said no. Every one of them stated that to be a fascist, one must support the revolutionary, usually violent overthrow of the entire government/Constitution, and reject democracy entirely. In 2015, none were comfortable saying Trump went that far. He was too individualist for the inherently collectivist philosophy of fascism, and not sufficiently committed to the belief that violence is good for its own sake, as a vital cleansing force.

Roger Griffin, the author of The Nature of Fascism and a professor of history at Oxford Brookes University, summed it up well: “You can be a total xenophobic racist male chauvinist bastard and still not be a fascist.”

Five years have now passed, and the fascism questions have only grown more frequent. Trump has had time to implement quite anti-immigrant and anti-Black policies, and refused to denounce his most extreme and violent supporters, from the neo-Nazis and white nationalists in Charlottesville to the Proud Boys group. And every week, I receive dozens of emails from readers wondering if I stand by my conclusion in 2015, that Trump is simply a bigot with an authoritarian streak, not a fascist.

So I reached out to the experts I talked to back then. Four of the five replied, and I also got in touch with a few more scholars who have researched fascism to get a broader view.

The responses were, again, unanimous, albeit tinged with much greater concern about Trump’s authoritarian and violent tendencies. No one thinks Trump is a fascist leader, full stop. Jason Stanley, a Yale philosopher and author of How Fascism Works, came closest to that conclusion, saying that “you could call legitimately call Trumpism a fascist social and political movement” and that Trump is “using fascist political tactics,” but that Trump isn’t necessarily leading a fascist government.

But most experts did not even go that far, and some expressed concern that describing Trump as a fascist undermines the term and leads to a misanalysis of our current political situation. “If Trump was a fascist and we were in a situation akin to Germany in 1932 or Italy in 1921, certain kinds of actions would be justified,” Sheri Berman, a professor of political science at Barnard College, says. “But we are not and they are not.”

To be clear, “not fascist” is a very, very low bar for Trump to clear. The concerns that lead people to ask the question “Is Trump a fascist?” are real. Trump really is trying to discredit the coming presidential election. He really has hired officials with ties to white nationalist groups. He really did promise to ban all Muslims from the US (and implemented new rules toward that goal), said that a Mexican American judge is unfit to preside over cases involving him, called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” empathized with neo-Nazis after Charlottesville, and falsely claimed Muslim Americans celebrated the 9/11 attacks — among many, many transgressions.

But things could always get worse. There really are leaders who suspend elections, dissolve legislatures, throw large numbers of citizens into camps without trial or appeal, who turn their nations into one-party states oriented around a cult of national rebirth. The fascist leaders of the past, the University of Texas’s Jason Brownlee notes, “not only pursued right-wing policies, they also built-up mass-mobilizing parties and paramilitary organizations with the goal of sweeping aside alternative movements and establishing single-party dictatorship.”

That hasn’t happened here — but it could. It came terrifyingly close to happening in Greece, where the explicitly neo-Nazi Golden Dawn became the third-largest political party in the mid-2010s. And if and when it does happen in America, we need to have the right terms and tools to confront it.

Robert Paxton, Mellon professor emeritus of social sciences, Columbia University

I stand by what I have already written about Trump and fascism, but there is one change: I am struck now with Trump’s growing willingness to employ physical violence.

Before, Trump was already willing to tolerate some roughing-up of hecklers at rallies, and his encouragement of the “lock her up!” refrain was clearly transgressive (in America we are supposed to wait for the decision of a jury of citizens before locking someone up). But now, after Charlottesville, we have the Proud Boys and the aggression against the governor of Michigan. So Trump gets closer to having his own SA [the Nazi paramilitary group], a sobering thought as the election approaches.

But there is still no state management of the economy here (as there was to a degree in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy). Trump is content to aid business by reducing government protections of the environment and of workers … and his economic policy is mainly just to let businessmen do what they want, So I still think terms like “oligarchy” and “plutocracy” work for Trump, with the added thought that he is close to crossing the line with his toleration of violence.

Matthew Feldman, director, Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right

Although my position has not changed on Trump — less fascist than kleptocrat, more egoist than radical-right ideologue — that does little to mitigate the danger.

Four months ago, I warned that Trump was descending into naked authoritarianism. Low-information commentators seek to reassure rather than dig deeply, telling readers to look on the bright side. That the US is an exceptional country.

It is not.

Democratic regression and political polarization are not unique to the US. Having more guns than people is. So are militias, usually formed of lower- and middle-class white Americans harboring anti-government sentiments. The threat posed by these anti-government extremists — though not necessarily terrorists — was thrown into relief when at least 13 members of Michigan’s Wolverine Militia were arrested for planning to kidnap, “judge,” and potentially execute for treason the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

The term “fascist” regarding Trump continues to mislead rather than inform. But that cannot inure us to what Alexander Reid Ross has called the “fascist creep.”

Stanley Payne, Jaume Vicens Vives and Hilldale professor emeritus of history, the University of Wisconsin Madison

This inquiry made a little sense four years ago, when Trump was still an unknown quantity, but now he has a record. Well — that’s pretty thin gruel. Nothing much to work with here. The Democrats won the first election under Trump [the 2018 midterms], and I’m not aware of anything negative happening. Straining at gnats doesn’t really get us anywhere. Mostly these are just silly public remarks. Hitler’s place in history is not based on his remarks, nor for any temporary detention cages. Please do not trivialize. That indicates absence of an argument.

Roger Griffin, emeritus professor in modern history, Oxford Brookes University

His relationship to democracy, I would really insist, is the key to answering whether he’s a fascist or not. Even in four years of incoherent and inconsistent tweets, he’s never actually done a Putin and tried to make himself a permanent president, let alone suggest any coherent plan for overthrowing the constitutional system. And I don’t even think that’s in his mind. He is an exploiter, he’s a freeloader. He’s a wheeler and dealer. And that is not the same as an ideologue.

So he’s absolutely not a fascist. He does not pose a challenge to constitutional democracy. He certainly poses a great challenge to liberalism and liberal democracy. And I think real favor will be served by journalists who, instead of seeing liberal democracy as a single entity, see it as a binomial. Democracy can exist without liberalism.

If I was doing this as a bottom line in some debate, I’d say that Trump is not a fascist, but what he is quite consistently is an illiberal democrat. He is a democrat to the extent that he’s used democratic processes to be where he is, which he doesn’t radically challenge. He obviously plays fast and loose, like any wheeler dealer, with things like the Supreme Court, who he gets in, etc. He doesn’t care about the rules, but the core system he doesn’t want to change, because he’s somebody who’s profited by that system.

Basically, I think it matters whether we call Trump fascist or not fascist, not academically or intellectually, but because it’s a red herring — it actually diverts attention from where we should be doing the critique. If all our intellectual energies are, like Don Quixote, jousting with windmills and fascism, instead of actually jousting with the real enemies of democracy, and using our energies to avert the climate crisis, which is going to engulf us all, if we’re not careful, then we’re wasting our time.

By not calling him fascist, and concentrating on the way he perverts democracy, we see Trump in a different context. We don’t see him as Hitler or Mussolini. We see him in a different rogues’ gallery. And the rogues’ gallery is made up of a whole load of dictators throughout history, including Putin and Erdogan and Orbán and Assad today, who have abused constitutionalism and democracy to rationalize their abuse of power and their crimes against humanity.

Sheri Berman, professor of political science, Barnard College, Columbia University

On Trump and fascism, unlike what has become an almost majority view, I do not like applying that term to Trump or to what is going on in this country.

Partially this is for historical and intellectual reasons — just like we shouldn’t call every horrible example of ethnic violence or even ethnic cleansing “genocide” (or say that it is another Holocaust), so I think we should be careful with comparing Trump to Hitler. Genocide means something: It is an attempt to wipe out an entire people, using the full force of the modern state. Similarly, national socialism or, more broadly, fascism was a totalitarian ideology and political regime that wanted to do away not only with liberalism and democracy but to revolutionize society, economy, and politics. That’s not the same as any old dictatorship, even a nasty one, and that is not where we are today.

That said, just as ethnically based violence or ethnic cleansing shares some characteristics with genocide/the Holocaust, so too does Trump bear similarities to other strongmen, a category in which fascists like Hitler and Mussolini belong, as do Orbán, Erdogan, Putin, and their ilk. That Trump maintains his support by engaging in explicitly divisive appeals designed to pit groups against each other — particularly but not exclusively ethnic groups — also, of course, bears some similarity to what fascists did.

And, of course, Trump is undermining various norms and institutions of democracy. But this doesn’t make him a fascist, which means much more than these things. Indeed, I almost think calling Trump “fascist” gives him too much “credit” — he isn’t strategic enough, ideological enough, or ambitious enough. And as bad as things are today, we are still not in 1930s Germany.

But alongside these historical and intellectual reasons, I also don’t like applying the term fascist to Trump for practical reasons. If Trump was a fascist and we were in a situation akin to Germany in 1932 or Italy in 1921, certain kinds of actions would be justified. But we are not, and they are not. And that remains important to stress, even though that does not mean downplaying the real threat Trump and the version of the Republican Party that is backing him represents to our country.

I think Trump often engages in what the political science literature refers to as “ethnic outbidding.” Even more fitting, in my view, is the term “negative integration” — a strategy of unifying a coalition by whipping up fear/hatred of purported enemies. Bismarck was the classic practitioner of the negative integration strategy.

As for Trump overall, I would still prefer referring to him as an illiberal populist or right-wing populist. He has a lot in common with the right-wing populists roaming around Europe today.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of Italian and history, New York University

Trump certainly uses fascist tactics, from holding rallies to refresh the leader-follower bond to creating a “tribe” (MAGA hats, rituals like chanting “lock them up,” etc.) to unleashing a volume of propaganda without precedent by an American president. Yet the political cultures that form him and his close supporters are not fascist, but reflect a broader authoritarian history. Paul Manafort and Roger Stone worked for [Congolese dictator] Mobutu Sese Seko and [Philippine President] Ferdinand Marcos before Trump, and Manafort also worked for Putin. They worked on Marcos’s 1986 election that was widely denounced as fraudulent.

Trump’s role models include leaders like Erdogan and Putin who are not exactly fascists, but something more: authoritarians, or strongman rulers who also use virility as a tool of domination.

I also favor authoritarian over fascist as a description for Trump because the former captures how autocratic power works today. In the 21st century, fascist takeovers have been replaced by rulers who come to power through elections and then, over time, extinguish freedom.

Jason Brownlee, professor of government, the University of Texas at Austin

Of course Trump’s detractors are free to use whatever terms and epithets they like.

I would not say the traditional idea of fascism fits Donald Trump in 2020 any more than it did before he took office. When historians and political scientists do a full accounting of his actions and statements as president, I do not think fascism will figure prominently in their analyses. The prototypical fascist leaders — Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, [Austrian Chancellor] Engelbert Dollfuss — not only pursued right-wing policies, they also built-up mass-mobilizing parties and paramilitary organizations with the goal of sweeping aside alternative movements and establishing single-party dictatorship. I would tend to describe Trump’s brand of politics differently, and I would place him in different company.

Trump is a celebrity-turned-right-wing politician. He acts as a consummate demagogue, fabulist, and ultranationalist, and he appears to have a strong inclination for nepotism and kleptocracy. His efforts to use the presidency to finance his lifestyle and enrich his family resemble the schemes of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. In addition to profiting from his time in office, Trump, like Marcos, has challenged constraints on executive authority without investing resources into a sustainable political organization.

In other respects, Trump’s style of politics recalls portions of the career of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević. Like Milošević, Trump has promoted a very hierarchical, ethnically based ultranationalist vision that endorses violence against out-groups but without building up a single party the way interwar fascists did.

Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky professor of philosophy, Yale University

When I think about fascism, I think about it as applied to different things. There’s a fascist regime. We do not have a fascist regime. Then there’s the question of, “Is Trumpism a fascist social and political movement?” I think you could call legitimately call Trumpism a fascist social and political movement — which is not to say that Trump is a fascist. Trumpism involves a cult of the leader, and Trump embodies that. I certainly think he’s using fascist political tactics. I think there’s no question about that. He is calling for national restoration in the face of humiliations brought on by immigrants, liberals, liberal minorities, and leftists. He’s certainly playing the fascist playbook.

My definition is of fascist politics, not of a fascist regime. I think most of the other [fascism scholars] are just talking about something else. They’re talking about regimes. Toni Morrison in 1995 said the United States has long favored fascist solutions to national problems. Toni Morrison is talking about “fascist solutions.” She’s not talking about fascist regimes. She’s saying the United States has long favored fascist solutions in a democratic state, which I completely agree with: targeting minorities, mass incarceration, colonialism, seizing indigenous land. All these things are things that impacted Hitler. My work is based in the United States — it’s based in the movements that affected European fascism: the KKK, Jim Crow, the anti-miscegenation law, slavery, Indigenous genocide, the 1924 Immigration Act and similar US immigration laws that Hitler lauds in Mein Kampf.

If you’re only worried about fascist regimes, you’re never going to catch fascist social and political movements. The goal is to catch fascist social and political movements, and fascist ideology, before it becomes a regime.

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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year



(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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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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