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World economic recovery from coronavirus ‘may take 5 years’: Live

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  • United States President Donald Trump continues to claim there will be a coronavirus vaccine in weeks, contradicting the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart says the global economic recovery from the crisis originated by the pandemic may take as much as five years.
  • The world’s biggest rubber glove maker – Malaysia’s Top Glove – is expected to announce record profits as the pandemic boosts demand.
  • More than 29.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 938,820 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some 20.2 million people have recovered.

Here are the latest updates: 

Thursday, September 17

08:45 GMT – World financial recovery may take 5 years: World Bank chief economist

The global economic recovery from the crisis originated by the coronavirus pandemic may take as much as five years, the World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart said.

“There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted, but a full recovery will take as much as five years,” Reinhart said in a remote intervention during a conference held in Madrid.

Reinhart said the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries than in others and will exacerbate inequalities as the poorest will be harder hit by the crisis in rich countries and the poorest countries will be harder hit than richer countries. For the first time in twenty years, global poverty rates will rise following the crisis, she added.

8:10 GMT – Red Cross warns virus is driving discrimination in Asia

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that the novel coronavirus is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, including migrants and foreigners.

The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.

“It is particularly concerning that both national migrant and foreign workers are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 as they are quite vulnerable already,” Dr Viviane Fluck, one of the lead researchers and the agency’s Asia Pacific community engagement and accountability coordinator, told the Reuters news agency.

She said there should be more focus on combating “rumors that are linked to underlying power dynamics and structural issues of inequality”.

07:40 GMT – Russia’s coronavirus death toll passes 19,000

Russia’s death toll from the novel coronavirus passed 19,000, as the country reported 144 new deaths in the previous 24 hours.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre registered 5,762 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally of infections to 1,085,281, the world’s fourth-highest caseload.

Russia's coronavirus cases rise to 687,862

Russia’s tally of coronavirus infections stands at 1,085,281, the world’s fourth-highest [File: Anadolu] 

07:00 GMT – Hurtigruten cancels remaining 2020 cruises

Norway’s Hurtigruten has called off its remaining cruises this year due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the Americas, the company said.

The decision affects Hurtigruten’s so-called expedition cruises, which often take passengers into Arctic or Antarctic waters, though its business of shipping goods and people between ports along the Norwegian coast will continue.

The company was the first cruise operator worldwide to return an oceangoing cruise ship to service in mid-June, touting reduced passenger capacity, social distancing and strict rules on hygiene.

06:40 GMT – UK faces bottleneck on testing due to lab capacity: minister

Britain faces difficulties in carrying out COVID-19 tests due to shortages of lab capacity, said junior health minister Edward Argar.

“Lab capacity is one of the bottlenecks, or one of the challenges in significantly increasing that capacity,” Argar told Sky News.

Britain can avoid further local restrictions and another national lockdown by sticking to the rules such as not meeting in groups of more than six people, minister added.

06:15 GMT – Czech Republic’s daily jump in COVID-19 cases exceeds 2,000

The Czech Republic reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time as it battles a surge in infections that is among the fastest in Europe.

The health ministry recorded 2,139 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, up from a previous record 1,675 reported for the previous day.

Czech Republic quarantines entire country over COVID-19

People wearing mask as a precaution against coronavirus walk on street in Prague [File: Anadolu] 

05:45 GMT – Ukraine sets daily record with 3,584 new cvirus cases

Ukraine set a daily record with 3,584 new coronavirus infections, the national security council said, up from a figure of 3,144 on Sept. 11.

Ukraine has a total of 166,244 cases, with 3,400 deaths and 73,913 recoveries, the council added.


Hello, this is Umut Uras in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.


05:15 GMT – Survey finds people in Asia blame certain groups for COVID-19

Nearly half of people in four Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan – blame certain groups for spreading COVID-19 including foreigners, people attending religious ceremonies and those who do not follow the rules on matters such as mask wearing or physical distancing.

Viviane Fluck, the community engagement and accountability coordinator at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Asia Pacific, which carried out the survey, described the findings as alarming.

“We are very concerned that vulnerable groups such as migrants and those who cannot afford protective equipment may be discriminated against due to stigma and fear,” she said in a statement. The survey also found nearly four out of five people distrusted social media, despite it being one of the leading sources of information about the virus.

05:00 GMT – The journey not the destination, airlines offer flights to nowhere

More of the Asia Pacific’s embattled airlines are offering “flights to nowhere” as the pandemic grounds international travel, according to Reuters news agency.

Qantas is the latest to join the trend, offering a seven-hour flight over Australia’s Outback and Great Barrier Reef, which apparently sold out in 10 minutes despite a starting price of 787 Australian dollars ($575). Taiwan’s EVA Airways and Japan’s ANA have also offered special sightseeing flights.

Tough border restrictions to keep the coronavirus under control have led to a 97.5 percent plunge in international travel in the region, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

04:40 GMT – Syria cases may be much higher than figures suggest: UN

The United Nation’s top humanitarian official says coronavirus could be much more widespread in Syria than official figures suggest.

Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday that it would only be possible to get a clearer picture of the situation when testing was stepped up. He noted that the source of nearly 90 percent of confirmed cases could not be traced to a known source, suggesting widespread community transmission.

Syria has confirmed 3,618 cases of the virus.

04:30 GMT  – India breaks daily record for coronavirus cases – again

India has reported another record jump in daily coronavirus cases confirming 97,894 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Deaths, which have been relatively low so far, are also climbing. The country has recorded more than 1,000 deaths every day for the last two weeks.

04:10 GMT – Burberry to kick off first virtual London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is due to get underway later on Thursday with a livestreamed show from the luxury British brand Burberry.

The show will be broadcast online at 12:00 GMT with Riccardo Tisci, its Italian designer, promising an uninhabited wilderness show in a collaboration with German artist Anne Imhof that has been described as a “radical meeting of fashion and art”.

Around 80 designers will present their latest collections during the six-day event, but only a handful will stage the kind of physical shows that in pre-COVID times drew hordes of industry insiders, celebrities and journalists from around the world.

03:50 GMT – World’s biggest glovemaker to report record profit

Malaysia’s Top Glove is due to report record profits later on Thursday, thanks to a surge in sales as a result of the coronavirus.

Analysts are expecting the company – the world’s biggest manufacturer of rubber and nitrile gloves – to announce a profit of at least 1 billion Malaysian ringgit ($241 million) for the three months ended August 31, its fiscal fourth quarter.

Top Glove is benefitting from higher prices and a surge in demand as a result of the coronavirus, but it has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers. US customs imposed an import ban on its products in July over forced labour concerns.

Malaysia Top Glove

A worker inspects disposable gloves at the Top Glove factory in Shah Alam near the Malaysian capital. The company’s expected to report record profits on Thursday thanks to COVID-19 demand [Mohd Rasfan/AFP]

03:40 GMT – Relief for Australian sport as NSW relaxes restrictions

Crowds of as many as 40,000 people will soon be able to attend major sporting events in Sydney after the New South Wales government announced a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

The new rules – allowing stadiums to be filled to 50 percent capacity – come into effect on October 1 as the National Rugby League and Rugby Championship approach the end of their seasons. 

Stadium Australia, the arena built for the 2000 Olympics, will be able to welcome 40,000 fans, the new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta 15,000 and the Sydney Cricket Ground 23,000.

Fans will have to wear facemasks going into the stadiums, but will be able to take them off inside, where they will be seated in “chequerboard” arrangements to allow physical distancing, the NSW government said.

02:45 GMT – ‘Punched, hit, kicked, shoved, deliberately spat at’

New research shows holders of temporary visas in Australia suffered increasing racist abuse after they were left out of the government’s economic support schemes and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was time to go home.

In a survey of more than 6,000 temporary visa holders, a quarter said they had experienced racist abuse, and a quarter reported people avoiding them because of their appearance.

“Over 1,600 participants described being targeted with xeonphobic slurs, treated as though they were infected with COVID because they looked Asian or haraassed for wearing a face mask,” said Professor Bassina Farbenblum, an associate professor at UNSW Law, who worked on the study with Laurie Berg, an associate professor at UTS Law. The two are co-directors of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative. “Many reported that because off their Asian appearance they were punched, hit, kicked, shoved, deliberately spat at or coughed on by passers-by in the street and on public transport.”

More than one million people live in Australia on temporary visas including international students, backpackers, and refugees. The survey found 70 percent of respondents lost all or most of their work as a result of the pandemic, with one in three international students expecting their funds to run out by next month.

02:15 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro appoints general as new health minister

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has apppointed a general with no experience in health as the country’s new health minister.

General Eduardo Pazuello was given the job on a temporary basis four months ago, but will now be made permanent. He has been more willing to go along with Bolsonaro’s approach to the pandemic than his predecessors, including recommending doctors prescribe hydroxycholoroquine to treat COVID-19 despite there being no evidence of it being effective.

Bolsonaro, who’s dismissed the virus as a “little flu”, brandished a box of the drug as Pazuello was sworn into office in Brasilia.  

Brazil Pazuello

Brazilian Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who has no background in health. has been more willing to go along with President Bolsonaro’s pandemic response than his predecessors [Sergio Lima/AFP]

01:35 GMT – Australia tensions rise over citizens stuck overseas

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison says the number of people allowed into Australia will rise by 2,000 from next Friday, according to public broadcaster ABC.

The states, who will have to house the arrivals in hotel quarantine have yet to give their approval.

About 4,000 people are currently allowed into Australia each week, but at least 25,000 are stranded overseas because of the cap on arrivals. Many Australians also say they have been bumped from flights home repeatedly.

00:30 GMT – New Zealand reports record fall in GDP

New Zealand has just released economic data for the second quarter when the country was in lockdown, and it’s not pretty.

The figures show gross domestic product shrank by 12.2 percent compared with the previous quarter, the biggest drop on record. The country is now in its worst recession since 2010.

00:00 GMT – Trump contradicts CDC chief over vaccine

US President Donald Trump has directly contradicted Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the timing of any coronavirus vaccine.

While Redfield told a US Senate committee a vaccine was unlikely to be ready until mid to late 2021, Trump said it would be much sooner and accused the CDC chief of making a “mistake” and being “confused”. He told the news conference a vaccine could be announced as soon as October. 

Trump has been pushing for a vaccine ahead of the November election, raising concerns about safety. Vaccine development usually takes years, and there is no guarantee of success. The process has been accelerated for the coronavirus and there are a number of candidates currently in large-scale phase three human trials, which are designed to test efficacy and safety.

COVID-19 vaccine: Safety concerns as countries rush for protection

—- 

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from yesterday (September 16) here.

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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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Open Sourced logo

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.

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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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