Scotland vs Ukraine: War-torn country pins hopes on World Cup quest to lift spirits


Ukrainian Taras Berezovets, who worked as a political analyst before the Russian invasion started on February 24 but has since joined Ukraine’s special forces, would disagree.

If Ukraine does get past Scotland at Hampden Park and then beats Wales in Cardiff on Sunday, the country will have remarkably secured qualification for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

According to Berezovets, work is underway to find a broadcast of the match. But even if that’s impossible for those on the front line, he says those fighting will still gather together and listen on the radio if they can.

“When the football team is playing, the whole country is watching. Football is the number one sport in Ukraine, it’s extremely popular,” Berezovets told CNN Sport over the phone from the country’s embattled south.

“Especially during the wartime, I think all the country will be supporting our national team. People are looking forward to this match against Scotland. The importance of this match is very high and especially for the armed forces.

“This would be a crucial moment and especially for the army. It would be very important for our spirit during these hard times.”

Coping with the pressure

Such expectation and support might seem a heavy burden on the Ukrainian players, but the team seems to be using it as extra motivation.

A day before kickoff in Scotland, the players and staff were milling around their hotel in Glasgow; sliders on, coffee in hand.

It’s a stark contrast from the realities back in Ukraine and it’s an uncomfortable feeling for some of the squad.

As if to underline the different realities, the match in Scotland kicks off when curfew begins in some regions of Ukraine.

But while things look calm on the surface, it’s hard to imagine the thoughts that must be running through the players’ heads — all of whom have watched the horrific scenes that have unfolded in their homeland.

Many still have family in Ukraine but have been urged to compete by the Ukrainian government in order to represent the country on the global stage, a powerful symbol for a country under attack.

“It’s a plus and minus. It doubles your motivation but makes you think you have no right to make a mistake,” Oleksandr Glyvynskyy, the Ukrainian team’s media representative, told CNN Sport from the team’s hotel in Glasgow.

“It’s more important to be winning in your country, to achieve the biggest victory of independence, but football is important of course.

“Here, we have our front line. Football’s front line. The World Cup is a big target.”

Players of Ukraine at their training camp in Slovenia.

Training camp preparation

Given that staying in Ukraine was too dangerous, the squad have been based at a training camp in Slovenia since May 1.

First to arrive were the four players still living in Ukraine, along with many of the backroom staff. Many will return to the country after their duties are finished with the national team.

Players from Ukrainian clubs Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv, who had been playing in exhibition friendlies around Europe, were next to join before those playing across Europe’s other leagues arrived following the conclusion of their domestic seasons.

Goalkeeper Andriy Lunin was last to join the team on Monday after being an unused substitute in Real Madrid’s win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.

“The conditions [in Slovenia] were very good. The people were very kind, they supported us a lot,” Glyvynskyy said.

“The facilities were perfect. The surroundings were terrific because there were mountains and a park, so the landscape was like a fairytale.

“But it’s not easy when you’re not at home. We’d all like to be at home, but on the other hand, we know they wouldn’t be safe.”

Ukraine had wanted to play more competitive games during the training camp but managed just three unofficial friendlies.

Despite this, coaches were happy with the hard work put in by the players and the team is confident of causing Scotland problems.

“The mood is okay. Every day we have the news, they speak with their relatives, but […] the players are professionals. They know they need to focus on the match,” Glyvynskyy added.

“The expectations are very high in Ukraine so they want with all their hearts to make this a big achievement for Ukraine to raise the spirit in the country.”

In an emotional news conference on Tuesday evening, Ukraine’s star player Oleksandr Zinchenko was tearful when asked to reflect on the past weeks but said the team was in a “fighting mood.”

“It is impossible to describe these feelings if you’re not in this position. The things that are happening now in our country are not acceptable. It’s something that I can’t even describe,” he told reporters.

“That’s why we need to stop this aggression. We need to win. Ukraine is a country of freedom. Ukraine is never going to give up.”

Ukraine is confident it can cause Scotland problems on Wednesday.

Football and politics

Ukrainian players made up the majority of the Soviet Union teams before its breakup in 1991 and club sides Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk have consistently punched above their weight in European football’s major competitions.

“In critical moments of our history, football was the game which gave spirit to many Ukrainians,” Berezovets said, noting Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 as another occasion when the national team gave Ukraine hope by playing international matches.

Those heroes of the past have inspired the current generation to provide some light in the darkest of times but no one is expecting a soft touch from their opponent on Wednesday.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson says his team are as determined to get to a World Cup and needs to forget the backdrop during the match.

“We have huge sympathy for the people of Ukraine, of course we do,” Robertson told reporters.

“I think it’s fair to say everyone at the Scottish FA and in this team has stood behind them from the start. What we have seen there is horrendous.

“For 90 minutes or 120 minutes, we need to separate our thoughts. We want to get to the World Cup, we have to be ready for the challenge and emotion Ukraine will provide.”

Around 2,000 Ukrainian fans are expected to be at the stadium to watch the match and many have been helped by groups such as the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB).

Yevgen Chub is the treasurer of the organization in Glasgow and he has assisted many Ukrainians with the logistics of getting tickets.

He says the game promises to be an emotional affair, win or lose.

“Ukraine shows that is still exists, it’s not something that someone wants to erase. The nation still exists and the nation is still fighting everywhere,” he told CNN Sport from outside Hampden Park.

“Everyone is trying to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”



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Airlines, travel industry push White House to end testing requirements


Airlines for America, representing major US air carriers, and the US Travel Association, representing the broad travel and tourism industry, said they argued the requirement does not match the current threat from Covid-19. They also say the requirement is harming the US economy.

“Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.,” Airlines for America chief Nick Calio said in a statement after the meeting.

Norwegian settles dispute with Boeing and buys 50 737 Max jets

Roger Dow of the US Travel Association said in a separate statement that while restrictions on many other businesses have been lifted, “the travel industry remains disproportionately harmed by this requirement.”

“Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars,” Dow said.

Airlines for America said its members — including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines — believe lifting the requirements would lead more foreigners to visit the United States. They said that in mid-May, domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel lagged at 14% below normal.

The industry has criticized the policy as out of date for months.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.



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Energy experts sound alarm about US electric grid: ‘It’s not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change’




CNN
 — 

As heat ramps up ahead of what forecasters say will be a hotter than normal summer, electricity experts and officials are warning that states may not have enough power to meet demand in the coming months. And many of the nation’s grid operators are also not taking climate change into account in their planning, even as extreme weather becomes more frequent and more severe.

All of this suggests that more power outages are on the way, not only this summer but in the coming years as well.

Power operators in the Central US, in their summer readiness report, have already predicted “insufficient firm resources to cover summer peak forecasts.” That assessment accounted for historical weather and the latest NOAA outlook that projects for more extreme weather this summer.

But energy experts tell CNN that some power grid operators are not considering how the climate crisis is changing our weather — including more frequent extreme events — and that is a problem if the intent is to build a reliable power grid.

“The reality is the electricity system is old and a lot of the infrastructure was built before we started thinking about climate change,” said Romany Webb, a researcher at Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “It’s not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change.”

Webb says many power grid operators use historical weather to make investment decisions, rather than the more dire climate projections, simply because they want to avoid the possibility of financial loss for investing in what might happen versus what has already happened. She said it’s the wrong approach and it makes the grid vulnerable.

“We have seen a reluctance on the part of many utilities to factor climate change into their planning processes because they say the science around climate change is too uncertain,” Webb said. “The reality is we know climate change is happening, we know the impact it has in terms of more severe heatwaves, hurricanes, drought, and we know that all of those things affect the electricity system so ignoring those impacts just makes the problems worse.”

An early heatwave knocked six power plants offline in Texas earlier this month. Residents were asked to limit electricity use, keeping thermostats at 78 degrees or higher and avoid using large appliances at peak times. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, in its seasonal reliability report, said the state’s power grid is prepared for the summer and has “sufficient” power for “normal” summer conditions, based on average weather from 2006 to 2020.

But NOAA’s recently released summer outlook forecasts above average temperatures for every county in the nation.

“We are continuing to design and site facilities based on historical weather patterns that we know in the age of climate change are not a good proxy for future conditions,” Webb told CNN.

When asked if the agency is creating a blind spot for itself by not accounting for extreme weather predictions, an ERCOT spokesperson told CNN the report “uses a scenario approach to illustrate a range of resource adequacy outcomes based on extreme system conditions, including some extreme weather scenarios.”

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC — a regulating authority that oversees the health of the nation’s electrical infrastructure — has a less optimistic projection.

In a recent seasonal reliability report, NERC placed Texas at “elevated risk” for blackouts this summer. It also reported that while much of the nation will have adequate electricity this summer, several markets are at risk of energy emergencies.

California grid operators in its summer reliability report also based its readiness analysis on “the most recent 20 years of historical weather data.” The report also notes the assessment “does not fully reflect more extreme climate induced load and supply uncertainties.”

Compounding the US power grid’s supply and demand problem is drought: NERC tells CNN there’s been a 2% loss of reliable hydropower from the nation’s power-producing dams. Add to that the rapid retirement of many coal power plants — all while nearly everything from toothbrushes to cars are now electrified. Energy experts say adding more renewables into the mix will have the dual impact of cutting climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions but also increasing the nation’s power supply.

One Chicago neighborhood is already making plans for how to keep the lights, air conditioning and heat on when the larger grid fails.

In the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, solar panels dot the rooftop of a public housing complex. A short drive away, a a giant battery stores energy from the solar panels as well as natural gas generators, creating a micro grid. The state energy company, Commonwealth Eddison, is working with community members to make the neighborhood energy independent.

“Without power we are talking about potential life-threatening situations, so this micro grid provides that backup to be able to deliver power even when the [main] grid isn’t there,” said Paul Pabst, an engineer for Commonwealth Edison.

The project is pending approval but once it’s operating, the micro grid can connect and share power with the main grid. In the event of a blackout, it can disconnect and operate independently, tapping its stored battery energy to power the homes, police station and hospital in the area for four hours.

Yami Newell is a Bronzeville resident and energy advocate. She has seen the cascading effects of an unreliable power grid in Chicago, a place that’s no stranger to weather-related outages from both extreme cold and extreme heat. Losing power in a heatwave can create a dangerous health situation, and for families on a fixed income, losing all of the food in their refrigerator can be financially devastating.

“An energy crisis can become a public health crisis,” Newell told CNN. “It can become a food crisis.”

As communities look for innovative ways to build a more resilient grid, Bronzeville is one possible blueprint. Until states build a more resilient power grid, climate change will force energy companies to continue to take emergency actions, like asking people to limit electricity use or forced rolling blackouts to manage the grid when supply can’t meet demand.



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12 gorgeous honeymoon suites you can book with travel rewards


CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Getting married is often far from cheap. Couples have to plan for expenses like securing a venue, finding the right dress and hiring a caterer. Then, there are other outlays involved in getting hitched, including the price of planning the honeymoon getaway of your dreams — including if that means a stay in a luxurious honeymoon suite.

According to a survey from the wedding experts at The Knot, the average cost of a honeymoon worked out to $4,600 for couples who got married in 2021. That’s on top of the average cost of the wedding itself, which turned out to be approximately $34,000 among the more than 15,000 couples surveyed.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your honeymoon price tag in check, even if you decide to splurge on a romantic suite getaway. With travel rewards in hand, you may be able to book the honeymoon suite of your dreams for a fraction of the price.

With that in mind, we’re highlighting some of the most elegant, exclusive and expensive honeymoon suites you can book with travel rewards. Keep in mind that award stays at the hotels and resorts in this guide are based on availability, so you should be flexible with your dates and prepared to lock in your reservation as soon as you find a booking you want.

As the largest hotel chain in the world, there are many terrific honeymoon suite options at Marriotts around the globe. The chain offers a number of Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that can help you rack up points in the program quickly.

For example, with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, you can earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. With the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, meanwhile, you can earn three free nights (each night valued at up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Remember, too, that Marriott Bonvoy is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards, so you can earn points in these programs and then transfer them to your Marriott account later when you’re ready to redeem. Having transferable currencies like this earned from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express give you more flexibility when it comes to getting the most value from your points.

Marriott Bonvoy award stays can be especially rewarding because the program offers the fifth night free when you book at least five consecutive nights with points. This feature can help you stretch your points further or add more free nights to your honeymoon suite stay.

A honeymoon in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood could be a ton of fun, and you can cover your suite stay at the W South Beach entirely with Marriott Bonvoy points. This resort recently went through a $30 million guest room renovation, and it features a stunning oceanfront setting, a sparkling beachfront pool and delectable dining options all within walking distance of everything South Beach has to offer.

During our search for honeymoon suites, we were able to find a one-night stay at the property’s huge Mega bi-level suite, which will set you back a whopping 280,000 points per night. This suite is spread across two levels with upgrades like its own private plunge pool, a kitchenette, a separate living room and a spacious balcony with plenty of space for lounging. A large outdoor terrace next to the private pool also gives honeymooners plenty of privacy as they enjoy their romantic trip.

The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui, Thailand

If a honeymoon in Thailand is on your bucket list and you have enough Marriott Bonvoy points, The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui could be within reach. This waterfront hotel offers luxurious and romantic suites that are ideal for couples who want to celebrate their nuptials in a far-flung locale. In addition to large rooms and suites, visitors will also find an elegant spa and six different restaurants and bars to choose from.

We found availability for as few as 119,200 Bonvoy points per night for a stay in the resort’s Tropical Pool Villa, which comes with a private plunge pool and a separate bedroom. This outrageous suite has more than 1,000 square feet of interior space as well as its own private terrace. Couples who book this room will also find a generously sized living area and dining area, a marble bathroom with a separate shower and soaking tub and two flat-screen televisions. Nightly rates in the Tropical Pool Villa frequently cost upward of $500 per night, so booking with Bonvoy points can help you save big on your honeymoon getaway.

A number of properties in the Marriott Bonvoy program also allow you to book a range of all-inclusive stays with points, including the Royalton Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This all-inclusive property boasts its own lazy river, multiple pools and eight different restaurants in a stunning beachfront location. All of the suites at this resort even come with upgrades like a DreamBed with high-thread-count sheets and 24/7 room service.

The best part? Free nights in a Luxury Junior Suite with more than 600 square feet of space start at just 50,000 points per night with double occupancy this fall. This room type offers an array of upgraded features that make it perfect for a romantic suite honeymoon, from a roomy walk-in shower and separate soaking tub to a lighted double vanity and a massive king bed. Also note that this suite features a separate living space and a mini-refrigerator.

With award rates starting at 50,000 points per night, that means you could get three nights for free from a single welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card. With the card, you’ll get three nights for free (each night up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Plus, since this property is all-inclusive, all of your extras — like food and drink — are included in the price.

Another all-inclusive option you can book with Marriott points is found in Cancun, Mexico. Royalton CHIC Cancun is an adults-only all-inclusive resort that lets you relax and unwind without any kids in the vicinity. Guests who book their honeymoon can take advantage of the nine restaurants and seven bars on-site, book a couples massage at the property’s spa or visit the famous rooftop cabana lounge.

Free nights in a Luxury Sunset View Junior Suite with double occupancy start at just 50,000 points over dates this fall. This suite is almost 600 square feet in size and features upgrades like a dedicated sitting area and an in-room mini-refrigerator. An expansive balcony provides a place for couples to get fresh air or gaze at the stars, and room service is available 24 hours per day.

Again, because this suite can be had for 50,000 Bonvoy points per night, you can get a three-night stay for free with a single credit card sign-up bonus. With the Marriott Boundless Card, you’ll get three free nights (up to 50,000 points per night) after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

The Hilton Honors chain has no lack of suites fit for a honeymooning couple in its portfolio. Plus, earning travel rewards is easy within the Hilton Honors program. That’s because the chain offers a number of Hilton Honors credit cards. For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Card currently comes with a welcome bonus offer of 100,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, you can earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the card at Hilton hotels in the first 12 months of card membership.

Since Hilton Honors is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, you can also go that route. For example, if you earn points with the Amex Platinum card, you could transfer them to the Hilton Honors program. Also remember that Hilton Honors members with Silver Elite status or higher get their fifth night for free when they book at least five consecutive nights with points.

Rome, Italy, boasts some of the most famous landmarks in the world. From the Colosseum to the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, there is plenty to see to steep yourself in history. That alone makes this destination ideal for a romantic honeymoon, and a luxury stay at the iconic Rome Cavalieri can take this already-epic trip to the next level.

This hotel sits above Rome with panoramic views of the city, Michelin-starred dining, its own luxury spa and relaxing pools. Art lovers will also relish this hotel’s collection, which includes more than 1,000 masterworks of paintings, tapestries, furnishings, sculptures and more.

Couples can book a stunning Alcove Suite with more than 800 square feet of space, a huge terrace overlooking the city and Imperial Club access for as few as 248,000 points per night. This suite comes with impressive park views outside of its expansive balcony, a huge king bed with luxury linens and complimentary access to the Cavalieri Grand Spa Club. A roomy marble bathroom also has a separate shower and bathtub, as well as its own television.

Located in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico, Hilton’s Conrad Tulum offers elevated luxury in a beachfront setting. This resort has its own upscale spa and 11 restaurants and bars delivering fresh, local cuisine and custom cocktails any time of the night or day. The location of the Hilton Conrad Tulum also puts it in close proximity to famous Mayan ruins and an array of outdoor adventures from snorkeling to ziplining.

Couples who want to book a romantic space for their honeymoon can get a Tropical View Suite with a king bed and a separate living area starting at 326,000 points per night. Notable features of the suite include a relaxation tub for two on the balcony and a spa-like bathroom with a separate soaking tub, double sinks and a rainfall shower. The nightly rate for this suite normally comes in at more than $900, so you can spend the money saved on experiencing all the Riviera Maya region has to offer.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives

A honeymoon in the Maldives is the ultimate splurge, but it’s possible to cover the cost of your hotel with points — even in a suite. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is well known for its unbelievable access to the Indian Ocean, but it also has an underwater restaurant and those stunning overwater bungalows this region of the world is known for.

Standard night awards at this property can be difficult to find, but an award stay can cost as few as 120,000 Hilton points per night if you’re flexible with your travel dates. Fortunately, this rate also applies to a luxurious Beach Villa with direct walkout access to the white sand beach, an open-air bathroom with a rain shower and an outdoor alcove with a daybed for relaxing. The resort’s Beach Villa also features floor-to-ceiling windows so you can soak in the stunning ocean views while relaxing to the sounds of nature and the ocean outside.

The World of Hyatt program has no shortage of terrific suites suitable for honeymooners. If you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card or points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you can also look for honeymoon resorts that are bookable with points.

The World of Hyatt card currently comes with a sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 bonus points. You’ll get 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in your first three months plus up to 30,000 additional bonus points by earning 2 bonus points per dollar spent in the first six months of account opening (up to $15,000 spent). With up to 60,000 bonus points in hand, you and your new husband or wife can splurge on a terrific honeymoon suite stay.

This adults-only beachfront resort offers all-inclusive perks with magnificent ocean views, sprawling infinity pools, a water park and its own lazy river. Visitors also have access to 25 different restaurants and bars, as well as an on-site spa that offers exclusive and romantic treatment options for couples.

The World of Hyatt program also offers great award rates for double occupancy — perfect for a honeymoon. Couples can book a Resort View Junior Suite King for around 44,000 points per night, which comes with 600 square feet of space, a private balcony with a lounger for relaxation and a separate shower and soaking tub. You could also consider upgrading to one of the property’s swim-up suites for direct access to a pool.

The World of Hyatt program also offers an all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall is home to a beautiful beachfront property, perfect for swimming, sparkling pools and unlimited dining and drinks at 10 on-site restaurants and six bars and lounges. The resort also has its own swim-up bar and a luxurious Zen Spa.

A free night award at this hotel starts at just 21,000 World of Hyatt points on off-peak dates, yet honeymooners may want to splurge for the larger Ocean Front Junior Suite King. This suite starts at 36,000 points per night on off-peak dates, and it features 673 square feet of interior space, a soaking tub and separate rainfall shower, designer toiletries and a roomy balcony with a lounger that seats two. Alternatively, you could splurge and book a swim-up suite for ultimate access to a semi-private pool.

Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, St. Kitts

This remarkable resort spans the entire Banana Bay in St. Kitts. Guests can expect golden sandy beaches as well as the beautiful turquoise-colored waters the Caribbean is known for. The beachfront resort also has two swimming pools, a variety of water sports, a spa and treatment and wellness programs to choose from.

But perhaps the biggest draw for honeymooners is the suites that are available. For example, you can book the Plunge Pool Rooftop Deluxe Suite for 50,000 points per night on standard dates. The suite offers 905 square feet of interior space in addition to 1,305 square feet of space on your own private deck — with a plunge pool, of course. This honeymoon suite will give you the privacy of your own space while being within easy access to the stunning nearby beaches.

Finally, IHG has a number of hotels in its portfolio that would offer you the honeymoon suite stay of your dreams. Best of all, if you have an IHG credit card, such as the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card, you can earn points more quickly. The card currently comes with a sign-up bonus of 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Or, if you have a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can also look into honeymoon resorts bookable with IHG Rewards points. Because IHG is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, you can also transfer your points to IHG at a one-to-one rate to book one of these honeymoon suites.

If you want to honeymoon with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean in every direction and luxury in every corner, an award stay at the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort could make your dreams come true. This resort is home to 81 beach and overwater villas, six restaurants and bars and extensive wellness facilities to boot.

You can even book an Overwater Pool Villa with its own private plunge pool for 120,000 IHG Rewards points per night, whereas other exclusive luxury hotels charge significantly more points for overwater rooms. These villas offer more than 1,000 square feet of room with features like a private infinity pool and a cushioned daybed for daytime relaxation or stargazing. An open-air floor plan will leave you feeling comfortable and spoiled, and so will the fact that all villas receive housekeeping services twice per day.

InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort, Bora Bora

Bora Bora is one of the most popular dream destinations for honeymooners, and it’s easy to see why. This far-flung destination is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, as well as crystal clear water, unbelievable marine life and stunning views of Mount Otemanu.

Fortunately, you can book a suite stay at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort with as few as 114,000 IHG Rewards points per night. This rate will get you into a King Overwater Bungalow Lagoon View. With the sign-up bonus from the IHG Premier Card, you can get at least one night for free in this stunning suite.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards.



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Donald Trump’s 2016 election conspiracy theory just took a big hit





CNN
 — 

For years – literally – Donald Trump has insisted that Hillary Clinton engaged in a purposeful conspiracy designed to keep him out of the White House.

The probe into whether Russia sought to influence the 2016 election (it did) and whether it colluded with the Trump campaign to do so was regularly described by the former President as “the single greatest Witch Hunt in American history.”

The real story, according to Trump, was how the counterintelligence investigation into Russia began – a story that special counsel John Durham was going to get to the bottom of.

At the heart of what Trump called the “crime of the century” was an allegation by Durham that Michael Sussman, a lawyer for Clinton’s campaign, had lied to the FBI about his own interests in passing along a tip about Trump and Russia.

On Tuesday, Sussman was found not guilty of the lying charge by a federal jury. As CNN wrote:

“The verdict is a major defeat for Durham and his Justice Department prosecutors, who have spent three years looking for wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia probe.”

It remains to be seen when Durham will conclude his probe and whether he will bring charges against anyone else.

But what is clear is that the Sussman allegation, which was by far the most high-profile output of Durham’s probe to date, amounts to a huge swing and a miss by the special counsel.

The Point: It’s always been hard to line up Trump’s wild claims about the seriousness of the Durham investigation with its output. Never has that disparity been more stark than today.



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Chris Carr, Georgia attorney general, subpoenaed in Trump investigation



The subpoena, which calls for Carr to testify in late June, was first reported by The Associated Press.
In December 2020, Trump phoned Carr and warned him not to rally other Republicans to oppose a lawsuit Trump’s allies had filed with the Supreme Court seeking to toss millions of votes from Georgia and other battleground states that Joe Biden won. Carr later filed a response with the Supreme Court urging the justices to reject the Trump-backed lawsuit. A day later, the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.

Investigators, led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, have been digging into whether Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials to upend the election results may have been criminal. A special grand jury seated in the case is expected to begin hearing from witnesses this week.

The Carr subpoena was one of several issued to Georgia officials as Willis’ team has ramped up its investigative activity. CNN previously reported that half a dozen current and former officials in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office — including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — have also been subpoenaed.

The special grand jury has broad investigative powers, including the ability to subpoena witnesses and documents, but it does not issue indictments. When it concludes its work, it will issue a report with recommendations on whether Willis should pursue criminal charges against Trump or any of his allies.

“In a perfect world, I’d be done in the next 60 to 90 days,” Willis told The New York Times last week. “But I live in an imperfect world.”



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10 people injured in downtown Charleston shooting Monday with four in critical condition, police say





CNN
 — 

Ten people were injured, including a 17-year-old, in a shooting in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, police said.

Four people were hospitalized in critical condition, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said in a news conference Tuesday.

A police officer was also wounded by shrapnel and two sheriff’s deputies were assaulted after responding to the scene, he said.

One person was arrested for disorderly conduct, and another was arrested Tuesday morning, according to Reynolds.

“We are lucky we don’t have a dead cop or dead citizens,” Reynolds said.

Late Monday night, an officer responded to a noise complaint in the area of 41 South Street, where there is a vacant lot, according to the chief.

“There was a lot of people, and there was a loud party, which we had gotten calls for,” Reynolds said. More than 100 people attended the event, police said.

“Immediately, the officer took gunfire. Two shots went into his cruiser,” the chief said. The officer was treated at a hospital for his shrapnel injuries and was released, Reynolds said.

Several officers responded to the scene, according to police, and several cars were hit by gunfire.

Sheriff deputies who responded were assaulted and “injured in that melee”, Reynolds said, adding that they have since been released from hospital and are “going to be okay.”

There were more than 100 evidence markers in the crime scene that spanned “many blocks,” according to Reynolds, and more than half of them are shell casings.

Investigators have been out working the scene, and will “keep working it until we make arrests,” the chief said. “And we normally do make arrests, and I want arrests in this. I want accountability.”



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This is what happened the last time the Senate tried to pass gun control legislation



Now, with a bipartisan group of senators again talking about gun control following a mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, it’s worth re-examining what happened back in 2013 for clues as to whether the Senate might act (and how they might act) this time around.

Following the murder of 26 people — including 20 children — on December 14, 2012, then-President Barack Obama pledged to offer meaningful reforms on guns in America.

“This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe,” Obama said in unveiling a plan that included both executive actions and legislative proposals in January 2013. “This is how we will be judged, and their voices should compel us to change.” He added of his proposals: “In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.”
Obama’s push on guns was wide-reaching. His plan’s most high-profile elements were a background check requirement for all gun sales, a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that had lapsed in 2004, a limitation of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and a ban on armor-piercing bullets.

It became clear relatively quickly that Obama’s major legislative proposals were very unlikely to get the 60 votes it needed to break the Senate filibuster. A bipartisan compromise bill emerged, led by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

At the heart of that proposal was a requirement that guns purchased at gun shows and via the internet be subject to background checks. It also would have prohibited any individual listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System from purchasing a firearm. (Read this terrific PolitiFact breakdown to understand exactly what Manchin-Toomey would have done.)
That proposal, which was widely regarded by both parties as the best chance to win the support of at least 60 senators, came up for a vote on April 17, 2013. The vote broke down this way:

* 54 yeas, including 50 Democrats and four Republicans. The Republicans who voted for the compromise were Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Toomey.

* 46 nays, including 41 Republicans and five Democrats. The Democrats who voted against the compromise were Montana Sen. Max Baucus, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. (Reid, the majority leader of the Senate at the time, voted against the measure to preserve his ability to bring it up again at a later date.)

(Sidebar: That same day, a series of other gun control measures failed, including one that would have regulated assault weapons; it received only 40 “yea” votes.)
Obama was enraged by the failures. “Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” he said at the time, adding that it was a “pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Looking back, what can we learn about the chances for some sort of gun control measure passing the Senate following Uvalde?

Well, first and foremost, it depends on what is in the legislation — which we don’t know yet as the bipartisan talks have just started.

But it’s clear that the Senate hasn’t grown significantly more pro-gun control in the ensuing decade since Manchin-Toomey failed.

Of the five Democrats who voted against the measure, four have since been replaced by Republicans. (Reid’s seat is now held by Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who faces a difficult reelection bid this fall.) Of that quartet of Senate Republicans — Steve Daines of Montana, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas — all have either an A+ or A rating from the National Rifle Association.

Of the four Republicans who voted for Manchin-Toomey in 2013, two — Toomey and Collins — remain in the Senate. The other two seats are now in Democratic control. McCain’s seat is held by Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a longtime advocate for gun control, while Kirk’s seat is held by Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

If anything, then, it might be marginally more difficult to get through a proposal like Manchin-Toomey in this current iteration of the Senate. And with Manchin opposed to changing the rules around the legislative filibuster, it seems unlikely anything that goes as far as Manchin-Toomey (or farther) will make it through this Senate.



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Best linen sheets of 2022


Softer and more durable than cotton, nothing feels as luxurious as a well-worn set of linen sheets. Plus, with their open weave and excellent sweat-wicking properties, linen sheets are great to keep you cool heading into the warmer months of the year, or for regulating warmth along with additional layers in the winter.

To find the best linen sheets we tried out fifteen popular sets, sleeping on them, washing them repeatedly, and checking carefully for fit and manufacturing quality. All of the sheet sets we brought in were well-made, but we found five sets that, regardless of your budget and tastes, stood out for their softness, fabric weight, and simplicity of ordering.

The best linen sheets overall

Among the most luxe feeling we tested, the Parachute linen sheets have pleasant weight in hand and a unique texture. The Parachute sheets come in a broad range of colors and sizes, and each different piece of the bedding set is available individually for replacements or to mix & match with other fabrics.

A runner-up set of great linen sheets

The light and gauzy, but durable Citizenry sheets are a master class in stylish rest. Woven in a mill in Portugal from French flax, these have deep pockets and an amply sized top sheet to fit on any depth of bed.

The softest linen sheets

The Brooklinen sheets are soft and light, wicking heat away effectively for people who sleep warm, but still regulating heat nicely in cooler climates. Simultaneously high-end and already perfectly worn in, these were delightful from the first touch.

The best affordable linen sheets

The Simple & Opulence sheets held their own in comfort and design, with a soft feel out of the box, and lovely satin-stitched piping along the edge of the top sheet. The Simple & Opulence set has the weight and hand of much more expensive sheets, but come at nearly half the cost.

The best luxury linen sheets

Offering the best of all worlds, the Cultiver linen sheets feel elegant straight out of the box. Their fit on the bed is impeccable, and they only got softer with repeated washings. Available in more colors than any other sheets we tested, these are sure to satisfy nearly any taste or style.

We loved the Parachute Linen Sheet Set for its luxurious hand, and weighty feel in hand that most others we tested didn’t possess. They feel great right out of the dryer, and making the bed with these sheets was effortless, and for those who don’t want to commit to a full set from the start, they are also available piecewise.

We’ve struggled with tight-fitting cotton sheets before, wondering why bed-making must be laborious. The Parachute linens were roomy but not baggy. They fit the bed comfortably, and felt lovingly worn-in from the start. The sheets were soft but also firm––cool and luxurious, it felt like we were sleeping on a cloud. Our only gripe with this set was the tight fit of the pillowcases, barely closing around our standard pillows.

After laundering, the Parachute sheets softened and wrinkled — a lot. Although all the linen sheets we tested wrinkled after washing (it’s part of linen’s texture), these wrinkled more extensively than most. This didn’t cause problems on our bed, and is pleasant texture if you don’t mind a more natural, mesier look, and you can always iron them on a low setting if it bothers you. That said, the texture is part of the sheets’ luxurious, upscale feel. They also have OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, meaning they have been independently confirmed to contain no “harmful substances” and are “harmless for human health.”

We also appreciate Parachute’s a la carte shopping options. For those who use only a duvet, you can purchase just a fitted sheet and pillowcases; a top sheet is a separate add-on. Fitted sheets and pillowcases are available separately too. Parachute sheets come in ample size and color offerings for a diversity of bed sizes and styles. This level of variety, plus a very elegant and plush sleep offering, elevated the Parachute brand to our top spot.

The Citizenry Stonewashed Linen Sheet Set smelled great upon arrival and felt equally great right out of the attractive packaging, though their feel was not as luxurious as Parachute’s. With gauzy construction, they’re lovely to slip into, and they softened substantially on first wash. We like that they come in a range of color and size options, too.

The Citizentry’s sheets are gorgeous. We appreciated the delicately perforated hem on the top sheet and the pillow, making the bed presentation feel like more of an occasion. These are light and gauzy (noticeably more so than Parachute), ideal for summer weather. After the first washing, these sheets softened significantly. They were surprisingly cozy and snuggly. These sheets are roomy widthwise, and may seem a bit baggy on slimmer mattresses. They would be a good choice for deeper mattresses.

Citizenry’s linen sheets don’t offer the breadth of choices that others do. They come in 12 colors, including neturals and subtle stripes, but they are available in just four sizes.

The Brooklinen Linen Core sheets were the softest linen sheets we tested, with much less of a rough fiber feel than anything else we tested. The Brooklinen set arrived already feeling worn in. They were easy to wash, exhibited minimal shrinkage after the first washing, and come in a broad array of size and color choices.

First and foremost, these sheets are the softest we tested. Crafted from French and Belgian linen, they are comfortable and enveloping. They felt like they had been washed and re-washed dozens of times, already achieving the sought-after worn-in texture that typically takes years to achieve. Along with the Citizenry, these sheets were the softest to the touch, even among linen sheets, which can have a reputation for roughness. The fabric is light and gauzy, making them perfect for hot sleepers or warm summer nights. The Brooklinen sheets are also Oeko-Tex certified.

We like the handful of thoughtful features added to this set that makes them easy to get on and off when making a bed. The fitted sheets are labeled “Short” or “Long” on each side, so you don’t waste time figuring out which end goes where, and the pillowcases have envelope closures that tidily punctuate your pillow so it’s not exposed beyond the case.

These sheets don’t offer as much purchasing flexibility as many of the other brands we tried as Brooklinen only offers the flat sheet and pillowcases for individual purchase. But conveniently, they are available in 6 sizes and 12 colors.

On the downside, the gauzy feel comes at the expense of material weight — the Brooklinen sheets feel thin, and we were able to see our pillows and mattress through the white set that Brooklinen sent for testing. Though they didn’t exhibit any troubling signs of wear and tear, the thin material raised some questions about long term durability, so we’ll keep an eye on them over time. Also, the Brooklinen sheets may be better suited to deeper mattresses, as they were relatively oversized on our slim mattress, and exhibited a lot of bunching after repeated nights of sleep.

The Simple & Opulence 100% Washed Linen sheets cost half as much as many of the sheet sets we tested, without compromising on feel or quality. For less than $150, this is a satisfying set of linens. The flat sheet is adorned with a satin-stitched hem along the top, for a refined touch. These sheets are a bit thicker than others we tried, but felt equally elegant, and were able to hold their own against higher-end options.

Out of the box, the Simple & Opulence sheets were cool and soft. They felt pleasant against the skin and every time we got out of bed, they left us wanting to get back in. They also fit the bed more snugly than most of the other sets, which was helpful during bed-making, and yielded a tidier-looking final product than others we tested. The Simple & Opulence sheets were slightly less luxurious than other sets we tested and a bit heavier, the high quality at a low cost makes them more than worth the weight.

Our only gripe about this sheet set was that they were a bit less soft than competitors, though even after a single wash, they softened up substantially, and we think they should break in nicely over time. The fitted sheet was snug on our mattress, and the top sheet was amply sized for tucking in crisp hospital corners.

The Simple & Opulence sheets come in four size options (twin, full, queen and king) and fifteen colors. They are available in individual fitted and flat sheets, though pillowcase sets are not available separately.

The Cultiver linen sheets were hands-down the best linen sheets we tested, with the most luxurious, substantial feel and a light weight in hand.. These sheets felt soft straight out of the box, and only softened with wear. They come in the widest variety of colors of any set we tested, and all of Cultiver’s bedding is sold piecewise or in sets.

The linen fabric Cultiver uses doesn’t have any of the scratchiness we felt with heavier linen sheet sets, and was forgiving on our skin. These sheets are also breathable, insulating when it’s especially cold, but also wicking heat effectively on warmer nights.

Each item in Cultiver’s set was perfectly constructed and sized. The fitted sheet is snug on our bed, without any excess fabric bunching in the middle of the mattress, or around the sides. And the pillowcases have an envelope enclosure on the back with ample overlap to fully cover pillows.

The Cultiver sheets are also the most versatile we tested. They come in seventeen color choices––more than any other set we considered. Cultiver makes it easy to mix and match bedding pieces to suit any preferences, too. They offer duvet sets, sheet sets, and a mixed fitted sheet and duvet set at a slight discount from the total cost of buying each piece individually.

It’s no surprise that linen sheets make up a lot of our list of the best luxury sheets. Cool to sleep in, and with a substantial, luxurious feel, linen also has a rougher surface texture with more visible and tactile variation than cotton, plus it wears well, getting softer with repeated washing and drying.

Made from flax, linen is a versatile material that makes some of the best sheets available. Since flax has coarser and longer fiber filaments than cotton, linen fabric can be woven more loosely and with a lower thread count than cotton while maintaining similar strength, which contributes to better breathability. Like cotton, linen is highly absorbent, but linen fabrics wick better than their cotton counterparts, making them good choices for warmer weather, or for layering with other fabrics for effective temperature control. Linen is also considered more durable than cotton, due to its stronger fibers, so a good linen sheet set is a worthwhile investment.

Unlike cotton sheets, which are typically soft to the touch from the beginning, linen can take several washings to break in (because its fibers are stiffer and less elastic than cotton’s), though linen still softens considerably over time. It also tends to wrinkle with washing and drying, so if you prefer an absolutely smooth look it might not be the best choice. Since linen’s fibers are stronger than cotton, it tends to last longer, so you’ll want to make sure you like the look and feel since you’ll likely have your bedding for a long time.

Over two years, we considered 25 sets of linen sheets using two primary criteria: quality and variety. We observantly unboxed each set and made notes, laundered them, made our bed multiple times with each set, and sleep tested our top contenders. We noted how they felt to touch, as well as when tossing, sleeping and waking up, and how they felt after laundering and reusing.

Quality and feel

  • How they feel out of the box: Are they soft or rough? Thick or thin? Luxurious or flimsy? We evaluated the unboxing of each set of sheets on very tactile terms, asking the following questions: How do they feel in your hands? Is this a product you’d want to put on your bed, and against your skin?
  • Comfort level: How do they feel to sleep on? We made notes on each set of sheets as to whether they were soft, stiff, cool, light, heavy or durable. And ultimately, how they affected a night of sleep.
  • How they feel after washing: We evaluated if the sheets softened a great deal after washing and drying, and the wrinkle factor. We also measured each flat sheet before and after laundering, noting how much they shrank out of the box.
  • Pill factor after sleeping or washing: We assessed if each set felt durable after multiple washing and drying cycles, and if the sheets began to pill or degrade. We also noted whether any sets were especially linty after a dryer cycle, or on our bed. (Note: None of these high-quality brands deteriorated at all during our testing process.)
  • Fit on bed: We made at least one bed with each set of sheets, assessing how well they fit a bed, noting if they were tight or loose, gapping or sagging.
  • Number of sizes: We evaluated how many different size options there were for each sheet brand (they all included at least full, queen and king, and those that offered twin, California king or other specialized sizes were awarded higher scores).
  • Colors: We noted how many colors each sheet set was available in; some were available in only three or four, while others were available in upwards of twenty.
  • Availability of individual replacements: We assessed whether you can buy individual sheets and pillowcases for each set for those who need replacements, want to mix and match colors or styles, or simply do not want or need a top sheet, for example.

The Saphyr Soft Washed Pure Linen sheets are subtle and sophisticated. They have a decorative frayed hem on the top sheet and the pillowcase that differentiates these from any other set we tested. With sheets available in four sizes (full, queen, king and California king) and five colors (Fresh White, Calming Cream, Blissful Blue, Simply Natural and Peaceful Pink), and sold individually. Saphyr came in a very close second to our runner-up, save for its slightly higher price point.

Lands’ End Garment Washed Linen Solid Sheets

Starting at $107.98 at Land’s End

We didn’t find Lands’ End’s Garment Washed linen sheets as luxurious as some of the more boutique bedding brands. Out of the box, these linens felt soft, thick and already worn in a bit, like they’d been washed a few times already. They were very comfortable to sleep in, though less melty-feeling than the ones we ended up ranking higher, and they did get even softer after a few washings.

The Rough Linen sheets were stiff out of the box, but they were actually comfortable to sleep on. After one washing, though, the Rough Linen sheets softened significantly. These definitely felt like sheets you could sleep in, wash, dry and sleep in again for many years to come, like a favorite shirt. The brand’s relatively smaller variety of color options and its higher starting price were the primary reasons we didn’t rank these sheets among our absolute faves.

West Elm’s European Flax linen sheets were also rough and stiff, not unlike Rough Linen, which in this case also makes them feel more high-end. They fit the bed smoothly and tidily, unlike many of the other sets, which gapped around the sides. However, the texture sometimes felt rigid; during our first sleep on these, and a subsequent one after one laundering cycle, West Elm’s pillowcases felt almost scratchy against our faces. West Elm also doesn’t sell these sheets individually, but you can buy extra pillowcases.

The Snowe linen set was both soft and cool, helping to deliver a good night’s sleep. During our first night of sleep on the Snowe, we noticed that the material felt a little scratchy on our legs, and after one washing and drying cycle, somehow the sheets felt a little stiffer. The Snowe sheets also come in far fewer colors than competitors, and they do not offer separate replacement sheets (they do separately sell a pillowcase set).

Quince’s European Linen sheets seem well-made, and are among the most affordable linen sheets we tested, but they were scratchier than competitors, and certainly less soft than our recommended budget linen sheets from Simple & Opulence. They’re also somewhat less flexible than other options, with fewer colors to choose from, and exclusively sold in sets.

The Company Store Legends Hotel sheet set almost didn’t resemble linen at all. These sheets felt like cardboard, even after laundering, and didn’t wrinkle or soften at all in the dryer. We also noticed that after washing these sheets they had a bit of a lingering industrial smell when we put them on our bed.

We liked the Garnet Hill Solid Relaxed Linen sheets a lot. They are well-constructed, come in a broad array of colors, and are sold individually. That said, they were a bit rough after laundering, and compared to other sets we tested, they weren’t quite as luxurious to sleep with. These should soften quite nicely with time and wear, but we recommend softer options if that’s your main preference.

Magic Linen’s sheets were among the thickest and heaviest we tested. They released a ton of lint in the dryer (we had to clean the lint trap twice), and required multiple cycles to dry fully. These sheets are hefty––but not in a good way––and weren’t particularly soft. They offer a lot of flexibility in colors and sizing (including options for mattresses with deeper pockets), but we didn’t feel that was enough to push them over the edge.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:



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Editors’ picks: 37 things our editors tested and loved in May


EDITORS’ PICKS

Sometimes, everyday products our editors use don’t make it into our in-depth, long-form comparative pieces in which we vigorously test similar products head-to-head. That’s where our Editors’ Picks come in — where we highlight everyday products we personally stand by and use on a daily basis, and think you should too.

In May, we were introduced to a plethora of products, from cat beds and lip-plumping lipgloss to sunglasses. Some were forgettable, while others left a lasting impression. Because we’re committed to spotlighting the best products out there, we’ve decided to curate roundups of our favorite products we try each month.

Keep reading to check out the products we tested and couldn’t get enough of in May, or look back at our April favorites.

$419 at Cozy Earth

Cozy Earth Linen Bamboo Sheet Set

Sorry if you’re sick of me recommending literally everything from Cozy Earth by now, but this brand can simply do no wrong in my eyes. This month, I tried its new linen bamboo sheets in Natural, and they’re softer and more breathable than any other linen sheets I’ve ever tried — which is ideal for a hot sleeper like me. I absolutely can’t get enough of the rich, textured look of this linen set for summer, and I didn’t think it was possible, but they just get softer with each wash and not once have pilled or torn. Just pick up these and the comforter and you’ll never want to leave your bed again. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$26 at Sephora and Saie

Saie Hydrabeam

This concealer blends beautifully and doesn’t crease. It was made to brighten the under-eye area, but I love it for covering redness around my nose and any blemishes, too. It’s lightweight, creamy and the applicator never gets overloaded with product, which makes it easy to be precise. — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor

$13.99 at Target

Megababe Thigh Rescue Lotion Anti-Chafe Stick

As a woman with extra-thick thighs, I’ve always experienced discomfort when wearing shorts or dresses. This Megababe anti-friction stick just saved my summer. I usually avoid shorts altogether or opt for bike shorts under my dresses, but sometimes it can get too hot with the added layer. This goes on clear and doesn’t stain clothes and works immediately — and stays working. It’s also small enough to throw in your bag if you happen to need to reapply. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$59.99 $48 at Amazon

Ahead of a busy summer season, I wanted to boost my entertaining prowess. I started out with one XB13 wireless Bluetooth speaker and ended up adding a second to my collection because, while they have a great sound, they’re not very loud on their own. But with two, you can pair them together to create an ideal surround sound for any garden party or after-work patio chill out. Best of all, the built-in cloth strap on each is perfect for attaching these little devices to anything — from chairs to umbrellas and much more. There’s a reason we dubbed the XB13 as the best portable speaker for travel — it packs a serious punch. The battery life lasts for hours (I’ve only charged each one twice after many hours of use), they’re easy to throw in a carry-on bag and go and they have a great sound — they’re a no-brainer. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

From $79 at Tuft + Paw

I am constantly looking for not-hideous-looking cat furniture. Tuft + Paw is my absolute favorite brand that has just that. I already love its Stellar Cat Bed and Kip Cat Cushion, and now both my cat and I love the brand’s new window hammock. Modern, incredibly sturdy (its metal frame can hold up to 30 pounds) and it can come with its own fluffy blanket on top, this is the most luxe-looking cat hammock I’ve ever seen. My cat’s been napping in it nonstop since it arrived. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$20 at Wild One

Wild One Tennis Tumble

Tennis balls were the first thing Teddy was introduced to as a puppy so as you can imagine, he is wildly obsessed. And as much as he’d like me to throw a ball back and forth with him all day long, it’s just not realistic, especially during the busy work day. That’s why the Tennis Tumble is the absolute perfect toy for him! The tennis ball — which is wedged inside the lavender rubble barrel — will not budge no matter how hard he tries, and therefore, keeps him occupied until he quite literally can’t any longer. Normally Teddy’s toys have a very, very short lifespan but after almost a month of use, the rubber barrel has withstood all of his constant chewing and gnawing, and I’ve even found that it’s easy to clean when it inevitably gets dirty. This is hands-down a must-have toy for any dog parent! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$549 $479 at Amazon

AirPods Max

I finally got my hands on a pair of AirPods Max this month, and have had a hard time getting them off my head ever since. Apple’s wildly expensive headphones really do give you a lot for the money — they’re supremely comfortable, work like a dream with my iPhone and deliver excellent noise cancellation that’s allowed me to block out my noisy New York neighborhood while I work. Using these cans with Spatial Audio on Apple Music has been a true revelation, as I’m noticing new details in songs I’d already listened to dozens of times. I still think the $399 Sony WH-1000XM5 are the better pick for most people, but now that the AirPods Max have dropped down to a slightly less eye-watering $479, they’re a great pick for Apple users who have the cash to spend. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

$16.95 at CB2

CB2 Marie Coupe Cocktail Glasses

Ever since I turned 30 I have been hopelessly obsessed with glassware, and these coupe glasses are truly the cocktail glasses of my dreams. They’re heavy enough to make every drink feel extra-special, and I simply can’t get over the multicolored glass. At under $20 they’re actually a steal. For a simpler-but-still-special look, check out the same collection’s Old Fashioned glasses too. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$164.95 $109.95 at AeroGarden

AeroGarden Harvest

I got into the AeroGarden world during my last round of Covid isolation and it has honestly elevated my existence. Instead of buying overpriced and plastic-wasting sleeves of herbs that I’d only use a fraction of every time I needed to add a sprinkle of dill to a recipe, I can just go over to my (frankly overflowing) Aerogarden and pull off a few sprigs. Topping a homemade margherita pizza? Pull off some basil. Making curry? Throw in some Thai basil leaves. I now add herbs to all my salads and put mint leaves in my daily water like I’m some kind of emperor. It’s even exploded to a point where I’m now propagating entire separate basil plants — it’s growing faster than I can garnish. — Rena Behar, copy editor

From $149.99 at Logitech

Logitech MX Mechanical

I recently switched over to the new Logitech MX Master mechanical keyboard and it’s like a whole new world! A low-profile, full-size keyboard that makes typing a cinch, I also love that the keys light up when I touch it and that I get the satisfaction of that clicking sound when I type. You know the one. Plus, the Logitech MX Master can automatically pair to three different devices, which makes it so simple to swap it out. — Tobey Grumet, contributing editor

$128 at Universal Standard

It’s sundress season, and this linen dress is perfect for the warmer weather. It’s lightweight, breathable and extremely comfortable. The subtle high-low hem is super cute, and the length is just between midi and maxi for my petite height. It even has pockets! — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor

$7.59 at Target

Clorox Drain Cleaner

I have very thick hair and my shower drain was starting to get clogged because of it. I didn’t want to pour any harsh chemicals down the drain and opted for the Clorox Drain Cleaner and wow, was it effective. I didn’t realize how satisfying it’d feel to pull out clumps of hair, but it was equally amazing as it was gross. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$28 at Sephora

Alpyn Beauty Willow and Sweet Agave Plumping Lip Mask

I honestly don’t know how I lived my life without a lip mask. I’ve seen the light and I can’t go back. I wear it before I go to bed and in the morning my lips feel so soft, full and moisturized. Your lips deserve this product. — Sarai Thompson, social coordinator

$115 at Lacoste

Lacoste Women’s L002 Leather Trainers

I’m a sucker for any and all platform shoes, so I was admittedly very excited to try Lacoste’s new collection of platform sneakers inspired by the brand’s tennis history. Now, while I may not wear them to play tennis (I need to learn how to play first), I certainly wore them all over the streets of NYC and even in the airport, and my feet didn’t hurt once — they’re THAT comfy. Featuring a chunky sole, mesh lining, soft suede and sleek leather uppers, these court-inspired sneakers feel and look good and can easily be worn all summer long and even transition into the fall months to follow. Oh, and if you like a pop of color, there are plenty of fun, vibrant colorways you’ll be sure to LOVE. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$199 at Amazon

Sony LinkBuds S

I’ve reviewed so many pairs of wireless earbuds that they all start to seem the same after a while, but Sony’s new LinkBuds S do enough to stand out. These sleek, low-profile buds feature the same Adaptive Sound Control that I loved on Sony’s over-ear headphones, meaning they can, say, turn on active noise cancellation when you’re on the subway and then automatically switch to ambient sound once you start walking and need to stay aware of your surroundings. Couple that with an incredibly lightweight design and great battery life, and you’ve got a very good pair of $199 earbuds that may be a worthy alternative to the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro for some. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

$27 at Peepers

Peepers Sunglasses Diego Glasses

These have become my new go-to sunglasses. They’re comfortable, they go with everything and they look way more expensive than they actually are. I always lose or break my sunglasses, so I try not to invest in really expensive ones. This brand will be a new favorite for me. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$34 at Golde and Target

Golde Clean Greens Face Mask

Wedding season for my household means frequent airplane travel and the accompanying long hours in an N95 mask, followed by constant makeup application and removal, all of which my skin hates. Spending a night on the couch with this face mask on between trips helps both me and my fussy skin relax, and I love that it’s from a small business and made with edible ingredients so I don’t have to worry about what’s in it. — Rena Behar, copy editor

$48 at Spanx

Spanx Thinstincts 2.0 Brief

Spanx is undoubtedly the best shapewear brand on the market, so as you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to testing out its brand new Thinstincts 2.0 line for Underscored’s TikTok account this month. These briefs are my favorite piece in the collection and have legitimately convinced me to never wear “regular” underwear again. The fit makes them easy to wear underneath everything, but especially shorts and skirts this summer, and the fabric is tight enough that they suck everything in while still allowing movement and ultimate comfort. We love a multi-purpose product! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$25 at Ulta

Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner with Saw Palmetto and Mint

My oily skin intensifies during summer and the Origins Zero Oil toner is the only product of its kind that I’ve found to combat shine and help mattify my skin for hours. During the hottest days when I don’t want to wear any makeup, this works great to put on in the morning before sunscreen and moisturizer. It’s on the pricier side but I think it’s worth it if you’re extra oily like me. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$179 at Snif

Snif Instant Karma XL

There’s nothing a candle addict loves more than a giant candle. Instant Karma is my favorite scent of the Snif XL collection because it’s made up of dark and spicy notes of cardamom, cinnamon and vetiver, and truly just elevates the vibes in my household at night — which is my favorite time of the day to light it. Even better, the XL candles can go burn for up to 200+ hours, so even when I think I’ve let it burn for too long, I haven’t even made a dent. If you’re unsure about whether or not you want to drop $179 on a candle, I get it — Snif offers a try before you buy option so if you hate the smell, you can return it free of charge. But trust me, you’ll definitely not want to get rid of this one! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$40 at CLE Cosmetics

CLE Cosmetics Lip Care Trio

This set from AAPI-owned beauty brand CLE Cosmetics includes a gentle lip peel serum, a nourishing lip oil and a neutral gloss. Each of the products work on their own, or you can layer them. I love that all three are lightweight and not sticky. Plus, the packaging is super cool and includes a little mirror on the inside of the lid so you can apply on-the-go. — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor

$50 at Free People

Hoka x FP Movement Ora Recovery Slides

With every summer comes yet another search for me to find a pair of sandals that won’t absolutely tear up my feet. So many sandals that I’ve tried either give me blisters or make me bleed within just 10 minutes of use, but so far, all these platform sandals have done to me is make me feel like I’m walking on little clouds. So incredibly easy to slide on for a walk to the bagel shop or a trip to the beach, and durable enough to handle hours-long walks through Brooklyn, these so-ugly-they’re-cute sandals are already my favorites for the summer. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$319.99 $269.99 at Amazon

BlueAir DustMagnet 5210i

After trying the DustMagnent this month, I now realize that every air purifier I’ve ever used didn’t actually work. Admittedly, I could never keep up with the dust and dander that would collect underneath my bed and all around my bedroom floor, and now, I spend way less time cleaning. The DustMagnet captures 99% of dust before it settles (game changing!) and uses a five-color LED to indicate the current air quality (the blue in this photo means excellent!). I also love that it doubles as a sleek piece of furniture with a table-top for storing bedside items, barely makes any noise at all, connects to your Alexa, and even comes with a filter that can last up to 12 months before having to replace. I seriously wish I had started using the DustMagnent sooner. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$44.84 at Amazon

BareMinerals BareSkin Complete Coverage Concealer

I rarely wear a full face of makeup during summer (if ever, tbh). When I need to cover any spots, I always reach for my BareMinerals concealer because I know it’ll stay in place even in the hottest climates. While the exact product I have is sadly discontinued (you can still find it on Amazon though!), I know the brand’s current concealer offering is definitely worth a buy too. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$35 at Graza

Graza “Drizzle” & “Sizzle” Extra Virgin Olive Oil

After seeing this ALL over my TikTok and Instagram feeds, I had to see what was so special about it. I use olive oil in pretty much anything I cook/roast/bake, and after a few weeks of cooking with Graza, I’m a fan. The Sizzle bottle seems like it’s actually going to last longer than I thought it would (I truly use A LOT of olive oil when I cook), and the drizzle oil, which is meant to be used in/on foods you won’t be heating, is absolutely delicious. The best thing about this oil, though, is the genius squirt bottle. I’ve tried other high-quality olive oils before, and some of my other favorites, while delicious, are pretty messy. This bottle is a game changer in my kitchen in terms of helping me avoid any sort of oily mess, and it’s SO easy to cook with because you can just squirt a little out onto the pan. I’d recommend this as a gift for the cook in your life, or as a treat for yourself if you want to feel a little fancy when you cook. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$114 at Homebird

Homebird Classic Bath Sheet

I’ve never been one to splurge on towels but now, I get why people do! Made from 100% organic cotton, these white and green bath towels not only look luxurious, but they feel straight out of a 5-star hotel; they’re super-soft, plush, and absorb excess water instantly. They’re also quick to dry, unlike most of my other “cheap” towels! I also love the rounded corners and piped edges because it gives them a modern, elevated look and just makes my shower routine feel a little extra exciting! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$102 at Soft Services

Soft Services Smoothing Set

I’ve struggled with keratosis pilaris for as long as I can remember, and with summer basically here and my upper arms set to make an appearance once again, I thought now was a good time to at least try to calm it down a bit. This set has been a life-changing for me. The Buffing Bar, which is like a little soap bar with superfine sanding crystals that help buff away dead skin, is my favorite in the trio thus far. I’ve even started using it on my legs before shaving. Then there’s the Smoothing Solution, which is a chemical exfoliator with lactic acid that targets that bumpy and dry skin too. And then the Carea Cream is the final step in the routine, adding some much-needed moisture to my skin. So far with just a week of use I have seen an astonishing difference in how smooth my upper arms are, and I expect them to just get smoother over the course of the summer. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$110 at Shopbop

Year of Ours Veronica Leggings

I’ve seen this brand all over Instagram and after trying a pair of leggings for myself, I can confirm they’re 100% worth the hype. The high-waisted, cross-v-style waist is so flattering and really accentuates my waistline like no other leggings I own do. The material — which is made of nylon and spandex — feels thick in weight, but still breathable and stretchy. They’ve lasted me through everything from heated pilates and a casual boozy brunch, to the airport and more. It’s safe to say these are my favorite leggings I own, and I can’t wait to slowly but surely stock up on all 12 colors! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$24 at Sephora

InnBeauty Project Face Glaze

Now that it’s summer, I find myself wanting to * look * glowy without actually covering myself in makeup and then sweating it all off. This face glaze has become a key part of my makeup routine. I apply it after SPF but before any concealer, and I’ve gotten so many compliments on my skin! It gives my entire face a nice glow and highlight, and I barely have to use any other face makeup. I also love the texture (and the fact that it doesn’t pill under other makeup), so I’ll be wearing it all summer long. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$140 at Dooeys

Dooeys Honey Beige House Mules

Despite the “house shoes” hype during the pandemic, I’ve never actually owned a pair — until now. These honey beige mules, which are made from plant-based and recycled materials, elevate my work-from-home outfits (which mostly consist of oversized T-shirts and leggings), while helping my feet stay cozy and feel supported at the same time. I also love that I can easily slip them on and off and they’re fashionable enough to wear outside of the house, whether I’m grabbing coffee with a friend, walking the dog, or simply just making a quick trip to the mailroom. Over the course of this month, my feet have literally molded to the insoles, and I swear they feel comfier every time I wear them. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$40 at Canopy

Canopy x Curie Aroma Kit

I’m all about elevating the mood in my home, since I’m there so frequently now that I 100% work-from-home, and this aroma kit helps me to do just that. My favorite of the bunch is White Tea, which smells like a fresh, bouquet of flowers, but I also can’t get enough of the Grapefruit Cassis and Orange Neroli, which are both super bright and refreshing. If you don’t already own one, all you’ll need to do is get Canopy’s mini-but-powerful diffuser, drop a few drops of oil onto the signature puck, and it’ll go to work for you, diffusing up to 400 square ft. — no mist or noise included! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$295 at R.Chiara

R.Chiara Medium Plain Gold Hoops

I typically wear tiny earrings, but I find myself swapping my tiny hoops for these beautiful R.Chiara ones more and more frequently. They’re thin and delicate, yet the overall size of the earring is big enough that I can pop these on if I want to feel a bit more dressed up or if I want my overall outfit to seem more polished. I’ve been wearing these several times a week now, and they’ve been totally comfortable and easy to wear. I have sensitive ears so I can’t wear some larger statement earrings, but investing in quality pieces like this, that feel classic yet big enough to make a statement, just might become my new thing. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$98 at Free People

Free People One Scout Cropped Jacket

This cropped jacket from Free People is popular for a reason. I don’t always go for a slouchy, boho look but once I started wearing this cropped jacket, I found myself wanting to layer it with pretty much every single outfit. I am currently wearing it as I write this, and I can’t get over how comfy it is. It’s the perfect light layer to throw on during this in-between season, and the neutral color goes with pretty much anything. One thing to note is that it runs very large — an XS has an oversized fit on my 5-foot-2-inch frame. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$59 at Ulta

Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Daily Brightening & Exfoliating Peel

My skin can sometimes become overly sensitized if I use a new exfoliating product, but this one from Perricone MD has truly been gentle enough for regular use. I have used it regularly for a few weeks now, and my overall skin tone definitely looks brighter and more even. The dropper applicator makes it easy to add a few drops to my face before I complete my full night time skin routine, and I haven’t noticed any redness or dryness since using the product. I can see the bottle lasting a lot time — a few drops seem to go a long way! — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$58 at Code8

Code8 Radiate Beauty Balm

For someone who doesn’t wear foundation daily, I’ve tested some pretty great face products lately — this tinted BB cream being one of them. It’s on par with the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint, but I prefer the moisturizer-like texture and application of Code8’s beauty balm. It gives sheer coverage, a little sun protection with SPF 15 and a glowy finish that has made it an early favorite for summer. — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor



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