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Best Amazon Echo deals 2020 including on popular Echo Dot and Echo Show devices

Amazon Echo devices are still a very popular option for shoppers wanting to invest in smart home technology.

Right now Amazon has slashed the price of a number of Echo devices.

The popular Echo Dot is now £29.99, meaning that shoppers will save a massive 40% off the normal £49.99 price tag. While the latest Echo Show 8, which comes with an 8″ HD screen and stereo sound, is now £89.99 (reduced from £119.99).

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, now is a great time to pick up the heavily discounted range. Consumers probably won’t see any discounts appear again until the autumn when the impending Black Friday period takes place in November.

Best Amazon Echo deals

Echo Dot

The new 3rd Gen Echo Dot is the upgraded compact voice-controlled speaker that used the Alexa assistant to play music, read the news, set alarms and operate compatible smart home devices.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo Dot with clock


The newest version of Amazon’s mini smart speaker now comes with a clock. The LED display shows the time, outdoor temperatures and even set timers and features all the same functionality as the original Echo Dot device.

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Echo (3rd Gen)

The new and improved version of the original Echo now has premium Dolby 360 speakers for even better sound quality.

Like it’s smaller alternative Dot, the 3rd Gen Echo can operate compatible devices and sync with any other Echo devices you have to make calls and play music and more.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

Amazon echo hardware
Amazon Alexa gets a new voice

The Plus offers premium sound quality when compared to the other Echo devices. The Dolby Play 360 audio speakers offer crisp audio and a dynamic bass response, while the seven microphones can pick up your voice from all directions – including when music is also playing.

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Echo Studio

Amazon's new subwoofer will work along with Echo speakers
Amazon’s new subwoofer will work along with Echo speakers

The smart speaker comes equipped with 3D audio from five speakers that provide amazing bass and crisp sound using Dolby Atmos technology – perfect for music lovers.

The built in smart home hub will give you the same functionality as Amazon’s other Echo devices and is ideal for anyone looking to elevate their home entertainment set up.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo Show (2nd Gen)

The second generation Echo Show combines a smart speaker and video display in one tidy device.

The display works with Alexa’s voice function to show snippets of information on screen. You can also watch video content and make video calls.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo Show 5

Echo Show

Buy now from Amazon

Echo Show 8

Save £60on the Echo Show 8 and let Alexa show you more: with an 8″ HD screen and stereo sound, Alexa can help you manage your day at a glance

Buy now from Amazon

Amazon Echo devices – what you need to know

The original Echo speaker first launched in 2017, and has gone through a number of modifications and updates over the years.

Newer speakers like the Echo 5 show device (£79.99), which comes with a video screen, are extremely popular and come with plenty of handy functions for users, ranging from playing music to setting reminders and making voice calls.

More recently Amazon also unveiled its stylish new Echo Buds (£119.99) earphones that come kitted out with Bose Active Noise Reduction technology to rival Apple’s popular AirPods.

The new Echo Studio speaker (£189.99), which boasts impressive sound quality and powerful bass for serious audiophiles, is also a great option for shoppers wanting to create that cinema vibe at home.

The biggest draw for most shoppers is the fact that Amazon’s speakers can be connected to other other smart home devices, allowing gadget fans to transform their home and operate key functions in the click of a button or voice command.

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Polls show Biden routing Trump. Here’s how to read them.

The surveys conducted over the past month put Biden in an enviable, even historic position. He has a greater advantage over the incumbent going into the final few months of the campaign than any challenger since Bill Clinton, who seized the lead in the summer of 1992 after third-party candidate Ross Perot dropped out.

Trump’s poll numbers — so stagnant for the first three years of his presidency — have taken a significant hit as a result of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Biden’s long career has left him fairly defined already, as the Trump campaign has begun a barrage of attacks ads on TV nationally and in swing states. And while Trump voters are more enthusiastic about their candidate, Biden voters are also highly interested in voting — if only to oust Trump from the Oval Office.

Here are four things to know about what the polls show right now:

Putting Biden’s lead in perspective

Prior to the release of the ABC News/Washington Post poll Sunday morning, Biden held a 9-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average — a little lower than the live-caller polls suggest, mostly because of the inclusion of a GOP-friendler result from the automated firm Rasmussen Reports.

Still, that 9-point lead puts Biden in unusually commanding territory for a challenger. Only two challengers at this stage of the campaign — John Kerry in 2004 and Michael Dukakis in 1988, who was running against an incumbent vice president — ended up losing, and each held a smaller lead than Biden’s. (Dukakis would even pad his lead before losing it completely, thanks to a convention bump that receded quickly in August.)

For a more recent comparison, Biden’s advantage well outstrips the lead Hillary Clinton had at this point in the 2016 race, when she led Trump by 3 points in the RealClearPolitics average. Clinton’s lead would briefly top out at an 8-point lead in early August, and then again crest to 7 points in the immediate aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” video in October.

Biden is also much closer to earning majority support than Clinton at this point before the last presidential election. As of July 19, 2016, Clinton was only at 44 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, well short of Biden’s 49 percent — and that Biden number is before the ABC News/Washington Post poll with him at 54 percent was added to the average.

A “defined” Joe Biden

Trump’s campaign has disputed the results of public polling, arguing that Trump runs stronger against a “defined” Biden in their internal tests.

But the Trump campaign’s efforts to define Biden with a bombardment of negative advertising, especially in the battleground states, has yet to dent the former vice president.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released last week — one of those to give Biden a double-digit lead over Trump — 45 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Biden, and 43 percent viewed him unfavorably. That was up slightly from 42 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable in June.

Similarly, 44 percent of voters surveyed by an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week said they had a positive opinion of Biden, while 46 percent viewed him negatively. That compares to a 37 percent positive, 38 percent negative rating a month earlier, suggesting that Biden is in fact becoming more defined — but it isn’t helping Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump’s favorable ratings are in the tank. Majorities in the Quinnipiac (61 percent unfavorable) and NBC/WSJ (54 percent negative) polls gave the president poor image ratings.

It’s all about coronavirus

It’s not a coincidence that all three of the polls out over the past week showing Trump trailing badly also show a marked decline in voter opinions of his response to the coronavirus crisis.

In the Quinnipiac poll, only 35 percent of voters said they approve of Trump’s response to the coronavirus, down from 42 percent a month ago. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump’s approval on the virus took a similar plunge, going from 43 percent in June to 37 percent in July.

Then there’s the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, which shows Trump’s approval on the coronavirus declining from 45 percent among registered voters in late May to 38 percent in the latest poll.

In all three surveys, disapproval of Trump on the coronavirus — the dominant issue facing the country right now — is around 60 percent. Meanwhile, Trump’s vote share in all three polls is hovering around only 40 percent.

Don’t misread the enthusiasm gap

Call it Trump’s Paradox: Even as Trump has fallen farther behind Biden, his supporters are more enthusiastic about his candidacy.

In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, an astounding 94 percent of Trump voters say they are enthusiastic about supporting him — significantly greater than the 79 percent of Biden voters who feel the same way about the presumptive Democratic nominee.

But don’t confuse enthusiasm for a candidate for enthusiasm about voting. Other data suggests Biden’s voters are as motivated as Trump’s — they just aren’t getting their motivation from their candidate.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 71 percent of Democratic voters said they are paying “a lot” of attention to the election — slightly more than the 67 percent of Republicans who said the same. In the NBC/WSJ survey, 80 percent of Democrats rated their level of interest in the election as a “9” or “10” on a 1-10 scale, more than the 74 percent of Republicans who gave the same ratings.

That interest may not translate into the kinds of off-the-charts, candidate-centric enthusiasm like the boat parades the Trump campaign cites as a sign its standing is better than the public polls suggest. But the enthusiasm working for Biden appears to be just as real.

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Galwan Valley: Satellite images ‘show China structures’ on India border

A satellite image shows close up view of road construction near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in the eastern Ladakh sector of Galwan Valley, 22 June, 2020.Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

New satellite images show the area near Patrol Point 14 where a clash between Indian and Chinese forces took place on 15 June.

China has built new structures near the site of a Himalayan border clash that left 20 Indian troops dead earlier this month, fresh satellite images suggest.

Bunkers, tents and storage units for military hardware are visible in an area where last month there were none.

Fighting between the nuclear-armed powers over their disputed frontier has prompted alarm. Chinese casualties were also reported but not confirmed.

The latest images were published as the sides hold talks to defuse tensions.

The fresh satellite images, dated 22 June, are from space technology company Maxar. The structures which appear to have been built by China overlooking the Galwan River were not visible in aerial photographs earlier in June, Reuters reported.

Neither India nor China has commented.

The clash in the Galwan Valley, in the disputed Himalayan territory of Ladakh, took place on 15 June, weeks after high-level military commanders from both nations agreed to “peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements.”

Since the clash, and amid spiralling rhetoric, the two nations have tried to publicly calm tensions.

A statement released by the India’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said that India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and the Chinese Foreign Minister HE Wang Yi “reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the senior commanders on 6 June”.

What do the images show?

Ajai Shukla, a leading Indian defence analyst, tweeted that “there is a large Chinese camp in the Galwan Valley, 1.5km into the Indian side of the LAC [Line of Actual Control]”.

Local media have also quoted sources in the Indian army as saying that the additional build-up by China seemed to have taken place between the 15 June clash and commander-level talks prior to that.

Satellite imagery from May shows no structures in the disputed area near where the clashes took place.

Former Indian diplomat P Stobdan, an expert in Ladakh affairs, told the BBC the construction was “worrying”.

“The [Indian] government has not released any pictures or made a statement, so it’s hard to assess. But the images released by private firms show that the Chinese have built infrastructure and have not retreated,” he said.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

The images suggest Chinese construction in the Galwan Valley came after talks between army commanders

The situation in the region is described as still “very tense”.

Meanwhile, India’s Army Chief Gen MM Naravane is scheduled to visit a forward location along the border on Thursday. He visited other forward areas on Wednesday and reviewed operational preparedness, the army said.

What happened in the Galwan Valley?

Media reports said troops clashed on ridges at a height of nearly 4,300m (14,000 ft) on steep terrain, with some Indian soldiers falling into the fast-flowing Galwan river in sub-zero temperatures.

At least 76 Indian soldiers were reportedly injured in addition to the 20 dead. China has not released any information about Chinese casualties.

The fighting took place without any firearms because of a 1996 agreement barring guns and explosives from the area.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

An image from May shows no structures in the area overlooking the Galwan River

How tense is the area?

The Line of Actual Control, as the disputed border between the two nations is known, is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift.

The soldiers on either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points. India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan valley and says China occupies 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.

The two countries have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

In May, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows on the border in the north-eastern state of Sikkim. And in 2017, the two countries clashed in the region after China tried to extend a border road through a disputed plateau, Doklam.

Tensions have also risen over a road built by India in Ladakh.

There are several reasons why tensions are rising now – but competing strategic goals lie at the root, and both sides blame each other.

India’s new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh. The road could boost Delhi’s capability to move men and materiel rapidly in case of a conflict.

Analysts say India’s decision to ramp up infrastructure seems to have infuriated Beijing.

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World Protests Show Rising Outrage and Mounting Discontent — Global Issues

  • Opinion by Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Hernan Cortes Saenz (new york and brussels)
  • Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • Inter Press Service

In the last weeks, we have seen protests against racism and police brutality explode in the US and internationally after another black man died in police custody. We see Chileans protesting lockdown-food shortages, scarcity of work, and costly social services, and Ecuadorans demonstrating against IMF-supported austerity cuts. Lebanon has convulsed with riots over corruption, lack of jobs and public services. Protesters in Hong Kong continue to defy China’s tightening grip. In Israel they denounce West Bank annexation, while in the Philippines they condemn President Duterte’s Anti-Terrorism Act as a breach of civil rights and the Constitution. Young people are taking to the streets in Senegal over the lockdown and lack of jobs and opportunities. In Spain we see health workers demanding safer working conditions while workers from other industries face massive layoffs. In many countries, people protest in car-based caravans to maintain social distancing because of the pandemic.

There have been periods in history when large numbers of people rebelled against the status quo and demanded change, such as in 1848, 1917 and 1968. While protests have intensified in recent weeks because of the pandemic, the level of protests worldwide has remained high for more than a decade, with some of the largest protests in world history. They were set off by the 2008 financial crisis and commodity price spikes, such as those that sparked food riots in Africa and Asia, three years before the “Arab Spring”, the “Indignados” (Outraged) in Spain or “Occupy” in the US and Hong Kong. More recently, we have seen massive protests in Latin America and a global feminist wave set off by the “Me Too” movement. Now, as Covid-19 makes its way around the world, we are experiencing the continuation of this period of rising outrage and discontent.

We have been studying recent world protests and found interesting lessons. To start, the number of protests has been increasing on a yearly basis. Protesters’ main general demand was for economic and social justice in the face of prescribed “austerity” reforms; however, the overwhelming grievance of protesters, regardless of the political system of their country, was the lack of “real democracy”. Other common demands relate to people’s rights such as racial, gender or labor rights. The main target of the protests was national governments, but global institutions and corporations were also targeted.

A profile of demonstrators reveals that not only traditional protesters (eg. activists, unions) are demonstrating; on the contrary, middle classes, youth, older persons and other social groups are actively protesting in most countries because of lack of trust and disillusionment with the current political and economic system.

People around the world are acutely aware that policy-making has not prioritized them. Across the political spectrum, there is rebellion against politics as usual. Governments both authoritarian and democratic are failing to respond to the needs of ordinary people. Many demonstrations and marches also explicitly denounce the international system and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Central Bank, which have been widely perceived as the chief architects of inequitable reforms.

Not only is the number of protests increasing, but also the number of protestors. Crowd estimates suggest that dozens of rallies had more than one million protesters; some of those may well be the largest protests in history (eg. 100 million in India in 2013, 17 million in Egypt during the Arab Spring).

Repression is well documented in over half of the protests in our study. According to media reports, the protests that generated the most arrests were in Iran, the UK, Russia, Chile, Malaysia, US and Cameroon (different years). Our research, that we continue updating, also documents a rising concern with some modes of repression that do not imply the use of physical violence: citizen surveillance.

If there is repression, what are the controversial demands that protesters are putting forward? The grievances demanded cross over virtually every area of public policy, from jobs, public services and social protection to the environment, finance, taxation, corruption and justice. The majority of the demands are in full accordance with United Nations proposals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Governments need to listen to the demands from citizens legitimately protesting the denial of social, economic and civil rights. Leaders and policymakers will only invite further unrest if they fail to prioritize and act on the demand for real democracy.

Isabel Ortiz is Director of the Global Social Justice Program at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, and former director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.

Sara Burke is Senior Policy Analyst at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES; for identification purposes only; views do not reflect the institutional views of FES).

Hernan Cortes Saenz is PhD in International Relations.

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus shares message of hope during Eurovision show

Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus has hailed the Eurovision Song Contest as an “escape” during the coronavirus pandemic, as it was announced that the event would return to Rotterdam next year.

he final of the 65th edition of the event was due to take place on Saturday night in the city in the Netherlands, but was cancelled due to the outbreak.

Ulvaeus, 75, appeared in a pre-recorded video message during the final moments of Eurovision: Shine A Light on BBC One.

Recalling Abba’s win in Brighton with Waterloo in 1974, he said: “The ESC is one hell of a launching pad.

“And it still remains one of the most genuinely joyous event of the TV era and it is so disarmingly European. It also allows you to escape and be happy.

“Everybody knows why there couldn’t be the usual Eurovision final this year.

“But we hope this show will comfort you in some small way, knowing that it will be back next year.

“Very good title by the way – Shine A Light. I’m glad they didn’t choose Waterloo. Long live the Eurovision Song Contest.”

It was also announced that the contest would take place in Rotterdam in 2021, after its producer, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and its Dutch members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS, reached an agreement.

Martin Osterdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, said in a statement: “We are extremely happy that we can now move forward.

“It’s vitally important that the Eurovision Song Contest returns next year, and we’re pleased to have the necessary commitment from our Members in the Netherlands to bring this much-loved show back to audiences across the world.

“I firmly believe that all of us involved in the Eurovision Song Contest will stand united through challenges and change to bring the Contest back stronger than ever, ensuring its longevity for decades to come.”

Shine A Light was organised to honour all the 41 songs which would have made up this year’s contest, in a non-competitive format, and featured the acts covering Katrina And The Waves’ Love Shine A Light.

It also saw host Graham Norton struggle with a time delay as he spoke to the programme’s main hosts via video-call.

Afterwards, he said: “God, that was awkward. Well, here we are now, back on. But I did mean it, I have found this strangely emotional, this whole evening.”

It followed the BBC’s replacement coverage, also hosted by Norton, in which viewers voted Abba’s song Waterloo as the greatest Eurovision entry.

The track came out top from a list of 19 acts, selected by a panel featuring broadcasters Ken Bruce, Rylan Clark-Neal, Scott Mills and Mel Giedroyc.

The special programme, titled Eurovision: Come Together, saw Norton pay tribute to Sir Terry Wogan, who he succeeded as host of the BBC’s Eurovision coverage.

He told viewers: “I know this isn’t real Eurovision but this is song nine, and it is a tradition that we raise a glass on song nine for the late Sir Terry Wogan.

“As we look back over 64 years of Eurovision, I am sure that for many of you, Sir Terry was a highlight over the years. So we think of him and raise a glass.”

Norton marked song nine because Sir Terry once warned him not to drink alcohol before that point in the contest, in order to stay alert.

UK entries such as Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz, from 1981, and Love Shine A Light by Katrina And The Waves, from 1997, were among the list.

The series also featured an interview with James Newman, who was due to flag the flag for the UK at this year’s content.

Newman, brother of pop star John Newman, was hoping to improve the country’s prospects at the annual event after Michael Rice placed last in 2019 with Bigger Than Us.


James Newman (Victor Frankowski/BBC/PA)

Speaking via videolink, he recalled the moment he found out the contest had been cancelled.

He said: “It was before lockdown and me and my wife were just out for a drive actually. We’d just been out to get some shopping and stuff. And then I got a text and they were like: ‘It’s cancelled.’ I had to have a few minutes to myself.”

He tipped Iceland’s Think About Things by Dadi Og Gagnamagnid as the entry he had been looking forward to seeing.

PA Media

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Projections show spike in COVID-19 deaths in Montreal if confinement lifted

Article content continued

“It’s not a free-for-all at all at this point,” she said.

Hankins said it was too soon to say whether schools and non-essential stores should reopen in Montreal on May 25.

“It’s prudent to watch and see what happens,” she said.

“I know it’s unsettling not to have firm dates, but on the other hand we want wisdom to prevail here,” she added.

On Thursday, Premier François Legault again delayed the reopening of schools, daycares and non-essential retail outlets in the Montreal region.

Sixty-three per cent of Quebec’s 2,928 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred on the island of Montreal, as have 51 per cent of diagnosed cases of the disease, according to the latest statistics unveiled by the Quebec government on Sunday.

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Gogglebox’s Sid Siddiqui apologises as coronavirus forces him off show

Gogglebox’s Sid Siddiqui apologises to fans (Picture: Channel4)

Gogglebox’s Sid Siddiqui has apologised to viewers after the coronavirus lockdown forced him off the show.

The 73-year-old normally appears alongside his two sons Baasit, 34, and Umar, 41.

However, as his age lands him in the high-risk category, the star has been self-isolating amid the pandemic, leaving his family to keep the show going from their house in Derby.

Taking to Twitter, the fan favourite explained his absense to his 76,000 followers.

‘A big hi to all my friends,’ Sid started his message before adding: ‘I don’t feel you’re fans but my best and close friends.

‘I am sorry for my absence from #Gogglebox, your kind and beautiful messages always overwhelm me with touch of sadness.’

Coronavirus lockdown has forced him off the show (Picture: Twitter / @GoggleboxSid)

He closed off the tweet with: ‘These difficult times will pass. Please #bestrong #besafe.’

And Baasit also issued a similar response after being inundated with support over the weekend.

‘A massive massive thank you to all of you for all the #Gogglebox love,’ he wrote.

‘I won’t lie, I’m missing [Sid] like crazy but the rest of the cast and the incredible hard-working crew make me so proud to be on your telly during some pretty testing times! #thankyou.’

As it stands, more than 16,000 people have died from coronavirus with over 120,000 cases recorded in the UK.

The Tapper family have been struck down with Covid-19 (Picture: Channel 4)

Sid’s message comes shortly after Amy Tapper reassured fans her family was doing well following reports her dad Jonathan was fighting for his life in a battle against Covid-19.

Jonathan, who also has diabetes, was rushed to hospital where the 52-year-old’s family, who were also infected by the virus, feared as his symptoms worsened. 

However, his daughter has now provided an update where she told fans that the ‘fam is well and healthy.’

Speaking about how Jonathan’s illness began his wife, Nikki, told the Daily Star: ‘One night Jonathan came home from work and was unable to move.

‘He had a cough and high temperature. He laid down on the sofa and – with no exaggeration – he stayed there for two weeks in our lounge room.’

More: Coronavirus

Jonathan was ‘still too sick’ to speak about his ordeal himself, and is said to be afraid of relapsing as he continues to battle the virus. 

He is currently resting at home in order to get back to full health.

Gogglebox returns on Friday at 9pm on Channel 4.

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MORE: Dwayne Johnson says being ‘caring and empathetic’ is how he gets through lockdown with wife

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‘Charlamagne tha God’ Blasts Joe Biden for Not Appearing on Radio Show

Lenard “Charlamagne tha God” McKelvey criticized former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday for not appearing on The Breakfast Club radio broadcast.

McKelvey told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin that the Democrat frontrunner owes his “political life” to black supporters and that his campaign “would be dead” without them. And while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all appeared to speak to black voters through his nationally syndicated radio show, Biden has been conspicuously absent.

Asked why he thinks that might be, McKelvey was stumped: “I have no idea,” he answered. “It goes back to what I said: Joe Biden owes black people his political life. You know what I’m saying? So don’t disrespect that base by not showing up, especially when, you know, all your other former opponents did,” he said.

McKelvey also claimed that sources have told him that the decision may have something to do with Biden’s campaign advisers. “I definitely got it on great authority that a lot of the black surrogates around him don’t want him to come on ‘The Breakfast Club’ for whatever reason,” he said.

“Black people saved his life the past couple of weeks,” McKelvey concluded. “His campaign would be dead if it wasn’t for our O.G. Jim Clyburn in South Carolina endorsing him, and all those black voters in the South going out and voting for him,” McKelvey concluded. “Plus, you were the vice president for the first black president. You, in particular, definitely need a black agenda.”

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Montreal car show pulls in the dreamers

At the Montreal International Auto Show, it’s estimated two-thirds of the 200,000 visitors are “habitués” — aficionados who come out of a love for cars, but aren’t looking to buy. At Toronto’s car show, by contrast, two-thirds are there because they’re in the market.

Montreal’s show, featuring more than 500 cars from 38 carmakers and now in its 77th year, is in some ways geared more toward dreams than practicality, which is perhaps an apt way to describe the difference between the two cities.

Herewith, some of the multi-hued dreams on display.

People look over the Mint Concept Genesis car, an all-electric luxury vehicle, at the Montreal International Auto Show on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


Electric ambitions

Attendees were lined up to get in Saturday morning, and most rushed to the seventh floor to see the electric cars. One took out folded pieces of cardboard, assembled them, and placed them in the trunks.

“He has kids,” spokesperson Denis Talbot explained. “He wanted to see if their hockey bags would fit in the car.”

Four years ago, there were only about five electric models on display. This year, there were more than 20.

Maxime Gauthier eyed the Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid going for $35,000, less several thousand dollars in government rebates, while his one-year-old sat in the driver’s seat. It might be his next car.

“With the cost of gas, and the environment, it’s starting to make sense,” he said. One booth featured electric bicycles, another growing trend.

Global ambitions

Two dozen protesters from Extinction Rebellion gathered outside the show, chanting “they stink, they pollute, they kill.”

A study released this week by HEC Montréal on the state of energy usage found Quebecers bought a record-breaking number of light trucks and SUVs and are using more gas than ever before. Electric cars represented three per cent of new car sales in 2018. Light trucks and SUVs made up 64 per cent. “It’s time for car culture to come to an end,” protesters said.

People look over a 1912 Model T car at the Montreal International Auto Show on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


The mighty Model T

Guy Dufresne’s car is 108 years old. Last year, he drove his 1912 Ford Model T, with its original engine, more than 1,000 kilometres on Quebec roads, at a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour. He found it in Pennsylvania, bought it for $4,000, and spent 10 years rebuilding it, restoring its brass kerosene lamps and doors made of oak. It sold originally for $690 — today, it’s worth about $50,000, but it’s not for sale. Dufresne’s father was an auto mechanic, and Dufresne was a machinist technician. Now he rides with the Model T club of Quebec. The only changes needed to make it roadworthy were to install disc brakes and turn signals.

Daniel Jean, owner of a 1929 Phaeton, shows the engine on his vehicle at the Montreal International Auto Show on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


Barn treasure

Next car over, in the Classics section, Daniel Jean’s 1929 Ford Model A, built in Ontario and assembled in Montreal, sold for $495 in its day, cheaper than the 1912 Model T. During the Depression, Henry Ford dropped the price of his cars and increased salaries of his workers so they could buy them. Unlike many car makers of the time, Ford didn’t go bankrupt.

After a search of many years, Jean found the car, sitting in a barn for decades in St-Paul-de-Joliette. He paid $4,000, and spent close to $50,000, and 3,000 hours restoring it. In its earlier life, it logged 55,000 kilometres in Sherbrooke.

Is it for sale? “Never,” said Jean, showing pictures of his grandmother sitting on a Model T back in the 1940s “I restored this with my son, my daughter. They drive it. This was a work of love.”

People look over vehicles by Ferrari at the Montreal International Auto Show on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


Prancing horses in the field of dreams

Over at the Ferrari corral, the 488 Pista, hot red and 720 horses, retails for $458,000. The 812 Superfast, top speed of 340 km/h, is cheaper at $422,000, but its gas mileage is not as good. The price tags elicit sarcastic comments of “That’s in the budget,” and “Oh, not too bad.” Ferrari rep Roberto Soccio notes those are base prices, however, and extras will bring up the price.

“You don’t need a Ferrari,” he said. “You want one.” There’s a one to two year waiting list for the Portofino Ferrari at his Jean-Talon dealership, a relative steal at $246,000 — without the extras.

People look over a 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart at the Montreal International Auto Show on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


Car as self

Jose Mendes estimates he’s spent $50,000 upgrading his tricked up 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart on display at the “My Car” section of the show. The passion for cars was passed on by his father. He races it against other car nuts, who express themselves through their cars, he said. What does his say about him?

“It’s loud,” Gomes said. “But it’s also charming.”

Over at the Porsche section, the tagline for the 718 Porsche Spyder two-seater convertible, $110,000 and 414 horsepower, is: “Perfectly irrational.”

Which sums things up nicely.

The Montreal International Auto Show runs until Jan. 26 at the Palais des congress. General admission tickets are $17 for adults.


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People visit the Montreal International Auto Show in Montreal on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Christinne Muschi /


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Russian TV axes show starring Ukraine’s leader after Putin joke | World news

A Russian television channel has abruptly cancelled a sitcom starring Ukraine’s president after an allusion to a crude joke about Vladimir Putin was aired in Russia’s far east.

The political satire Servant of the People served as a platform for the former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy to gain popularity and eventually win the Ukrainian presidency, in a vote largely driven by anger at the country’s previous leaders.

But with sharp jokes directed against Putin, many wondered how long the political satire would last on Russia’s carefully-controlled airwaves.

The answer was less than one night.

After quickly editing out a joke made at Putin’s expense in the season’s premiere, the television channel TNT subsequently cancelled its broadcast of later airings of the 23-episode season, replacing them with sitcoms that were less likely to rile the Kremlin.

TNT did not immediately reply to requests from the Guardian for comment. It told Vedomosti, the Russian business newspaper, that it had never planned to air the whole season, and that the broadcast was a “marketing ploy” for its online streaming service. The episode is still available there.

Servant of the People follows the fictionalised Zelenskiy’s unlikely rise from high school teacher to Ukraine’s president after his rant against corruption goes viral.

In the season’s premiere Zelenskiy, playing the role of Ukraine’s new president, is selecting a new timepiece to match those worn by other leaders.

Putin, he is told, wears a Hublot.

“Putin’s a Hublot?” Zelenskiy responds.

The word Hublot resembles another that translates, less crudely, to the word “dick” in Russian’s swearing sub-language known as Mat. The phrase “Putin’s a dick”, using the swearword, became a popular slogan in Ukraine after the outbreak of the conflict in south-east Ukraine, and could be heard at anti-Putin rallies and seen in graffiti dabbed on walls across Ukraine.

It is not clear whether that joke was enough to cause the television show’s cancellation, as the series features a number of jokes about Russia and Putin. But in broadcasts of Servant of the People broadcast later on Wednesday night, including those shown in Moscow, the joke had been edited out. The edit was first reported by the BBC’s Russian service.

Lentach, a Russian website that combines news and humour, put together a simple map showing which parts of Russia had and had not heard “Putin is a Hublot”.

TNT, a Russian television station that focuses on sitcoms and comedy shows, announced it would debut the show just days after Zelenskiy and Putin met for high-stakes talks in Paris on the conflict in east Ukraine. It was the first meeting between the two leaders.

The show was advertised to Russian viewers as a counterpoint to Zelenskiy’s real presidency.

“For viewers, the television series became a utopia with no real relation to the Ukraine of Zelenskiy,” the television station wrote in a release.

Television is a carefully-controlled medium in Russia, and shows that have made fun of Putin have quickly been booted off air. The most famous was in 2002 when the show Puppets, which featured a fake version of Putin and was inspired by the show Spitting Image, was abruptly cancelled.

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