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Ric Ocasek, singer for The Cars, dies at 75

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(Reuters) – Ric Ocasek, the idiosyncratic lead singer and chief songwriter of the 1970s and 80s hook-heavy hitmakers The Cars, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 75.

FILE PHOTO: Producer Ric Ocasek arrives at the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Bob Dylan in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Ocasek was pronounced dead at his townhouse after someone called 911 about 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) to report that he was unresponsive, a New York Police Department spokesman said. The cause of death will be determined by the city’s coroner.

His representatives could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

“So sad. Such a great writer, singer, player, producer,” fellow classic rocker Peter Frampton said on Twitter of Ocasek. “My thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace.”

Ocasek, born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore in 1944, met bass player and future band mate Benjamin Orr after moving to Cleveland for high school.

The pair joined with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboard player Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson to form the Cars in mid-1970s Boston. Ocasek was the main songwriter, sang lead vocals on most songs and played rhythm guitar.

The band’s self-titled debut album, featuring the singles “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Times Roll,” reached Number 18 on the Billboard album charts and put them on the leading edge of pop rock.

The Cars scored their first top-20 single, “Let’s Go,” in 1979 and launched a succession of hits throughout the 1980s such as “Shake It Up” and “Drive,” always identifiable through Ocasek’s distinctive vocals.

The band split up in 1988, and Orr died of pancreatic cancer at age 53 in 2000. The surviving members reunited for a final album, “Move Like This,” in 2010.

The band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

After the final dissolution of the Cars, Ocasek, who often spoke of his dislike for touring, produced dozens of albums, released solo material, wrote poetry and made visual art.

Ocasek was married three times and had six sons, two from each relationship.

His third wife, supermodel Paulina Porizkova, announced in May 2018 that the couple had separated after 28 years of marriage.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Gerry Doyle

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Google launches new wireless Pixel Buds

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Google has launched its new Pixel Buds wireless earphones.

The Pixel Buds come in a simple, round form factor with a stabilizer arc that tucks into the ear – ensuring that it fits comfortably and does not fall out when you are exercising.

They use a hybrid design that allows you to listen to high-quality sound without losing track of what is happening around you.

The Pixel Buds achieve this by “gently sealing” the ear to isolate louder outside sounds, ensuring that you remain safe while on the go.

These earbuds also use Adaptive Sound technology which dynamically adjusts the volume of your audio as you move into louder or softer environments – ensuring you won’t need to adjust the volume depending on where you are.

Each Pixel Bud has two microphones embedded within it which will focus on your voice while minimising environmental sounds – a feature which Google said “extends to the most challenging environments.”

Google also said that the Pixel Buds use long-range Bluetooth connectivity to allow users to stay connected to their device as far as three rooms away when indoors, or the distance of a football field if you are outside.

They can pair with devices that use Bluetooth 4.0 or later, including laptops, tablets, and devices that use either iOS or Android 6.0 or later.

Google’s Pixel Buds will be available in 2020 in the US in four colours – Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint, and Almost Black – and will cost $179.

No South African pricing or availability information was available at the time of publishing.

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Now read: Google launches new Pixelbook Go laptop

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South Africa: Looking Beyond the Grade 9 Certificate Debate – the Three Streams

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The proposed Grade 9 certificate, with the associated three – academic, technical vocational and technical – streams, will not solve problems of young people dropping out and not being able to access the labour market. But it will create additional resource pressures on the system, first to produce an exam and certificate, and second by duplicating what the TVET colleges are already struggling to do.

Many critics assume a Grade 9 Certificate will push the most marginal learners out of the system even earlier than they are exiting at the moment. As Janet Jobson and Kristal Duncan point out, the official government position is that the General Education Certificate will help learners to identify education and training options that would best suit their inclinations. They also argue that a national Grade 9 assessment will provide valuable information about how much young people have actually learnt. National assessment at the end of Grade 9 could offer an earlier opportunity to hold learners, teachers, schools, and the system accountable.

What has been less well covered in the public debate is the critical relationship between the proposed new certificate and the roll-out of what the National Department of Basic Education now refers to…

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Tour de France: Froome’s bid for fifth title may conclude on La Planche des Belles Filles time trial

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Chris Froome sat next to Ineos team-mate and defending champion Egan Bernal as the 2020 Tour de France route was unveiled

Briton Chris Froome’s bid for a fifth Tour de France title will conclude with a mountain time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles before the traditional final sprint stage in Paris on 19 July.

Riders will tackle 29 mountains on the brutal 3,470km (2,156-mile) 21-stage route, which starts in Nice on 27 June.

“It will be physically challenging throughout,” said race director Christian Prudhomme.

The tour starts a week early with the Tokyo Olympics starting on 24 July.

The route, which features five summit finishes – one of them being the time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles – is likely to favour the climbers.

“Even the so called flat stages will be very tough for the pure sprinters,” Prudhomme added.

“There are traps everywhere along the route.”

A route for the climbers

The 2020 Tour boasts one of the most challenging opening weeks in recent editions of the race.

Two stages start and finish in Nice, the second of which involves almost 3,700 metres of climbing over the Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d’Eze.

The race then heads south west through the Massif Central, with summit finishes on Orcieres-Merlette on stage five and Mont Aigoual.

Colombian champion Egan Bernal and his Ineos team-mates Chris Froome will expect to challenge, as will France’s Thibaut Pinot.

A thigh injury saw Pinot, 29, withdraw on a dramatic stage 19 to Tignes on the 2019 Tour while in fifth place.

The Groupama-FDJ team leader had hoped to become the first French winner of the Yellow Jersey for 34 years.

Froome was unable to compete after a high-speed crash before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

The 34-year-old is only just about to return to cycling after suffering a catalogue of injuries which included a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.

Julian Alaphilippe, who led the 2019 edition of the Tour for 14 stages before finishing fifth overall will also be buoyed by the omission of both Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux next summer and by a route containing only two stages in the Pyrenees.

Stage 20, a 36km individual time-trial to La Planche des Belles Filles ends with a five-mile uphill finish

The race against the clock on the 36km (22-mile) stage 20 to La Planche des Belles Filles, with the final 8km (five miles) all uphill, could prove decisive though.

Stage six of the 2019 Tour finished on the mountain with Dylan Teuns taking the stage victory as Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey, temporarily, to Italy’s Giulio Ciccone, while 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas put in an impressive late attack.

Froome won stage seven on the mountain 2012, while playing the role of a super-domestique as Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour.

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