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NBC's new streaming service, Peacock, will launch with free and premium plans on July 15 — here's how to sign up

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  • Peacock is a new streaming service featuring NBCUniversal TV shows, movies, original series, live sports, and news programs.
  • The platform launched with an early trial for Xfinity X1 and Flex customers on April 15, and the streaming service will be available for everyone on July 15.
  • Peacock's base plan is ad-supported, offering a limited catalog of titles at no cost. 
  • A premium version of Peacock's ad-supported service is available for $4.99 per month, giving subscribers the ability to stream even more content, including original series and films.
  • For those who don't want to sit through commercials, Peacock premium is also available in an ad-free tier for $9.99 per month. 

Peacock is a new streaming service that makes hundreds of NBC TV shows and Universal films available for free. Comcast, NBCUniversal's parent company, will officially launch free and premium versions of Peacock on July 15, though some Comcast internet and cable customers can already access an early trial of Peacock Premium.

Peacock was intended to launch alongside the 2020 Olympics to provide a live stream for the Summer Games in Tokyo, but the linchpin event has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the major disruption, NBCUniversal is still proceeding with plans to launch Peacock as scheduled.

Peacock has brokered deals for new original series produced by Tina Fey and Kevin Hart, as well as rights to stream classic series like "Law & Order" and "Will and Grace." "The Office," a perennial Netflix favorite and one of  NBC's most beloved series, will move to Peacock in January 2021. 

In anticipation of the wide launch later this month, we've broken down some of the basics related to this new streaming service, including full details on pricing, plans, and content.

Updated on 7/9/2020 by Kevin Webb: Added new details about supported devices and discounted pre-order pricing for Peacock.

What is Peacock?

Peacock is a new streaming service created by NBCUniversal with three subscription plans: free, premium, and premium ad-free. The platform offers a collection of TV shows, movies,  and original series, along with live sports and news updates. 

Content can be viewed via an on-demand library or via special streaming channels broken down by genres and franchises.

Peacock's catalog includes a mix of new and classic NBC shows, like "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation," and Universal films, like the "Fast & Furious" franchise. Original programs will also be offered in the higher-priced tiers.

When can I sign up for Peacock?

Peacock will officially launch nationwide on July 15. With that said, an early preview of the service is currently available as an exclusive to Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex owners. X1 and Flex are streaming devices created by Comcast, NBCUniversal's parent company.

If you're not a Comcast subscriber, you'll have to wait until the Peacock app expands to more devices on July 15. You can pre-order a premium or premium ad-free subscription right now through the Peacock website.  

Where can I watch Peacock?

Though a full list of supported devices is still forthcoming, Peacock's streaming app will be available on many smart TVs, including Vizio and LG models, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices, Android TV, and Chromecast. The service will also be available through its official website. You can sign up at Peacocktv.com to receive an email when the service goes live on July 15.

If you have an Xfinity X1 or Flex device you can access Peacock's early trial now by searching for the app and entering your email.

How much does Peacock cost?

The base version of Peacock is free, but there are commercials. Peacock promises more than 7,500 hours worth of movies and TV with Peacock Free, but you can get access to twice as much content by upgrading to a Peacock Premium plan.

The Peacock Premium catalog includes new original series, gives subscribers access to exclusive content from NBC shows, like "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," and lets you watch ongoing shows, like "Saturday Night Live," the day after they air on TV.

Peacock Premium costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. People who pre-order a Peacock Premium subscription can get a 40% discount if they sign up for a full year, dropping the annual price to $29.99. The pre-order discount is available until July 14. Meanwhile, if you already subscribe to Xfinity internet or cable you get Peacock Premium for free with your current subscription. 

However, Peacock Premium still has commercials. If you want to watch Peacock Premium without ads, you need to upgrade to the Peacock Premium ad-free plan for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. If you pre-order an annual Peacock Premium ad-free subscription, you can receive a 20% discount on your first year, bringing the price down to $79.99. This promotion will be available until July 14.

What shows and movies are on Peacock?

Peacock features more than 15,000 hours worth of TV and movies, though you'll need a Premium subscription to access the full catalog. NBCUniversal says about half of the catalog, more than 7,500 hours worth, will be be available with Peacock Free.

You'll be able to stream classic NBC shows, like "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Parks & Recreation," "Friday Night Lights," and "Saturday Night Live." Peacock Premium users will also be able to access new episodes of ongoing NBC shows the day after they air. One of the most anticipated Peacock shows, "The Office," wont be available until January 2021, due to a prior agreement with Netflix.

Daily broadcasts from NBC News and MSNBC will stream on Peacock too, and subscribers can access past documentaries and "Dateline" investigations.

Universal film franchises, like "Fast & Furious," "Jurassic Park" and "The Bourne Trilogy," will be available in full on Peacock, along with classic movies like "E.T.," "Reservoir Dogs," "Schindler's List," and "Lost in Translation."

Peacock Premium subscribers will be able to watch new original shows, including a new Tina Fey-produced series called "Girls5Eva". A new comedy special and an interview series from comedian Kevin Hart are also in the works for Peacock.

Peacock will include exclusive children's content with new episodes of shows like "Curious George," "Where's Waldo," and "Cleopatra in Space." Universal kids films, like "Shrek", "Despicable Me," and "Trolls World Tour," will be part of the Peacock library as well.

Peacock will also feature live sports. Though the platform's launch was meant to coincide with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the postponement of the Summer Games until next year. Instead, Peacock will offer past Olympic highlights and exclusive interviews with Olympic athletes.

Eventually, the platform will also incorporate live NBC Sports broadcasts, like the "Premiere League," when sporting events resume. 

For more streaming coverage, be sure to check out our guides to the best streaming services and the best streaming sticks and devices.

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A new luxury hotel is opening up in the Sedona desert next year, and it features 40 cube-shaped guest pods that appear to float above the ground. Take a look inside.

  • A luxury hotel consisting of 40 cube-shaped guest atriums in the Sedona desert is set to open in early 2021.
  • Elevated above the ground on steel frames, the atriums look as if they're floating in mid-air.
  • No cars are alllowed on the three-acre property; instead, guests can ride around the hotel's network of 'wellness trails' in two-person electric vehicles or take a guided hiking tour through nearby Coconino National Forest.
  • Here's an early look at the hotel, Ambiente, which comes with a lagoon-like pool and boasts sweeping views of Sedona's red rock formations.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ambiente Hotel, a luxury, carless resort consisting of 40 cube-shaped guest atriums hidden away in the Sedona desert, is set to open in early 2021.

Jennifer May and Colleen Tebrake of Two Sister Bosses, a Sedona-based luxury development company, are developing the project in conjunction with ASUL Architects.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

Elevated on steel piers, the suites appear to float above the ground.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

Reflective, bronze-tinted floor-to-ceiling windows offer unobstructed views of Sedona's famous red rock formations and Coconino National Forest from the inside while camouflaging the suites from the outside.

Source: Ambiente Hotel, AZ Big Media

Each atrium consists of a bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom with an oversized soaking tub and heated floor. Minimalist decor encourages guests to reconnect with nature, and motorized drapes offer nighttime privacy.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

Many will also have rooftops for private sunbathing and cocktail sipping.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

Upon arrival, guests will have to hand over their cars to a valet driver. Staff will then shuttle them via electric vehicle to the two-story lobby building to check in and enjoy a complimentary cocktail before receiving a tour of the property.

Ambiente is located between Uptown Sedona and West Sedona, about a 5-minute drive from each. 

Source: Ambiente Hotel

Amenities emphasize wellness. Guests can relax in a lagoon-inspired pool, order a locally sourced juice at the poolside lounge, book a treatment at the two-story spa, or stroll along 'wellness trails' that weave through the three-acre property.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

The resort is connected to over 300 miles of trails and will offer mountain bike rentals as well as hiking tours.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

After a day of exploring, guests can unwind with yoga on the main rooftop or cozy up by the fireplace and stargaze through a telescope.

The International Dark Sky Association, a US-based non-profit, has recognized Sedona as one of just 21 communities in the US where the sky is dark enough to clearly see the stars.

Source: Ambiente Hotel, IDA

"We designed the atriums with the goal of providing an atmosphere of tranquility and rest," May said in a statement.

Source: Ambiente Hotel

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Coronavirus forces summer camps across America to close

Summer camp can help kids cope with stress: NJ camp CEO

Oak Crest Day Camp CEO Jonathan Gold says the summer camp will follow guidelines, and he ensures campers will have a great time.

No happy campers here.

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Summer camps throughout the country have canceled sessions or closed after attendees and employees tested positive for COVID-19 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite enforcing health and safety measures like social distancing, masks and mandatory quarantines before arrival summer camps in Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas have recently reported outbreaks after opening this summer.

In Missouri, 82 counselors, campers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Kanakuk K-2 camp in Lampe. (Camp Ozark/Facebook) (Camp Ozark/Facebook)

TEACHER LABOR LEADER SAYS PREPARE FOR BRAIN DRAIN IF CLASSROOMS REOPEN

In Missouri, 82 counselors, campers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Kanakuk K-2 camp in Lampe, the Stone County Health Department announced on Monday. The network of Christian sports camps claims to draw more than 23,000 kids each year. Parents reportedly learned via email that the K-2 site was shutting down because of COVID-19, according to NBC News.

Although camps in Missouri must report any positive cases to the state, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health, said on Monday that the agency had no plans to shut down summer camps following the Kanakuk outbreak.

“We think school is incredibly important to kids," Williams said. "We also think camps are important.”

What’s more, the camp plans to reopen later this summer once test results from all employees return and show it’s safe to do so, he added.

Kanakuk Kamp is hardly alone in battling an outbreak, however.

In Texas, at least 76 cases of COVID-19 were linked to the Pine Cove camp’s overnight camp for teens near Columbus. Dozens of campers and staffers who attended the Christian camp have tested positive. Several weeks of programming was consequently canceled.

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The Ridge camp reopened last week after shutting down for two weeks in June, Pine Cove spokeswoman Susan Andreone said.

In Georgia, two locations of the YMCA’s Camp High Harbour closed after reopening after a counselor tested positive for COVID-19. (Camp High Harbour/Facebook) (Camp High Harbour/Facebook)

In Georgia, two locations of the YMCA’s Camp High Harbour closed in June after reopening because a counselor tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both the Lake Allatoona and Lake Burton locations have since been closed for the summer.

In Arkansas, Mount Ida’s Camp Ozark has shut down for the summer after "several" campers and employees tested positive for the viral disease, KATV reported on Wednesday. The camp, which is said to attract over 7,000 kids each year, did not disclose how many people tested positive.

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According to the American Camp Association, about 26 million kids normally participate in camps throughout the United States each year. Now, the camp association estimates that 19.5 million young people will miss out on the in-person day and overnight camps this year because of the pandemic, but 6.5 million children are still expected to attend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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We're Swooning at This Newly Released 'Outlander' Scene of Claire & Jamie

Raise your hand if you can’t get enough of Claire and Jamie Fraser! Ever since Outlander ended, we’ve been haunted by thoughts of this couple and the many sad weeks in which we won’t get to watch them in their element. But the TV gods have had pity on us and given us one more Season 5 scene of Jamie and Claire that didn’t make it into the final cut. We’re not sure how this scene ever got deleted (biased? me?) but this moment of brilliant scientist Claire explaining how she discovered penicillin to Jamie, who somehow still manages to make it hot, is worth a few watches.

Caitríona Balfe and Sam Heughan bring the heat as usual in this deleted clip, presented exclusively by E! News. Claire lets Jamie have a look at her attempts to grow penicillin from mold, and reminds him that she was once able to help him out with the same thing.

“That was mold you put in my ass?” he asks her, taking her in his arms for the second time in 60 seconds.

“I wish you could see what I see,” she tells Sam of the mold. “The beauty and potential.”

Given the heartbreaking ending to Season 5, we want to soak up all the quiet, calm Claire and Jamie moments we can — not to mention more scenes where they can’t keep their hands off each other, as is the case in even this low-key mold scene.

Our hearts are aching through this droughtlander, but rest assured — more deleted scenes are coming soon.

Click here for the best Outlander episodes of all time.






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China ALERT: UK warns Beijing has ‘underestimated’ response to Hong Kong law

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The UK has taken a strong stance against the security law in Hong Kong which some have claimed violates basic democratic rights agreed in the Sino-British declaration in 1984. Hitting back at Beijing, member of the China Research Group and MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake warned the state had vastly underestimated the international outrage to its sanctions. Although he insisted the Government had made good progress against China, he said the UK should be “tough” and not be afraid of Xi Jinping’s state.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “There are real implications with the new legislation.

“It’s been described as Gestapo level stuff, and that’s exactly what it is.

“I think it’s underestimated the international outrage at its actions.

“I think we should be tough.

“We shouldn’t look at this and be afraid of China because it has an economy much bigger than ours.

“I think we should start with what’s right regardless of China’s size.

“And so I think that does mean using peaceful sanctions but I think we should look at all options economic and international.

“I think it’s heading completely the wrong direction.”

JUST IN: China crackdown: Dominic Raab sends warning amid new security law

In a worrying sign of tensions between the UK and China, fellow MP and chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood warned the two countries could be heading for a new Cold War.

Mr Hollinrake added: “I think we could be heading down that direction.

“This is not about China. Actually, it’s not about Chinese people.

“This is about the Chinese state.

“We’ve got to internationally work together to stand up to China and get them to see there’s got to be a sort of a two way street.”

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Under the agreement signed between the UK and China, which came into force in 1997, Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights and freedoms were to remain unchanged.

With the implementation of the new security law last week, however, certain freedoms have now been restricted.

Matters such as undermining the power of China, collusion with foreign states and attempt to break away from Beijing will now be classed as illegal.

Some trials will also be heard behind closed doors while Beijing will have the ability to determine how the law is interpreted.

In response, the UK has condemned the law as a direct violation of their agreement with Beijing.

Boris Johnson has also offered citizenship to 350,000 UK passport holders in Hong Kong while a further 2.6 millions will be eligible.

Australia has also offered citizenship to students and has suspended its extradition treaty with China.

Both measures from the UK and Australia have been met with threats from China’s foreign ministry not to intervene in domestic relations.

Due to the low point in relations, Mr Johnson has also been urged to revoke Huawei’s presence in the 5G network.

Mr Johnson has faced pressure to reverse the decision and a recent report from the national Cyber Security Centre has been submitted to Government.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the report raises serious question security questions over Huawei.

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Premiere: Post Truth Serum's "Worms" ft. Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa

Tom Hagerman is using what he’s got.

Stuck at home without gigs for his main band, Denver’s Grammy-nominated DeVotchKa, the multi-instrumentalist and arranger for the Colorado Symphony looked at what was right in front of him.

“This is years of shredded-off carcasses intended for DeVotchKa,” Hagerman said of his under-the-radar side project, a band called Post Truth Serum. “And I hated seeing them die on my computer hard drive. But a lot of stuff happened to me. I had babies to raise. I got really ill.”

In addition to being the breadwinner for a family that now includes five daughters — four at home, one in college — Hagerman went through chemo- and immunotherapy after being diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, in 2018. He still played shows throughout the months-long treatment, but the incurable nature of the disease (it’s currently in remission, Hagerman said) added another element of uncertainty to his life.

Considering his increasingly busy role with the Colorado Symphony — he translates rock songs into sheet music so the symphony can perform with national indie acts such as The Flaming Lips, or Colorado’s Gregory Alan Isakov and The Lumineers — it’s conspired to keep Post Truth Serum at bay since its first stirrings in 2014.

It’s not for lack of interest. Hagerman had recruited Denver-based, Swedish-born songwriter and vocalist Elin Palmer to record vocals for the project back in 2016, adding to percussion recorded in 2014 with DeVotchKa drummer Shawn King at a building that doesn’t exist anymore (the former location of Mighty Fine Productions, now a Shake Shack on Larimer Street).

In the meantime, Hagerman continued lending his violin and other talents to recordings from Colorado artists such as Nathaniel Rateliff, as well as indie-music stalwarts M. Ward, Eric Bachmann, Calexico and Sage Francis. He wrote original music for theater and dance, with performances by Wonderbound and the Colorado Symphony of “The 7 Deadly Sins”; “De Troya,” by Dallas-based Cara Mia Theatre; and Shakespeare’s “The 12th Night” for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit and Hagerman was staring down an indefinite stretch without work that he decided to “panic release” Post Truth Serum’s debut album, “Modern Victims,” in March. That’s also when a video for the song “Worms” began to materialize.

“We had a video for another song on ‘Modern Victims’ all planned out before that,” said director Marcin Biegunajtys, who runs the Aurora-based film company ManMade Media Studio and has worked with the Colorado Symphony in the past. They had hoped to borrow costumes from the DCPA and film it at the Mercury Cafe, with a vampire theme befitting Hagerman’s love of 1980s goth.

“And then, like clockwork, doomsday hit,” Biegunajtys said.

That nixed the on-site filming, given Hagerman’s legitimate concerns about his immune system. But Biegunajtys, who had previously directed the video for DeVotchKa’s “Done With Those Days,” had another idea.

As a Park Hill resident, his girlfriend’s doughnut cravings frequently brought him to East Colfax Avenue’s beloved City Donuts.

“After five days of that, I only thought about doughnuts,” he said. “That was my daily breakfast — chowing down on two or three of those. And when we started talking music-video concepts, I thought, ‘Why not flying donuts? They’re delicious. Who doesn’t want to see those during this weird time?’ ”

Hagerman let the director pick his own favorite song from Post Truth Serum’s debut, which ended up being “Worms.” The gauzy, lush backing tracks — including strings played and arranged by Hagerman — provide a landscape over which Palmer’s delicate vocals soar. Accordion, piano and reverb-laden synths worthy of The Cure’s “Disintegration” add to the dusky, late-summer wistfulness.

“The concept started getting wackier and wackier,” said Biegunajtys, who generally ignores lyrics when making his videos. “I’d call Tom in the middle of the night with ideas.”

The concept evolved autobiographically. Stay-at-home orders became the starting point for a narrative about a quartet of young girls (played by Hagerman’s daughters) who had conquered their adult (Hagerman) and tied him to a chair. Clad in animal-face masks, they skip to locales around the city — some recognizable, some not — as they chase a flying pastry that looms like a glazed dirigible.

“I feel for Tom and all parents who are stuck at home,” Biegunajtys said. “So what if these girls had had enough? They’ve been cooped up for too long and are just sitting there trying to learn like the kids in Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’ People follow their rainbows, but who doesn’t want to follow a ginormous doughnut they suddenly see floating in the sky? Their mission is to find out where it’s coming from.”

“The idea for the masks came from my wife,” Hagerman added. “We borrowed those masks from her friend; they were originally used in her friend’s wedding.”

Challenges loomed, of course. The actors were an easy get, but with the youngest being 3 years old, mom needed to be on-site for supervision and coaxing. The director wasn’t used to shooting on the fly with minimal equipment. Biegunajtys had to “slim down” the operation and be mindful of where he filmed, given his restricted movement and safety concerns — even outdoors.

The only time Hagerman broke his family’s quarantine, which he had steadfastly maintained at home since mid-March, was for a socially distanced green-screen shoot at ManMade Media Studio in which his girls climbed a rope ladder.

To bring all the footage together and give it an otherwordly, “every-frame-a-painting” look, Biegunajtys edited it with his finest software, then ran it through a $1.99 iPhone app that adds a hand-drawn-looking video filter.

“That gave me a lot of flexibility with sketching, details and lines,” he said of the app, which helped mask the compositing of video elements. “It’s sort of my take on A-ha’s ‘Take on Me’ music video.”

Hagerman is proud of having put something crafted and professional-looking out during a time when so many other performers are necessarily relegated to bedroom live-streams. He’s done that too, but until a coronavirus vaccine arrives, he doesn’t see a return to his former life.

“Some performers are super engaging online, but I haven’t seen that many,” he said. “I tried to watch Paul Simon play ‘The Boxer’ (online) and he just looks like he’s off in a prison somewhere. Everybody kind of looks like that. I wanted something better than that, something that’s beautiful on its own, and Marcin delivered.”

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Suspect arrested in South Park Hill fatal stabbing

Law enforcement arrested a man Tuesday in Colorado Springs who they believe is responsible for the fatal stabbing of a woman in the South Park Hill neighborhood.

Jose Maria Sandoval-Romero, 24, is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder in the Friday stabbing of 40-year-old Ariana Wolk in the 1500 block of Oneida Street, Denver police announced Thursday.

Few details about the case are available as the arrest affidavit remains sealed. The department declined to release a mugshot of Sandoval-Romero because the investigation is ongoing.

Wolk was one of eight people killed in homicides in Denver since the beginning of July. No arrests have been made in six of those cases.

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Seoul mayor found dead after leaving message 'like a will'

SEOUL (Reuters) – Longtime Seoul City Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead, police said on Friday, after his daughter reported him missing saying he had left a message “like a will”.

The mayor’s body was found at Mt Bugak in northern Seoul around midnight, near where his phone signal had last been detected, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said. The agency did not give a cause of death.

His daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m. (0817 GMT) and said his phone was off and that he had left a message “like a will”, the Yonhap news agency reported. Hundreds of police took part in a search for the mayor.

Yonhap said a former secretary of Park filed a complaint on Wednesday over alleged incidents of sexual harassment.

The city’s police did not respond to Reuters’ calls seeking comment, but said in a statement that it would investigate the cause of his death.

As mayor of the city of nearly 10 million people, Park was one of South Korea’s most influential politicians and played a high-profile role in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was seen as a potential presidential hopeful for the liberals in the 2022 presidential elections.

The discovery of his body followed a hours-long night search in one of the most mountainous and scenic parts of Seoul just a few minutes from the heart of the metropolitan capital, involving hundreds of police using drones and dogs.

Park left the mayor’s official residence at around 10:40 a.m. (0140 GMT) on Thursday, wearing a black hat and a backpack, having cancelled policy meetings scheduled for the day, according to multiple local reports.

CAMPAIGNER FOR WOMEN’S CAUSES

Formerly a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, Park has been the mayor of Seoul since 2011, pursuing a slew of policies promoting gender equality.

As a lawyer in the 1990s, he won one of South Korea’s earliest cases on sexual harassment, and strongly advocated for the cause of “comfort women,” those who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels before and during World War Two, when Japan occupied Korea.

Park also praised women for their courage after a series of women accused powerful politicians and policymakers of sexual wrongdoings amid the #MeToo movement in 2018.

“The resolve of individual heroines is not enough. I think we need social solidarity,” he said, calling for support for the movement.

He also played a vocal role in the massive candlelight demonstrations that helped lead to the ousting of former President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

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Sky News Daily podcast: Difficult times ahead for the country – but is the chancellor up to the challenge?

On this edition of the Sky News Daily podcast with Dermot Murnaghan, we examine the second phase of Rishi Sunak’s recovery plan for the UK economy following COVID-19 and what it means for young people.

We are joined by our deputy political editor Sam Coates – along with 18 year-old uni student Bethany Watt from North Ayrshire and Nigel Morris, president of the charity Working Options in Education.

Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Credits:
Producer – Annie Joyce
Assistant producer – Sabah Choudhry

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Sudan PM Abdalla Hamdok replaces ministers in sweeping reshuffle

The reshuffle follows protests urging faster reforms and greater civilian rule in Sudan’s transition towards democracy.

Sudan’s prime minister has replaced the finance, foreign, energy and health ministers and three other senior cabinet post-holders as part of a sweeping reshuffle, the government said on Thursday.

Authorities had said a reshuffle was coming, but few had expected the exit of Ibrahim al-Badawi, who as finance minister led efforts to steady Sudan’s crisis-stricken economy and liaised with foreign donors.

In a statement, the government said transitional Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had dismissed the health minister and accepted the resignation of al-Badawi and the others. It named interim replacements to lead all seven ministries.

Hamdok leads a government of technocrats under a 39-month power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups that was reached following the removal of the country’s longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir last year.

Al-Badawi’s interim replacement will be Heba Ahmed Ali, a senior finance ministry official, the government statement said.

The reshuffle comes nine days after one person was killed and several others injured during largely peaceful demonstrations in Sudan demanding faster reform and greater civilian rule in the country’s transition towards democracy.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudanese cities despite a coronavirus lockdown to demand a transition towards democracy after al-Bashir’s removal last year.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the transitional government had come under increased pressure in recent months over its handling of the country’s coronavirus outbreak and economic conditions.

“People have been complaining about the shortage of fuel saying they have to stand in line for hours, sometimes days. We have also seen people line up for bread; that is what triggered the anti-government protests in 2018 that eventually led to the ousting of Omar al-Bashir,” she said.

“A lot of people have also criticised the government saying the lockdown that was imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was not adequate.

“This seems to show there is lots of pressure on the transitional government which led the prime minister to dismiss most of the minister and replace them with caretakers until new ministers are appointed.”

On the eve of the protests, Hamdok had promised to take a number of big decisions, without giving details.

Earlier this week, he fired Sudan’s police chief and his deputy, who were seen by pro-democracy groups as close to al-Bashir and his allies.

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