By Soo-hyang Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol has departed from years of tradition by holding informal daily media events to field questions on topics ranging from inflation and ties with neighbouring North Korea to the first lady and even boyband BTS.
Such wide-ranging access to the president was previously unheard of. It stems from Yoon’s decision to move his office out of the official Blue House, whose previous occupants largely steered clear of such interactions over more than seven decades.
“It’s apparently helping Yoon dispel worries about his lack of political experience and giving him a sense of where public opinion is at,” said Eom Kyeong-young, a political commentator based in the capital, Seoul.
Yoon, a former prosecutor-general, entered politics just a year ago, before winning the presidency in March by a margin of just 0.7%, the narrowest in South Korea’s history.
Upon his inauguration in May, Yoon moved the presidential office to the compound of South Korea’s defence ministry, describing the official residence as the symbol of an “imperial presidency”, and vowing not to “hide behind” his aides.
His liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in, had rarely held news conferences, and almost always filtered his communication with the media, and the public, through layers of secretaries.
Analysts see Yoon’s daily freewheeling sessions as part of a broader communications strategy that lets him drive policy initiatives and present himself as a confident, approachable leader.
The campaign has also allayed public suspicions about the newcomer to politics, they say.
Polls show the new strategy helping to win support and much-needed political capital for Yoon in his effort to hasten recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in a parliament dominated by the opposition Democratic Party.
Although Yoon’s approval rating dipped to 47.6% in a recent survey, slightly lower than the disapproval figure of 47.9%, another June poll showed communication was the reason most frequently cited by those who favoured him.
“The sweeping victory of Yoon’s conservative party in June local elections shows the public is not so much against the new administration,” said Eom.
Incumbents from Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) defeated challengers for the posts of mayor in the two biggest cities of Seoul and the port city of Busan in that contest, while its candidates won five of seven parliamentary seats.
Eom attributed Yoon’s low approval rating from the beginning of his term to inflation risks that threaten to undermine an economic recovery and his lack of a support base as a new politician.
But some critics say Yoon’s sessions raise the chances that he could make mistakes.
“He could make one mistake a day,” Yun Kun-young of the opposition party wrote on Facebook last week, saying the new practice could be “the biggest risk factor” for the government.
The presidential office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Yoon has already faced criticism for controversial remarks made during the morning briefings, such as one in defence of his nominee for education minister, who has a record of driving under the influence of alcohol years ago.
But the daily meetings and public reaction would ultimately help the government to shape policy better, said Shin Yul, a professor of political science at Myongji University in Seoul.
“It might be burdensome for his aides for now, but will be an advantage in the long term,” Shin said. “A slip of the tongue cannot be a bigger problem than a policy failure.”
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Tom Holland Says He's Taking a Break From Social Media Because It's 'Detrimental' – ELLE
Tom Holland announced on Instagram that he is distancing himself from social media for the sake of his mental health and encouraged his followers to share his message. The Spider-Man star has deleted his Instagram in the past, but always returned to having an account. Many celebs don’t run their own social media, but Holland clearly has some hand in his posts.
“I get caught up and I spiral when I read things about me online and ultimately it’s very detrimental to my mental state, so I decided to take a step back and delete the app,” Holland explained in the three-minute clip.
Holland runs a charitable organization called The Brothers Trust, which supports an app called Stem4, designed to help teenagers with their mental health. He advocated for the apps while talking about his own issues.
“There is an awful stigma against mental health and I know that asking for help and seeking help isn’t something that we should be ashamed of, but it is something that is much easier said than done,” Holland said. “So hopefully these apps can be your first step towards being happier and healthier.”
He also wrote in the caption, “Please take the time to watch my video, and should you feel inclined to share it with anyone who it may resonate with — it would be greatly appreciated.”
The actor is dating his co-star, Zendaya, who has also talked about unhealthy relationships with social media, though she mainly focused on her fans encouraging her to step back when necessary.
“Being on [social media] would kind of make me anxious, or I would start to overthink a little too much,” she told People in an interview. “[My fans] want me to … be happy and exist beyond social media.”
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.
Per usual, social media gets it all wrong with Cameron Smith ruling – Golf Channel
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Not that the wasteland that is social media should be any kind of guide – let’s face it, there’s no room in that hellscape for anything approaching an educated or nuanced conversation – but the vitriol created by Cameron Smith’s internet-bending rules violation at the FedEx St. Jude Championship requires some housekeeping.
The Rules of Golf can be confusing and overly complicated, but the avalanche of incorrect and distorted opinions over Smith’s two-stroke penalty for playing a shot from a hazard requires some addressing:
“The red [hazard] line is pretty stupid to begin with. Guys [already] taking a drop. Garbage like this and DJ’s penalty in 2010 PGA Championship just makes me want to root for LIV to succeed!”
Not exactly sure of the logic in the above tweet text, but Smith’s penalty – like all penalties – are based on the Rules of Golf, which are written and maintained by the USGA and R&A, not the PGA Tour.
In fact, many in this same Twitter thread pointed out that longtime former Tour rules official Slugger White is now LIV Golf’s vice president of rules & competition management, and the Saudi-backed league also plays by the same Rules of Golf.
There are plenty of problems with the Rules of Golf, but they have nothing to do with the PGA Tour.
“I think they need to have unlimited time to address a violation. Even 5-10 years from now they could detect an error and DQ a player for failing to handle it properly and ask that prize money be returned. The round was over, it wasn’t handled.”
Also incorrect. While Tour officials regularly review possible violations and circle back around the next day to clarify things, like they did with Smith, when the final putt drops and a winner is crowned, the competition is closed. There is no going back at that point.
“Would they have done this to Rory or JT if they were in contention? Absolutely no way. PGA is officially a joke.”
We know conspiracy theories range from absurd to just troll jobs, but this is ridiculous to the extreme. In fact, most argue the game’s stars are held to a higher standard because they are more often shown during broadcast and are therefore under more scrutiny than a player who finishes well outside of contention.
There are countless examples of top players being penalized, but Rory McIlroy’s incident with officials at the 2019 Northern Trust, which was that season’s playoff opener, is a solid comp.
The Northern Irishman was penalized two shots during the second round for touching what he thought was a rock in a bunker but turned out to be a clump of sand. He was three shots off the lead at the time. That penalty was later rescinded by the rules committee after a more in-depth review of the new definition of the rule.
“Couch fan called it in and of course the [PGA Tour] accepted that rules officials word and reviewed it. There was a rules official with him at the time that didn’t rule it. [Tour] failing again.”
It’s a common misconception that there’s a rules official with every group. That is not correct. There was an official “in the area” who could have been called in to help Smith better understand the rule, and that’s always an option. It’s also worth noting that Ryan Palmer, who was paired with Smith on Saturday, even suggested he call an official for clarity if he wasn’t sure, but Smith did not.
Also, officials stopped taking call-ins for potential violations years ago. It was an on-site rules official who was watching Saturday’s re-air who suggested the committee take another look at the drop, and it was Smith who admitted that his ball was on the line.
“Masters winner Scheffler is a strong opponent of LIV. And in the first round in Memphis, the American blatantly walked across the putting line of his playing partner Smith on the 12th green before a birdie attempt. The Aussie looked at him in disbelief.”
Scottie Scheffler is a supporter of the PGA Tour in the ongoing rift with LIV Golf and he did walk by Smith during Thursday’s opening round, but he did not walk across or through his line. Scheffler told reporters that when he realized what he’d done he tracked Smith down to apologize for any slight, either real or perceived.
The two even jokingly concocted a plan to have a “stare-down” during Friday’s second round, but neither could keep a straight face long enough to pull it off.
There’s enough animosity between those loyal to the Tour and those who have bolted for LIV Golf, but neither the penalty nor Scheffler’s snafu had anything to do with the start-up league.
“Really tough break. It was the right call. He handled it very well, classy guy.”
This one is actually correct. Smith did handle the news well and it was the right call, regardless of what many on social media might think.
“[Smith’s] answer to me is, ‘The rules are the rules,’” said Gary Young, the PGA Tour’s chief referee. “He just accepted the two-stroke penalty … he very calmly left the office and he’s just going about his business for the day.”
Three Syrian soldiers killed in Israeli missile attacks: Report – Al Jazeera English
At least three Syrian soldiers have been killed and three others wounded in “multiple” Israeli missile attacks on Syria, according to state media.
The SANA news agency said on Sunday that the missile attacks took place at 8:50pm (17:50 GMT) and targeted “some points” in the countryside near the capital, Damascus, and the coastal province of Tartous.
Syrian air defence forces confronted the “aggressions” and downed some of the missiles, SANA said, citing an unnamed military source.
“The aggression led to the death of three soldiers, the wounding of three others,” it reported.
The attacks on Damascus were carried out from a direction southeast of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, while the attacks on Tartous came from the Mediterranean sea.
In addition to the deaths, the attacks caused some “material damage,” the military source told SANA.
The Israeli military declined to comment.
Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air raids inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters. Israel rarely comments on individual raids in Syria, but the Israeli military has defended them as necessary to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, also reported on Sunday’s attacks, saying the raids targeted an air defence base in Tartous province, where Iranian-backed groups are active.
The site in Tartous is located 8km (5 miles) from a Russian base, said the monitor, which has a vast network of sources in Syria.
It said ambulances had rushed to the scene of the raids in Tartous.
It added that two missiles also struck a Syrian government military site in the Al-Qutayfah area of the Damascus countryside.
Other recent reported Israeli attacks in Syria include a raid near Damascus that killed three Syrian soldiers last month. The Syrian Observatory said that attack targeted a military facility and an “Iranian weapons depot”.
Civilians have also been wounded in the Israeli raids.
Syria’s defence ministry said in early July that an Israeli raid carried out from the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Al-Hamadiyah, south of Tartous town, had wounded two civilians.
State media also reported that Israeli shelling on Friday had wounded two civilians in southern Syria near the occupied Golan Heights.
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said Israel has also recently struck a port in the coastal city of Latakia as well as the airport in Damascus, deeming the runway there unusable for weeks.
“For Israel, the biggest goal is to prevent Iran from creating a base on its border with Syria, the way that Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah has,” she said. “Israel also wants to stop any transfers of sophisticated weapons from Iran to Hezbollah.”
She added, “such attacks are often confined, but the risk of further escalation is there.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was able to turn the tide of his country’s civil war, with crucial help from Iran’s proxy groups and with Russia’s military intervention in 2015.
The conflict started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests for democracy and has killed nearly half a million people since 2011.
Half of the country’s prewar population have also been forced from their homes.
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