Musing, News, and the Past

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Can Voice Stress Analysis tell us if someone's lying? Probably not.

allthingslinguistic:

Mark Liberman on Language Log has a through refutation of Voice Stress Analysis, a technique that is used to supposedly tell if someone is lying. Excerpt: 

How does this stuff supposedly work?

CVSA works by measuring involuntary voice frequency changes that would indicate a high level of stress, as occurs when someone is being deceptive. Muscles in the voice box tighten or loosen, which changes the sound of the voice, and that is what the CVSA technology registers.

"The technology uses proprietary methods to process the vocal input, typically yes or no responses to direct questions," Kane explains. "CVSA analyzes vocal input and identifies responses where stress is either present or absent and provides graphical output for each yes or no response."

Here “proprietary”, as far as I can tell, means something like “The original ‘voice stress’ ideas have been thoroughly debunked both theoretically and practically, so now we won’t tell anyone how our products work, so that no one can test the ideas without buying our stuff and taking our training — and if they do that and fail to find positive results, we can say that it’s because they did it wrong…”

In “Analyzing voice stress”, 7/2/2004, I complained that I and others had been trying for 30 years to validate the claims behind “voice stress analysis”, without even being able to find evidence for the stable measurement (and even the existence) of the features (like variable “micro-tremors” or other “involuntary voice frequency changes”) that this technology is supposed to be based on.

Like a polygraph, voice stress analysis seems to work primarily by convincing people that it works and thereby making them less likely to lie in the first place. 

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'They are savages,' say Christians forced to flee Mosul by Isis

theorthodoxbritreturns:

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its “criminality and terrorism”.

Last weekend Isis gave the city’s Christians a stark choice: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death. “They said there is no place for Christians in the Islamic state,” one distraught refugee said from the safety of Bashiqa, 16 miles from Mosul. “Either you become Muslim or you leave.” Mosul’s last 1,500 Christian families were reportedly robbed at Isis checkpoints as they fled.

Hundreds have found shelter in areas between Mosul and Irbil – the capital of the Kurdistan regional government – that are controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, but they face an uncertain future.

"If Isis stays, there is no way the Christians can return," Father Boutrous Moshi said from Qara Qoosh, a Christian area south-east of Mosul. "It is up to God whether we return or not. They have not burned the churches but they did set fire to the pictures and the books and broke the windows."

Monks at the 4th-century Mar Behnam monastery, a major pilgrimage site run by the Syriac Catholic church, were allowed to take only the clothes they were wearing.

Sarab Hazem, from the Zehoor neighbourhood of Mosul, said that initially there were no attacks on Christians when Isis took the city in a lightning offensive in June, though Isis fighters did capture and take away police, security agents and soldiers. “No one knows what becomes of them,” he said.

Then, statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary were destroyed. “They are savages,” Hazem said. “This is oppression for no reason. I believe it is no longer possible for Christians to live in Iraq.”

Bashar Nasih Behnam, 52, who fled with his two young children last Friday, told a similar story: “They [Isis] threatened us and said you can’t stay in Mosul and you have to leave,” he said. “They said we have conditions: either you comply with them or you leave. So we left.”

Deprived by Isis of Iraqi government rations (a legacy of the sanctions imposed in the Saddam Hussein era) they were too frightened to go out to their church, where the jihadis took down a statue of the Virgin Mary and put their black flag in its place. A monastery was turned into a mosque.

Two nuns who were looking after three orphans were kidnapped but later released. The Arabic letter “N” for Nasrani (Christians) was daubed on the doors of houses – to show that they had been seized as the property of the Islamic state declared by Isis.

"There is not a single Christian family left in Mosul," Behnam said. "The last one was a disabled Christian woman. She stayed because she could not get out. They came to her and said you have to get out and if you don’t we will cut off your head with a sword. That was the last family.

"There is not a single family that left and was not robbed. They took our money, gold, even the earrings from their [women’s] ears. They took everything, even mobile phones.

"We don’t know if we are going to go back. Until now we have no idea if there can be a return. We don’t know what our destiny is. They have even taken our houses in Mosul."

Bassem Fadel Zarghit, a shopkeeper from Mosul’s al-Rifa’i neighbourhood, said the city’s Christians had felt doomed despite initial reassurance from Isis. “There is no one left,” he said. “It’s not just the Christians. It’s also the Shia that are being targeted.”

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, was once among the country’s most mixed. Waves of attacks on Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam have eroded its once sizeable Christian population, mainly from the Assyrian and Chaldean denominations.

The decree issued by Isis in Mosul mirrored one that its fighters issued in the north-eastern Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Isis for its vicious campaign against minorities in the Mosul area.

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Christians Fleeing Mosul Persecuted By ISIS, Muslims Rally Alongside Protesting Christians

theorthodoxbritreturns:

The plight of Christians and other minority groups in northern Iraq has taken a turn for the worse, according to reports, as thousands fleeing regions controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have been robbed of their possessions at ISIS checkpoints.

 ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that advocates Islamic Shariah law, is reportedly persecuting Christians in Iraq, forcing them to flee their homes in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, even as Muslims in Baghdad showed solidarity with persecuted Christians by joining them in symbolic protests across the city. Mosul is one of the holiest cities of Christianity in the Middle East and the ancient churches of Mosul are some of Christianity’s oldest.

At a rally in Baghdad, many Christians who arrived in the city after fleeing the violence of ISIS in the north held up signs that read, “I am Iraqi, I am Christian.” They were joined by Muslims expressing solidarity with the Christian community, also holding up the same signs, a report said.

ISIS reportedly issued an ultimatum to Mosul’s Christians ending Friday, to either convert to Islam, or pay the Islamic tax for non-Muslims known as jizya, or leave Mosul. However, a day before the city’s minority communities fled, ISIS took away the option of paying the tax and staying back, reports said.

“The world must act, speak out, consider human rights,” Bishop Shlemon Wardooni of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch and head of Iraq’s largest church, said on Sunday, adding that the Iraqi state was weak and divided and Muslim leaders had remained silent. “We haven’t heard from clerics from all sects or from the government,” he told Reuters.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on Sunday, condemned the treatment of Mosul’s Christians, saying it showed “the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of ISIS” while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said ISIS actions were akin to “a crime against humanity.”

Pope Francis, in his weekly public prayers on Sunday, said: “I learned with great concern the news that came from the Christian communities in Mosul. Today they are persecuted. Our brothers are persecuted. They’ve been driven away. They must leave their homes without being able to take anything with them.”

On Sunday, about 200 Muslims attended the rally in Baghdad, with some marking themselves with the Arabic letter “N” for “Nazarene,” or Christian.

Christian leaders thanked Muslim supporters for standing up for their right to live in Iraq. “What gives us hope is a group of citizens – I do not want to say Muslims but they were Muslims – from Baghdad carrying slogans saying ‘I am Iraqi, I am Christian,’” Maysar Bahnam, a priest at Mar Korkis Catholic Church in Baghdad, told Al Arabiya. “They prayed in solidarity with us, saying that we are people from this land.”

On Twitter, hashtags such as #WeAreN and #IamNasrani served to share news and pictures of the plight of Iraqi Christians, and for helping organize support demonstrations.

Families leaving from the checkpoints on the eastern side of the city were reportedly harassed and robbed of their possessions. People also reported that money, jewelry and documents were taken from them, while the Daily Beast reported that women had crucifixes torn from their necks. Christian families and church leadership were among the last of Mosul’s minority communities such as Shabak, Shia, Yezidi, Turkmen and Kurds to leave the city, according to reports.

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Purged By ISIS, Iraq's Christians Appeal to World for Help

theorthodoxbritreturns:

Iraqi Christians are begging for help from the civilized world after Mosul, the northern city where they have lived and worshiped for 2,000 years, was purged of non-Muslims by ISIS, the jihadist terror group that claims to have established its own nation in the region.

Assyrian Christians, including Chaldean and Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox and followers of the Assyrian Church of the East have roots in present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran that stretch back to the time of Jesus Christ. While they have long been a minority and have faced persecution in the past, they had never been driven completely from their homes as has happened in Mosul under ISIS. When the terror group ordered all to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution, many chose another option: flight.

“By 12 noon on Saturday, the Christians — all of them — left the city,” Yousif Habash, an Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, told FoxNews.com.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, included 60,000 Christians in 2003. By last month, the number had dwindled to just 35,000. It now stands at zero, according to Ignatius Yousef Younan III, patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church.

“We have to pray to wake our master, the Lord Jesus,” a somber Younan, who was in Mosul earlier this month and has discussed the situation with the Pope, said Wednesday on Fox & Friends.

Habash, who roundly criticized the Obama administration and the United Nations, specifically, for what he called their “careless absence” in taking action against the militants, said such violent intolerance demanded action from the international community.

“Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?” he asked. “Nobody has said a word.”

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is the “first cradle of Christianity in Iraq,” Habash said. But after Islamic militants seized the city on June 10, Arabic letters with a chilling ultimatum were left at the homes of Iraqi Christians.

“The letter said that if you don’t convert or if you don’t pay, there is a sword between you and us, meaning execution,” Habash said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned ISIS’s actions on Sunday, a day after Mosul’s Christian population fled to other areas, such as the nearby self-rule Kurdish region.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. “Those people, through their crimes, are revealing their true identity and the false allegations made here and there about the existence of revolutionaries among their ranks.”

Pope Francis also called for an end to Christian persecution in Mosul, holding a moment of silence Sunday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope told the crowd. “Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away.”

The U.N. said on Sunday that at least 400 families from Mosul — including other religious and ethnic minority groups — had sought refuge in the northern provinces of Irbil and Dohuk.

Dr. Sallama Al Khafaji, a member of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, reportedly told a local news agency that ISIS militants forced their way into the home of an Assyrian family in Mosul, demanding a “jizya” or poll tax. When the family said they could not produce the money, three jihadist militants raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father, who later committed suicide, according to the report.

Mosul is home to some of the most ancient Christian communities, but the number of Christians has dwindled since 2003. On Sunday, militants seized the 1,800-year old Mar Behnam Monastery, about 15 miles south of Mosul. The resident clergymen left to the nearby city of Qaraqoush, according to local residents.

Irbil’s governor, Nawzad Hadi, has pledged to protect fleeing Christians and other minority groups. The territory is currently home to more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations.