TBC NewsWatch | thebereancall.org



TheGuardian.com, 10/14/13, “Christian newspaper must not use ‘Allah’, Malaysian court rules” [Excerpts]: A Christian newspaper in Malaysia may not use the word “Allah” to refer to God, a court has ruled, in a landmark decision on a matter that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights.

Monday’s unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia’s appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay language version of the newspaper the Herald to use the word Allah – as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.

“The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali said in the ruling. “The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.”

The government argued...that the word Allah is specific to Muslims and that the then-home minister’s decision in 2008 to deny the newspaper permission to print it was justified on the basis of public order.

“As a Muslim, defending the usage of the term Allah qualifies as jihad. It is my duty to defend it,” said Jefrizal Ahmad Jaafar, 39.

Christians in Indonesia and much of the Arab world use the word without opposition from Islamic authorities.Churches in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak have said they will continue to use the word regardless of the ruling.

In recent months, prime minister Najib Razak has sought to consolidate his support among majority ethnic Malays, who are Muslim by law....His new government—dominated by his Malay-based United Malays National Organisation—has introduced steps to reinvigorate a decades-old affirmative action policy for ethnic Malays, reversing liberal reforms.



TheBlaze.com, 11/4/13, Saudi Police Arrest Woman for Driving Her Sick Father to the Hospital” [Excerpts]: A Kuwaiti woman was arrested for driving her sick father to the hospital in an area just over the border in Saudi Arabia, a country in which women are prohibited from operating motor vehicles.

The woman told police that her father, who was sitting in the passenger seat, suffers from diabetes, could not drive and was in need of urgent treatment, the Kuwait Times reported, citing a police report.

The woman remains in custody as police continue their investigation.

More than a dozen women were detained [the week of October 27] in Saudi Arabia after getting behind the wheel in order to lodge a protest against the female driving ban. The Kuwait Times report did not suggest that the unnamed Kuwaiti woman was involved in that effort when she was operating the car.

“Kuwaiti women are free to drive in their country and enjoy far more rights than those in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to travel abroad, open a bank account or work without permission from a male relative,” Reuters reported.

Besides the reported 60 women who took part in the driving protest last week, the Kuwait Times said “a growing number of men are quietly helping steer the campaign, risking their jobs and social condemnation in the conservative kingdom.”



NewYorkTimes.com, 10/12/13, “In a Mood? Call Center Agents Can Tell” [Excerpts]:  In a YouTube clip from one of Steve Jobs’s last interviews, he appears to be enjoying reminiscing about how he first hit upon the idea for the keyboardless tablet that eventually became the iPad. “I had this idea of being able to get rid of the keyboard, type on a multitouch glass display and I asked our folks, could we come up with a multitouch display that I could type on, I could rest my hands on and actually type on,” Mr. Jobs says, smiling slightly as he recounts his enthusiasm at seeing the first prototype.

But in a billboard superimposed over the nearly two-minute video clip, an emotion analytics company called Beyond Verbal has added its own algorithmic evaluation of Mr. Jobs’s underlying feelings. It is an emotion detection system meant to parse not the meanings of people’s words but the intonations of their voices.

“Conflict between urges and self-control. Loneliness, fatigue, emotional frustration,” the ticker above Mr. Jobs’s head reports as he speaks. Moments later, it suggests a further diagnosis: “Insistence, stubbornness. Possibly childish egoism.” And then concludes: “sadness mixed with happiness. Possibly nostalgia.”

Humans generally have inklings when their interlocutors, out of solicitousness or sarcasm, utter phrases aloud that contradict their inner feelings: Thanks a bunch. You’ve been very helpful. Wish I were there. Let’s have lunch.

But now, new techniques in computational voice analysis are promising to help machines identify when smiley-sounding phrases like Mr. Jobs’s belie frustration and grief within. Although the software is still in its early phases, developers like Beyond Verbal, a start-up in Tel Aviv, are offering the nascent technology as a deeper approach for call centers and other customer services that seek to read and respond to consumers’ emotions in real time. The company says its software can detect 400 variations of different moods.

The more invasive audio mining also has the potential to unnerve some consumers, who might squirm at the idea of an unknown operator getting an instant entree into their psyche.



CharismaNews.com, 11/4/13, “Iran’s Crackdown on Christians Hasn’t Let Up [Excerpts]: When Christians marked the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in November, Iranian pastor Behnam Irani will mark nearly 900 days in prison for his Christian faith.

Irani, 43, has served more than two years of his sentence, and has suffered deteriorating health. The Christian group Present Truth Ministries reports the husband and father of two children has endured beatings from Iranian guards and suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease that has crippled him at times. Prison officials haven’t offered sufficient medical treatment.

Other Christians serve lengthy sentences with little international attention. Iranian pastor Farshid Fathi has spent nearly three years in prison for his Christian activity. A judge sentenced Fathi, 34, to six years in Evin prison.