Yanny or Laurel? Soundbite sparks Internet din

A simple looped soundbite with just two syllables has ignited an internet meltdown, dividing social media users into staunchly opposed camps: do you hear "Yanny" or "Laurel?"
Updated 16 May 2018
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Yanny or Laurel? Soundbite sparks Internet din

WASHINGTON: An audio snippet with just two syllables has ignited an Internet meltdown, dividing social media users into staunchly opposed camps: do you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel?“
The collective sensory experiment causing a Twitter tizzy mushroomed from a short audio clip originally published by a high school student on Reddit, The New York Times said Wednesday.
Roland Szabo, 18, said he recorded the seemingly innocuous audio from a vocabulary website while doing a project for his school in the US state of Georgia.
He played it for his peers, who disagreed over whether the syllables formed “Yanny” or “Laurel.”

Intrigued, Szabo sent it to a friend who posted the clip on Instagram and created a poll that quickly went viral, triggering a mass debate that has spread internationally.
Input from celebrities has inflamed the frenzy: “It’s Yanny,” horror writer Stephen King said in a deadpan tweet.
“It’s so clearly laurel,” quipped supermodel Chrissy Teigen. “I can’t figure out how one would hear yanny.”
In perhaps the most vexing element of the debate, the majority of listeners hear beyond doubt one of the two words, with few waffling between the two.
A straw poll carried out among staff in AFP’s Washington bureau counted 17 for Yanny, and 14 for Laurel. Just three were caught in between — hearing first one, then the other when played again, or a mix of the two sounds.
The controversy recalls the similarly impassioned debate that broke out over the #TheDress: in 2015 a photo of a two-toned frock had social media users tearing their hair out over whether its colors were white and gold, or black and blue.


Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

Updated 19 August 2018
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Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

  • Shop owner sees increasing demand from women, says self-defence is main reason for buying
  • Customer says legalized gun sales will act as crime deterrent

BAGHDAD: In the middle of Baghdad’s busy commercial neighborhood of Karrada, where most retail outlets sell home appliances, shoppers can now also buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles legally for the first time in decades.
After the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, illegal weapons trade flourished across the country. Looted guns from ransacked police stations and military bases were sold in streets and public areas to residents seeking to protect themselves in a state that was largely lawless.
The authorities have since been battling to curb illegal weapon sales and the government has stepped up efforts to control gun ownership through regulation.
The latest initiative came into force this summer and allows citizens to own and carry handguns, semi-automatic rifles and other assault weapons after obtaining official authorization and an identity card that also details the individual’s weapons.
Previously, gun sales were restricted to firearms for hunting and sport.
Hamza Maher opened his new gun shop in Karrada after receiving official approval from the Interior Ministry and says there has been growing demand for his wares.
“Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing,” said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols and assault rifles are on display.
“The reason for buying is self-defense, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorized store instead of from an unknown source.”
Pistol prices in Maher’s shop range from $1,000 to $4,000, while Kalashnikov assault rifles can be had from as little as $400 up to $2,000, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin, he said.
Haider Al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of gun stores.
“Yes, it will decrease crime,” he said on a visit to Maher’s shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. “The criminal who plans to attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price.”