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Alex Deans has a lot to reflect on this summer. The eighteen-year-old Ontario, Canada native just graduated high school. He’s also changing the way blind people everywhere will be able navigate the world around them. For the past six years, Deans has been working tirelessly on a device now known as the iAid, a navigation system that uses ultrasonic technology and GPS technology to help the visually impaired get where they need to go. The belt-like structure comes with a joy stick and operates using four ultrasonic sensors, which send out sound waves that ricochet off objects and alert the user as to how far away that object is. The idea first came to him at age 12, when he went to help a blind woman across the street. All that was at her disposal was a cane and the option of a guide dog, which is often hard to come by. Dean told Good News Network, “Guide Canes tell you what’s directly in front of you, but they don’t help you figure out where you are in relation your destination and objects that are farther away.” The iAid helps users steer around objects in their vicinity and includes a joystick that swivels in their hands, pointing them in the direction they need to go in. As far as pricing goes, he estimates the device will only cost about $50-$70 per unit, if he can get the cost of materials down. He hopes his invention will one day replace canes and give blind people the ability to maneuver more easily on their own.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The prison phone business is a wildly complex, fiercely secretive and enormously lucrative industry. Over the last decade, [this] business has become a scandalous industry, characterized by lawsuits, exorbitant fees, high phone rates and monopolistic relationships between public jails and private companies that openly offer kickbacks to local sheriffs. "This is about shifting the cost of the police state onto the backs of the poor people being policed," says Paul Wright, executive director of Human Rights Defense Center. [There are] an estimated 2.2 million inmates currently behind bars in America. If you've ever tried to call an inmate, there's a good chance you've heard of Securus, or its main competitor, Global Tel*Link (GTL). The two companies reportedly make up about 80 percent of the prison phone business, which drives about $1.2 billion per year in revenues. In the last few years, Securus, especially, has emerged into one of the largest, if not most secretive, prison technology companies in the business. The company employs 1,000 associates in 46 states, contracts with 2,600 jails and prisons across North America, and provides service to more than 1 million inmates and their families. Securus earned $114.6 million in profits 2014, on revenues of about $404 million. When companies like Securus send proposals to jails and prisons around the country, they offer a percentage of the call rate back to the sheriff's office. It's typical for commissions to range anywhere from 40 percent and 80 percent.
A 9/11 Congressional Committee investigated whether there were terror links to Saudi Arabia, but that portion of the report is classified by the government; fearing release could hurt U.S. relationships with a key Middle East ally. Now there are growing calls for the secret report to be made public. 28 pages classified as top secret by President Bush ... look at what if any relationship existed between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi Government. These pages are the only part of the report kept hidden from the public. Just a few weeks ago, Republican Presidential Candidate Rand Paul introduced a measure in the Senate calling for public disclosure; both Senators Gillibrand and Schumer support it. The Former head of the 9-11 Inquiry who has read the "secret" pages says "Collectively they tell us that the hijackers did not operate alone. That there was a support network which facilitated their ability to carry out such a complicated and heinous assault as 9/11. And, they tell us that Saudi Arabia was the premier part of that support network," said Bob Graham, a former senator. Former Senator Graham believes the pages have remained classified to keep Americans from knowing the depth of Saudi involvement in 9/11. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any connection.
Note: If the former head of the 9/11 Commission says these pages should be declassified, will people listen. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing 9/11 news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our 9/11 Information Center.
In the past several months, a bevy of studies have added to a growing literature on the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. That includes recent research showing that short micro-breaks spent looking at a nature scene have a rejuvenating effect on the brain – boosting levels of attention – and also that kids who attend schools featuring more greenery fare better on cognitive tests. And Monday, yet another addition. It's a cognitive neuroscience study, meaning not only that benefits from a nature experience were captured in an experiment, but also that their apparent neural signature was observed through brain scans. 38 individuals who lived in urban areas, and who had "no history of mental disorder," were divided into two groups – and asked to take a walk. Half walked for 90 minutes through a natural area. The other half walked along a very busy road. Before and also after the walk, the participants answered a questionnaire designed to measure their tendency toward "rumination," a pattern of often negative, inward-directed thinking and questioning that has been tied to an increased risk of depression. Finally, both before and after the walk, the participants had their brains scanned. The result was that individuals who took the 90-minute nature walk showed a decrease in rumination. And their brain activity also showed a change consistent with this result. Spending time outdoors, in nature, is good for you.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics. Of course, the economics behind the programme that the "troika" (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country's GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is ... the troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018. Economists around the world have condemned that target as punitive, because aiming for it will inevitably result in a deeper downturn. Indeed, even if Greece's debt is restructured beyond anything imaginable, the country will remain in depression if voters there commit to the troika's target. Almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries' banking systems.
Note: Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is a professor at Columbia University. Note that as a result of the troika's austerity measures instituted five years ago, Greece’s rate of youth unemployment now exceeds 60%. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Three days after the New York Times revealed that the U.S. government was secretly monitoring the calls and emails of people inside the United States without court-approved warrants, the National Security Agency issued a top-secret assessment of the damage done to intelligence efforts by the story. The conclusion: the information could lead terrorists to try to evade detection. Yet the agency gave no specific examples of investigations that had been jeopardized. The December 2005 bombshell story, by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, set off a debate about the George W. Bush administration's expansion of spying powers after the 9/11 attacks, and also about the Times editors' decision to delay its publication for a year. White House officials had warned the Times that revealing the program would have grave consequences for national security. "To this day we've never seen any evidence – despite all the claims they made to keep us from publishing – that it did any tangible damage to national security, " Lichtblau told The Intercept. "The reality was that the story ... didn't tell terrorists anything that they didn't know," he said. The NSA's damage assessment on the article ... is among the files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The memo recounts meetings in 2004 and 2005 in which administration officials disclosed "certain details of the special program to select individuals from the New York Times to dissuade them from publishing a story on the program at that time."
Note: You can read the revealing memo mentioned at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Media Information Center.
The Dutch city of Utrecht ... has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays. Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful. The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country. Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt: "One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare. What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
What if your life depended on a drug that cost half a million dollars a year, every year, for the foreseeable future? That's the price of Soliris, one of the world's most expensive drugs. It is the only medicine available for people suffering from two ultra-rare diseases. And for both diseases, Soliris is not a cure, but ... patients can go back to living normal lives. But only if they can get the drug, and many can't, because it is priced beyond the reach of almost everyone. So how can one drug cost more than the annual income of all but a tiny percentage of households? The reason is ... orphan drug pricing, where actual research and development costs are carefully guarded secrets known only to drug company executives. "Orphan" in this context refers to rare diseases [for which] the patient population was too small to attract the interest of drug companies. But now medications to treat these ultra-rare diseases are becoming more profitable than traditional drugs, because of ... a business model based on extreme pricing. The extreme prices of these new orphan drugs are largely arbitrary, and have very little to do with the development and manufacturing costs. Most drugs are based on scientific discoveries made in publicly funded research labs, by academic scientists. In case of Soliris, most of the research and development was done by university researchers working in academic laboratories supported by public funds. Soliris is Alexion's only drug, but it's a blockbuster, earning revenues of more than $6 billion in just eight years, and making Alexion one of the fastest growing companies in the world.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
A former Baltimore Police Department officer named Michael Wood caused a stir online when he began tweeting some of the horrible things he claims to have seen during his 11 years on the job. Here's a [phone interview] transcript, interspersed with some of Wood's tweets. Balko: You mentioned seeing cops urinate and defecate in the homes of suspects, even on their beds and their clothes. How common was that? Wood: There’s a particular unit that does that. Everyone knew it. They usually blame it on the dog. [Tweet] "A detective slapping a completely innocent female in the face for bumping into him." Balko: One common criticism asked why you didn’t report these incidents. Wood: I’m totally guilty. I should have done more. [Tweet] "Swearing in court and [official documents] that suspect dropped CDS [controlled dangerous substances] during unbroken visual pursuit when neither was true." Wood: It all goes back to this whole us versus them thing. Your job is to fight crime, and these are the guys you do it with. They aren’t really even people. They’re just the enemy. This is the culture. There’s a powerful bureaucracy at any big city police department. A few guys run the whole show. A few old white guys hand-pick who climbs the ranks. [Tweet] "Targeting 16-24 year old black males essentially because we arrest them more, perpetrating the circle of arresting them more." Balko: How do we make things better? Wood: I think it starts with empathy. We need to stop all this warrior talk, the militaristic language, and the us versus them rhetoric.
Note: Read the entire revealing article for a rare glimpse into the common corruption inside a big city police department. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Lego just announced a bold 10-year plan to makes its goods more environmentally friendly. This comes after a 2013 partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a plan in reducing its overall carbon emissions, as well as those of its supply chain. Lego pledged to invest $150 million to find a replacement for the plastic used in its blocks as well as to reduce the size of its packaging. A commitment for this kind of strategy includes using recycled or renewed materials and improving the recyclability of its products. Hasbro and Mattel, producers of such iconic toys as Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, respectively, have also vowed to invest in this global issue. By 2020, Hasbro plans to reduce its waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also overhauling the packaging for most of its brands. These strides have led to Hasbro being named a winner of the EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award. After caving to mounting pressure from Greenpeace, Mattel committed to source new materials for its packaging, setting a goal of 85 percent recycled materials by the end of 2015. "The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit," said Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Words we should all try to live by.
Don Winslow['s book] The Cartel, a sequel to 2005's The Power of the Dog [is] a sort of Game of Thrones of the Mexican drug wars, a multipart, intricately plotted, blood-soaked epic that tells the story of how America's unquenchable appetite for illegal drugs has brought chaos to our southern neighbors and darkened our own political and criminal culture. Dog ... traces the rise of the narcotraficantes who split Mexico into territories and smuggled cocaine across the U.S. border by the ton. The violence ... spills out into Mexican society, turning cities like Juarez into Fallujah-like battle zones. But the most shocking thing about these books is that almost all the horror stories Winslow tells ... are largely true – from the narcotrafficker who threw children off a bridge to ... countless murders, kidnappings and tortures. The War on Drugs is a trillion-dollar failure. We spend billions of dollars pursuing drugs and billions imprisoning people that probably shouldn't be in prison. This war has killed a hundred thousand people in Mexico. These ISIS beheadings that we're seeing [are] a direct copy of what the cartels were doing in 2007 and 2008. The Zetas had imported Special Forces veterans from the Guatemalan army – and one of their things was to cut off heads. [There's] a direct line between events in Ferguson and Baltimore and Cleveland to the War on Drugs. The fruits that we're reaping now are seeds that were planted back in 1971, when Nixon declared war on drugs. The War on Drugs is more of a problem to the United States than drugs are.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on drugs from reliable major media sources on little-known facts about mind-altering drugs. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our War Information Center.
Politicians, lawyers, activists and survivors of child abuse crowded into a committee room in the Palace of Westminster ... demanding a thorough and transparent government inquiry into historic child sex abuse allegations. Rumours have swirled in recent years about a cover-up in the British establishment involving senior politicians and police that has seen prominent figures engaging in child abuse and murder. Police have described evidence from one survivor relating to abuse at the Dolphin Square estate in London and at least three murders "credible and true". Yesterday's event, arranged by the WhiteFlowers group, was designed to keep up the pressure on home secretary Theresa May. The group has recently been vocal in challenging May's decision to exclude representatives of victims' groups from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which has been dogged by controversy after both Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Dame Fiona Woolf were forced to resign from chairing it due to their links to establishment figures. A New Zealand judge was appointed to chair the inquiry earlier this year. She has said that "the appointment of victims or survivors to the panel will not, in my view, be consistent with the objectivity, independence and impartiality that is required of members of an independent panel" - comments that have left campaigners furious. John Mann MP ... spoke, demanding that the Official Secrets Act be lifted. One survivor who was placed in care in homes in Rotherham, Warrington, North Wales and Rochdale, told the audience in an earlier meeting that abuse had taken place in each home.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sex abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande in 2006-12, Wikileaks says [citing] "top secret intelligence reports and technical documents" from the NSA. A file dated 2010 suggests that French officials were aware that the US was spying upon them and intended to complain about it. According to the summary of an intercepted exchange, the French envoy to Washington ... discussed Mr Sarkozy's plan to express his "frustration" over US unwillingness to sign a "bilateral intelligence co-operation agreement". "The main sticking point is the US desire to continue spying on France," the intercept says. [One analyst commented] "Of course they know that spying goes on – even between friends. But the cardinal rule is not to get found out. When you do, you must expect the full force of diplomatic outrage." In response to the alleged leaks, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said: "As a general matter, we do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike." In 2013 Brazilian media reported that NSA documents showed the agency had also spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico. [Also] in 2013 the NSA was accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. German media later reported that Germany's national intelligence agency had spied on ... the EU's headquarters on behalf of the US.
Note: The claim of a "threat to national security" is widely used both to perpetrate and to cover up huge amounts of illegal behavior. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on secrecy excesses from reliable major media sources.
A 9-year-old Ohio girl used a lemonade stand this week to help her raise money to buy an electronic tablet to help with schoolwork. Fourth grader Gabrielle Garcar was tending to her lemonade stand Monday at her grandmother's condo building when Zak Ropos stopped by for a cup. When the Lake County sheriff's deputy learned what the girl planned to do with the money she raised ... he headed to Best Buy and purchased [her] a brand-new electronic tablet. "She's 9 years old and she's willing to work for what she wants, and I found that very admirable of her," said Ropos, 22. "I knew her lemonade stand wasn't probably going to bring in enough money for a tablet, but seeing that she was willing to work for what she wanted, I was willing to help her. People have helped me out in my life, so it was kind of like a pay-it-forward type thing." He delivered the device to her the next day, meeting up with the family at the local high school where they were attending football practice for the girl's brother. Ropos, 22, has been with the sheriff's department for eight months. He said he's not sure why his act has garnered so much attention. He works among many generous officers: One of his lieutenants recently donated $200 to a needy family, and two fellow deputies just days ago purchased a bike for a boy who needed help getting to soccer practice. "That's how it is at Lake County. Everyone is caring here," he said.
[One spy unit is] responsible for some of the United Kingdom's most controversial tactics of surveillance, online propaganda and deceit. Documents ... demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers "extremist". Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile [after] Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in "dirty tricks" like deploying sexual "honey traps" designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down Internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks and generally warping discourse online. Particularly revealing is a fascinating 42-page document from 2011 detailing JTRIG's activities. The document lays out the tactics the agency uses to manipulate public opinion, its scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced. Many GCHQ documents describing the "missions" of the "customers" for which it works make clear that the agency has a wide mandate far beyond national security, including providing help on intelligence to the Bank of England, ... to various departments on agriculture and whaling activities, to government financial divisions to enable good investment decisions. Beyond JTRIG's targeting of Anonymous, other parts of GCHQ targeted political activists deemed to be "radical," even monitoring the visits of people to the WikiLeaks website. [The document] includes detailed discussions of how to foster "obedience" and "conformity".
Note: Read amazing excerpts of this report at the link above showing how JTRIG plays an active role on the Internet in directly manipulating many political discussions and websites. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in intelligence agencies from reliable major media sources.
As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment. When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn't complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside. "It felt like you were on fire," recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. "Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out." Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program – formally declassified in 1993 – to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race. All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret. [Subjects] received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. They were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time. In 1991, federal officials for the first time admitted that the military conducted mustard gas experiments on enlisted men during World War II. However the race-based experiments remained largely a secret until ... 2008. Despite months of federal records requests, NPR still hasn't been given access to hundreds of pages of documents related to the experiments, which could provide confirmation of the motivations behind them.
It's a peculiar feature of American relations with Israel that more than a few senior diplomats posted from Jerusalem to Washington were once US citizens. The present Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, was born in Miami Beach and carried an American passport until he renounced it in 2005 in order to serve as the Jewish state's economic envoy in DC. When Dermer lived in the US, before moving to Israel two decades ago, he was a Republican party operative. Dermer's predecessor as envoy in Washington, Michael Oren, has now created his own diplomatic uproar with a remarkable attack on Obama that appears at least partly rooted in his disillusionment with the president as leader of the land of Oren's birth. Oren, a New Yorker and US citizen until 2009 when he became ambassador, has stirred outrage by suggesting that the president is not a loyal American. In extracts from a book to be published on Tuesday, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, Oren accuses the president of policies that "imperilled Israel" not least over Iran. Oren wrote in the book of how disturbed he was that Israel's "closest ally had entreated with our deadliest enemy on an existential issue without so much as informing us". Oren, who is now a member of Israel's parliament, writes that Obama is soft on terrorism, a claim open to challenge from those on the end of US drone attacks.
Note: Read an informative article listing other politicians with dual American-Israeli citizenship.
The Obama administration is again allowing the CIA to use drone strikes to secretly kill people that the spy agency does not know the identities of in multiple countries - despite repeated statements to the contrary. Apparently the drone operators didn't even know at the time who they were aiming at - only that they thought the target was possibly a terrorist hideout. It's what's known as a "signature" strike. Signature strikes has led to scores of civilians being killed over the past decade, including two completely innocent hostages ... one of whom was a US citizen ... less than two months ago. It's a way of killing that's been roundly condemned by human rights organizations and that some members of Congress have tried to outlaw. Here's how the New York Times described it: "The joke was that when the CIA sees "three guys doing jumping jacks," the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers – but they might also be farmers." It has become increasingly clear that the "rules" are virtually meaningless. As is typical with the US government's extrajudicial killing policy, there was no public debate about any of the changes to the supposed rules, or even announcement that they ever changed - only an unofficial leak to a journalist after the latest killing. Beyond the enormous human rights consequences related to such a dangerous policy, these types of strikes backfire on the United States, sowing hatred in the populations of bombed countries and breeding sympathy for al-Qaida where there was none before.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on terrorism from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our War Information Center.
Mark Rossini, a former FBI special agent at the center of an enduring mystery related to [9/11] says he is "appalled" by the newly declassified statements by former CIA Director George Tenet defending the spy agency's efforts to detect and stop the plot. Rossini, who was assigned to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) at the time of the attacks, has long maintained that the U.S. government has covered up secret relations between the spy agency and Saudi individuals who may have abetted the plot. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew commercial airliners (on 9/11) were Saudis. A heavily redacted 2005 CIA inspector general's report, parts of which had previously been released, was further declassified earlier this month. The Obama administration has [still] refused to declassify 28 pages dealing with Saudi connections. Rossini and another FBI agent assigned to the CTC, Doug Miller, learned in January 2000 that one of the future hijackers ... had a multi-entry visa to enter the U.S. But when Miller and Rossini attempted to warn FBI headquarters that al-Mihdhar could be loose in the U.S., a CIA supervisor ordered them to remain silent. Rossini says he is "deeply concerned" by how the agency continues to suppress information related to contacts between the CIA and Saudi Arabia, particularly when the spy agency is declassifying other portions of documents to show that it did everything possible to thwart the September 11, 2001 plot. "There would have not been a 9/11 if Doug's CIR [Central Intelligence Report] on al-Mihdhar was sent," he told Newsweek in an email. "Period. End of story."
Note: Read a Times of London article showing that some of the hijackers listed in the final 9/11 report are still alive. Several major media articles also reported that some of the 9/11 hijackers may have trained at US military bases. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing 9/11 news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore other excellent, reliable resources provided in our 9/11 Information Center.
Most people ... don't tap into their full empathic potential. The good news is that almost everyone can learn to be more empathic, just like we can learn to ride a bike or drive a car. A good warm up is to do a quick assessment of your empathic abilities. Neuropsychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has devised a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes in which you are shown 36 pairs of eyes and have to choose one of four words that best describes what each person is feeling or thinking. Going a step further, there are three simple but powerful strategies for unleashing the empathic potential that is latent in our neural circuitry: 1. Make a habit of "radical listening" ... to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment. Let people have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. 2. Look for the human behind everything ... by developing an awareness of all those individuals hidden behind the surface of our daily lives, on whom we may depend in some way. Who is driving the train? Vacuuming the office floor? Stacking the supermarket shelves? Such mindful awareness ... can spark empathic action on the behalf of others. 3. Become curious about strangers. Having conversations with strangers opens up our empathic minds. We can not only meet fascinating people but also challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have about others based on their appearance, accents or backgrounds.
Note: Learn about the world's first Empathy Museum, which is launching in the UK in late 2015.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.