Factbox Five facts about Mike Pompeo tapped for secretary of state

FOLLOWING are five facts about U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, who President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced will replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

– Pompeo, 54, regularly briefs Trump on intelligence matters, and is considered one of the most hawkish voices on North Korea in Trump’s inner circle.

– Pompeo has downplayed the extent of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying Moscow has sought to influence American elections for decades. In February, he defended talks he had that month at CIA headquarters with Russian spy chiefs.

– Like Trump, Pompeo is an outspoken critic of Iran and has called for scrapping the 2015 deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. In October, he said Iran was “mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region.”

– Pompeo has supported the U.S. government’s sweeping collection of Americans’ communications data. In an opinion piece published in 2016, he called for restarting the bulk collection of domestic telephone metadata and combining it with financial and lifestyle information into one searchable database.

– Before taking the reins at the CIA in January, Pompeo was a conservative Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas. He is a retired Army officer and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and Harvard Law School.

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Fascinating Facts About Every Letter in the English Alphabet

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A is for… Fedor Selivanov/ShutterstockBelieve it or not, the capital A hasn’t always looked the way it does now. Ancient Egyptians wrote the letter upside down, creating a symbol that resembled a steer with horns. Learn the surprising history behind the order of the English alphabet. B is for… mongione/ShutterstockGrab a paper and pen, and […]

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Washington Monument Facts You Never Knew

14 Things You Didn’t Know About Donald Trump

It wasn’t the first monument built in George Washington’s honor Valerio Berdini/Shutterstock Construction of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. began on July 4, 1848, but the first Washington Monument was actually built near Boonsboro, Maryland more than 20 years earlier. According to the Maryland Park Service, on July 4, 1827 most of the town’s […]

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10 Spooky Facts About the Moon

14 Things You Didn’t Know About Donald Trump

There’s a graveyard on the Moon Image Source/ShutterstockMost of the 200 tons of trash on the Moon is space junk and ephemera crash-landed or left behind by the 12 astronauts who have visited since 1969: abandoned satellites, spent rockets, cameras, backpacks, and golf balls. But among the detritus on the Moon are the ashes of […]

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16 Facts That Will Warp Your Perception of Time

The 10th President of the United States…

president john tyler

…has living grandchildren. John Tyler was born in 1790 and was inaugurated as president in 1841. He had children with his second wife pretty late in his life, including a son, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, who was born in 1853. Lyon also had children in his later years: Lyon Tyler Jr. was born in 1924 and Harrison Tyler was born in 1928. Both are still alive today. Here are some more surprising facts about U.S. presidents.

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20 Obscure Facts You Never Knew About Your Own Body

You get a lot of heartbeats


The average human gets around three billion heartbeats in their lifetime. That’s all the more reason to care for your ticker. Plant-based diets filled with veggies, sipping tea, and practicing yoga are among some of the 15 smart ways to prevent heart disease.

The post 20 Obscure Facts You Never Knew About Your Own Body appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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Sneezing: 12 Weird Facts | Reader’s Digest

Sneezing is a reflex


The reason that we sneeze is because our bodies are reacting to irritants—including dust, pollen, and animal dander—in the nose lining. When these irritants get into our noses, our brain receives a signal to get rid of them and we sneeze. You take a deep breath and hold it, causing the muscles in the chest to tighten. That pressure forces your tongue against the top of your mouth and the air to travel quickly out of your nose when you release your breath.

Sneezing is our body rebooting


Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reported on why we sneeze in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. They concluded that we need to reset our nasal cavity every so often… and we do that by sneezing. Don’t miss these strange facts about the human body you never knew.

Your heart does not stop when you sneeze


That’s a myth. But the rhythm of your heart can change when you sneeze. This happens because the pressure in your chest changes and alters your blood flow.

A sneeze can travel up to 100 miles an hour


Because the air is moving out of your nose so quickly you typically make a noise. The faster the air moves, the louder the sneeze.

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The spray from your sneeze can travel five feet or more


This is why it’s extremely important to cover your mouth with your elbow when you sneeze and prevent spreading a cold. Marjorie L. Slankard, MD, an associate attending physician and director of the Allergy Clinic at Columbia-New York Presbyterian Medical Center told everydayhealth.com that the reason your sneeze can travel so far is because it moves with a lot of force and the mucus particles are very tiny. (Learn more about what really happens to your body when you sneeze.)

Sneezing is a workout


One sneeze engages your throat, chest, diaphragm, and abdomen.

The color of your mucus means something


Your nose produces one to two pints of mucus every day. Typically, that mucus should be clear. If your mucus is green, yellow, or brown it could mean that you have an infection and you should see your doctor. White cells working to fight the infection in your mucus are what causes it to change color.

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Your eyes will close automatically when you sneeze


When your brain receives the signal to sneeze it also signals your eyes to close. You can’t keep them open, it’s an involuntary action.

Trying to hold in a sneeze can hurt


Not many cases have been reported, but attempting to hold in a sneeze can cause broken blood vessels in the eyes, damaged blood vessels in the brain, and/or ruptured eardrums. Alan Wild, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, told livescience.com that he would never recommend attempting to hold in a sneeze ever. However, there are ways to suppress the urge to sneeze. Wild recommends rubbing your nose, forcing a deep heavy breath out of your nose, or pressing your upper lip underneath your nose. (This is why you should never hold in a sneeze. )

You can’t sneeze when you’re asleep


While you’re sleeping, the nerves that cause you to sneeze are also resting.

There is a reason you sneeze multiple times in a row


Dr. Slankard told everydayhealth.com that it has to do with what causes us to sneeze in the first place. Since the act of sneezing is your body’s way of clearing out irritants from your nose, it might take a few tries to get them all out. Here are some of the reasons you can’t stop sneezing—and what to do about it.

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Amazing Facts About the Human Body from Travis Stork, MD | Reader’s Digest

You may have fought cancer

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Your body has trillions of cells. If a mutation occurs in the DNA (genetic material) of any, it can create cancer cells, which divide uncontrollably and can clump together to form tumors. When you consider how many cells split every minute—and each time a cell divides, it has to copy 30,000 genes—it’s a wonder we don’t get cancer all the time. The reason we don’t: the body’s incredible system to catch errors. When a cell divides, proofreading enzymes fix any DNA mistakes. If the proofreaders don’t work, the cell itself can detect that it’s “broken” and commit suicide. It says, “I’m about to become cancerous, so I’ll kill myself to save the body.” Here are 15 signs of cancer it’s easy to ignore.

Your heart beat anywhere from 60 to 100 times every minute

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Imagine doing biceps curls at that pace! That’s about 100,000 times a day—and up to three billion times in the average person’s life. What’s also very impressive about the heart is its ability to adapt to our lifestyles. During a vigorous workout, more than 70 percent of the heart’s output fuels your working muscles, for example, compared with just 20 percent while you are less active. You have about 100,000 miles of various blood vessels, laid end to end, and your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through them every day. These lifesaving tips can help you never get heart disease.

You breathed 25,000 times—without trying

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If you had to consciously choose to breathe that often, you’d never get anything else done. Or be able to sleep. So thank your brain stem for making the habit of breathing automatic. Curious why you need to inhale and exhale so often? Well, humans have a very high metabolism; at rest, you demand about seven to ten ounces of oxygen each minute. And your lungs are perfectly designed to handle these truckloads of oxygen. They contain about 300 million microscopic air sacs called alveoli, which provide the surface area roughly equivalent to half a tennis court to bring oxygen into the body while releasing carbon dioxide.

You blinked about 15 times a minute, or almost 15,000 times while you were awake

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

You do this spontaneously to protect your eyes and clean away dirt. Even cooler: Your brain doesn’t let you miss out while you blink—it fills in missing information so you never realize your eyes were closed. The muscles that help focus your eyes moved about 100,000 times today. That’s a workout equivalent to a 50-mile walk. These are the 17 body parts you didn’t know had names.

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You produced about six cups of saliva

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Yes, that’s a lot of spit, but saliva is one of the body’s most underappreciated fluids. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to taste or swallow food. Or form words. Saliva is also a potent germ fighter: Its enzymes clean your mouth and prevent tooth decay and infections. No wonder animals lick their wounds. Wondering about the other substances your body produces (say, eye boogers or belly button lint)? Don’t miss these 10 explanations for body gunk.

You got cut but didn’t bleed out or get a systemic infection

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Next time you get a scrape, think about this cascade of events: After some bleeding, which helps clean the wound, your body stops blood flow by forming a clot. If bacteria enter through the break in the skin, white blood cells quickly arrive to destroy them. Mast cells from your immune system release histamine, a chemical that increases blood flow to the site (it also makes the area red and swollen). This leads other cells to begin battle with the bacteria. It’s a magical sequence that helps save your life whenever you get cut.

The lining of your stomach regenerated about 25 percent of itself

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Your tummy is home to a powerful fluid: hydrochloric acid, which helps break down foods in much the same way that laundry detergent cleans stains. It’s so potent (strong enough to dissolve the metal zinc) that your stomach lining regenerates itself every four to five days so the acid won’t injure it. Here’s what 7 types of stomach pain really mean.

Your kidneys cleaned and recirculated almost 50 gallons of blood

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

That’s about three times as much as a medium-size car’s gas tank would hold. To fully appreciate the wonder of the kidneys, which form the most high-tech filtration system you’ll ever encounter, all you have to do is look at someone on dialysis due to poor kidney function. People need a machine about the size of a mini fridge to filter their blood, adjust electrolyte levels, and get rid of waste, while your body accomplishes this without any fanfare using two small organs, each about the size of a computer mouse. Your kidneys also help maintain the proper level of hydration. When you’re drinking a ton of water, they excrete more, turning your urine a clear or pale yellow color. When you’re dehydrated, they cling to as much fluid as possible, so your urine becomes more concentrated, making it look darker (like apple juice). Here’s what else your urine can reveal about your health.

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You regenerated about 0.03 percent of your skeleton today

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Your bones—strong as steel but as light as aluminum—aren’t just some chalky-white lifeless scaffold; they are living tissues with blood vessels and nerves. They are constantly repairing and rebuilding—about 10 percent of your adult skeleton is replaced each year. Your bones are also a good example of “use it or lose it”: The bones of someone with a broken leg who is immobile for a few weeks will literally shrink during that time, but they will bulk up once the person starts bearing weight and exercising again. These are the 15 silent signs your body might be in big trouble.

Your feet produced up to two cups of sweat today

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

No wonder your shoes and socks smell less than fresh. That sounds like a lot, but you’ll want to cut your feet a break when you consider how much work they do. If a healthy person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, that’s the equivalent of walking the circumference of the earth four times by age 70!

Your skin shed about 50 million dead cells today

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

That’s about 30,000 to 40,000 a minute (just think about how much skin you’ve axed since you started reading this article). You may have heard that your skin is your body’s largest organ, and because it serves so many important functions, the scaffolding is always up, so to speak. Just one square inch of skin has 650 sweat glands, 20 feet of blood vessels, 60,000 pigment cells, and more than 1,000 nerve endings. Don’t miss these 10 weird noises you’re body makes and what to do about them.

You had about 20,000 thoughts

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Picture 100 billion neurons (or brain cells), which each “fire” (talk to each other) five to 50 times per second (on average). The impulses can travel as fast as 270 miles per hour. This speed is what allows you to, say, see an object and immediately identify that 1) it’s a cat, 2) it’s orange, 3) it reminds you of Garfield, and 4) Garfield was your favorite comic.

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You didn’t overheat or freeze

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

Your inner thermostat, located in the hypothalamus, is an engineering marvel. A change of as little as one degree Fahrenheit triggers your body to make lifesaving adjustments. When your temperature gets too high, blood vessels in your skin dilate to release heat. When it drops, they constrict and your sweat glands shut down. Once your core temp hits 97 degrees, you can start shivering as a way to produce heat. Learn more about your body’s quirks with these 8 bizarre body parts and their surprising purposes.

You made up to three million red blood cells each second

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

That’s almost 260 billion for the day. They perform one of blood’s most important roles: delivering precious oxygen to all your body’s cells. A single drop of blood contains millions of these guys, which get their scarlet hue from the protein hemoglobin.

You had dozens and dozens of chances to choke to death today—but didn’t

Steve Vaccariello with Illustrations by Bryan Christie for Reader’s Digest

The back of your mouth displays an impressive feat of life guarding every time you eat or drink food or liquids. As you prepare to swallow, your soft palate comes up to cover your nasal cavity (so you don’t squirt spaghetti out your nose) and your epiglottis covers your trachea (so food doesn’t go down your lungs). To appreciate the art of swallowing, watch a baby being spoon-fed a jar of mashed carrots. He’ll push the food out with his tongue because he is still learning how to perfect the swallowing reflex, without which he would likely die. These are the 13 strange body facts you’ve always wondered about.

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9 Bizarre Facts About Newborn Babies

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They can’t taste salt iStock/skhoward Young babies are born with a well-developed sense of taste, but not for salt. Studies show that babies can’t taste salt until they’re about four months old. They can taste other flavors as well as adults can, especially sweet, bitter, and sour flavors (which might explain all the “baby tastes […]

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Unbelievable Facts You Never Knew About Your Pooch

The “smell” center of a dog’s brain is 40 times larger than yours.


Dogs can smell thousands of times better than humans. Their noses have millions more scent receptors—for example, a human nose averages 5 million while a Dachshund’s has 125 million—making them useful in sniffing out drugs, dead bodies, bed bugs, explosives, and more. Find out more secrets your pet isn’t telling you.

No two dog noses are the same.


A dog’s nose is the equivalent of a human fingerprint, with each having a unique pattern of ridges and creases. If you need to calm your dog down, this type of music works best.

Dogs dream like people.

iStock/Li Ki Goh

If you’ve ever noticed your pooch twitching in her sleep, this probably means she’s dreaming. Researchers found that dogs have similar sleep patterns and brain activity as humans, and that small breeds tend to dream more than large ones. Psychology Today suggests they’re probably imagining familiar activities like playing outside or chasing their tail. This is what your favorite dog breed says about your personality.

Dogs are as smart as a two-year-old baby.


According to canine researcher and author Stanley Coren, your toddler and pup are about on par when it comes to brains. He also explained that man’s best friend can count, understand over 150 words, and even trick people or other dogs to get treats. Intelligence varies based on breed—Border collies are the smartest. These are the secrets your dog knows about you.

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Tail wagging has its own language.


If your dog excitedly wags their tail, it means they’re happy to see you, right? Not necessarily. According to Discovery.com, dogs wag their tails to the right when they’re happy and to the left when they’re frightened. Wagging low means they’re insecure; and rapid tail wagging accompanied by tense muscles or dilated pupils can signal aggression. This is how to determine your dog’s energy level.

Dogs have a “sixth sense.”


In a 2010 poll, 67 percent of pet owners reported their pets acting strangely right before a storm, and 43 percent said their pets behaved oddly right before something bad happened. The top clues? Whining, erratic behavior, or trying to hide in a safe place. There are even reports that dogs can sense illnesses, like cancer. Check out more superpowers that all dogs have.

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Dogs only have sweat glands in their paws.


Even though they sweat out through the pads of their paws, their main form of cooling down is panting. Pet owners, beware of these signs of heat stroke in dogs.

Your dog’s feet might smell like corn.


Some pet owners might notice the faint scent of corn chips or popcorn lingering around their dog. This is called “frito feet,” and it happens when sweat and bacteria builds up in the paws.

“Dog breath” is actually unhealthy.


You might expect your dog’s mouth to smell like, well, dog. But persistent bad breath can actually be a sign of dental disease or other health problems. If you don’t already, have your dog’s teeth examined by a veterinarian every year. Watch out for other common signs that your dog is sick.

It’s not abnormal for dogs to eat feces.


It’s no secret: dogs often eat their own feces (and other fecal matter). But though it might seem gross, the ASPCA says it’s perfectly normal, stemming from their pre-domestication days thousands of years ago. More common in puppies, older dogs usually grow out of it, although some do it into adulthood. You should also ignore these common dog training myths.

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A dog’s unique smell is secreted in its glands.

iStock/pick uppath

And yes, those scent glands are located in their backsides. Dogs are notorious for sniffing one another there, but it’s how they identify others and also what they use to mark their territory. Learn more secrets your veterinarian isn’t telling you.

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