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This fat can be turned into cholesterol that can start collecting along and hardening your arteries, perhaps ultimately leading to a heart attack or stroke.

"In women, it is thought that a greater portion of the abdominal fat is constituted by subcutaneous fat which is relatively harmless," she said.

However, the lower numbers of women included in the study meant the findings had less "statistical power" and more research was needed to draw definite conclusions, Mohammadi said.

The risk of cardiovascular disease like heart attacks or strokes is considered to be higher in those with a waist measurement of above 94 cm in men and above 80 cm in women, according to the World Health Organization. The risk is thought to be substantially increased in men with a waist wider than 102 cm and 88 cm in women.

The authors said that belly fat was best tackled by a healthy diet and regular exercise. Earlier studies have shown that regular moderate cardio, like walking for at least 30 minutes a day, can help fight a widening waistline. Strength training with weights may also help but spot exercises like sit-ups that can tighten abs won't touch visceral fat.


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The study found that belly fat was associated with heart attacks and stroke independent of other risk factors like smoking, diabetes, hypertension, body mass index and prevention treatments. The researchers stressed that waist circumference was a more important marker than overall obesity and advised doctors to measure their patient's waists to identify those at risk.

However, they said that the link was stronger and more linear in men, who made up nearly three-fourths of the patients included in the study, than women.

In women, Mohammadi said the relationship was "U-shaped" rather than linear, meaning that the mid-range waist measurement, rather than the narrowest, was least risky. What's more, the mid-range waist measurement was in the range traditionally recognized as at risk for abdominal obesity: more than 80 cm wide.

The reason for this could be down to the type of fat that tends to hang out on men's and women's bellies. Mohammadi said some studies have suggested that men may have more visceral fat that goes deep inside your body and wraps around your vital organs.


"Maintaining a healthy waist circumference is important for preventing future heart attacks and strokes regardless of how many drugs you may be taking or how healthy your blood tests are."

The study tracked more than 22,000 Swedish patients after their first heart attack and looked at the link between their waist circumference and events caused by clogged arteries like fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and stroke. Patients were followed for nearly four years, with 1,232 men (7.3%) and 469 women (7.9%) experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

Most patients — 78% of men and 90% of women — had abdominal obesity, defined as a waist circumference of 94 cm (37.6 inches) or above for men, and 80 cm (32 inches) or above for women.

The study found that belly fat was associated with heart attacks and stroke independent of other risk factors like smoking, diabetes, hypertension, body mass index and prevention treatments. The researchers stressed that waist circumference was a more important marker than overall obesity and advised doctors to measure their patient's waists to identify those at risk.


Your waist size may be more important than weight for multiple heart attack risk

By Katie Hunt, CNN

January 21, 2020

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(CNN)Heart attack survivors who carry extra weight around their belly are at greater risk of another heart attack, new research has found, another reason why measuring your waist may be more important than stepping on the scale.

It's been known for a while that having a pot belly, even if you are slim elsewhere, increases the odds of having a first heart attack, but the latest study, which published Monday in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, is the first time researchers have found a link between belly fat and the risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke.

The link was particularly strong in men, researchers said.

"Abdominal obesity not only increases your risk for a first heart attack or stroke, but also the risk for recurrent events after the first misfortune," said Dr. Hanieh Mohammadi of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, in a news release.

Learn English Online / Selenophile
« on: January 21, 2020, 04:16:19 PM »

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We don’t know exactly where ‘the’ comes from – it doesn’t have a precise ancestor in Old English grammar. The Anglo Saxons didn’t say ‘the’, but had their own versions. These haven’t completely died out, according to historical linguist Laura Wright. In parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumberland there is a remnant of Old English inflective forms of the definite article – t’ (as in “going t’ pub”).

The letter y in terms like ‘ye olde tea shop’ is from the old rune Thorn, part of a writing system used across northern Europe for centuries. It’s only relatively recently, with the introduction of the Roman alphabet, that ‘th’ has come into being.

‘The’ deserves to be celebrated. The three-letter word punches well above its weight in terms of impact and breadth of contextual meaning. It can be political, it can be dramatic – it can even bring non-existent concepts into being.


Deborah Tannen, a US linguist,
has a hypothesis that men
deal more in report
and women more in rapport
– this could explain why men use ‘the’ more often

According to Culpeper, men say ‘the’ significantly more frequently. Deborah Tannen, an American linguist, has a hypothesis that men deal more in report and women more in rapport – this could explain why men use ‘the’ more often. Depending on context and background, in more traditional power structures, a woman may also have been socialised not to take the voice of authority so might use ‘the’ less frequently. Though any such gender-based generalisations also depend on the nature of the topic being studied.

Those in higher status positions also use ‘the’ more – it can be a signal of their prestige and (self) importance. And when we talk about ‘the prime minister’ or ‘the president’ it gives more power and authority to that role. It can also give a concept credibility or push an agenda. Talking about ‘the greenhouse effect’ or ‘the migration problem’ makes those ideas definite and presupposes their existence.

‘The’ can be a “very volatile” word, says Murphy. Someone who refers to ‘the Americans’ versus simply ‘Americans’ is more likely to be critical of that particular nationality in some capacity. When people referred to ‘the Jews’ in the build-up to the Holocaust, it became othering and objectifying. According to Murphy, “‘The’ makes the group seem like it’s a large, uniform mass, rather than a diverse group of individuals.” It’s why Trump was criticised for using the word in that context during a 2016 US presidential debate.


Atlantic divide

Even within the language, there are subtle differences in how ‘the’ is used in British and American English, such as when talking about playing a musical instrument. An American might be more likely to say ‘I play guitar’ whereas a British person might opt for ‘I play the guitar’. But there are some instruments where both nationalities might happily omit ‘the’, such as ‘I play drums’. Equally the same person might interchangeably refer to their playing of any given instrument with or without the definite article – because both are correct and both make sense.

And yet, keeping with the musical vibe, there’s a subtle difference in meaning of ‘the’ in the phrases ‘I play the piano’ and ‘I clean the piano’. We instinctively understand the former to mean the piano playing is general and not restricted to one instrument, and yet in the latter, we know that it is one specific piano that is being rendered spick and span.

Culpeper says ‘the’ occurs about a third less in spoken language. Though of course whether it is used more frequently in text or speech depends on the subject in question. A more personal, emotional topic might have fewer instances of ‘the’ than something more formal. ‘The’ appears most frequently in academic prose, offering a useful word when imparting information – whether it’s scientific papers, legal contracts or the news. Novels use ‘the’ least, partly because they have conversation embedded in them.


Lynne Murphy, professor of linguistics at the University of Sussex, spoke at the Boring Conference in 2019, an event celebrating topics that are mundane, ordinary and overlooked, but are revealed to be fascinating. She pointed out how strange it is that our most commonly used word is one that many of the world’s languages don’t have. And how amazing English speakers are for getting to grips with the myriad ways in which it’s used.

Scandinavian languages such as Danish or Norwegian and some Semitic languages like Hebrew or Arabic use an affix (or a short addition to the end of a word) to determine whether the speaker is referring to a particular object or using a more general term. Latvian or Indonesian deploy a demonstrative – words like ‘this’ and ‘that’ – to do the job of ‘the’. There’s another group of languages that don’t use any of those resources, such as Urdu or Japanese.

Function words are very specific to each language. So, someone who is a native Hindi or Russian speaker is going to have to think very differently when constructing a sentence in English. Murphy says that she has noticed, for instance, that sometimes her Chinese students hedge their bets and include ‘the’ where it is not required. Conversely, Smith describes Russian friends who are so unsure when to use ‘the’ that they sometimes leave a little pause: ‘I went into... bank. I picked up... pen.’ English speakers learning a language with no equivalent of ‘the’ also struggle and might overcompensate by using words like ‘this’ and ‘that’ instead.


This simplest of words can be used for dramatic effect. At the start of Hamlet, a guard’s utterance of ‘Long live the King’ is soon followed by the apparition of the ghost: ‘Looks it not like the King?’ Who, the audience wonders, does ‘the’ refer to? The living King or a dead King? This kind of ambiguity is the kind of ‘hook’ that writers use to make us quizzical, a bit uneasy even. “‘The’ is doing a lot of work here,” says Rosen.

Deeper meaning

‘The’ can even have philosophical implications. The Austrian philosopher Alexius Meinong said a denoting phrase like ‘the round square’ introduced that object; there was now such a thing. According to Meinong, the word itself created non-existent objects, arguing that there are objects that exist and ones that don’t – but they are all created by language. “‘The’ has a kind of magical property in philosophy,” says Barry C Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy, University of London.

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‘The’ adds substance to phrases like ‘the man in the Moon’, implying that he exists (Credit: Alamy)

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a paper in 1905 called On Denoting, all about the definite article. Russell put forward a theory of definite descriptions. He thought it intolerable that phrases like ‘the man in the Moon’ were used as though they actually existed. He wanted to revise the surface grammar of English, as it was misleading and “not a good guide to the logic of the language”, explains Smith. This topic has been argued about, in a philosophical context, ever since. “Despite the simplicity of the word,” observes Thoms, “it’s been evading definition in a very precise way for a long time.”


‘Scoring the goal’ seems more important than ‘scoring a goal’ (Credit: Alamy)
But although ‘the’ has no meaning in itself, “it seems to be able to do things in subtle and miraculous ways,” says Michael Rosen, poet and author. Consider the difference between ‘he scored a goal’ and ‘he scored the goal’. The inclusion of ‘the’ immediately signals something important about that goal. Perhaps it was the only one of the match? Or maybe it was the clincher that won the league? Context very often determines sense.

There are many exceptions regarding the use of the definite article, for example in relation to proper nouns. We wouldn’t expect someone to say ‘the Jonathan’ but it’s not incorrect to say ‘you’re not the Jonathan I thought you were’. And a football commentator might deliberately create a generic vibe by saying, ‘you’ve got the Lampards in midfield’ to mean players like Lampard.

The use of ‘the’ could have increased as trade and manufacture grew in the run-up to the industrial revolution when we needed to be referential about things and processes. ‘The’ helped distinguish clearly and could act as a quantifier, for example, ‘the slab of butter’.

This could lead to a belief that ‘the’ is a workhorse of English; functional but boring. Yet Rosen rejects that view. While primary school children are taught to use ‘wow’ words, choosing ‘exclaimed’ rather than ‘said’, he doesn’t think any word has more or less ‘wow’ factor than any other; it all depends on how it’s used. “Power in language comes from context... ‘the’ can be a wow word,” he says.


The most commonly used word in English might only have three letters – but it packs a punch.

By Hélène Schumacher
10 January 2020

‘The’. It’s omnipresent; we can’t imagine English without it. But it’s not much to look at. It isn’t descriptive, evocative or inspiring. Technically, it’s meaningless. And yet this bland and innocuous-seeming word could be one of the most potent in the English language.

‘The’ tops the league tables of most frequently used words in English, accounting for 5% of every 100 words used. “‘The’ really is miles above everything else,” says Jonathan Culpeper, professor of linguistics at Lancaster University. But why is this? The answer is two-fold, according to the BBC Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth. George Zipf, a 20th-Century US linguist and philologist, expounded the principle of least effort. He predicted that short and simple words would be the most frequent – and he was right.

The second reason is that ‘the’ lies at the heart of English grammar, having a function rather than a meaning. Words are split into two categories: expressions with a semantic meaning and functional words like ‘the’, ‘to’, ‘for’, with a job to do. ‘The’ can function in multiple ways. This is typical, explains Gary Thoms, assistant professor in linguistics at New York University: “a super high-usage word will often develop a real flexibility”, with different subtle uses that make it hard to define. Helping us understand what is being referred to, ‘the’ makes sense of nouns as a subject or an object. So even someone with a rudimentary grasp of English can tell the difference between ‘I ate an apple’ and ‘I ate the apple’.


Soleimani did more to shape then re-shape the region than any king or prince or sultan or president or prime minister.

The man, quite simply, was a force of history.

He just wasn't on our side.

Will his assassination alter Iran's strategic ambitions? No.

Will it slow them down? Maybe.

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And he ran rings around all of us: Americans, Arabs, Israelis, Brits.
Let us be very, very clear: this man was opposed to America and absolutely everything it stands for.

He ached to destroy Israel itself, to take it out of existence, and he was opposed to the current balance of power in the Middle East.

His entire life was devoted to bringing all of it, and us, down.

If you doubt Soleimani's significance, his very assassination should tell you differently.

Washington understood his value, that is why President Trump ordered the drone strike.


Soleimani rose up the ranks of the military until he came to head, arguably, the most elite special forces outfit in the region, if not the world, called the Quds Force, which translates as the Jerusalem Force.

Iran has two armies, navies, and air forces. One, to protect the country. The other, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force (IRGC), to protect the country's religious revolution.

And among the IRGC the Quds are the elite of the elite. Its members speak multiple languages.

They are spies, soldiers, and technical experts. In Western terms, they are a hybrid of Green Berets, SAS commandos and Delta Force operators all fused into one.

And Soleimani was their commander. For more than 20 years.

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A killer, but not a terrorist

Make no mistake, Soleimani was a killer. A calculating, patient, sophisticated killer. He was, most surely, plotting the deaths of many Americans.

But, despite what President Trump says, he was no terrorist. He sponsored them. He trained them. He armed them. But Soleimani was a military man to his bootstraps.

He fought in the horror of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. The modern world's version of World War I; chemical gas attacks, suicidal human wave assaults, and a bloodletting we should hope the world never sees again.

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Will it slow them down? Maybe.


But when the US government checked and confirmed the bomber of their embassy was, in fact, in parliament, al-Muhandis fled Baghdad for the border crossing to Iran.

Al-Muhandis was there to greet Soleimani on Friday at Baghdad airport in Iraq -- a country the Iranian general virtually ran and controlled.

Soleimani's plane had just landed and he was with al-Muhandis in the convoy leaving the airport when the drone struck, killing them both.

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Al-Muhandis, also known as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, was twice elected to the democratic Iraqi Parliament the US created after the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein.

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He was Soleimani's number one man in Iraq. In Parliament. Right under the noses of the US military.

It was CNN who revealed al-Muhandis' identity. At first, an unwitting US government did not believe CNN.


That same year an Iraqi man called Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis car-bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait.

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Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Though he escaped, with Iran's help, he was sentenced to death in absentia in Kuwait for the bombing. It's believed he then went on to help hijack passenger planes.

Western intelligence agencies also accuse him of involvement in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti airliner in 1984 and the attempted assassination of a Kuwaiti prince.

Do you want to know who was in the same convoy as General Soleimani on Friday when that drone missile struck? It was that same car-bomber, al-Muhandis.


When the Iranians revolted against the Shah, they overran the US Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of American diplomats and Marines hostage, parading them on international television, as seen in the 2012 Hollywood movie "Argo."

In 1983, Iran blew up a Marine barracks at the US Embassy in Beirut, killing dozens.

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President Ronald Reagan abandoned Lebanon and it appeared Iran had chased the US out of the region.

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