National News from NPR

The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked brioche is hard to resist, while a virtuous loaf of whole wheat often lacks that same allure. Blame it on the ferulic acid.

See, whole-wheat bread contains all parts of the wheat, including the bran, but white bread does not. That bran in the wheat bread contains the aforementioned ferulic acid, which overrides the compounds that give white bread its mouthwatering smell, according to new research.

American and coalition forces will move into a "support" role in Afghanistan starting this spring, President Obama announced Friday afternoon at the White House during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama said Afghan soldiers "are stepping up" and U.S. forces can now step back.

Federal healthy officials said Friday there are some early signs this year's flu season may be easing in some parts of the country. But they stressed it's far too early to tell whether the flu season has peaked.

The number of states reporting widespread flu activity is up to 47, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But flu activity nationally fell slightly in the CDC's most recent data. Five states reported less flu than a week earlier, according to the CDC.

British TV personality Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, was a sexual predator who abused hundreds of victims on a scale that is "unprecedented" in Britain, according to a comprehensive police report on the disgraced celebrity. The report by a team that included 30 detectives found that Savile exploited "the vulnerable or star-struck for his sexual gratification."

The Buzz On Silent Retreats

Jan 11, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're almost two weeks into the new year. We're thinking about the resolutions that many people may have made, and you often hear people talking about getting their finances in order or eating better or getting in shape, but we also notice that many people are telling us that they are resolving to unplug more from the stress of our fast-paced lives. Some people are saying that they're going to spend more time in silence, so why don't we give it a try? Here it is. Let's go.

New Mortgage Rules Not A Fix All

Jan 11, 2013

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released new rules for mortgages this week. But neither the banking industry, nor consumer groups are completely happy. Host Michel Martin gets a sense of the current state of mortgages and foreclosures with real estate columnist Ilyce Glink and Keli Goff, political correspondent for The Root.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop, where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds.

Evangelical pastor Louie Giglio of Atlanta has withdrawn from giving the inaugural benediction. He's being criticized for remarks he made against homosexuality about two decades ago. Host Michel Martin speaks with Laurie Goodstein, national religion correspondent for The New York Times, about the reaction to Pastor Giglio.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been outspoken about the lack of freedom in his homeland and was imprisoned in what he and his supporters say was an effort to keep him quiet, told our colleagues at Boston's WBUR this week that the lack of truth in China is "suffocating ... like bad air all the time."

Why would the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the people who helped bring the world stealth fighters and GPS — fund research into man-made proteins that could make it easier for some Americans to eat pizza?

That's what we wondered when we read that the Pentagon's gee-whiz research arm provided support for work on a drug to treat celiac disease, a condition that interferes with the digestion of gluten in wheat and other foods.

So we asked.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has sent President Obama the invitation that precedes each year's State of the Union address:

Merck Halts Sale Of Niacin Drug In 40 Countries

Jan 11, 2013

Drugmaker Merck just stuck a fork in a vitamin-based drug to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The company is withdrawing Tredaptive, a long-acting pill combining niacin (No. 3 in the long list of B vitamins) and laropiprant, a chemical that reduces the unpleasant skin flushing caused by high doses of niacin.

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

Nearly seven decades ago, a young soldier from Indiana left his green duffel bag on a French battlefield in World War II. This week, William Kadar's granddaughter, also an Army veteran, presented him with the bag still stenciled with his name and serial number. A teenager in France had found it in his own grandfather's house. Kadar was captured by the Germans, and has said: It's a miracle I came home.

It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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