National News

Electrical impulses generated by a pacemaker-like device are transmitted to the vagus nerve by electrodes.

A Weight-Loss Device Aims To Curb Hunger By Zapping A Nerve

What if you could zap your hunger away? A device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday promises to do just that.

The VBLOC vagal blocking device, developed by EnteroMedics of St. Paul, Minn., generates an electrical pulse in the vagus nerve, perhaps blocking communication between the brain and stomach. Normally, the nerve helps tell the brain whether the stomach is empty or full, among many other tasks.

Duke University's Muslims students will issue their call to prayer today outside the Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C. On Thursday, the university reversed course on allowing the traditional <em>adhan</em> from the chapel's bell tower.

Duke's Muslim Students Pray Amid Controversy Over Call To Prayer

Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET

Muslim students at Duke University gathered today for their call to prayer in the quadrangle outside Duke Chapel, a day after the private university in Durham, N.C., reversed course on allowing the traditional adhan from the chapel's bell tower.

January–December 2014 blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius.

It's Official: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record, NOAA Says

It's official: 2014 was the hottest year on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center crunched the numbers and came to this conclusion:

A new U.S. citizen holds an American flag during a naturalization ceremony in July. An Arizona law will require graduating high school seniors to pass the same civics test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship.

Arizona 1st In Nation To Require High Schoolers To Pass Civics Test

What year was the Constitution written?

Who was president during World War I?

If you couldn't answer one or both of the above, you might not be able to pass a civics test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship. Or (starting in 2017) graduate from high school in Arizona.

On Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill making a high school diploma in the state contingent upon students passing the same test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship. The class of 2017 will be the first to have the new requirement.

Head Of Medicare, Who Oversaw Obamacare Rollout, Will Step Down

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will step down.

Tavenner announced her departure on Friday in a message to staff.

"I have great pride and joy knowing all that we have accomplished together since I came on board five years ago in February of 2010," Tavenner said.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, will deliver the GOP response to the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20.

Iowa's Sen. Ernst Grabs Spotlight That's Often Proven Too Hot

On the one hand, having the just-elected senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address next week makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, you have to wonder why anyone would want the job. As often as not, the opportunity to speak right after the president does has been the kiss of death for aspiring politicians — especially in the GOP during the Obama years.

Saudis Postpone 2nd Round Of Public Flogging For Jailed Blogger Raif Badawi

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was due today to receive the second of 20 rounds of 50 lashes, is getting a temporary reprieve. A doctor who examined Badawi found his wounds from last Friday's public flogging in Jiddah hadn't healed and determined the blogger would be unable to withstand another round. The doctor recommended the punishment be postponed by a week.

Pope Francis holds a Virgin Mary statue as he arrives at the Mall of Asia arena in Manila, Philippines, on Friday. The pontiff has issued a strong statement supporting the church's teachings on artificial contraception.

Pope, On Visit To Philippines, Defends Catholic Ban On Contraception

Speaking to one of Asia's fastest-growing populations, Pope Francis issued what is being described as his strongest defense yet of the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraception, urging that Philippine families be "sanctuaries of respect for life."

An image sent by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists have concluded that it shows the Beagle 2 Mars lander, which went missing in 2003.

Long-Lost European Spacecraft Spotted On Mars By NASA Probe

More than a decade after it went missing, British scientists say they have found a small spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

The Beagle 2 Mars lander was launched aboard the Mars Express in June of 2003. It was an ambitious project that was supposed to look for life on the Red Planet. On Dec. 19, 2003, it separated from the Express and was to enter Mars' atmosphere on Christmas Day.

That was the last British scientists heard from the spacecraft, and they always thought it had been lost on the way in, that it had likely crashed onto the surface.

Police stand guard around the central police headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

More Than 2 Dozen Arrested In France, Belgium In Anti-Terror Raids

Overnight, police in France, Belgium and Germany arrested more than two dozen people suspected of having ties to terrorism.

In Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that police moved in at dawn and arrested about a dozen people, who police said were tied to Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked a kosher market in eastern Paris.

"These people are said to have been in their entourage," Eleanor told our Newscast unit. "They may have helped them to obtain cars, guns or may have been drivers."

Pages