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Afghanistan's president said his country would back a deal, which might allow the Taliban to open an office in Qatar where they could hold peace talks with the United States and Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan agrees with negotiations between United States of America and the Taliban which will result in the establishment of an office for Taliban in Qatar," President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday.

The AP adds:

The photo finish in Iowa — officially, Mitt Romney bested Rick Santorum by only eight votes — has catapulted Santorum into the front ranks of Republican presidential hopefuls.

"This is huge news for Santorum," says Charlie Arlinghaus, who directs a conservative think tank in New Hampshire. "I don't think there's a way to spin the results without saying he's the big winner tonight."

To welcome the Year of the Dragon, China's postal service plans to release commemorative postage stamps featuring the fabled beast. But many customers are finding the image to be a little over the top.

Here are some reactions cited by China's Xinhua news agency:

Calories Trump Protein For Weight Loss

Jan 4, 2012

When it comes to keeping off fat, protein sounds to some like a magic bullet.

For decades, people have been making the case that eating a lot more of it, as in the Atkins diet, or lots less of it, will change the body's metabolism, spurring weight loss.

But alas, it ain't so easy.

Year over year, the number of Spanish-speaking kindergarteners at Vardaman Elementary School in northeast Mississippi has been on the rise.

Census numbers show the South has the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country. Now, Vardaman Elementary is about to become Mississippi's first predominantly Latino primary school, and that's posing special challenges when it comes to finding teachers who can help Spanish-speaking students adapt to the American classroom.

Vardaman Takes Its Own Approach

After Mitt Romney's narrow win in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, the GOP presidential hopefuls move on to New Hampshire, where voters cast their ballots in a primary next week. For more on the Republican presidential race, Steve Inskeep speaks to NPR's Brian Naylor, who is in New Hampshire.

Michele Bachmann Ends Her Presidential Bid

Jan 4, 2012

Update at 11:29 p.m. ET. 'People Of Iowa Spoke':

Saying "the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice," Michele Bachmann announced she was ending her bid to become the Republican nominee for president.

Bachmann started her announcement with a litany of grievances against President Obama. She said she was inspired to run for president the day Obama passed his healthcare reform.

She knew, she said, that "Obamacare endangered the very survival of the United States of America."

The Republican Race, Beyond Iowa

Jan 4, 2012

We've been helping our friends at It's All Politics on the big story of the morning, which, as you've no doubt heard, is that after a nail-biter of a night, Mitt Romney took the Iowa primary by eight votes. Rick Santorum pulled a surprising turn around to end up second.

Here's some of the territory we've covered on IAP:

McCain Expected To Endorse Mitt Romney

Jan 4, 2012

Several news outlets, including the AP and The New York Times, report that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will endorse Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum's impressive turnaround in Iowa has given him a slight boost in New Hampshire, according to a "flash" poll conducted last night.

The CNN/ORC International poll talked to 554 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire first in December, and then last night. It found that Mitt Romney's sizable lead remained the same: 47 percent of those polled said they'd vote for him, followed by Ron Paul at 17 percent.

NPR News has prepared a special podcast on the first presidential contest of the year — and where the race goes from here.

The podcast includes highlights from NPR's reporting from the Iowa caucuses as well as analysis of the potential impact. You'll hear from the candidates — several of whom count themselves among the winners — plus others who are reassessing their chances. Republican caucusgoers weigh in on how they made up their minds, and we hear from Democratic caucusgoers preparing for battle in the fall.

At the start of his show yesterday morning, MSNBC's Chuck Todd could not contain his glee: "It's caucus day. Finally! I've been waiting for this day for 3 1/2 years."

Speak for yourself, Chuck.

In the build-up to the Iowa caucuses, we heard about the ground game, the expectations game, the endorsement game, and the super PACs. And we get the justification: It's blood sport, it's a vetting process, it's a surge, it's a generous slathering of awesome on an Iowa corn dog.

Erik McBee, 15, faced a test of his survival skills. He was traveling on Southwest Airlines, and fell asleep. He slept through the landing at his destination, Tulsa. KPHO TV says he woke up in St. Louis with no contacts, no money and no phone.

Stolen E.T. Statue Returned To Owner

Jan 4, 2012

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Rick Santorum's stunning finish in Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses Tuesday breathed life into his dogged campaign and had his New Hampshire supporters dreaming of a top-three spot for him in next week's Granite State primary.

But the path to a good finish in New Hampshire is not an easy one. Santorum's evangelical bona fides are bound to matter much less than in Iowa. And Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, has consistently held wide leads in preference polls.

Iowa Offers Little Clarity For GOP Field

Jan 4, 2012

You might think that after a spectacular night of political drama, one in which Mitt Romney eked out an eight-vote victory over Rick Santorum in Iowa, we might have a little more to tell you than the GOP field is just as unsettled as it was before the caucuses.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Throughout this morning, we're tracking the results of Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses, where Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by just eight votes. We're also following other news, including developments from a country that changed its leader with no election at all.

Obama Wins Iowa's Democratic Caucuses

Jan 4, 2012

The Iowa caucuses — the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating season — were held Tuesday night. President Obama was unopposed, but Democrats met in caucuses across the state for what was essentially a pep rally.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were the big winners Tuesday night in the Iowa caucuses. They finished first, second and third respectively. Romney won by the narrowest of margins — eight votes.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

About 200 miles from Des Moines, the Republican chair of Clinton County was fast asleep as state officials waited for the final votes in the caucuses. As it turns out, the final votes were needed from the second ward, second precinct, the 2-2 in Clinton County.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Iowa caucuses ended with Mitt Romney's extremely narrow victory over Rick Santorum. The first presidential nominating contest of 2012 played out at hundreds of sites across the state. NPR's Sonari Glinton spent the evening at the Van Meter Secondary School.

In recent weeks a lot of polls and pundits said the Iowa caucuses might be too close to call. But nobody imagined just how close things would turn out Tuesday night in the first voting of the 2012 presidential nominating season. Mitt Romney was declared the winner by just eight votes. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum came in second.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been considered a front-runner in this race since before the campaign began. Yet, at the end of voting yesterday, he did no better than he had four years earlier.

NPR's Ari Shapiro was at Romney campaign headquarters in Des Moines, and walks us through that tense and dramatic evening.

Business News

Jan 4, 2012

Steve Inskeep has business news.

The Last Word In Business

Jan 4, 2012

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Our last word in business today is yogurt. Actually, yogurt and beer. Maybe not a combination you want to consider first thing in the morning - or maybe ever - but those two products will be together in this year's Super Bowl.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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