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Doctors Encouraged by Giffords’ Recovery Progress

January 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: This was a day for more recovery and remembrance in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings.

Doctors for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continued to be heartened by her progress.

DR. G. MICHAEL LEMOLE JR., chief of neurosurgery, University Medical Center: We can even think that she is beginning to carry out more complex sequences of events, more complex sequences of activity in response to our commands or even spontaneously.

So, we’re very encouraged that she’s continuing to make all the right moves in the right direction. Obviously, we’re very cautious that she makes them at her own pace. But, again, we couldn’t have hoped for any better improvement than we’re seeing now, given the severity of her injury initially.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, security was tight at the private funeral for U.S. District Judge John Roll. He was one of the six people killed in last Saturday’s shootings. In attendance were a number of federal judges and members of Congress, along with Ron Barber, a staffer from Giffords’ Tucson office who was wounded in the attack and just released from the hospital this morning.

Other survivors are beginning to speak out. Seventy-six-year-old Mavy Stoddard was wounded, but shielded from the worst of the gunfire by her husband, Dorwin, who died of his wounds.

MAVY STODDARD, wife of shooting victim: I will get through this. He gave his life for me. I have to live mine for him and make something more of it.

KWAME HOLMAN: And investigators continue to collect evidence against the accused assailant, Jared Loughner. He remains in a Phoenix prison.

In Washington, the shootings halted work in Congress for the week. But Republican House leaders said they will resume their schedule next week with the postponed debate and vote on repealing the health care reform law.

A memorial service was held in Washington today for Richard Holbrooke, the veteran diplomat who died in December. He served as the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also was architect of the 1995 peace accord that ended the war in Bosnia.

An array of dignitaries attended the memorial at the Kennedy Center. President Obama remembered Holbrooke this way.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: His legacy is seen in the children of Bosnia who live to raise families of their own, in a Europe that is peaceful and united and free, in young boys and girls from the tribal regions of Pakistan to whom he pledged our country’s friendship, and in the role that America continues to play as a light to all who aspire to live in freedom and in dignity.

KWAME HOLMAN: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also attended the service. In a White House meeting earlier, he and Mr. Obama held talks on economic reforms, fighting terrorism, and promoting democracy.

The death toll from flooding and mudslides in Brazil topped 500 today, and many remain missing in the area north of Rio de Janeiro.

We have a report narrated by Nina Nannar of Independent Television News.

NINA NANNAR: After the landslides, there is now the agony. Nature had buried so many alive. Now Brazil is beginning the grim task of laying the victims to rest properly. There will be many more freshly dug graves to come.

“The world is over,” says this grieving man.

It was nearly all over for 53-year-old Ilair Pereira de Souza. She is the one in these extraordinary pictures, plucked to safety after the water tore her brother’s house apart. Hers was an image of hope, but, today, she feels only despair today.

“I really don’t know how I am alive,” she says. “I also don’t know how I will buy everything I have lost. There is no way of doing it.”

This mountainous region has been turned upside-down by freak storms that dumped the equivalent of a month’s rain in just a few hours, unleashing deadly mudslides. Rescue efforts continue, but some remote areas have yet to be reached. It is, says the president visiting the devastated area, an act of God, made deadly by illegal construction in areas prone to mudslides. It must stop, she warns.

But that is for the future. For now, there are the survivors, bereaved and homeless, dependent on help, and bracing themselves for more rain forecast for this weekend.

KWAME HOLMAN: In Australia, troops worked hard to clear a thick layer of mud from the streets of Brisbane, as floodwaters there continued to recede. More than 30,000 homes and businesses were affected by the flood disaster. Twenty-six people died, and 53 still are missing.

Pope John Paul II came one step closer to sainthood today. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, declared a French nun’s recovery from Parkinson’s disease was a miracle, and it can be attributed to Pope John Paul, who died in 2005. The Catholic ceremony to beatify him will be in Saint Peter’s Square on May 1. A second miracle is needed for Pope John Paul to become a saint.

U.S. economic data released today signaled the economy is picking up. Retail sales and industrial production both rose in December. But consumer prices also rose, mostly from higher gasoline prices.

Stocks on Wall Street moved higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 55 points to close at 11787. The Nasdaq rose 20 points to close at 2755.

For the week, the Dow gained 1 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent.

The Republican National Committee elected a new chairman today, Reince Priebus. He beat out the current chairman, Michael Steele, who dropped out of the race in early rounds of voting. His tenure was marred by allegations of financial mismanagement. Priebus has been chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party since 2007.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.