In other news Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to work sometime next week after being treated for a blood clot. Also, students of Sandy Hook Elementary returned to classes in a different building and location from their original school, where 20 students were killed during a mass shooting.
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For another member of Congress, today marked an especially momentous return to work. Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois suffered a stroke 10 months ago, and had to learn how to walk again. Today, he climbed the 45 steps of the Capitol, with Vice President Biden and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on hand for support.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will return to work at the State Department some time next week. Clinton was discharged yesterday from a New York hospital, where she had been treated for a blood clot in her head. A State Department spokeswoman said Clinton is now resting at her home in New York.
VICTORIA NULAND, State Department Spokeswoman:
Some of the senior staff who spoke to her about half-an-hour ago say that she's sounding terrific, upbeat, raring to go. She's looking forward to getting back to the office. She is very much planning to do so next week. And we will have further precise details about that as she continues to make progress.
Clinton is stepping down soon. Senator John Kerry has been nominated to be the next secretary of state.
Classes resumed today for the Connecticut children whose school was the scene of a December massacre. Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown nearly three weeks ago. That building is still a crime scene, so, today, more than 400 students were welcomed back to a freshly refurbished school in the nearby town of Monroe.
They arrived amid heightened security, as police Lieutenant Keith White looked on.
LT. KEITH WHITE, Monroe, Conn., Police Department:
Watching them get off the bus, most of the kids were excited. They had seen friends they hadn't seen in awhile. They were anxious to get into the hallways and meet up with the other kids. And you could see the teachers had the same response. They were quite excited to see the students all together.
In a bid to ease any tensions, classrooms were made to resemble the ones at Sandy Hook. And parents were allowed to visit their children throughout the day.
Fighting raged in Syria today around key areas that have seen repeated attacks and counterattacks. In the Northwest, rebels made a new attempt to storm a strategic air base in the Idlib province. State-run media said government troops forced them to retreat. And, in Damascus, opposition activists reported new government airstrikes and shelling in the southern suburbs. The military has been trying to recapture the neighborhoods for weeks.
The Federal Trade Commission has decided there's not enough evidence to charge Google with anti-trust violations. Today's announcement capped a 19-month investigation. Competitors charged Google unfairly highlights its own services in online search results and buries links to competing sites. Google defended its practices, but it did agree to charge lower licensing fees for its Android phone system patents.
U.S. auto sales ended 2012 on a strong note. Chrysler had the best year among Detroit's carmakers, with sales jumping 21 percent. GM rose 3.7 percent, and Ford edged up 5 percent. Toyota's 2012 sales rose a whopping 27 percent, and Volkswagen dominated the European carmakers with a gain of 35 percent.
Wall Street's New Year rally didn't last long. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points to close at 13,391. The Nasdaq fell 11 points to close at 3,100.
Those are some of the day's major stories.