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AROUND THE NATION

Giffords bids farewell to her constituents

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- On a bittersweet day for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the outgoing congresswoman spent her final hours in Tucson as the city's U.S. representative, finishing the meeting she started on the morning she was shot last year and bidding farewell to constituents who supported her through a long recovery.

Giffords spent time Monday at her office with other survivors of the shooting rampage that killed six people and injured 13. She hugged and talked with survivors, including Suzi Hileman, who was shot three times while trying to save her young friend and neighbor, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. The girl died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Giffords announced Sunday that she would resign from Congress this week. However, an upbeat Giffords hinted that her departure from public life might be temporary. In a message sent on Twitter, she said: "I will return & we will work together for Arizona & this great country."

In her last act in Tucson as a congresswoman, the Democrat visited one of her favorite charities, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

The food bank established the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center with $215,000 it received in the wake of the shooting.

Giffords was expected in Washington today for President Obama's State of the Union address.

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GOP senator has surgery after stroke

CHICAGO (AP) -- Sen. Mark Kirk was in intensive care Monday after undergoing surgery to relieve swelling in his brain from a stroke that doctors said likely would make it "very difficult" for him to regain movement in his left arm and could result in facial paralysis.

But Dr. Richard Fessler at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Kirk remained sedated in intensive care, said the Illinois Republican's chances for a full mental recovery are good.

"We are very hopeful that when we get through all the recovery, all those functions will be intact," said Fessler, a neurosurgeon who performed the Sunday night surgery to remove a part of Kirk's skull.

Kirk, 52, had reported feeling dizzy over the weekend and checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital before being transferred to Northwestern. Tests showed he had a tear in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck and had suffered a stroke.

Kirk won President Obama's old U.S. Senate seat in a close 2010 election against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.