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Associated Press
President Barack Obama greet people after arriving in Tucson, Ariz., to attend a memorial service for victims of last Saturday's shooting rampage that killed six people and left 14 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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President Barack Obama flew to Arizona Wednesday and headed straight to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' bedside to pay his respects to the wounded lawmaker as he sought to unify a mourning nation. Obama and his wife, Michelle, were visiting privately at University Medical Center with Giffords and other victims of the weekend shootings that killed six people and wounded 13. He was then meeting with family members of those killed before speaking at a nighttime memorial service in Tucson.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — For Jared Loughner, the morning of the deadly shooting rampage was a blur of activity. He hustled to Walmart twice. He ran a red light, with the officer letting him off with a warning. Back home, he grabbed a black bag from the trunk of a family car and fled into the desert on foot, his suspicious father giving chase. Later, Loughner took a cab to a Safeway supermarket and began squeezing off round after round into the crowd.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Summer rains sent tons of red mud and torrents of water rushing down mountainsides in towns outside Rio, enveloping homes of rich and poor alike and killing at least 257 people in 24 hours. Some survivors clung to trees to escape the water and landslides. Rescuers used heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands to dig through debris in a search for survivors Wednesday. It was not immediately clear how many people were rescued. At least 50 remained missing, and officials feared that figure would rise.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The third winter storm in three weeks buried parts of the Northeast in more than 2 feet of wet, blowing snow Wednesday, smothering highways, halting trains and plunging thousands of homes and businesses into cold darkness. The storm, which iced over much of the South before sweeping up the East Coast, wreaked havoc on transportation across New England.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A total of 34,612 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico in the four years since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an offensive against drug cartels, officials said Wednesday. The killings reached their highest level in 2010, jumping by almost 60 percent to 15,273 deaths from 9,616 the previous year.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The air was choked with memory Wednesday in this city where everyone lost a brother, a child, a cousin or a friend. One year after the earthquake, Haitians marched down empty, rubble-lined streets singing hymns and climbed broken buildings to hang wreaths of flowers. The landscape is much as the quake left it, thanks to a reconstruction effort that has yet to begin addressing the intense need. But the voices were filled with hope for having survived a year that seemed to get worse at every turn.

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — The sister of a slain Las Vegas dancer stood in a courtroom Wednesday and cursed the man accused of strangling her only sibling and covering her naked, dismembered body in concrete. "I hope you (expletive) rot in jail, you (expletive) for what you did to her," Celeste Flores Narvaez screamed at defendant Jason Griffith after his arraignment on murder, battery domestic violence and destroying evidence charges.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn defended a massive increase in state income taxes passed by lawmakers Wednesday and promised to quickly sign the measure to help heal the state's ailing finances. Lawmakers worked overnight to pass the increase to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent for four years — a 66 percent increase. Corporate income taxes also will rise, but Quinn rejected the notion that it would decimate businesses.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After a drive-by shooting victim was cremated by mistake, the coroner in New Orleans put part of the blame on inadequate morgue facilities and a high rate of violent and accidental deaths, which left bodies stacked on top of each other and stored for months in refrigerator trucks that sometimes fail. Officials said Ralph Bias, a 20-year-old black man killed last week in a drive-by shooting on Interstate 10, was mistakenly cremated in place of a 60-year-old white man, after his body was turned over to the wrong funeral home.

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