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Shot US politician's condition improves

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been taken from intensive care to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, an encouraging step that came after doctors upgraded her condition from serious to good.

Doctors at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Centre determined the Arizona congresswoman was healthy enough to move to nearby TIRR Memorial Hermann, where she will continue her rehabilitation.

Ms Giffords had been in intensive care since her arrival from Tucson on Friday. Last week doctors placed a tube in her head to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid. Her move out of ICU suggests that tube might have been removed, which would be another good sign in her recovery. A backup of the fluid can cause pressure and swelling within the brain.

She was shot in the head on 8 January in a rampage that killed six and injured a further 12 people. The Democratic congresswoman was hit in the forehead while meeting constituents outside a Tucson supermarket.

The shooting cast a sombre mood over President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, where many lawmakers wore black-and-white lapel ribbons to signify the deaths and the hopes of the survivors. Ms Giffords's husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, watched the speech from her bedside in Texas.