February 07, 2011 12:00 PM

UPDATE

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, was released from a Tucson hospital Jan. 21 and flown to Houston to begin her rehabilitation, accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, 46. Giffords, who was shot in the head, is “improving daily,” according to her doctors, and will remain in the intensive-care unit until a buildup of fluid on her brain subsides. Three days later Jared Loughner, 22, pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the Jan. 8 rampage in Tucson that killed 6 people and wounded 13 others. He faces five federal charges, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, and could receive the death penalty if convicted.

REAL-LIFE DRAMA

Calling it “news that literally shook me to my core,” Oprah Winfrey, 57, introduced her recently discovered half-sister Patricia on her Jan. 24 broadcast. Unbeknownst to the talk show queen, her mother, Vernita Lee, had given birth to Patricia in 1963 m Milwaukee, when Winfrey was living with her father in Tennessee. The child was given up for adoption, lived in a series of foster homes and finally met her mother and half sister last fall. Patricia said that after trying to find her mother, she received a package in the mail with all of her birth information, and “I was I like, ‘Oh my’ God, I have a family.'” Winfrey called the discovery “the miracle of all miracles” and said, “This time, I’m the one being reunited.”

ALL BETTER

George Clooney, 49, contracted malaria while on a humanitarian mission in Sudan in early January. It was the Oscar winner’s second bout with the deadly disease, but he has now recovered completely. Clooney (inset) said his quick rebound “illustrates how, with proper medication, the most lethal condition in Africa can be reduced to a bad 10 days instead of a death sentence.”

BABY ON BOARD

Ivanka Trump, 29, announced via Twitter on Jan. 21 that she and her husband, New York Observer owner and fellow real-estate scion Jared Kushner, 30, will welcome their first child later this year. The heiress, who appears on The Apprentice with her father, Donald Trump, was married in October 2009.

ENGAGED

Former Full House costar Jodie Sweetin, 29, accepted a proposal from her boyfriend, deejay Morty Coyle, 42, at her birthday party in Los Angeles on Jan. 18. The couple are parents of 5-month-old Beatrix, and Sweetin is mom to Zoie, 2, from her marriage to Cody Herpin.

THUMBS UP!

Following a tough nine-year battle with thyroid cancer, Roger Ebert, 68, lost the lower part of his face as well as his voice. But when his new PBS show Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies debuted Jan. 21, the film critic had a new look, thanks to a silicone prosthetic that was co-created by David Rotter (right). Ebert says the device is “a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years.”

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