The image: Early Sunday morning, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' staff posted on Facebook the first clear pictures of the Arizona Democrat since Jared Lee Loughner allegedly shot her in the head in January. (See the photos at right and below.) The two photos were taken May 17, not long after Giffords watched her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, launch into space, and right before doctors replaced a part of her skull they had removed four months ago. Spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the photos were released to satisfy "intense interest" in Giffords' appearance before she leaves the hospital for outpatient treatment, probably in early July. 

The reaction: Wow, apart from Giffords' "cropped haircut, she seems almost unchanged," says Rosie Gray at The Village Voice. But she still can't verbalize complex ideas, and "it's going to take a lot of rehabilitation to get Giffords back to how she was pre-shooting, if indeed that's possible." Let's just celebrate that she looks so "vibrant and happy" this soon after the near-fatal shot, says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. Comparing her "strong and determined" smile to Loughner's unsettling mug-shot grimace, it's easy to believe that "good sometimes wins" after all. See for yourself:


(P.K. Weis of