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NATION IN BRIEF: Police look for man suspected of raping 7 people

Police look for man suspected of raping 7

DETROIT — Detectives are searching for a man who they believe sexually assaulted seven women since New Year’s Day and tried to attack another, Detroit’s police chief said Monday.

The first attack happened before dawn on Jan. 1, and the most recent attack happened at 2:40 a.m. Thursday, hours before volunteers hit the streets to warn women and to circulate a sketch of the suspect, Chief Ralph Godbee said at a news conference.

“We don’t want people to be gripped by fear. ... We’re not going to let this monster cripple us,” Godbee said.

The suspect is described as black, in his 30s and about 5 feet 9 inches tall. All of the victims are black, and they range in age from 17 to 33 years old, the chief said.

Obama to honor China’s leader with state dinner

WASHINGTON — When Hu Jintao makes what is likely his final trip to Washington as China’s president, he will get an honor he desperately wanted but was denied during his first visit nearly five years ago: a White House state dinner.

Symbolism and protocol are very important to the Chinese and the opulence of Wednesday’s black-tie affair with President Barack Obama should be plenty satisfying for Hu, a 67-year-old hydroelectric engineer who has ruled the country since 2002. That could help relations between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies.

Husband says Giffords smiled, has improved

TUCSON, Ariz. — The husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said his wife’s condition has improved so much that she has been able to smile and give him a neck rub as he has kept a near-constant vigil at her hospital bedside.

The interactions with astronaut Mark Kelly are new signs of Giffords’ impressive progress in recovering from a gunshot wound to the head at a political event nine days ago. Giffords still cannot speak, because of a tube in her throat that is helping her breathe.

‘‘She’s in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage,’’ Kelly explained in an interview with Diane Sawyer to air Tuesday on ABC. ‘‘It’s so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she’s looking out for other people.’’

Such encounters indicate higher levels of functioning, implying that ‘‘she’s recognizing him and interacting, perhaps in an old familiar way with him,’’ said Dr. Michael Lemole.

Dr. Randall Friese said Kelly also told doctors he saw Giffords smile. He said sometimes people see what they want to see, but that ‘‘if he says she’s smiling, I buy it.’’

Sargent Shriver in critical condition in Md.

BETHESDA, Md. — Former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee R. Sargent Shriver was in critical condition Monday morning at a hospital in Maryland, a spokeswoman for the family said.

The 95-year-old was admitted at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on Sunday, the family said in an e-mail statement attributed to spokeswoman Kirsten Seckler.

No other details about his ailment were released. Shriver announced in 2003 that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

Goldman Sachs limits Facebook private offering

NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has prohibited U.S. investors from participating in a private offering expected to raise up to $1.5 billion for social networking site Facebook, citing widespread media coverage that could run afoul of securities guidelines.

The investment bank said Monday it decided to restrict the fund to prospective shareholders in Asia and Europe because it determined that the news coverage could be inconsistent with the laws that govern private placements.

In a statement, Goldman Sachs said it made the decision on its own and “believes this is the most prudent path to take.”

No-show won’t deter Poe fans from yearly ritual

BALTIMORE — Fans of American author Edgar Allan Poe are heading to Baltimore again this year to try for a glimpse of the shadowy figure known only as the ‘‘Poe toaster’’ — even though the mystery visitor was a no-show last year.

An anonymous caller had left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave on the Jan. 19 anniversary of the writer’s birth every year for some six decades, but the person failed to appear in 2010.