National

Writer wanted to take part in Libya uprising

LINTHICUM, Md. —An American writer now says he went to Libya to participate in the uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi and was on a reconnaissance mission when he was captured.

Matthew VanDyke was met by dozens of friends and relatives and members of the media when he arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Saturday evening.

Earlier this year, the 32-year-old VanDyke was working on a book and film about a motorcycle trip across the Middle East and southeast Asia when he decided to witness the uprising in Libya.

He disappeared during a day trip to Brega in March and wasn't heard from until he was freed from the infamous Abu Salim prison in Tripoli in August. After he was freed, VanDyke said he'd remain in Libya until Gadhafi fell from power and he later joined rebel fighters.

Capitol Christmas tree begins its journey

SONORA, Calif. —A 65-foot white fir tree selected as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was cut down and removed from a picturesque setting in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Saturday, then loaded on a truck for a journey from Northern California to Washington, D.C.

When crews arrived at the tree Saturday morning they found it covered in snow, said Jeff Crider, a spokesman for U.S Capitol Christmas Tree Tour, a nonprofit project overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

"It was 18 degrees, with four inches of snow," Crider said. "It's freezing up here and getting ready to snow again."

The Stanislaus National Forest tree was selected based on its shape and fullness and color, officials said.

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