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AROUND THE NATION

American due home after Libyan ordeal

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The mother of an American who was jailed in Libya for six months and then stayed on to join rebel fighters says her son will be coming home in a couple of weeks.

Sharon VanDyke tells the Baltimore Sun that she spoke with her son, Matthew VanDyke, Sunday morning. She says he was in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and that he sounded fine.

The 32-year-old VanDyke was captured in March by forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi and was freed by rebels in August.

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Giffords to undergo intensive therapy

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is in North Carolina for two weeks of intensive therapy sessions as she continues to recover from a gunshot wound to the head.

Giffords' office said in a statement Sunday that the Arizona congresswoman is expected to spend time with a therapist who has worked with her in Houston for the last several months and has been extensively involved in her therapy.

Giffords will work with the therapist from today through Nov. 4 in Asheville, N.C. No other specifics on her therapy were given.

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Convicted killer now claims innocence

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina woman who pleaded guilty last month to killing her 10-year-old disabled stepdaughter now insists in a jail interview that she's innocent.

The Charlotte Observer reports Sunday that 43-year-old Elisa Baker, of Hickory, portrayed herself as a loving stepmother who was only following her lawyer's advice in pleading guilty.

Baker was sentenced to 15 to 18 years in prison for second-degree murder, nearly a year after she initially claimed her stepdaughter, Zahra, had been kidnapped.