Arlen Specter, longtime U.S. Senator, has died

Arlen Specter, a tough-as-nails Senator from Pennsylvania for almost 30 years, died yesterday at his home in Philadelphia.

Specter was a sandwich Republican (he began and ended his long political career as a Democrat) from 1965 to 2009 who was known for being a moderate in an increasingly hard right Party. He thrived on using his Yale law degree as a member and Chair of the Judiciary Committee where he infuriated the GOP by sinking the nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork and by enraging the Democrats with his unbridled interrogation of Anita Hill during the successful confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas.

In 2009, Specter returned to his Democratic roots in his run in the primary for his Senate seat which he lost to Joe Sestak who, in turn, lost the Senate race to Republican Pat Toomey.

Earlier this year, Sen. Specter published a book with Charles Robbins about the struggle within the GOP for its future direction. Life among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing as We Know It. He describes his role in creating the Tea Party and his two deciding votes which helped pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 a.k.a. the stimulus, and the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.

Senator Specter, who had battled several bouts of cancer and heart trouble, died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 82.

Gary Collins, actor and host of the Miss America Pageant, has died

Gary Collins, TV and movie actor and longtime host of the Miss America Pageant, died October 13th in Biloxi, MS.

While serving in the Army, Collins was hit with the acting bug with performances on the Armed Forces Network.

During his long acting career, he had roles in such popular TV shows as The Virginian, Charlie's Angels, Perry Mason, The Love Boat and JAG. He a role in the nail-biting plane disaster movie, Airport (1970), starring Burt Lancaster and Jean Seberg.

From 1982 to 1990, Collins hosted the Miss America Pageant.

Mr. Collins, who is survived by his wife of 45 years, actress Mary Ann Mobley, was 74 years old.

Mo Yan wins the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature

Chinese novelist, Mo Yan, has a huge new addition to his growing collection of impressive awards. The Nobel Foundation announced in Sweden this morning that Mo Yan is the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In bestowing the honor on one of China's most prominent authors, the Swedish Academy said this: "...[Mo Yan], with hallucinatory realism, merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".

Born in 1955, Mo Yan (which means 'Don't Speak") has an international reputation for his brilliant provocative writings. His 1987 novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, which was translated into English in 1993, is set in the 1930s when Chinese peasants not only fought the Japanese invaders, but they battled each other as well. His movie treatment of this novel resulted in several impressive international awards.

The Garlic Ballads, written in 1988, translated to English in 1995, resulted in being censured by the People's Republic of China for taking the Communist party to task for its cruel corruption.

The New York Times particularly liked his Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, which appeared in the U.S. in 2006. It called this novel of magic realism "...harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny."

Mo Yan receives £741,000 along with his medal.

Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

2012 National Book Award finalists have been announced

This morning, nineteen writers moved closer to their dream of winning one of the prestigious National Book Awards for 2012 when they were named as finalists.

The National Book Awards were begun in 1936. A break of several years around World War II ended in 1950 when they resumed. These awards are bestowed on U.S. authors who publish in this country.

Below are some of the authors who made it to the finalists' list.

In the Fiction category, Ben Fountain was one of five authors to get the nod. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Fountain's debut novel, takes place over the 2004 Thanksgiving Day weekend, 19-year-old Billy is between tours of duty in Iraq. His unit, Bravo Company, is being feted at the Dallas Cowboys football game with all the attendant hoopla. A searing look at the toll the Iraq war has taken on those who have served.

The late Anthony Shadid is one of the authors named in the Nonfiction category for his moving House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author took a break from journalism to return to his village in Lebanon to restore the Shadid family's ancestral home. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this book, "A complicated, elegiac, beautiful attempt to reconcile the physical bayt (home) and the spiritual." Shadid, who was shot and kidnapped during his long courageous career as a foreign correspondent, died February 16, 2012, of an asthma attack.

Poet Cynthia Huntington is a finalist for Heavenly Bodies, a collection of poetry that stuns and shocks and provokes with her observations about the sexual revolution, the drug culture, and political upheaval that rocked the 1960s.

The critics were unanimous in their praise of Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin who has written a nonfiction thriller for tweens. Divided into three parts, Sheinkin writes of the development of the bomb, the Soviet spy system that tried to steal it, and the Americans' frantic efforts to keep the bomb out of German hands.

For a complete list of the finalists, check out this link.

The winners in the four categories will be announced on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. At that time two additional special awards will be given: Michigan novelist Elmore Leonard will receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. will accept the 2012 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Sulzberger is the Publisher (since 1992) and Chairman of the Board (since 1997) of the New York Times, positions previously held by his father, the late Arthur Ochs Sulzberger who died September 29 of this year.

Both Sides Now: The Statewide Ballot Proposals on CTN

The League of Women Voters will examine the pros and cons of the six statewide ballot proposals as well as the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti ballot proposals on CTN, Community Television Network, beginning Wednesday, October 10. Viewers can also stream the program on demand from links on the CTN homepage.

The LWV also helps sponsor Vote411.org, the online election source that lets voters build their own ballot with an online voters' guide. Type in your address to see the races on your ballot. Candidates' positions can be compared side-by-side, and you may print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.

To double-check your voter registration status, your polling location, view your sample ballot and much more, visit the State of Michigan's Michigan Votes web site.

Ready, Set, Debate: 2012 Candidate Forums

The League of Women Voters will sponsor a series of candidate forums at the Community Television Network Studio from Monday, October 8th ~ Thursday, October 11th, 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The forums will be broadcast on CitiTV, Channel 19 until the day before the election and can also be viewed on the CitiTV website. Candidates for the following offices will be participating in the forum:

Monday, October 8th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. County Water Resources Commissioner
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. County Treasurer
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. County Clerk/Register of Deeds

Tuesday, October 9th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Washtenaw Community College Trustees Board
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Public School Board
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Ann Arbor District Library Board

Wednesday, October 10th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Mayoral Race & 5th Ward
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. County Sheriff
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. Board of County Commissioners - Districts 7, 8, & 9

Thursday, October 11th
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. State Representatives - 53rd & 55th Districts
8:00 - 8:30 p.m. 22nd Circuit Court (non-incumbent & incumbent race)
9:00 - 9:30 p.m. County Prosecuting Attorney

The public can submit their questions to candidates via email to FORUM_QUESTIONS@lwvannarbor.org. The League reserves the right to select and edit the questions that will be used in the forums.

View your sample ballot, check your polling location and much more at Michigan Votes.

Jessica Shirvington’s young adult series, EMBRACE, to become a television series

On her 17th birthday, everything will change for Violet Eden. The boy she loves will betray her. Her enemy will save her. She will have to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Embrace is a compelling novel of good and evil, seductive desires and impossible choices. A centuries old war between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity chooses a new fighter. It's a battle Violet doesn't want, but she lives her life by two rules: don't run and don't quit. If angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden.
Now, the heroine of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace will have a new incarnation. The CW Network, along with Amblin Entertainment and CBS Television Studios, is developing the supernatural YA novel and its follow-ups into a weekly TV series. Read more here.
Embrace, Shirvington's debut, was followed by Entice on September 4; Emblaze, the third book in the series, is scheduled to publish in March 2013.

Families Fall into this Glorious Season!

Whether you enjoy Autumn by the water, the forest, the ice, on Main Street or at the Farmer’s Market, you must surely check out the Halloween storytimes at AADL!

Register to Vote: It's So Easy

Tuesday, October 9th, is the last day to register to vote in the November 6th general election. You can register to vote for federal, state, and local elections at the Washtenaw County Clerk's office, the Ann Arbor City Clerk's office, the Secretary of State office nearest you and the Family Independence Agency in Ypsilanti. The Michigan Votes Voter Information Center is your one-stop site for information on registering and voting in Michigan.

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