Steinbeck's hometown to close all libraries
Facing record deficits, the Salinas City Council voted Dec. 14 to shut all three of Salinas' libraries, including the branches named after native author John Steinbeck and labor leader Cesar Chavez. The blue-collar town of 150,000 could become the most populous U.S. city without a public library.
Salinas is the 1902 birthplace of the Nobel Prize-winning author of "Cannery Row" and "Of Mice and Men." Steinbeck, who died in 1968, memorialized Salinas in his 1952 novel "East of Eden."
But after voters Nov. 2 rejected a half-cent increase in the sales tax to preserve city services, Salinas has drawn the scorn of bibliophiles around the world.
Because of Salinas' large number of poor farmworkers and immigrants, the city's libraries are popular destinations for people seeking citizenship primers and literacy courses.
Lesbian minister to appeal defrocking
A Methodist minister who was defrocked for declaring that she's a lesbian living with her partner is taking her case to a church appeals court.
The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, of Philadelphia, was ousted Dec. 2 for violating the United Methodist Church's law against "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" in the clergy.
She decided last week to appeal but delayed the announcement until after Christmas weekend: Notice of appeal must be filed this week.
Stroud said she hesitated to appeal because she disliked being in the spotlight, but "there are questions the larger church needs to discuss and wrestle with."
Stroud was tried by her own Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The case now goes to an appeals panel of the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
Governor has surgery for breast cancer
Gov. M. Jodi Rell underwent breast-cancer surgery Monday after doctors discovered the disease in its early stages, the governor's office said.
Rell, 58, was expected to be hospitalized for about three days at Danbury Hospital, officials said.
The governor's office said tests showed the disease had not spread to her lymph nodes. Spokesman Rich Harris said Rell would probably not require radiation or chemotherapy after the surgery.
The cancer was discovered after a routine mammogram, her office said. The cancer did not appear on the mammogram itself, but it was discovered during a biopsy of a noncancerous calcium deposit.
Rell, a Republican, said in a statement that she still planned to address the Legislature on Jan. 5, the opening day of the new session.