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'Ghost trains,' donations to CMS and more headlines



Sometimes, there's so much going on that it just makes sense to write about more than one topic. That's the case this week, so here goes:

• Any death marks a time for sadness, but I'm confused at the particular brand of mourning over the death of the Charlotte man who was recently killed by a real train while waiting for a "ghost train." With all of the dodging of bullets and crazy people that we have to sidestep on a regular basis, why on earth would grown people put themselves and others at risk for something so juvenile?

• Call me a hater, but why am I not impressed by the Bobcats $250,000 donation to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to help fund middle-school athletics programs. Don't get me wrong, it is always good to give money to the public school system, but it is a school system, so it would be nice to promote academic programs. I'm a sports junkie and recognize the value of sports in schools, but academics also need to be valued in the same way. I'm a little tired of promoting the notion that playing sports is a way out of the ghetto or poverty. It can be, but for such a miniscule portion of the population — so why not promote academics, which gives people many more opportunities to improve their quality of life? I didn't agree with building an arena for a team with no marquee players, particularly when Stevie Wonder could see the recession coming. Call me crazy, but I'd rather have the taxpayer money that was used to fund the arena invested in the schools. Thankfully, there's a new sheriff in town at the Bobcats, so hopefully investing in the community, which includes public libraries and academics, will be an ongoing practice.

• You may have heard about former president Jimmy Carter's trip to North Korea to free American teacher Aijalon Gomes last week. Gomes was sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined $600,000 for illegally crossing the border from China and committing a "hostile act" in April, allegedly. If your brow is furrowed upon learning about this incident because you never heard about it, then you are justified. It is perplexing that an American teacher who was arrested right after the high-profile arrests and convictions of Laura Ling and Euna Lee in North Korea would not make headlines. How did this story go under the radar? Why haven't we heard about it or seen this guy all over the talk-show circuit? Why hasn't the Huffington Post invited him to do a guest column? And then I saw his photo: He's a black man. Oh, that explains it.

• The Emmys are notoriously boring, so when my editor asked me to watch and report, I reluctantly agreed. I giggled when it was suggested that I pay close attention to the people of color on the show. I thought to myself: "Why would I do that when Wanda Sykes and Sofia Vergara are the only people of color nominated (at least in front of the camera)?" After being slightly annoyed and deciding to get over myself for being way too cool to watch the Emmys (not to mention the conflict with my weekly favorites Mad Men and Entourage), I decided to give it a whirl. As I and anyone who can read predicted, there was little to no color on the show, except for über hot Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who will star in Undercovers this fall. They were nice to look at, but that was pretty much it. It was a bit shocking that S. Epatha Merkerson didn't get a nod for her impeccable performance on the final season of Law and Order: and that Rutina Wesley and Nelsan Ellis, who do damage as Tara and Lafayette on HBO's True Blood, and Vanessa L. Williams and America Ferrara on Ugly Betty, who turn it out every episode, also weren't recognized. What is also amazing is that I didn't black out from sheer boredom — or the Hollywood blackout — that continues to curse the Emmys.

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