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A conversation with ‘Uncle Charlie’ Wilson

Charlie Wilson

Not being much of a conversationalist, when presented with the assignment to interview the great Charlie Wilson with regard to his pending trip to Memphis to perform for the Southern Heritage Classic, I tried my best to hand it off to someone else. When that didn’t work, I resolved to just relax and talk to him like I would my own uncle.

And when you have a conversation with Charlie Wilson, it is just instinctive to call him Uncle Charlie. So after we got on the phone and exchanged the initial pleasantries, I asked, “May I call you Uncle Charlie?” And it was on from there!

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Memphis school improvement efforts in spotlight as Duncan finishes back-to-school tour

Teachers

Efforts to improve historically low-scoring schools in Memphis were in the national spotlight Wednesday as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ended his back-to-school bus tour of southern states with a pep rally and town hall meeting at Cornerstone Prep, a charter school that’s part of the state-run Achievement School District.

Duncan said he chose to end his tour in Memphis in order to “look at the turnaround work that’s happening there and the overall improvement in schools.”

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‘RHOA’s Apollo Nida Goes To Prison But Leaves Wife Fuming

Apollo

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” co-star Apollo Nida is reportedly on his way to begin his eight-year prison stint, after being convicted of pocketing monies from stolen checks and laundering more than $2.3 million via fake bank accounts. According to TMZ, however, instead of spending his last moments as a free man with his wife, reality RHOA co-star and attorney Phaedra Parks, and their two young boys, Nida reportedly opted to go out with a bang by staying out and partying at a nightclub.

Nida has allegedly had a rocky relationship with his wife since his indictment, as reports have crept up about his frequenting strip clubs and overindulging in spirits rather than spending quality time with his family, particularly over the last two months.

Instead, Nida has reportedly held a grudge against his wife, because she failed to publicly support her hubby during his court hearings, using her book tour as an excuse for her absence.

Bell Toll Marks 13th Anniversary of 9/11

911

NEW YORK  — With the solemn toll of a bell and a moment of silence, the nation paused Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attack.

Family and friends of those who died read the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Thelma Stuart, whose husband Walwyn Wellington Stuart, Jr., 28, was a Port Authority Police Department officer, said the nation should pray for its leaders, “that God will grant them wisdom, knowledge and understanding on directing them on moving forward.”

The sad roll call was to pause only four times: to mark the times when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the second plane struck, when the first tower fell and when the second tower fell.

Joanne Barbara, whose husband of 30 years, Gerard Barbara, was a FDNY captain who died, urged all to feel for not only the lost but “those who continue to suffer from the aftermath.”

“May God bless America, and may we never, never forget,” she said.
Little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed. But so much around it has.

For the first time, the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum – which includes gut-wrenching artifacts and graphic photos of the attacks – is open. Fences around the memorial plaza have come down, integrating the sacred site more fully with the streets of Manhattan while completely opening it up to the public and camera-wielding tourists.

A new mayor is in office, Bill de Blasio, one far less linked to the attacks and their aftermath than his immediate predecessors. And finally, a nearly completed One World Trade Center has risen 1,776 feet above ground zero and will be filled with office workers by this date in 2015, another sign that a page in the city’s history may be turning.

But painful memories were still acute and lingering. Franklin Murray of New York wore a shirt with a photo of his brother, Harry Glen, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the companies most decimated.

He said it gave him a “funny feeling” to know there was now a memorial. He has come to the ceremony before but “before it was getting harder, so I forced myself to get down here.”

“Coming down to the area is rough,” he said.

For some, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.

“Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it’s where kids are running around,” said Nancy Nee, whose firefighter brother, George Cain, was killed in the attacks. “Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie.”

But for others, the changes are an important part of the healing process.

“When I first saw (One World Trade Center), it really made my heart sing,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. “It does every time I see it because it’s so symbolic of what the country went through.”

“I want to see it bustling,” she said. “I want to see more housing down there; I want to see it alive and bursting with businesses.”

The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and available only to family members. It will reopen at 6 p.m., at which point thousands of New Yorkers are expected to mark the anniversary at the twin reflecting pools where the towers once stood.

The first ceremony at the site was held six months after the Twin Towers fell and was organized by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides.

Bloomberg, who took office just three months after the attacks, remained in charge, acting as the master of ceremonies for the next decade. He attended on Thursday.

After other elected officials attempted to gain a larger role at the solemn event, in 2012, all politicians – including Bloomberg – were prohibited from speaking at the event. That remains the case now.

Memphis, group gets 2 federal crime-related grants

MPD

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Federal officials say the city of Memphis and a safe-neighborhoods organization have received two grants totaling more than $1 million to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and reduce gang and gun violence.

The U.S. attorney's office for West Tennessee says the city, in collaboration with the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center, will use a $900,000 grant to improve post-testing requirements for victim notifications, investigations and prosecution of sexual assault cases resulting from the processing of backlogged rape kits.

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