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A Newsy Retrospective 

Reflecting on the year of the talking cow

Preachers begged for money. McCrory pissed off Raleigh. Pimps went to prison. A Democrat made a lukewarm bid for mayor. And a cow talked to John Grooms. In other words, just your typical year in Charlotte. Here are just a few of our favorite news stories from the last 12 months:

"The Contender: Can Beverly Earle defeat Pat McCrory and become Charlotte's next mayor?" (Sept. 26): Did the quiet state legislator ever really have a shot at unseating Mayor Fratboy? As it turns out, not really. But last fall many people were hoping McCrory finally had some serious competition in Earle. CL took a close look into the differences between Earle and McCrory, without calling the election a few weeks too early.

"If These Walls Could Talk" (April 18): Sure, reproductive health services are legal, if scarce, in the Carolinas. But are they safe? "If these walls could talk," by Karen Shugart, found one Charlotte abortion clinic was having some problems that women might like to know about -- before they need to know. Two months later, CL talked to another clinic about its travails with protesters ("Clinical distress" June 20, 2007).

"Pimps Slapped! Men get life for prostituting young girls" (Jan. 24): Two Charlotte pimps, barely old enough to legally rent a car, were sentenced to life in prison after jurors heard hideous tales of how the brothers, Tracy and David Howard, pushed drugs, bullied, beat and traumatized their stable of prostitutes, some as young as 14 years old. Tara Servatius' tale presented a grim side of Charlotte that shocked even the cops who investigated it.

"The Revelation Will Be Televised" (March 14): Money may not get you into heaven, but it sure helps if you're going to operate one of the largest Christian-themed broadcasting companies in the United States. CL looked at Inspiration Networks, the Charlotte-based media Goliath that has its share of critics. Among those criticisms are its seeming support for the idea that God wants true believers to be rich (particularly if they donate to TV ministries). Naysayers, be chastened: "The Bible is filled with verses expressing God's desire to bless people financially," John E. Roos, a company spokesman, told CL. "This is not the same as the 'prosperity Gospel.'"

"Predatory Lenders Bite Back" (July 25): Supporting payday lending is about as PC today as wearing real fur, smoking indoors or copping to a love of Billy Ray Cyrus CDs. Yet the big banks were still giving the payday lending industry money to bankroll their high-profit loansharking.

"Bad Medicine: N.C. doctor among 14 people indicted for drug trafficking" (March 7): Back in 2006, CL profiled a North Carolina doctor who'd been allowed to practice medicine in North Carolina even though the state medical board knew about his, ahem, unconventional past, which included peddling AIDS cures to HIV-positive people. Then this year, three years after a mother and son killed themselves with drugs they bought from him online, Dr. Everett Echols was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges.

• Echols was just one of the doctors CL has profiled this year. Witness Dr. Charles Buzzanell, whose history made "The Execution of Janice Almitairi: The N.C. medical board kills again" (March 21) such an interesting, outrageous tale. Like Jim Black, the state medical board is always reliable story fodder.

"Blown Away: Why did a Charlotte SWAT team kill a wheelchair-bound man?" (Feb. 21): It's a story anytime cops burst into someone's home and shoot him. But when police kill a double-amputee in a wheelchair who'd come to the United States to escape such repressive, police-state actions ... well, that's a great -- and a terribly sad -- story.

"Head-on Collision: Mayor's caravan alienates some" (Feb. 7): One might not think a mayor's plea for more criminal justice funding would be that divisive. But it was. When Mayor Pat McCrory took a convoy of folks up to Raleigh to plead for more money, the move offended legislative Democrats. But the trip drew attention to the matter. Whether it got results is another matter.

" Billy Graham & the Chamber of Secrets: My satirical trip through BillyWorld's hidden exhibits" (Aug. 29): It's no secret that the good reverend's record on social justice is a little spotty, but you wouldn't get that impression from the library in his honor. Never fear, writer John Grooms was eager to share the not-so-good news.

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