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They're called a "dream team" - new leaders in France, Britain and Germany who just might restore greater unity within Europe and with the United States. That lineup has the potential to bring fresh inspiration to stale global problems, even as the U.S. moves closer to choosing its new leader.

This has happened in transatlantic relations before. The 1980s was dominated by a new set of leaders: Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Germany's Helmut Kohl, France's Francois Mitterrand and America's Ronald Reagan. They did not share the same ideology, but they respected one another and agreed on some key issues, such as holding tough against the Soviet Union. Together, they did much to end the Cold War and boost economic growth. Individually, they brought their countries forward, especially Mrs. Thatcher, whose tough reforms transformed the British economy. These were political giants, needed at a time of economic and geopolitical pessimism.

Such is the mood today, as Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and British prime-minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown take the helm.

A weak U.S. needs strong allies more than ever. If the European Union succeeds in uniting around a "mini-treaty" to facilitate a more smoothly running EU, and if Mr. Sarkozy rejuvenates France with a sort-of Thatcher treatment, Washington would have its stronger partner.

Under these conditions, new leaders on both sides of the Atlantic could indeed make a mark. They might push hard for a Middle East peace settlement, or reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.

More likely, closer and smoother transatlantic relations would simply mean a better ability to handle immediate challenges. Even that would be cause for greater optimism.

- The Christian Science Monitor

Some people aren't cut out to be thieves. This is bad news for them, and good news for those they rob.

Consider a man in Beersheba, Israel, who tried to sell a washing machine on the street. Police were suspicious. The clincher came when they looked inside the machine - more than the street vendor had done, apparently - and found a few clothes, which were traced to a man whose washing machine had just been stolen. The vendor was charged.

Bad luck for the accused. Usually it's not until the trial that it all comes out in the wash.

- The Globe and Mail (Canada)

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