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The Baltimore Sun

Damn, I love Americans. Just when you've written them off as hopeless, as a nation in decline, they turn around and do something extraordinary, which tells you why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on earth. But too, what is happening in America and Kenya holds lessons for politicians everywhere, and South Africa would do well to take heed.

Barack Obama's strong lead in Iowa shows we are entering a new world, one where the Internet exposes every lie, where chat rooms allow unprecedented discussion, where blogs see commentary untrammeled by the dictates of powerful news corporations. In this world, the electorate is no longer stupid, no longer cowed; we may be entering the era of the world's most savvy voters yet.

- Charlene Smith in Mail & Guardian Online (Johannesburg, South Africa)

The new year inherited good news from the old. In 2007, Richmond recorded its fewest homicides since 1981. The year that ended Monday night suffered 55 homicides. In 1994, for instance, 160 homicides plagued the city and gave it a reputation as a national murder capital. Thanks to earlier declines, the city happily yielded the crown.

Several factors contribute to the drop: community policing, as well as greater cooperation (1) within the city's Police Department, (2) between city officials and their federal counterparts, and (3) between local police and local prosecutors. Signs also suggest a more cooperative community. Luck probably plays a role, too. Yet Branch Rickey, the legendary baseball executive, defined luck as "the residue of design."

Skilled investigations followed by arrests, successful prosecutions and imprisonment send a message - killers will lose. Do not forget: Good news for the city translates into good news for the region.

- Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

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