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Pastor John C. Raphael Jr.

of the New Hope Baptist Church conducted a three-day fast and prayer vigil last week at the site of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on Claiborne Avenue. Raphael said he hoped to draw attention to the 2008 murder rate in New Orleans, which was slightly lower than 2007 but still higher than the 2006 tally. The pastor was one of the leaders of the January 2007 March Against Violence on New Orleans City Hall, which occurred after a two-week period that saw 13 murders in the city.

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The City of New Orleans

will officially reopen the Mahalia Jackson Theater this week, more than three years and $22 million after Hurricane Katrina flooded the magnificent performing arts center in Louis Armstrong Park. The weeklong grand reopening begins at 7 p.m. Thursday Jan. 8 with a free public concert featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas, Marva Wright, Phillip Manuel, Michael Ward, Ingrid Lucia and Jeremy Davenport. Call 525-1052 for information.

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Deuce McAllister

played what was likely his last game as a New Orleans Saint on Dec. 28 against the Carolina Panthers. The leading rusher in the team's history may be gone next season, but his name deserves to be written alongside those of Saints greats like Archie Manning — not just for his achievements on the gridiron, but also for his Catch 22 Foundation benefiting underprivileged youth and his comportment off the field, both of which reflected well on himself and the city. Thanks for all you've done, Deuce.

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The Daily Comet

in Thibodaux, La., recently editorialized against a new email list set up by Lafourche Parish government to keep citizens informed in emergency situations, bizarrely calling such a list "severely flawed" because, among other reasons, the list would be a public document. A text message or email from local government during an emergency could save lives at next to no cost, even if it might deprive a newspaper's Web site from ad revenue via site clicks. There should be no profit motive in an emergency.

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