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The global economy's 2020 hangover is far from over

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TalkLPNews Editor
Despite good news about Covid-19 vaccinations, a solid economic rebound and seemingly boundless optimism on Wall Street, we're nowhere near out of the woods. The global supply chain is a wreck. Europe and Asia are facing a potentially crippling energy shortage. And the US government's partisan gridlock over the debt ceiling is far from resolved. All of that has the global economy in a vise grip that we won't be free of anytime soon. "There's just as much uncertainty now, today, as there was in March 2020 as the pandemic was unfolding," said Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist at Jones Trading. The only difference, he says, is that investors now are swimming in easy money that's allowed them to shrug off the grim headlines. Supply chain chaosThe Biden administration is doing what it can. On Wednesday, the White House announced a "90-day sprint" to unclog port congestion, shifting the Port of Los Angeles to a 24/7 schedule and leaning on the private sector to expand their overnight operations.But the government can do only so much. The move to a 24/7 schedule is "low-hanging fruit," said Geoff Freeman, CEO of the Consumer Brands Association. Ports overseas have been operating that way for months.The problem goes much deeper than traffic jams. Truck drivers, for example, are in high demand just about everywhere. But so are trucks, which rely on computer chips, which are — you guessed it — backordered till the end of time.The majority of financial executives expect the supply problems to last well into 2022, if not later, according to a survey released Thursday by Duke University.Prices surging All of this is driving up prices. You don't need a Ph.D in economics to see that, and yet central bankers and economists are still calling price hikes "transitory." The Federal Reserve has used the term so much, and for so long, it's pretty much lost all meaning. On Wednesday, the official word from the Fed was this: "The staff continued to expect that this year's rise in inflation would prove to be transitory." On the same day, the government published data showing the consumer price index soared 5.4% in September from a year earlier.The Fed's "transitory" line looks like very wishful thinking from the people whose job it is to keep inflation around 2%. As if all of that weren't hard enough on consumers: Winter is coming, and the world is facing an acute shortage of energy.American households can expect to spend 54% more for propane, 43% more for home heating oil, 30% more for natural gas and 6% more for electric heating, the US Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. The price spikes are even more dramatic in Europe, where wholesale electricity prices have increased by 200% compared to the 2019 average, according to the European Commission. Coal prices in China are at record highs and rolling blackouts to conserve energy have already begun. And just to keep things interesting, US lawmakers are flirting with financial disaster. President Biden on Friday signed a short-term debt ceiling suspension, averting an imminent default on US debt. But the Treasury says that deal will only get the country through December 3, setting up yet another showdown for Republicans and Democrats — just in time for the holidays!It's hard to overstate how devastating a default would be. Millions of job losses would undo all the gains the labor market has made since the pandemic hit; credit markets would seize up; paychecks to federal workers, Medicare benefits, military salaries and other payments would be halted."No one would be spared," Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told CNN last month. "It would be such a self-imposed disaster that we wouldn't recover from, all at a time when our role in the world is already being questioned."Wall Street's blindersIn the face of so much risk, you might wonder why on Earth Wall Street seems so unbothered. Despite recent volatility, the S&P 500, the broadest measure of Wall Street, is up more than 18% so far this year. Investors hate uncertainty, but they love easy money more. "It's $10 trillion of fiscal and monetary stimulus pumped into a $22 trillion economy," said O'Rourke, the Jones Trading analyst. All of that cash has neutralized the signals investors might otherwise receive that trouble is afoot. "There's much liquidity, and everyone feels good about it that they're ignoring those headlines, those risks, for the time being," O'Rourke said. "But it's unlikely they'll ignore them forever." That's because the Fed plans to start pumping the brakes on its easy-money policies, most likely next month. Fear of missing out is another powerful sentiment keeping stock markets humming. Investors are well aware the party can't last forever, so they're going wild while they can. We're in a "massive equity bubble," according to O'Rourke. And it's difficult, if not impossible, to predict what the breaking point will be.-— CNN Business' Matt Egan and Paul R. La Monica contributed reporting.
Source:
CNN – Buzz
US hasn't seen worker anger like this in decades

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TalkLPNews Editor
And many of them are either hitting the picket lines or quitting their jobs as a result.The changing dynamics of the US labor market, which has put employees rather than employers in the driver's seat in a way not seen for decades, is allowing unions to flex their muscle.Already on strike are 10,000 workers at John Deere (DE), who hit the picket lines early Thursday after rejecting a tentative deal which would have improved wages and benefits. They joined 1,400 strikers at Kellogg (K) who are upset with seven-day work weeks and a two-tier retirement system. Other unions are preparing for walkouts of their own.The overwhelming majority of strikers and potential strikers are doing so for the first time in their careers. Many say they are driven not just by wages or benefits. They say they are striking, or planning to strike, in a bid to do their jobs the way they believe they should be done, and to gain basic improvements in the quality of their lives, such as time with their families, which they say they deserve.One of the main issues running through many of these strikes, or looming strikes, is workers' anger. "My nurses and health care professionals are angry," said Elizabeth Hawkins, the negotiator for a union of 32,000 nurses which could soon be striking 14 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in Southern California and Hawaii run by health care giant Kaiser Permanente. And pilots from American Airlines (AAL) are set to hold informational pickets at the Miami airport on Tuesday, followed by pickets in Chicago and Dallas the following two weeks. Airline employees work under a different labor law than most workers, one which limits their freedom to strike. So pilots will not be striking, but will instead protest work and scheduling conditions. Workers across the US airline industry are saying they have reached a breaking point. Many predict their problems could soon be felt by passengers in the kind of meltdown of service Southwest Airlines (LUV) recently experienced. Southwest pilots are also preparing their own picket lines. Sometimes just the threat of a strike is enough to get workers what they are seeking. Until late Saturday night 60,000 Hollywood workers were set to go on strike early Monday over such basic quality-of-life issues as meal breaks and time off on weekends. A work stoppage by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) could have halted production of multiple movies, television shows and streaming series, marking what would have been the union's first national strike and potentially the largest strike against US private sector employers in 14 years.But late Saturday the union reached a deal for 40,000 of those workers on the West Coast, and a deal for the other 20,000 spread across the country is now expected to be reached before the Monday morning deadline. The deal reached Saturday won the union's top negotiating goals, including better guarantees on meal breaks, and time off between shifts and on weekends."Workers should have improved morale and be more alert. Health and safety standards have been upgraded," said Mike Miller, a union vice president and head of its motion picture bargaining unit.Nonunion workers also hit the bricksIt is not just union members walking out. A record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August, the overwhelming majority of whom are not members of a union. While many of them left their previous job for a new one, nearly 800,000 jobseekers in September were unemployed because they quit their previous job without a new one lined up. "Strikes are only one measure of unrest. It's also a general sense of frustration," said Todd Vachon, an assistant professor and director of labor education at Rutgers University.The lowest monthly reading on record of workers quitting in this century occurred in August 2009, just after the end of the Great Recession, when 1.6 million workers quit. But the current level is significantly above the norm. The 4.3 million who left their jobs in August was a 19% jump, or about 700,000 more people, than during the same month in 2019 ahead of the pandemic, and nearly 60% above the average since the government started tracking job quitters in 2000."The nonunion workers simply don't want to stay in or return to back-breaking or mind-numbing jobs," said Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration who wrote an essay comparing the record quit rate to a "general strike" which has been seen across wide ranges of industries and companies in some other countries but never in the United States. Reich said the pandemic may have done more than shake up the supply and demand for labor in the US jobs market. It may have caused a reevaluation of the very nature and quality of work. A similar thing happened after World War I and World War II, when workers made real gains because of the disruption caused by nation-changing events, Reich said."It may have taken a pandemic to open people's eyes," he said. "Many people are frazzled. A lot of workers are saying, 'I've had it!' They're fed up and don't want to take it anymore."More leverage for strikers than in the pastStrikers have always been at a disadvantage. Strike benefits from unions pay only a fraction of lost wages, and it is never certain strikers will win back better pay or benefits than those they lost while on the picket line.In the past, there was always a risk employers would hire replacement workers to take the jobs of those on strike, or even shut down their operations entirely. Many labor historians believe a significant turning point in US labor-management relations, one which weakened union power for decades, was when President Ronald Reagan fired air traffic controllers and hired replacements when their union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or PATCO, went on strike in 1981.Today, 40 years later, employers are having trouble finding workers to fill their normal job needs, let alone find workers to take strikers' jobs."Labor fell into tough times following PATCO," said Alexander Colvin, dean of Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. "The inability of employers to find replacement workers in this market does shift the power back to labor."Replacement jobs, not replacement workersInstead of strikers worrying about replacement workers, now management has to worry the strikers might find replacement jobs."There's jobs everywhere, many offering hiring bonuses," said Trevor Bidelman, president of the local union in Battle Creek, Michigan, which went on strike against Kellogg earlier this month. "If necessary, we can go out and get a job to supplement [our] income and stay out longer."Nurses preparing for a strike at Kaiser Permanente say they are ready to do the same."Nurses are in great demand right now. If we go on strike, I don't feel bad about [working elsewhere] to support my family," said Liz Marlow, a registered nurse in the emergency department at the Kaiser hospital in Fontana, California. She's been on disability leave, recovering from the effects of Covid, but she expected to return to work by Nov. 1. Now she could be on strike instead, a scenario she never imagined, but she sees no choice but to force management to fill nursing openings and giving nurses the help they need to serve patients."What we're asking for first and foremost is patient safety," she said. "It truly isn't about money. The most important thing is the investment and supporting the front-line staff in order for us to our jobs the way they should be done. It [the staffing shortages] causes fatigue, it causes mental strain, a lot of challenging factors."The frustration with employers not doing enough to get workers the help they need is another common theme.Bidelman, whose union is striking against Kellogg, said his members are upset with working seven days a week, and rarely get time off for family events, even on weekends. "When people retire, the company doesn't replace them," he said. "They treat us like a commodity in there."Past agreements no longer acceptableNow that Kellogg is doing well, with an operating profit for the first half of this year up 9% from the same period in 2019, concessions the union previously agreed to -- such as lower pay and benefits for new hires -- are no longer acceptable to the membership, he said."What this boils down to is that [in past negotiations] everybody had been willing to compromise to avoid a fight," Bidelman said. "They've been bullying us at the table for some time. Now our members are angry, angry at the total disrespect they're continuing to show us. We're digging our feet in."The same dynamic can be seen in the John Deere strike. The maker of farm and construction equipment has been enjoying record profits and has a strong order book ahead. And it has been hiring, adding about 1,000 union members since last October, bringing union membership there to more than 10,000.The negotiating team of the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative contract with the Deere two weeks ago, which included immediate pay raises of between 5% and 6% and improvements in pensions and benefits. But it was not enough to satisfy rank and file membership, who also were upset about the continuation of two different kinds of pension plans. The strike started Thursday at 11 Midwest factories and 3 distribution centers after 90% of the membership voted no on the proposed deal."What was on the table wasn't a horrible package. But the rank-and-file saw this as an opportunity to demand more," said Rutgers University's Vachon. "Manufacturing in this country has been in decline for decades. Employees have worried about automation, jobs moving overseas. It's meant rounds after rounds of concessionary bargaining and givebacks. The Deere workers said, 'Not this time. They're making hands-over-fist profits. We want more.'""I think workers do feel newfound leverage in this moment, especially coming out of the pandemic where they were deemed essential, rather than considered expendable," said Tim Schlittner, communications director for the AFL-CIO. "They're making the decision they will no longer settle for less."Rising number of strikesThe Bureau of Labor Statistics shows only a dozen strikes through September this year, fewer than in the same period of 2019 ahead of the pandemic. But the BLS counts only strikes with 1,000 or more strikers. Many strikes involve hundreds, not thousands of workers, sometimes even less than 100. Cornell University, however, tracks strikes of all sizes, and its stats show 181 strikes so far this year, with 38 strikes just in the first two weeks of October, more than any other full month so far this year. Those most recent strikes, 22 of which started this month, involve 24,000 workers in total, prompting the AFL-CIO to dub this month Striketober."No one likes to go on strike. Let's be clear," Liz Shuler, the new president of the AFL-CIO, the federation of most of the nation's major unions, told CNN on Thursday. Strikes occur only when "we are pushed to a limit where basic fairness and equity are violated. You can't just continue to see wages go down, health care benefits taken away, retirement security disappear without saying enough is enough. And that's where we are, we're at a breaking point."Much of the harder line by labor is coming, as in the Deere strike, more from the rank-and-file than from union leadership, said Cornell University's Colvin. "There's definitely some more labor militancy in the air," he said. "There's higher expectations, and there's a willingness to not settle for what happened in the past."Obstacles remain for unionsBut it's still too early to say what the long-term effect of this new attitude will be, or whether there is a more permanent shift in favor of organized labor.A recent Gallup poll showed 68% of respondents have a positive view of unions; the best reading for the question since 1965, and up from only 48% in 2009. Younger workers are even bigger backers of unions, with 77% of those 34 and younger having a positive view.But union membership nationwide is down to only 6% of workers at businesses, limiting their clout in most industries.The highest-profile organizing effort of the last year, at an Amazon (AMZN) warehouse in Alabama, failed badly. And there is little chance a union effort to change laws governing organizing will pass any time soon.Even so, "the current situation is a recipe for long-lasting change," said Vachon, the Rutgers professor. "I can't predict that will happen, but the pieces are there for that to be a reality."
Source:
CNN – Buzz
Shooting At Lancaster's Park City Center Mall Captured In Horrifying Video

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TalkLPNews Editor
Horrifying video posted to Twitter shows Sunday's active shooter scene at the Park City Mall in Lancaster.The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. Footage posted to Twitter shows a man shooting a victim in front of the Tabarek store before chaos erupted (WARNING: the video below contains disturbing footage). News reports say multiple ambulances were called to the scene, but the incident did not result in any life-threatening injuries, police said.Multiple people were in custody as of Sunday evening and the mall remained closed until Monday.The shooting was believed to be an isolated incident.The property owner and PR director released the following statement to Fox 43.“We are saddened and angered by the unfortunate, isolated incident that happened in our shopping center today."We are grateful for [the police’s] swift action to contain the situation. Our highest priority right now is the well being of our guests and tenants.” Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.
Source:
Daily Voice

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TalkLPNews Editor
https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-teen-shot-lower-east-side-20211017-wiq666ipcjgtpalxdjuzkr533y-story.html#ed=rss_www.nydailynews.com/arcio/rss/category/new-york/nyc-crime/
Source:
NY Daily News Crime
Storage containers are scarce, so toymakers are adjusting for the holidays

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TalkLPNews Editor
The end-of-year holiday shopping rush was quickly approaching, but Foreman was struggling to book shipping containers to ferry the company's toys, which include Tonka trucks, Care Bears and Cutetitos. And when he did find some, the costs were exorbitant.In a normal year, Basic Fun, based in Boca Raton, Florida, can export everything its customers order from its factories in China. "It's automatic," Foreman said. The company can "set it and forget it." But not this year. Not in a year in which 20-foot and 40-foot shipping containers became scarce and more expensive to deliver goods from factories overseas to US ports and back. The spot rate of booking a 40-foot container from Shanghai to Los Angeles hit $10,229 the first week of August, up 238% from the same time a year prior, according to Drewry, a maritime research consultancy. So Foreman had to make a decision about which toys Basic Fun would focus on sending stores for the holidays. And he had to make it by September, so the goods would arrive in time.He found an easy answer to a complicated problem: small, squishy toys.About 85% of the toys sold in the United States are made in China, according to the Toy Association, an industry trade group. Shipping containers in short supply, limited cargo space on ocean vessels, and spiraling costs have forced toy manufacturers to make numerous trade-offs about which merchandise makes the most economic sense to ship this holiday. One solution to the container constraints, say toy manufacturers, stores and analysts: exporting additional smaller units and pulling back on larger-sized ones."Companies have to think about how they make the most of each cube of space in a container," said David Garfield, head of the consumer products practice at consulting firm AlixPartners. Toy manufacturers have retooled packaging to optimize space and ship more products per container, he said. In some cases, that has meant shrinking the actual packaging sizes. In others, it involves limiting extra accessories in the box to keep packages lighter.Basic Fun can fit $150,000 worth of Mash'ems — soft, squishy, water-filled collectibles with characters like Spider Man, Disney Princess and Harry Potter — into a container and $100,000 worth of Cutetitos, little furry stuffed animals wrapped in a burrito-like blanket."It's a simple case of how much sales volume fits in the container when containers are hard to come by," Foreman said, adding that with these smaller toys, "the packages are the size of a golf ball."On the flip side, Basic Fun can only pile $40,000 worth of Tonka Trucks and $80,000 worth of Care Bears into containers. So Basic Fun limited the amount of Tonka Trucks and Care Bear animals it shipped, instead of raising prices to offset its higher costs."I'd rather sell fewer trucks and not have to raise the price exponentially because I'll sell trucks again next year," he said.Fidget balls and tiny animals get priorityOther toymakers are making similar decisions.Yogibo, which sells toys, home decor and bedding, decided to prioritize shipping small items like Squeezibo, a gel fidget ball, and Mates — small, cuddly stuffed animals — instead of blankets and pillows "as they take up much less space and offer a higher value for the same amount of volume," said CEO Eyal Levy.In a 40-foot container, Yogibo can fit 200,000 Squeezibo units — $1.6 million worth of sales—and 15,000 Mates worth $400,000. But just 2,500 blankets worth $200,000 in sales fit in a container.The company, which is based in Nashua, New Hampshire, and sells at its own retail stores, Amazon and specialty retailers, made the decision to focus on shipping these smaller items in mid-September, after struggling to procure containers."Once we realized containers were getting delayed week after week, we started the prioritization process," Levy said. "We were running out of time." This year, toymaker WowWee sent more of its My Squishy Little Dumplings — bite-sized dumplings that make popping sounds that kids can squeeze and toss around— and its Got2Glow Fairy Finder, a jar with 30 virtual fairies, to retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Target."Cargo and containers are at a premium, so we're going to prioritize high-velocity, small items," said Andrew Yanofsky, head of marketing and operations at the Hong Kong-based company. He estimates that $245,000 worth of the dumplings go in a 40-foot container and $535,000 worth of Got2Glow jars can be shipped.The company pulled back on shipping Pop2Play, a pop-up playset slide. Only $61,000 worth of slides can fit in a container, Yanofsky said."It's a great toy and it's selling well, but the problem is only a couple thousand fit," he said. "When the margins are low and the footprint is large, items like that are going to get pushed aside."The decisions by manufacturers to prioritize smaller toys are trickling down to holiday inventory that's available for some toy stores.Rick Derr, owner of Learning Express Toys in Lake Zurich, Illinois, said he began noticing in the spring that smaller, lighter items were in more abundant supply. He has been tapping alternate suppliers to try to fill in gaps on bigger items such as dollhouses, play sets and mazes. "We're going to pivot to smaller items" this holiday, he said. "If you sell enough of them you can make up the [sales] that we lose not having the bigger items." Specifically, Derr expects to be able to sell more small fidget toys, silicone Pop It! toys, small arts and crafts kits, puzzles and card games."These are going to be in much better shape this year," he said. What will be scarcer at his store this holiday: "The bigger items."
Source:
CNN – Buzz
Swansea police search for suspect in jewelry store theft

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TalkLPNews Editor
Close Modal Boston.com Newsletter Signup Boston.com Logo Stay up to date with everything Boston. Receive the latest news and breaking updates, straight from our newsroom to your inbox.
Source:
Boston Crime
Man found shot, killed in bar parking lot overnight

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TalkLPNews Editor
BATON ROUGE - A 25-year-old man was found dead in the parking lot of Lake Sherwood Mall at the corner of Sherwood Forest and Coursey Blvd. late Saturday. Police said Jamal Dunn of Donaldsonville was killed. Dunn was killed during a shooting in the parking lot around 10:30 p.m. There is a busy event and bar venue in the shopping center. Trending News Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Violent Crimes Unit at 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at 344-7867.
Source:
WBRZ Baton Rouge Crime
Stop & Shop Launches Express Delivery

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TalkLPNews Editor
Stop & Shop has launched a new online express delivery service in a partnership with Instacart.Stop & Shop Express is available through the company's hundreds of supermarkets, according to a report from Supermarket News.The site reported that the goal of the service is to provide a quick turnaround for those just shopping for a few items.  The deliveries can arrive as quickly as 30 minutes after placing an order.The service is available every day from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., Supermarket News said. There is a $10 minimum and a delivery fee of $2.99. Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.
Source:
Daily Voice

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TalkLPNews Editor
https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-grubhub-e-bike-robbery-fatal-stabbing-suspect-video-20211017-jhwvyqbr5ncyrhuzleqdwgzqju-story.html#ed=rss_www.nydailynews.com/arcio/rss/category/new-york/nyc-crime/
Source:
NY Daily News Crime

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TalkLPNews Editor
https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-mcdonalds-credit-card-manhattan-20211017-udc6nepgdrfsdozi7jngd7tn3q-story.html#ed=rss_www.nydailynews.com/arcio/rss/category/new-york/nyc-crime/
Source:
NY Daily News Crime
Police investigate shooting at Flint mall that critically injured 2

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TalkLPNews Editor
FLINT, Mich. – Michigan State Police troopers are assisting the Flint Township Police Department investigate a shooting Saturday at the Genesee Valley Center.According to authorities, a group of people got into a fight and things escalated. The two victims are currently in critical condition.Police said it is not an active shooter situation.“There was a physical altercation involving multiple people. That physical altercation turned into those subjects pulling guns and firing those weapons,” said Flint Township police Lt. Jim Baldwin. “There were two people that were struck and they were transported by the local hospital, where they remain in critical condition.”Police did not say how many suspects they are searching for. People are urged to avoid the area.More: Genesee County news
Source:
WDIV Detroit
Ongoing catalytic converter thefts from vehicles in Monroe County raise concern

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TalkLPNews Editor
MONROE COUNTY, Mich. – Over the past several months the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has received reports about catalytic converters being cut from the exhaust system of vehicles. The thefts have took place throughout the day and at different venues in Monroe County. Police say the vehicles are often targeted in the parking lots of commercial businesses, churches, nursing homes and other similar locations and sometimes even residential homes. According to police, those responsible for the crimes crawl under the vehicle and cut out the catalytic converter with a cutting tool, such as a cordless reciprocating saw, then sell the removed part for scrap metal. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating the crimes and conducting aggressive patrols and property checks. Several arrests have already been made, but the crimes continue to be committed by others.Anyone who observes suspicious activity is asked to immediately report it to Monroe County Central Dispatch by calling 911. If you have information regarding the thefts call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 734-240-7530. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. Those who come forward could be offered a cash reward.Read more: Local and national crime headlines
Source:
WDIV Detroit