NEW YORK -- East Coast dockworkers are threatening a strike beginning Sunday that would shut seaports from Massachusetts to Texas.
It would be the first such coastwide strike since a two-month walkout in 1977 paralyzed the flow of tens of billions of dollars of imports -- and the nation's retailers and other businesses fear a painful replay if the 14,500 dockworkers make good on their threats.
The strike threat has so alarmed corporate America that more than 100 business groups wrote to President Barack Obama last week to urge him to intervene.
NYC murder rate tumbles
NEW YORK -- Murders in New York City have dropped 19 percent in 2012 from last year and are set to mark the lowest total in 50 years, police said.
There were 414 murders through Dec. 23, beating the previous low of 471 reached in 2009, Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department, said Wednesday.
High-profile killings in the city this year included the August shooting near the Empire State Building where a man returned to his former workplace and shot a co-worker in the head. He was then shot and killed by police. In October, a 6- year-old girl and her 2-year-old brother were killed in the bathroom of their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Their nanny was charged with murder.
Mob hitman dies
CHICAGO -- Convicted mob hitman Frank Calabrese Sr. has died in a federal prison in North Carolina.
Calabrese, serving a life sentence, died Tuesday at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex, according to a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons. He was 75.
Calabrese was convicted in 2007 during the Operation Family Secrets trial. A federal jury held Calabrese and two other aging mobsters -- Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo and James Marcello -- responsible for 10 murders after a trial that exposed the inner workings of organized crime in Chicago.
2 avalanche deaths
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A second avalanche death was reported at a Lake Tahoe-area ski resort Tuesday as heavy snow continued to fall in the Sierra Nevada and cold rain drenched the Sacramento Valley late Christmas Day.
Bill Foster, 53, a veteran member of the Alpine Meadows ski patrol team, died at Reno, Nev., hospital after being caught in an intentionally triggered avalanche Monday, the ski area said.
The fatal accident occurred the same day that Steven Mark Anderson, a 49-year-old snowboarder from the Truckee, Calif., area, was swept away and killed by an avalanche at Donner Ski Ranch, near Interstate 80.
Also in the nation ...
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request Wednesday to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills. ... Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz was chosen by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat who died Dec. 17 of respiratory complications.