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Why Dollar Stores Are Having a Hard Time Making a Buck

This morning, Dollar Tree announced that it would acquire its rival Family Dollar for about $8.5 billion in cash and stock, merging two of the country’s biggest cheapest-of-the-cheap chains and creating the tantalizing possibility of a store called “Dollar Dollar.”

The acquisition looks like a boon for both sides: Dollar Tree buys access to a big pool of lower-income customers; Family Dollar sells its way out of its current slump at a healthy margin. Still, the acquisition underscores how the low-end retail boom — one of the major retail trends of the past half-decade — has stalled out. The recession created a lot of new customers for dollar stores to cater to. But the recovery has failed to give those customers any new dollars to spend.

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Israeli Prime Minister Talks About ‘Prolonged’ Operation in Gaza As Violence Resumes

A short lull in the fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza has ended. After a mutual 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Saturday, the two sides appeared to be launching fewer attacks. The relative quiet led some to believe that the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan and began on Monday, might be accompanied by an informal truce. Unfortunately, explosions at a Palestinian refugee camp and a Gaza City hospital, as well as  strikes in Israel, effectively eliminated that possibility.

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Shoot-out at West Village Head Shop Wounds 2 U.S. Marshals, 1 NYPD Officer; Suspect Killed

Three law-enforcement officers executing a warrant as part of the federal Fugitive Task Force were injured in a shooting on Monday afternoon at West 4th Street near Sixth Avenue in the West Village. According to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who spoke at a previously scheduled press conference with Mayor de Blasio, the suspect is deceased and a firearm was recovered. The officers, two U.S. Marshals and one NYPD detective, were transported to Bellevue Hospital and are in stable condition.

"It appears that the injuries to the officers are not life threatening," said Mayor de Blasio.

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New York City Is Loving Lyft Into Uselessness

After weeks of turmoil and standoffs with regulators, ride-sharing start-up Lyft has finally opened for business in New York. The company isn't totally happy with the launch — for starters, the TLC is requiring Lyft to use only licensed drivers, a departure from its peer-to-peer norm — but it has high hopes for the future. To get the party started, Lyft gave a group of users 50 – yes, five-zero – free rides, up to $25 apiece.

Perhaps because of this too-good-to-be-true offer, Lyft is struggling to keep up with demand. Both times I opened the Lyft app today, no drivers were available in all of Manhattan.

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Using Synthetic Weed Is Still a Bad Idea

Over the weekend, imitation marijuana — which can still be found in some New York delis, despite being banned in 2012 — sent 15 people to the emergency room with nausea, dizziness, hallucinations, seizures, and all kinds of terrible vibes. It seems the chemical-laden substance is having another moment, with the Health Department saying that hospitalizations related to "K2," "Spice," "Green Giant," and whatever else the kids are calling it have increased by 220 percent this year. If you're going to do something illegal, just stick with the real thing.

Weed Weddings Are Probably the Best Idea Ever

The pro-marijuana climate has reached the wedding industry. Weed weddings — or “weedings,” as they should be called — have emerged as a hot new trend in Colorado. As described in the New York Times (which came out in favor of legalization this weekend), the weeding aesthetic is Martha Stewart Weddings meets High Times. Think: charming, rustic marijuana-leaf boutonnieres and artisanal edibles like pot-laced cupcakes or brownies (though not wedding cake itself, as one killjoy baker tells the Times, because it would ruin the flavor profile). Some generous brides even go so far as to provide free joints, vaporizers, hookahs, and full-on pot-dens for their guests to enjoy.

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NYPD Officers to See What Their Los Angeles Counterparts Are Up To

In the wake of Eric Garner's death in Staten Island, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton promised a "top to bottom review" of the training his cops receive, with a special focus on the use of force. With that in mind, Bratton is sending six New York officers to visit their Los Angeles counterparts. The NYPD chief told the New York Daily News that his ambassadors will learn about the LAPD's "state-of-the-art training" — the result of the 12 years the infamously corrupt and violent department spent overhauling its protocols under the supervision of the Justice Department. (Bratton, who was L.A.'s police commissioner from 2002 to 2009, oversaw many of the changes himself.) 

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The de Blasios, Home From Italy, Finally Moved Into Gracie Mansion

From an eight-day vacation to what could be an eight-year one, Mayor de Blasio and his family spent Sunday night in their giant new (old) house. Since Michael Bloomberg had a nicer place of his own, no one has lived in Gracie Mansion, the official mayoral residence of New York City, for the last 12-plus years, although Bloomberg did pitch in $7 million for renovations. Hopefully its history of rats has been taken care of.

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