Floods strand drivers in parts of Midwest

Homes and cars in parts of Nebraska and Iowa were pummeled Tuesday by baseball-sized hail and damaging winds as potentially dangerous storms struck a swath of the Midwest, including the Omaha area, where flooding left dozens of drivers stranded and prompted home evacuations.

The National Weather Service said reports of extensive hail damage and flooding had trickled in as storms pushed into Nebraska and moved into neighboring Iowa, where winds of up to 85 mph were recorded.

Up to 4 inches of rain was expected in parts of Nebraska and Iowa.

— Associated Press

Rules on abortion drugs put on hold

The nation’s strictest rules on the use of abortion drugs — in Arizona — are likely to be struck down and will continue to be blocked while a lawsuit against them plays out, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the Arizona regulations appear to be an unconstitutional “undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion” and kept in place its injunction on them. The decision reverses a lower court ruling that found the rules legal.

Planned Parenthood Arizona and the Tucson Women’s Center are challenging the regulations, which would ban women from taking the most common abortion-inducing drug — RU-486 — after the seventh week of pregnancy.

— Associated Press

FBI says man’s bomb materials found

Bomb materials found in the apartment of a San Francisco public relations consultant arrested in a manhunt included equipment that could have allowed him to detonate a device from afar, court papers showed Tuesday.

Ryan Kelly Chamberlain, 42, was arrested near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Monday after he wrote a post on social media that suggested he was a threat, FBI special agent David Johnson told reporters Tuesday.

In a search of Chamberlain’s apartment over the weekend, the FBI found a rust-colored messenger bag with bomb materials inside, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco.

Authorities did not discuss the specific contents of the social media posting that raised alarms. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that he sent an automated farewell message timed to go out on Monday to family and friends via social media in which he spoke of his depression, romantic heartbreak and the loss of a job. Chamberlain was a public relations contractor for several local tech and marketing companies, his online résumé shows.

— Reuters

Former Charlotte mayor pleads guilty: The former mayor of Charlotte pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal public corruption charge that brought his arrest and resignation after a brief stint as the elected leader of North Carolina’s largest city. Patrick Cannon, a Democrat who served on the Charlotte City Council before being elected mayor in November, admitted to accepting at least $50,000 in bribes in exchange for using his official positions to help several people seeking to do business in the city.

Highway bridge closed in Delaware: Highway engineers say a crucial bridge on the Eastern Seaboard’s interstate highway system could imperil drivers if traffic is allowed back on it. The bridge, on I-495 near Wilmington, Del., was closed Monday when its support pillars were found to be tilting. The bridge won’t reopen anytime soon, highway officials said Tuesday, and the 90,000 vehicles that cross it every day are being diverted onto the main north highway, I-95, further overloading one of the most crowded arteries in the country.

FBI offers reward for tips on lasers: The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday it will pay up to $10,000 for tips leading to arrests of pranksters who point handheld lasers at aircraft, part of a national campaign to crack down on a growing threat known as “lasing.”

— From news services