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Briefs

Huge hailstones pelt Mississippi

Perez
Associated Press
Golfball-sized hail litters the ground by Andrew Stamps and his wife, Valorie, as they prepare to cover her car’s smashed rear window Monday in Pearl, Miss.

– Severe thunderstorms Monday raked across a wide area of the South, packing strong winds, rain and some baseball-size hail.

In Mississippi, authorities reported two people were hit on the head by large hail as the enormous storm front crossed the region. Fire official Tim Shanks said baseball-sized hail smashed windows in several vehicles in Clinton, where the two people were hit.

“This is the time of year that we get hail storms, but hail this size is pretty rare,” National Weather Service meteorologist Anna Weber said.

Emergency officials said there were reports of downed trees or other damage in 14 Mississippi counties.

Labor secretary pick faces GOP criticism

President Obama gave a glowing rollout Monday to Thomas Perez, his choice to lead the Labor Department after an aggressive stint as the nation’s chief civil rights enforcer. But the nomination quickly ran into trouble as a Republican senator declared he would block the nomination until concerns about Perez’s Justice Department tenure are addressed.

Sen. David Vitter said he objects because Perez enforced Louisiana’s voting rights laws in a way “that specifically benefits the politics of the president and his administration at the expense of identity security” of registered voters in the state.

Abortion provider’s murder trial begins

A lawyer defending a Philadelphia abortion provider on murder charges accused officials of “an elitist, racist prosecution,” as the death-penalty trial opened Monday.

Lawyer Jack McMahon also accused city officials of “a prosecutorial lynching” of his client, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is black.

Gosnell, 72, is accused of running a rogue clinic that ignored the state ban on third-term abortions and 24-hour waiting periods. Prosecutors say he also maimed desperate, often poor women and teens by letting his untrained staff perform abortions and give anesthesia.

No charges in death of adopted boy, 3

Prosecutors will not charge a Texas couple in the death of a 3-year-old boy they adopted from Russia, a case that has become the latest flashpoint in the debate over whether American families should be allowed to adopt Russian children.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said his office would not charge Alan and Laura Shatto in the Jan. 21 death of Max Alan Shatto, who was born Maxim Kuzmin.

Authorities believe Max hurt himself fatally while Laura Shatto was in the bathroom for about 10 minutes, Bland said, perhaps from contact with playground equipment.

Casey Anthony asks to sell her story

The trustee overseeing Casey Anthony’s bankruptcy case has filed a motion to sell the rights to her story so she can pay her debts.

In a motion filed Friday in federal court in Tampa, trustee Stephen Meininger asked Judge K. Rodney May for permission to sell the “exclusive worldwide rights” of Anthony’s life story. Anthony, 26, was acquitted of murder in 2011 in the death her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Poll: Favor grows for same-sex marriage

Support for same-sex marriage among Americans has reached an all-time high of 58 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Fully 81 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 support same-sex marriage, and while support dips to 44 percent among those 65 and older, both of those figures are highs. Most Republicans continue to oppose gay marriage, but among Americans younger than 50, a slim majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now support it.

As recently as 2006, opponents of same-sex marriage outnumbered supporters 58 percent to 36 percent.

NYC police accused of racist frisking

Many of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked by police in the past decade were wrongly targeted because of their race, lawyers for four men who claim they were illegally stopped said Monday.

But New York Police Department lawyers countered that officers must go where the crime is – and the crime is overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods.

A civil trial that began Monday in federal court in Manhattan will examine the police tactic that has prompted mass demonstrations, City Council hearings and mayoral candidates calling for change. The lawsuit, now a class-action, seeks a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes to how the police make stops.

Bloomberg wants stores to hide cigs

Cigarettes would have to be kept out of sight in New York City stores under a first-in-the-nation plan unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday, igniting complaints from tobacco companies and smokers who said they’ve had enough with the city’s crackdowns.

Shops from corner stores to supermarkets would have to keep tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in other concealed spots.

Officials also want to stop shops from taking cigarette coupons and honoring discounts, and are proposing a minimum price for cigarettes.

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