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March 8, 2013 at 10:02 PM
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Winter storms carry heavy rain, winds

LOS ANGELES, March 8 (UPI) -- Winter held its grip on New England Friday as heavy snow from Winter Storm Saturn fell in Massachusetts.

The National Weather Service reported 17.9 inches of snow in Taunton, Mass., as of 1 p.m. Boston had received 12.9 inches.

Southern California was pummeled with high winds and heavy rain was expected to bring snow to Denver and Flagstaff, Ariz., meteorologists said.

The West's late winter storm, dubbed Triton by the National Weather Service, forced the closure of Interstate 5 along a stretch known as the Grapevine north of Los Angeles that is routinely choked by snow and icy conditions. The California Highway Patrol began escorting traffic through the affected portion of the freeway at around 7:30 a.m. PST, 5 hours after I-5 was closed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Wind gusts will likely range from 40-50 mph in Southern California and Arizona, and 50-60 mph in New Mexico and Texas.

Temperatures could soar into the upper 50s to mid-60s this weekend along the I-95 corridor from Washington to New York.

Ex-Argentine president guilty in arms case

BUENOS AIRES, March 8 (UPI) -- Former Argentine President Carlos Saul Menem and former Defense Minister Oscar Camillion were convicted Friday of trafficking arms to Croatia and Ecuador.

Menem, 82, who was president from 1989 to 1999, could receive a prison term as long as 15 years, the Buenos Aires Herald reported. But as long as he remains in the Senate, he is immune from imprisonment.

The charges against Menem and Camillion involve weapons that were supposed to be shipped to Venezuela and Panama while Menem was president. Instead, prosecutors said, they were sent to Croatia in 1991 during the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, and to Ecuador in 1995 when the country was involved in a border dispute with Peru.

Menem denied the charges, saying he signed export decrees for Panama and Venezuela.

U.N.: Congo soldiers perpetrated mass rape

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 (UPI) -- The United Nations Friday called for the suspension of two Democratic Republic of the Congo army battalions allegedly involved in mass rapes and other abuses.

Investigations conducted in the past three months by the U.N. mission in the Congolese town of Minova and neighboring villages determined the two armed forces units engaged in mass rapes and other human rights violations in late November, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a release.

The United Nations didn't say what response, if any, it received from Congolese military officials.

Mission officials sent letters to the Congolese military's chief of staff requesting formal suspension of the two battalions.

"The U.N. mission is in touch with Congolese authorities at the highest level to ensure that the alleged perpetrators, including Congolese armed forces commanders, be brought to justice and held accountable," Nesirky told reporters in New York. "The mission will maintain, together with other partners, its support to Congolese judicial authorities to pursue their investigations and will offer its support for any trial to be held."

4 arrested in $1.1 million ATM thefts

TORONTO, March 8 (UPI) -- Four suspects have been arrested in the theft of $1.1 million from more than 130 automated teller machines in Canada, police said Friday.

Halton Regional Police said the four men taken into custody Thursday and Friday used pry bars, drills and blowtorches to get into ATMs across Ontario and Quebec in a spree that began in late October 2010, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Police said a video they posted on YouTube last October that showed people using a blowtorch to open an ATM was instrumental in breaking the case. The video was viewed more than 100,000 times.

William Nolin, 43, of Niagara, Regean Lavigne, 48, and Lavigne's son Maxime Lavigne, 24, of Laval were arrested Thursday in Niagara and Toronto. Pierre Poirier, 51, of Quebec was arrested Friday in Laval on unrelated warrants.

The four men face dozens of counts of breaking-and-entering and possessions of tools used to break-and-enter.

Halton Regional Police Detective Sgt. Anthony Odoardi told the CBC investigators had recovered only $10,000 to $15,000 of the total stolen.

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