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Nation / World

Winter storm brings Atlanta to halt

– Thousands of Atlanta students stranded all night long in their schools were reunited with their parents Wednesday, while rescuers rushed to deliver blankets, food, gas and a ride home to countless shivering motorists stopped cold by a storm that paralyzed the business capital of the South with less than 3 inches of snow.

Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal found themselves on the defensive, acknowledging the storm preparations could have been better. But Deal also blamed forecasters, saying he was led to believe it wouldn’t be so bad.

The mayor admitted the city could have directed schools, businesses and government offices to stagger their closings Tuesday.

“We literally would go 5 feet and sit for two hours,” commuter Jessica Troy said after she and a co-worker finally made it home about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. They spent more than 16 hours in the car, covering 12 miles.

400 snakes found in California home

A California schoolteacher was arrested Wednesday after officers found 400 snakes – at least 220 of them dead – in plastic bins stacked floor to ceiling inside his stench-filled home in suburban Orange County.

Neighbors of William Buchman, 53, complained about the smell. He was arrested for investigation of neglect in the care of animals, Bertagna said.

“House of horrors: That’s the best way to describe it,” said Sondra Berg, the supervisor for the Santa Ana Police Department’s Animal Services Division.

Target: Hackers used vendor’s credentials

Target said investigators have found that hackers stole credentials from a vendor to access the retailer’s systems and pilfer about 40 million debit and credit card numbers as well as personal information for another 70 million people.

Spokeswoman Molly Snyder declined to comment on further details, such as the vendor’s identity or how the hackers stole the credentials, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Michigan shooter guilty of terrorism

A Michigan man was convicted of terrorism Wednesday as a jury rejected his claim that the October 2012 highway shootings in Michigan were the impulsive result of wild, uncontrolled delusions and paranoia.

Raulie Casteel, 44, faces up to life in prison. He admitted that he repeatedly fired his gun at vehicles over a three-day period in October 2012.

No one was hurt, but the hunt for a gunman dominated headlines for days.

World

Gap ‘quite large’ in Syrian peace talks

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s adviser on Wednesday rejected the opposition’s call for a transitional governing body and suggested that a presidential election scheduled to be held later this year may not take place amid the raging violence.

The comments by Bouthaina Shaaban came as U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi announced that the first phase of the Syria peace talks in Geneva will end on Friday, as scheduled, and that the gap between the government and the opposition remains “quite large.”

“To be blunt, I do not expect that we’re going achieve anything substantial” by Friday, he told reporters.

Snowden receives Nobel nomination

Edward Snowden was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday for his disclosures about U.S. government spying.

The nomination by two Norwegian parliamentarians came on the same day that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called on Snowden and his “accomplices” to return the rest of the secret documents he took.

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