Children ride in the back of a truck that is part of a convoy evacuating hundreds out of the last territory held by Islamic State militants, in Baghou

Civilians, including many children, leave IS-held enclave

Young girls and boys stared out of the back of trucks, their faces dirty, their eyes filled with terror, exhaustion and uncertainty, as hundreds of men, women and children were evacuated from the Islamic State group's last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday. The evacuation may signal an imminent end to the territorial rule of the militants self-declared "caliphate" that once stretched across much of Syria and Iraq.

Abuse survivors demand Vatican transparency, accountability

12:12pm
Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz talks to journalists at the end of a meeting with organizers of a summit on preventing sexual abuse, at the Vatican,
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse met with organizers of a Vatican prevention summit Wednesday and demanded transparency, zero tolerance for abuse and for religious superiors to be held accountable when they protect priests who rape and molest children.

Forbidden City's night show dazzles China

February 19
Beijing’s Palace Museum was illuminated and opened for night visits to celebrate China’s Lantern Festival, the end of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Beijing's Forbidden City — traditionally off-limits at night for anyone except emperors, ghosts and visiting dignitaries — was lit up.
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Nicaraguan poet-priest Cardenal leaves hospital, thanks pope

Renowned Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal has been released from a hospital two weeks after he entered for treatment for an infection that provoked other ailments.
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Ukraine's president wants UN options for peace force in east

A U.N.-mandated peacekeeping operation could be decisive in ending the conflict in Ukraine's east with Russian-backed separatists — and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should send an assessment mission to come up with options, Ukraine's president said Wednesday.
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Aid wars: US-Russia vie to ease Venezuelan crisis

Call it the aid wars.
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Morocco: Arab Spring anniversary brings reflection, beatings

Moroccan police fired water cannons at protesting teachers who were marching toward a royal palace and beat people with truncheons amid demonstrations around the capital Wednesday.
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Brazil's president: Workers must put in more years to retire

President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday proposed making Brazilians work longer before they can receive a pension, a signature campaign promise aimed at rescuing a troubled retirement system and giving a boost to Latin America's largest economy.
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French far-right EU candidate says his party equals progress

The top far-right candidate seeking to represent France in the European Parliament said Wednesday his party's goal to extract and protect people from a globalized world epitomizes progress.
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1:55pm
Hoda Muthana, who left Alabama for the Islamic State group’s self-declared caliphate four years ago, at the Al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria, Feb. 17,

US says Alabama woman who joined Islamic State can't return

An Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State group in Syria is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return to the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
World
1:55pm

Priest's son demands Vatican attention for clergy's children

The head organizer of the Vatican's sex abuse summit has met with an Irish activist who is seeking to draw attention to another issue the Vatican has long sought to keep quiet: the plight of children of priests.
World
1:40pm

Powerful political leader warns against squandering peace

A prominent Afghan political leader who once had the support of some officials to lead Afghanistan's negotiating team with the Taliban, warned the president Wednesday against squandering the best opportunity at peace in more than 17 years of war.
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1:40pm

The Latest: UK's May, EU's Juncker say talks 'constructive'

The Latest on Brexit, Britain's impending departure from the European Union (all times local):
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1:30pm

Nielsen urges Central America to stop new migrant caravans

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is asking Central American nations to do more to stop migrant caravans and fight transnational crime.
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1:15pm

French court hits Swiss bank UBS with $5.1 billion penalty

A French court ordered Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, to pay 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in fines and damages for helping wealthy French clients evade tax authorities, sending a stern warning to tax dodgers and the banks that aid them.
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1:10pm

Netanyahu strikes election deal with far-right parties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday reached a preliminary election deal with two fringe religious-nationalist parties in a bid to unify his hard-line bloc ahead of April elections.
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1:05pm

French senators: Macron security affected by ex-aide's acts

President Emmanuel Macron's security has been affected by the conduct and actions of an ex-aide at the center of a political scandal, French senators said in a report released Wednesday that sharply criticized the presidency's functioning.
World
12:55pm

UK regulator casts doubt on Sainsbury's-Asda merger

British regulators say the proposed supermarkets merger between Sainsbury's and Walmart's Asda unit would push up prices and reduce quality for shoppers, casting doubt on a deal that would create the country's biggest grocery chain.
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12:55pm

UK's May presses EU for Brexit compromise as clock ticks

Fresh from a political setback at home, British Prime Minister Theresa May landed Wednesday at European Union headquarters in Brussels for more talks on Brexit with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
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12:55pm

The Latest: Son of priest meets with Vatican investigator

The Latest on the Vatican summit on dealing with sex abuse of minors (all times local):
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12:40pm

Serbian PM's gay partner gives birth to baby boy

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic's office announced Wednesday that her partner has given birth to a baby boy.
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12:30pm

Mexico activist killed days before pipeline referendum

A community activist fighting against a plan to build a gas pipeline through his central Mexico town was killed Wednesday, three days before a scheduled public referendum on the energy generation project.
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12:05pm

Pope strives to fight cleric sex abuse with Vatican summit

If Pope Francis needed a concrete example to justify summoning church leaders from around the globe to Rome for a tutorial on clergy sex abuse, Sister Bernardine Pemii has it.