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February 22, 2016
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The U.S. and Russia have agreed on the conditions of a cease-fire in Syria, U.S. officials announced Monday. The truce, poised to start Saturday, will exclude attacks on the Islamic State group and on al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front. Russia first got involved in the civil war in September when it launched air strikes against rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

More than a quarter of a million people have been killed in the war. Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are expected to discuss the cease-fire by telephone and an official announcement should come soon after. Becca Stanek

7:13 a.m. ET
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A slight improvement in Donald Trump's poll numbers has him neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton less than a month out from the beginning of the general election season. The Quinnipiac University survey, released on Wednesday, gives Clinton a slight edge of 42 percent to Trump's 40 percent. Trump lagged 4 points behind Clinton at the beginning of June.

Sixty-one percent of voters also believe that the competition between the two candidates is leading to the increase of hate and prejudice in the U.S. "It would be difficult to imagine a less flattering from-the-gut reaction to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton," the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, Tim Malloy, said.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus two points. Jeva Lange

5:47 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Ottawa for a North American Leaders' Summit that will focus on regional cooperation on trade and climate change. Obama will also deliver an address to Canada's Parliament. Pena Nieto arrived in Canada early for a state visit, and he and Trudeau announced agreements to lower barriers between the two countries. With Obama, the three leaders are expected to announce a continent-wide climate change partnership, aiming to produce 50 percent of North America's energy from renewable sources by 2025.

The trade discussions follow likely Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump's pledge Tuesday to scrap NAFTA and withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Britain's vote to exit the European Union. "This is a time when a lot of leaders in the world are talking about building walls," Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told The Associated Press. "What you are going to hear from the leaders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico is that we are a continent and we believe in building bridges. We really believe in the open society."

Trudeau and Obama are both advocates of robust measures to to fight climate change, but the young Canadian leader and the U.S. president are at different stages of their leadership, The New York Times notes. "Unlike his Canadian counterpart, the American president's hair is now gray, his speeches wizened by his experiences — and his message is likely to reflect the hard lessons he has learned as he has tried for nearly eight years to curb the climate-warming emissions of Canada's neighbor to the south." Peter Weber

5:22 a.m. ET
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European Union leaders are meeting today in Brussels to continue talks regarding next steps following last week's Brexit vote. Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, who campaigned against the Brexit, attended the summit on Tuesday, but it was his last. He is absent on Wednesday. The U.K. has been given some time to let the dust settle before activating Article 50, thus triggering the formal leaving process, but on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "I want to say very clearly tonight that I see no way to reverse this. We all need to look at the reality of the situation. It is not the hour for wishful thinking." EU Council President Donald Tusk echoed that sentiment, saying Europe is ready to "start the divorce process."

The remaining 27 members of the EU are eager to stem the fallout of the vote and maintain the strength and integrity of the trading bloc without Britain. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, "We have to show Europe brings a real added value that can be felt by our fellow citizens." Jessica Hullinger

4:37 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is kind of famous for his insults. "We combed through a treasure trove of trash talk to bring you this delightfully disparaging montage," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live, and he's not lying. But, of course, not everybody loves hearing presidential candidates spout off schoolyard taunts, and that includes Kimmel's Troompa Loompa troupe. This is such a faithful homage to Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory that it's hard to believe Paramount and Warner Bros. haven't sued Kimmel, but that's not your problem, and the orange Oompa Loompa knockoffs put on quite a show. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:49 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, House Republicans on the select Benghazi committee released their final report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in eastern Libya. The report found no evidence that Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, was culpable for the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clinton responded to the report Tuesday during a speech in Denver.

"I understand that after more than two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi Committee out of taxpayer funds, it had to report today it had found nothing — nothing — to contradict the conclusions of the Independent Accountably Board or the conclusions of the prior, multiple, earlier investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress," Clinton said. "I'll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it's pretty clear, it's time to move on."

Clinton's characterization of the Benghazi investigations is, unsurprisingly, similar to the findings of Benghazi panel Democrats, who released their own report. But it's also the conclusion of The Washington Post's editorial board, which said that the Republican report "adds exactly nothing substantial to the story." Despite the Benghazi attack not helping the GOP in the 2012 elections, "Republicans have persisted in attempting to milk the 'scandal' for the past four years," the editorial board said. "They have done so even though repeated previous investigations — including by a GOP-led House intelligence panel — found nothing to contradict the Obama administration's basic account."

On the other hand, as Philip Bump says at The Washington Post, the "damage has already been done" for Clinton. In one recent poll, 23 percent of voters — including half of Donald Trump's supporters and 44 percent of Republicans — agreed that it is "definitely true" that "as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton knew the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi was going to be attacked and did nothing to protect it." Clinton's trustworthiness numbers have also plummeted, and the House Benghazi Committee said Clinton's use of a private email server "arguably holds the most potential for damaging Clinton's campaign." Peter Weber

2:56 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, Donald Trump gave a scripted speech, with teleprompter, in front of a wall of garbage in Pennsylvania, then a more extemporaneous one in St. Clairesville, Ohio. The tone was different, but the message was the same: Free trade deals are bad. "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster, done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country — just a continuing rape of our country," Trump said. "That's what it is, too — it's a harsh word. It's a rape of our country. This is done by wealthy people that want to take advantage of us and that want to sign another partnership."

This is not the first time Trump has bashed trade deals, nor is it the first time he has equated free trade with rape. And while Trump is clearly aiming to win over Rust Belt communities in the Midwest, his language is at odds with decades of Republican Party advocacy of unfettered free trade, and he faced immediate criticism from Republican business leaders and business groups typically aligned with the GOP. "Under Trump's trade plans, we would see higher prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy," tweeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding in another tweet: "Even under best case scenario, Trump's tariffs would strip us of at least 3.5 million jobs."

Trump, in his speeches, promised to pull out of NAFTA and withdraw from the TPP, which has not been ratified by Congress. And he criticized his likely Democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton, taking credit for Clinton withdrawing her support for TPP. You can watch Trump's "rape" comments below. Peter Weber

2:13 a.m. ET

The former summer palace of King Kamehameha III in Honolulu is off limits to the public, but that's not stopping websites and blogs from touting it as a must-see destination, much to the dismay of the state of Hawaii.

The 180-year-old Kaniakapupu palace is in a closed watershed area, and anyone found on the property will be cited, The Associated Press reports. Last week, someone etched crosses into the structure's crumbling walls, and the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources has had enough; they've sent letters to more than a dozen websites and blogs that recommend hikes to Kaniakapupu and asked them to stop promoting the closed palace.

The department says some outlets, like Exploration Hawaii, have removed information on the historic site, and others have promised to remove directions to Kaniakapupu. Thankfully, there's still plenty for visitors to do while in Honolulu. Catherine Garcia

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