TOP STORIES IN EUROPE SO FAR ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2014

VATICAN-UN-ABUSE

VATICAN CITY — A U.N. human rights committee denounced the Vatican on Wednesday for "systematically" adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, and urged it to open its files on the pedophiles and the bishops who concealed their crimes. In a devastating report, the U.N. committee also severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 770 words, photos. Developing,

UKRAINE-PROTESTS

KIEV, Ukraine — The European Union's foreign policy chief is meeting with Ukraine's embattled president on Wednesday as the country's two-month-old political crisis is bogged down in a stalemate. The opposition accuses President Viktor Yanukovych's government of trying to conduct a war of attrition. By Jim Heintz. SENT: 445 words, photos.

NETHERLANDS-PROSTITUTION MUSEUM

AMSTERDAM — On any given evening, thousands of tourists stroll down the narrow canal-side streets of Amsterdam's famed Red Light District, gawking at ladies in lingerie who work behind windows, making a living selling sex for money. Now a small educational museum is opening in the heart of the district to show reality from the other side of the glass. By Toby Sterling. UPCOMING 1000 words, photos by 1330 GMT.

UN-RUSSIA-GAY-RIGHTS

GENEVA — A U.N. committee on children's rights urged Russia on Wednesday to repeal its law banning pro-gay "propaganda" that could be accessible to minors, arguing that the legislation encourages discrimination and even violence. The law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, has been in the spotlight as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics, starting in Sochi this week. It is viewed by activists as forbidding almost any public expression of gay-rights sentiment. SENT: 200 words.

SWEDEN-IRAN

STOCKHOLM — The Swedish foreign minister has urged the European Union to engage in a broad dialogue with Iran during a visit to that country. Carl Bildt tweeted from Tehran on Wednesday that while he has "a strong sense of a society searching for a new and more open future," there are also forces resisting change. SENT: 130 words.

FRANCE-CARGO-SHIP-ACCIDENT

ANGLET, France — A military helicopter is evacuating the crew of a Spanish cargo ship that slammed into a jetty in choppy Atlantic Ocean waters off southwestern France. Local authorities say the hold of the ship was empty when the accident occurred Wednesday along the coast of the town of Anglet. The ship had been heading to a nearby port to load up with cargo when its engine failed and the rough waves carried it into the jetty. SENT: 200 words.

SYRIA-CHEMICAL WEAPONS

AMSTERDAM — Syria's government has missed another deadline for destroying its chemical weapons stockpile but still says it will meet a final deadline of June 30. Under a timetable set up by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Syria was to have given up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by Wednesday. SENT: 130 words, photos.

KOSOVO-RUGBY

MITROVICA, Kosovo — They've been roughing each other for over a century but now Serbs and Albanians in this ethnically divided city are learning to work together through a sport that is all about gaining territory: rugby. French, Irish and American trainers have helped youths from both sides of the divide to set up Kosovo Roosters Rugby Club, the country's first. By Nebi Qena. SENT: 270 words, photos.

INTERNATIONAL COURT-KENYA

AMSTERDAM — Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have asked judges not to reject their faltering case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta entirely, despite acknowledging they do not have enough evidence to convict him. Defense lawyers have demanded acquittal. SENT: 130 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

EUROPE-GOOGLE

BRUSSELS — The European Union's antitrust watchdog says Google is offering new and far-reaching concessions to address allegations it is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches. The EU's executive said Wednesday that Google guarantees it will display results from three competitors whenever it promotes its own specialized search services like Google shopping. SENT: 300 words.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

LONDON — Disappointing retail sales figures are likely to reinforce concerns at the European Central Bank that the eurozone economic recovery is failing to gain momentum at a time when inflation is stubbornly low. Official figures released Wednesday — a day ahead of a highly anticipated ECB policy meeting — showed retail sales across the 18-country eurozone suffered their biggest drop in over two and a half years in the crucial shopping month of December. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 650 words, photos.

OLY-SOCHI-INVESTMENT

SOCHI, Russia — A major international ratings agency expects the local government in Sochi, Russia, to struggle with the cost of maintaining the Olympic venues despite massive state investment. Moody's said in a report on Wednesday that Sochi and the Krasnodar region have benefited from government funding to prepare for the games, which will start this week. But they will struggle with the cost of maintaining the venues after the event is over, the agency said. SENT: 200 words, photos.

SPAIN-PANAMA-CANAL

MADRID — The Spanish-led construction consortium leading the expansion of the Panama Canal says negotiations have broken down for how to finance a $1.6 billion cost overrun and is warning that 10,000 jobs are at risk as a result. The group known as United for the Canal says in a statement that the halt to talks puts the jobs at "imminent risk" and that the dispute could last years if a solution is not found soon. SENT: 130 words, photos.

GREECE-BANK PROBE

ATHENS, Greece — The former head of a Greek bank at the heart of a criminal investigation into allegedly unsecured loans has been taken into custody after his return from neighboring Turkey. Angelos Filippidis, Hellenic Postbank's CEO from 2007 to 2010, was arrested at Athens airport early Wednesday. He had been held for more than three weeks in Turkey pending a Greek request for extradition that was rejected Tuesday. SENT: 130 words, photos.

SPORTS

CYC--WIGGINS-ARMSTRONG

LONDON — Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins says he had to find a new school for his children after they were "harassed and bullied" following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. MOVED: 130 words, will be updated.

SOC--FRENCH ROUNDUP

LYON, France — Lyon hosts Troyes in the semifinals of the French League Cup. The winner will face Paris Saint-Germain, which beat Nantes 2-1 on Tuesday. Lyon sits in sixth place in the league while Troyes is a mid-table team in the second division. By 2230 GMT.