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  • MarkRubens/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A report issued by the United Nations-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria confirmed that war crimes were committed by "all parties" in the battle for control over Aleppo last year.The battle for the city raged from July through December and resulted in what the U.N.-sponsored report called "unparalleled suffering for Syrian men, women and children." The report detailed the massive loss of life, caused in part by the "deliberate targeting of civilians" according to Paulo Pinheiro, the Chair of the three-member Commission.Pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo used siege-like tactics that trapped civilians without sufficient food or medical supplies, the report says. That, added to Syrian and Russian daily air strikes claimed "hundreds of lives and [reduced] hospitals, schools and markets to rubble."The report also accuses Syrian forces of using chlorine bombs -- prohibited under international law -- in residential areas. Also detailed in the report were an attack on a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy and "indiscriminate attacks by armed groups."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(CATANIA, Italy) — One day after eruptions from Europe’s largest volcano, new drone footage has captured Mount Etna in Sicily spewing lava and ash into the sky.Watch the video here:
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  • Photo by Nicolas Kovarik/IP3/Getty Images(PARIS) -- French presidential candidate Francois Fillon will remain in the race despite announcing that he is under formal investigation.Fillon is a center-right candidate who has spent weeks fighting allegations that his wife was paid for work she did not do. On Wednesday, Fillon called the claims "a political assassination."He will appear before a judge on March 15, just two days before candidates to submit their final applications.In a speech Wednesday, Fillon called on his supporters to "resist," the BBC said. "It's not just me that is being assassinated, it's the presidential election.""The voice of millions of votes have been muzzled," Fillon added.The judge, Serge Tournaire, has previously heard high-profile cases, including those involving former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and businessman Bernard Tapie.Fillon was a prime minister of France during Sarkozy's presidency. He and National Front leader Marine le Pen are among the favorites to advance to a runoff round.Fillon's wife Penelope said she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars while working as a parliamentary assistant for several years. According to the BBC, reports indicate that those claims have been called into doubt.Earlier in the campaign, Fillon said that he would step down if placed under formal investigation. Now, however, he says he will fight on "until victory.""The closer we get to the date of the presidential election, the more scandalous it would be to deprive the right and center of a candidate," he explained.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) — The only sex abuse survivor active on the pope’s commission on abuse has dropped out.Irishwoman Marie Collins has resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a committee Pope Francis set up three years ago to look into better protection for children from sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Collins announced her decision to leave the commission in a statement released Wednesday.Collins told the National Catholic Reporter she lost hope progress would be made on the issue after Vatican officials failed to implement a recommendation to respond to all letters sent to the office by Catholic Church sex abuse survivors. She told the newspaper she can no longer listen to public statements about the deep concern in the Church for abuse victims when the Vatican refuses to even acknowledge their letters."When I accepted my appointment to the Commission in 2014 I said publicly that if I found what was happening behind closed doors was in conflict with what was being said to the public I would not remain," she said in a statement, according to the National Catholic Reporter. "This point has come. I feel I have no choice but to resign if I am to retain my integrity."Observers say the resignation of Collins puts the credibility of the commission in serious question.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ondrooo/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia) -- Many new parents use props and signs to photograph their children's milestones. But that wasn't enough for one mom in Australia.Amy Purling creates milestone cards for premature babies. The idea was inspired by her own experiences with her son, James, who was a preemie in February 2016."He was born at 30 weeks gestation with a rare blood-clotting disorder," Purling, 28, told ABC News. "On his first day the doctor told us he was lucky to be alive."James was in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for the first five weeks of his life before he was allowed to go home with Purling and her husband, Scott. To help cope with the situation, Purling would sit beside James' crib and document his milestones through photos and a journal. Milestone cards for full-term babies didn't apply to James."None of these were suitable for the unique leaps these little fighters make every single day," Purling said. "I was celebrating milestones that seemed so simple to everyone else, such as the suck of his first dummy and finally being able to breathe on his own, but they were absolutely huge in the NICU world. With each new milestone, we could breathe a sigh of relief and a weight was lifted from our shoulders. Ultimately, each milestone meant James was getting stronger and was a step closer to coming home with us."This gave Purling the idea to create her own milestone cards that parents of premature children could use to document their progress.She introduced her company, Miracle Mumma, on social media in December. Within days, she was getting inquiries about her cards and keepsakes."People were donating sets (of milestone cards) to hospitals for the nurses to use, they were donating sets to other families in NICU, they were buying them for their friends who had just given birth prematurely," Purling said. "It became obvious that I wasn't the only one who was passionate about this."Purling said she has sold approximately 100 sets of milestone cards, and has donated even more. Pat Cotter founded The Preemie Store, which specializes in products for premature children and carries Purling's products."I've noticed how much parents, probably especially moms, like using milestone cards in photos, so I intend to keep them in stock," Cotter told ABC News.Cotter, who was inspired to start The Preemie Store a couple years after giving birth to her own premature baby, said the milestone cards help with the "roller coaster" of having a child in the NICU. Because premature babies often are limited in the visitors they can receive, she said, photos are often the main way of sharing progress with loved ones and the milestone cards add to the fun of that."When you have a premature baby in the hospital, nothing is normal and you don't feel too much like a mom," she said. "Progress is made, but there are setbacks. I think that's why it's such a big deal to celebrate each achievement by these tiny ones."Purling creates all the Miracle Mumma products herself, which is something of a feat since she had zero design experience and was not familiar with software programs before she started."I spoke to printers and suppliers about things I didn't even understand," Purling said. "There were times I felt beyond guilty for answering my phone whilst I was reading a book to my baby or for palming him off to my husband as soon as he walked in the door. There were times I would finally crawl into bed at 1 a.m., only to be woken up five times before morning. But then the day finally came where I was able to share my passion with the world."She said the feedback she has received has been "overwhelming and heartwarming" and that mothers who buy her products have sent her updates and pictures of their own children."I love being there to support them every step of the way," Purling remarked. "[The cards] give parents of premature babies something to look forward to and offer a glimmer of hope at a time that is so uncertain and
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  • Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Duchess Kate on Tuesday met with sick children and their families at a London children's hospital, continuing her growing charitable work.Kate, 35, dressed in a blue, fringed Rebecca Taylor peplum suit, greeted children and families at Evelina London Children's Hospital and helped to open a new facility to house the families of the hospital's young patients.Evelina London House, run by Ronald McDonald House Charities, provides 59 bedrooms for families who have loved ones with serious illnesses being treated at the hospital. Kate was presented upon her arrival with a bouquet of flowers from an 8-year-old girl whose 6-year-old brother is a patient at Evelina London Children's Hospital.Kate, the mother of Prince George, who turns 4 in July, and Princess Charlotte, who is nearly 2, cooed over an 8-month-old girl who has been hospitalized for nearly her whole life and a baby born with a seriously damaged heart who has defied the odds after multiple surgeries.Kate also chatted with youngsters who were decorating pancakes in the center's kitchen ahead of Lent.The center provides housing and support for families, who can interact and share their experiences with other families suffering from similar challenges. Families are able to stay free of charge at the Evelina London House while their child is being treated at the hospital.Kate's visit comes a day after she and Prince William attended a Buckingham Palace reception held by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to celebrate U.K. and India culture.
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