While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 25

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote for ceasefire to Syrian bombing in eastern Ghouta, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on Feb 24, 2018.
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote for ceasefire to Syrian bombing in eastern Ghouta, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on Feb 24, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

UN backs Syria ceasefire as death toll in rebel enclave tops 500

The UN Security Council on Saturday (Feb 24) unanimously demanded a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, as new air strikes on the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta took the civilian death toll from seven days of bombing to more than 500.  

With support from Russia, the Security Council approved a resolution calling for a ceasefire “without delay” to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.  

At least 127 children are among the 513 dead in the bombing campaign that the regime launched last Sunday on Eastern Ghouta, just outside Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  The Britain-based monitor of the war said at least 35 civilians were killed in Saturday’s strikes, including eight children. A night of heavy bombardment sparked fires in residential districts, it said.  


Tens of thousands march in protests across Italy

Tens of thousands of people marched in rival far-right and anti-fascist demonstrations across Italy on Saturday, with isolated clashes erupting as tensions threatened to boil over ahead of next weekend's election.

Police estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 people attended a campaign rally in Milan led by Matteo Salvini, the head of anti-immigration group The League, which said the number was more like 50,000.

The group, formerly known as the Northern League, is part of ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, which opinion polls suggest is leading ahead of the March 4 election.


Rome's Colosseum turned red to protest Pakistan blasphemy law

Rome's ancient Colosseum was lit in red on Saturday in solidarity with persecuted Christians, particularly Asia Bibi, a woman condemned to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Hundreds gathered on a rainy night outside the Roman amphitheatre that is a symbol of the martyrdom of early Christians to hear the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi.

The Catholic woman has been living on death row in Pakistan since 2010, when she was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.


'Never again': Salvador woman released from prison after stillbirth

"The law needs to change so this happens never again." With those words, a Salvadoran woman who spent 11 years in prison after suffering a stillbirth challenged the authorities who locked her up.

"I don't want to see more women like me enter that place. We don't deserve it," Teodora Vasquez told AFP in an interview following her release from the women's prison in San Salvador last week.

Vasquez, now 34, had her 30-year prison sentence for aggravated homicide recently commuted by country's Supreme Court. Upon leaving prison she was greeted warmly by her family and rights groups who had long fought for her freedom.


Football: Zidane hails selfless Ronaldo after Benzema penalty gesture

Real coach Zinedine Zidane hailed Cristiano Ronaldo's selflessness after the forward gave up the chance of a hat-trick by allowing Karim Benzema to take a late penalty in Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Alaves.

Zidane restored Gareth Bale to the starting XI to reunite the 'BBC' front line of the Welshman, Ronaldo and Benzema, and all three scored in a confident display at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ronaldo, whose first goal was created by a magnificent Benzema flick, stood aside in the 89th minute to allow the Frenchman to convert only his fourth league goal of the season.