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British child rescued from Syria




British child rescued from Syria
A woman walks in the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in the al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria on August 25, 2020, where families of Islamic State (IS) foreign fighters are held.

A British child caught up in the Islamic State conflict in Syria has been rescued from the country, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced.

“Pleased we have been able to bring home a British child from Syria. As I have said previously, we assess each case carefully,” Mr Raab said on Twitter this morning. 

“Safely facilitating the return of orphans or unaccompanied British children, where possible, is the right thing to do,” he added. 

For legal reasons, further details about the rescued child cannot be reported.

The repatriation team, led by Martin Longden, the UK’s Syria envoy, left Syria with the child on Tuesday. 

The government has been reluctant to allow any Brits who lived under ISIL’s ‘caliphate’ back into the UK, leaving them in overcrowded camps with deteriorating health and security conditions. 

Tuesday’s rescue, though, was part of the British government’s efforts to repatriate British orphans or unaccompanied minors who have been caught up in the fallout from the conflict with ISIL. 

Last year Save the Children said as many as 60 British unaccompanied minors may be in Syria. It is unclear how many of them have been brought home since the government announced it was taking steps to start the process late last year, but it is thought to only be a few. Dozens of British women are also in the camps, who the British government refuse to repatriate. 

“Their short lives have been full of violence and fear but with the right care they can bounce back, recover and amaze us. They deserve that chance, no matter what they’ve been dragged into by the decisions of adults,” Save the Children spokesman Alison Griffin said at the time. 

“For the British children among them we can and must give them the safety they need by bringing them to be cared for in the UK.”


Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Airports compete for worried flyers with on-site COVID-19 testing, TSA appointments, cleaning robots




Airports compete for worried flyers with on-site COVID-19 testing, TSA appointments, cleaning robots

With Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, United and other airlines announcing fare sales and new routes for winter, it may feel like air travel is returning to normal.

But after a spike over the Labor Day holiday, the numbers for travelers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints around the country are still way down compared to this time last year. And with so many countries still enforcing COVID-19-related restrictions, the outlook for international travel looks far from rosy.

Still, airports around the country are working hard to sanitize their facilities. And after a summer of scrambling to enhance cleaning regimes and install hand-sanitizing stations, plexiglass barriers and other health-focused tools, airports are adopting new strategies to keep passengers safe and instill confidence in travel.

Here are some of the programs you may encounter:

Security checkpoint by appointments

This month, Denver International Airport (DEN) debuted the free, app-powered VeriFLY program, which blends a checkpoint reservation system with a health check. Passengers download the VeriFLY app (an Android version is on the way), complete a health survey 24 hours before their flight. Once at the airport, participants get a touchless temperature check before accessing a dedicated TSA lane. For added social distancing, cleared VeriFLY flyers ride out to the concourses in a limited-capacity car on the underground train.  

More robots and robot-like helpers

Airport employees serving as Travel Well Ambassadors at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) roam the terminals reminding passengers to wear their masks. Softbank Robotics’ direction-giving robot, Pepper, has been reprogrammed to serve as a mask nanny as well.

Robots roam airports reminding passengers to put their masks on.

Intelligent sterilizing robots and robotic machinery designed to quickly and efficiently disinfect public areas and passengers facilities are now deployed at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Hong Kong International Airport and, most recently at San Antonio International Airport (SAT), where voters chose SAT-erminator over Zappy, Violet, Alamo and Tex as the preferred name for the new full-time airport employee.

Cleaning up with UV light and a spritz

 In addition to air-cleansing bipolar ionization (BPI) devices installed by companies such as AtmosAir in airport heating and air conditioning systems in Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities, an increasing number of airports are using UV and medical-grade UVC light to zap bacteria and viruses on surfaces and, in some cases, people.

London’s Gatwick Airport is installing a Smiths Detection-made system at eight security checkpoint lanes that sends each security bin through an enclosed tunnel that uses short-wavelength UV-C light for disinfection. 

Bluewater Technologies, a design technology firm in Michigan, has developed a system that uses medical-grade, UV-C light to quickly sanitize airport luggage carts in a few seconds.

And Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) has installed UV-C sterilization units inside some escalator and walkway mechanisms to continuously clean the handrails.

The Toronto Airport also has a new, voluntary disinfection corridor that uses a chemical-free spray to give passengers a quick pre- or post-flight sanitizing spritz.

COVID-19 testing at airports

Temperature checks have gradually become the norm at many airports, though there continues to be debate over who should be responsible for carrying them out. Earlier this month, a new bipartisan Senate bill was introduced that would require the TSA to perform that task.

Elsewhere this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was halting its current screening system for arriving international passengers. Instead of screening for fevers and other COVID-19 symptoms at 15 centralized airports, the CDC’s new protocol “focuses on the continuum of travel and the individual passenger, including pre-departure and post-arrival education, efforts to develop a potential testing framework with international partners, and illness response.”

On Sept. 22, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline trade group, joined other trade groups such as Airlines for America (A4A), Airport Council International (ACI) World and Airports Council International-North America in calling for the systematic testing of all international travelers before their flights.

“This should enable governments to safely open borders without quarantine. And it will provide passengers with the certainty that they can travel without having to worry about a last-minute change in government rules that could spoil their plans,” said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac in a statement.

For now, there are some airports and some pilot programs where passengers can get tested before they fly.

Last week, United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines announced their own COVID-19 testing pilot programs. United is testing its on system on passengers flying from San Francisco to Hawaii, and Hawaiian is setting up drive-through sites near LAX and SFO. Both will launch on or close to Oct. 15, when Hawaii begins allowing out-of-state visitors to bypass quarantine with a negative test result.

XpresSpa has converted its facilities at JFK and Newark into XpresCheck COVID-19 testing sites capable of performing over 300 tests per day.
XpresSpa has converted its facilities at JFK and Newark into XpresCheck COVID-19 testing sites capable of performing over 300 tests per day.

XpresSpa, which has temporarily closed its network of in-airport spas, is developing a network of COVID-19 testing centers at airports. The company now has XpresCheck testing sites at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4 and in Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Terminal B, with plans to expand to six other hub airports around the country.

The medical clinic at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) offers travelers COVID-19 tests by appointment, with results typically returned within 24 to 72 hours, though turnaround time may vary depending on lab demand. YVR and Canadian airline WestJet are also creating a pilot program to offer voluntary preflight COVID-19 testing with fast results to passengers boarding domestic flights, according to the CBC.

And through mid-October, Italian airline Alitalia is operating two of its seven daily Rome-Milan flights as “COVID-Tested,” with only passengers who have tested negative for COVID-19 allowed on the plane. Passengers for these flights who arrive at the airport without a certificate proving they have tested negative for virus 72 hours before boarding can take a free COVID-19 test at the airport and get the results within 30 minutes.

COVID-19-sniffing dogs

Sniffer dogs named Kossi, left and Miina react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, Sept. 22, 2020. The dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from arriving passenger samples at the airport.
Sniffer dogs named Kossi, left and Miina react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, Sept. 22, 2020. The dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from arriving passenger samples at the airport.

Passengers flying out of Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa Airport or Dubai International Airport might also encounter COVID-sniffing dogs. Both airports are running pilot programs to test the canines’ efficacy at detecting the virus.

Passengers who agree to take a free test under the voluntary program in Helsinki do not have direct physical contact with a dog. They are asked to swipe their skin with a wipe, which is then put into a jar and given to a dog waiting in a separate booth, who then sniffs the sample and indicate the test result with the scratch of a paw, a bark or by lying down. The process takes about a minute and if the result is positive, the passenger is urged to take a standard polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, coronavirus test, to check the dog’s accuracy.

‘Very promising method’:  Finland deploys coronavirus-sniffing dogs at main airport

Look for the seal of approval

Airports Council International (ACI) World recently rolled out a global Airport Health Accreditation program designed to restore public confidence in air travel and prove to governments that airports are following international health and safety standards.

The voluntary health and hygiene program requires airports to complete a document containing questions relating to everything from cleaning and disinfection to physical distancing, staff protection, passenger communications and passenger facilities.

Airports seeking the Airport Health Accreditation must also provide pictures, videos, and explanations to show how they are following international protocols.

In mid-August, Istanbul Airport became the first airport in the world to be accredited through the program. In early September, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was the first airport in North America to receive the designation.

Now other airports are rushing to get the ACI seal of approval.

ACI launched the Airport Health Accreditation in late July with a goal of reaching about 100 or 150 airports, ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira told USA TODAY, but so far more than 300 airports have expressed interest,146 contracts have been signed, 46 airports are accredited and 50 to 60 more requests are arriving each week.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Airports try to sell worried fliers on their COVID-19 safety measures


Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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3 Big Dividend Stocks Yielding 7% — or More; Evercore Says ‘Buy’




Yahoo Finance

In the first half of 2020, many companies have cut back on their dividend payments, slashing or suspending them to conserve cash against the downturn. That trend appeared to reverse itself – or at least, to start to reverse itself – in August, when 13 companies announced dividend increases while only 2 announced cuts. Is this a signal that Q3 will show rebounding sentiment toward dividend and buyback policies? The recessionary pressure is easing; and dividends are a powerful attractor for cautious investors.

Looking at the current situation from Evercore ISI, market strategist Dennis DeBusschere believes the worse is over, saying, “[A] sharp drop in cash returns is unlikely [in 2h20.]” He believes that companies will continue, albeit slowly, to restore both dividends and buyback policies – but cautions that investors should not expect a return to pre-pandemic levels for until at least 2022.

“Though a recovery back to pre-pandemic levels is not likely for at least two years, the negative impact on high cash return names and income strategies should continue to stabilize through year end,” DeBusschere opined.

Following DeBusschere’s lead, Evercore’s stock analysts have been tagging high-yield dividend payers as likely prospects for investors looking to buy in. According to the TipRanks data, these are Buy-rated stocks, with at least a 7% dividend yield and upwards of 10% upside for the year ahead.

Columbia Property Trust (CXP)

The first stock on today’s dividend list is a real estate investment trust, Columbia Property Trust. Columbia holds a portfolio exceeding 6 million square feet of office space in New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC, with smaller investments in Boston, Mass. New York and San Fran were hit hard- by coronavirus and the lockdown policies implemented to halt its spread. That could have badly hurt the company- but Columbia’s 97% lease occupancy and long-term leases (the average term remaining is 6 years) provided a level of insulation.

That can be seen by CXP’s performance in 1H20. The company revenues and earning both grow sequentially in the first and second quarters of the year. Finishing the half, the top line reached $79.4 million for the second quarter, and Q2 EPS came in at 40 cents, well above the 35-cent forecast. In a key marker of the company’s fundamental strength, Columbia reported 97.2% success in rent collection, despite the corona pandemic.

The strong quarterly results are a welcome contrast to the share performance. CXP fell sharply in the first quarter, during the market’s mid-winter swoon, and has yet to recover.

The financial performance was the key, as far as the company’s dividend policy. In August, the company declared the Q3 payment, sent out on September 15, of 21 cents per common share. This was the fourth quarter in a row with the dividend at this level, and the annualized payment of 84 cents per share give a strong yield of 7.8%. CXP has a four-year history of gradual dividend increases.

Analyst Sheila McGrath, writing for Evercore, points out the obvious pressures in CXP’s office-space niche: “Sentiment to the office sector with work from home concerns has pressured valuations and increased Betas for the office names.” In analyzing the company’s particular situation, however, she also points out a clear strategy for continued success, saying, “CXP has high occupancy and limited near term rollovers on the horizon. Importantly, the majority of rollover in 2020 is at rents that are substantially below market. Consequently, we expect CXP to work with existing tenants to maximize renewals and minimize downside in the current uncertain environment.”

To this end, McGrath gives CXP an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating, with a $15 price target indicating room for 39% upside growth. (To watch McGrath’s track record, click here)

Columbia Property Trust has a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on 3 Buys and 1 Hold set in recent months. The stock’s share price is $10.77, and the average price target, at $15.50, is slightly higher than McGrath allows, and suggests an upside potential of 44%. (See CXP stock analysis on TipRanks)

AllianceBernstein (AB)

Next up is an asset management stock, AllianceBernstein. AB provides both investment services, both research and management, for retail investors and high-net worth individuals around the world. The firm boasts over $640 billion in total assets under management.

AllianceBernstein saw 1H20 results that were the opposite of CXP’s above. The company’s share performance saw a large rebound after the February market collapse, and is up 96% from its March trough. That positive result was not reflected in the financial reports during the half. Both quarters saw sequential declines at the top and bottom lines, with the Q2 numbers coming in at 61 cents EPS and $63.2 million in revenue. Even with the decline in 2020, however, EPS was still up 9% year-over-year.

Management at AB has a history of both keeping the dividend reliable, not missing a payment, and of regularly adjusting the payment to keep it affordable. They have kept that policy during the corona crisis. The current payment is 61 cents per common share, and while this is down from the 85 cents paid out in February, it still yields 8.9% for investors.

John Dunn, writing the review of AB for Evercore, was impressed by the firm’s ability to grow during the corona pandemic.

“A repeat of positive flows in both the retail & inst’l channels, setting up an impressive inflow month: AB’s month-end AUM of $643bn was above our / Street quarter-end estimates of $619bn / $618bn. AB saw 3% higher m/m AUM, on market gains in tandem with organic growth which we’ve now seen in 6-of-8 months so far in ’20,” Dunn noted.

Dunn gives AB shares a price target of $32, suggesting a one-year upside of 9.5% and supporting his Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating. (To watch Dunn’s track record, click here)

Overall, AllianceBernstein shares, with a 2 recent Buy reviews, have a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus. The shares have an average price target set at $30.50, which implies an upside of 11% from the current trading price of $10.77. (See AB stock analysis on TipRanks)

MGM Growth Properties (MGP)

With the last stock on our list today, we move back to the REIT sector. MGM Growth Properties focuses on entertainment and leisure properties, with a portfolio of 13 destinations in 8 states, mainly casinos and luxury hotels, totaling over 27,000 rentable rooms.

As can be imagined, the corona crisis has not been kind to a luxury resort company; social distancing rules and restrictions on commerce have put a damper on both the casino and hotel industries. EPS for each quarter of 1H20 came in at just 56 cents – down from 58 cents in 4Q19 and 59 cents 3Q19. In addition, the 2020 results have come in well below the forecasts. MGP took moves in the second quarter to protect itself from the decline in earnings, with an issue of senior notes worth $800 million.

Despite the shock to its business niche, MGP shares showed a strong bounce back from the market crash earlier in the year. The stock is up 119% from its lowest point.

The mixed results of the recent months, and the uncertain future during this ‘corona time,’ has not derailed MGP’s dividend policy. The company has been gradually growing the payment for the past 4 years, and raised it again for the June payment this year. The current dividend payout is 48.75 cents per common share, or $1.95 annually. The yield is robust, at 7%, or nearly 3.5x the average found among S&P-listed stocks.

Evercore’s Steve Swaka acknowledges weaknesses in MGP’s position, but also points out that the company has a powerful ally in sister-company MGM: “As we have stated at other times recently, although prior to COVID many investors had viewed MGP’s relationship with MGM as a net-detriment to the investment thesis, under the current circumstances it’s hard to see where this has not turned out to be a net-positive.”

Overall, Swaka rates MGP shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $34 price target. This figure indicates room for 21% growth in the year ahead. (To watch Swaka’s track record, click here)

The analyst consensus rating on MGP shares is a Strong Buy, based on 5 Buy reviews and a single Hold set in recent weeks. The stock’s $28.50 share price and $33 average price target make the one-year upside 15.5%. (See MGP stock analysis on TipRanks)

To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.


Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett puts years of gun safety progress at risk




Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett puts years of gun safety progress at risk

In the years since I founded Moms Demand Action at my kitchen table, the gun safety movement has made unmistakable progress at the ballot box, in statehouses and in Congress. We’ve elected thousands of gun-sense candidates, passed background check and red flag laws in states across the country, and beat back 90% of the National Rifle Association’s priority bills — five years in a row.   

But now, after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill her seat, all of that progress is at risk.  

The president’s decision to try to ram through a new Supreme Court justice while early voting in the most important election of our lifetimes is already underway — and his selection of a judge with an alarming interpretation of the Second Amendment — lay bare just how high the stakes are for the gun safety movement.   

Supreme Court is best NRA hope 

If we don’t stop President Donald Trump and his Senate Republican allies, the coming years could bring legal decisions that threaten to undo decades of progress for public safety. Over 145,000 Americans have been killed by guns with President Trump in office, and if he succeeds in appointing another opponent of gun safety laws to the court, even more Americans will die.   

After years of losing in the courts and at the ballot box, it’s not surprising that the beleaguered NRA and other opponents of strong gun safety laws see the Supreme Court as one of the last venues where they can try to turn the tide. That’s why President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leading Republicans in the Senate are attempting a bold-faced, hypocritical power grab to reject the will of the American people. The president has made it clear that when it comes to choosing judges — just as when it comes to laws — he’s committed to letting the gun lobby take control.   

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

We see this clearly in his selection of Judge Barrett, who has already expressed extreme views from the bench on the Second Amendment. “There is no doubt that Barrett would dramatically expand the Second Amendment, invalidating gun control measures around the country,” concluded lawyer Mark Joseph Stern, Slate’s courts and law writer. 

Judge Barrett’s dangerous views were on full display just last year, when she and two other judges heard an appeal from a man who claimed his serious felony conviction should not have prohibited him from possessing firearms. Dissenting from her two colleagues — both appointed by President Ronald Reagan — Judge Barrett sided with the plaintiff, taking an outlier approach to Second Amendment analysis that no federal appeals court has ever adopted. She even went out of her way to endorse a gun lobby-backed interpretation of a 14th century English firearms law — a law unrelated to the case at hand but central to many recent and ongoing challenges to public safety laws regulating the carrying of guns in public. 

SCOTUS open seat: Will Democrats grow backbones amid Trump-Republican rush to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Judge Barrett’s striking dissent, and the expansive view of the Second Amendment she laid out, sent an unmistakable signal of where she stands. And the signal has not gone unnoticed by those working to gut lifesaving gun laws: Within minutes of Saturday’s announcement, the NRA praised Judge Barrett’s record and urged the Senate to “act swiftly to confirm her.”

Barrett record shows threat to safety 

As far as what’s at stake for our gun laws if Judge Barrett is confirmed, we need only look to this past Supreme Court term. In a closely watched case, the NRA and its New York affiliate — represented by Paul Clement, who (not coincidentally) “earned” his way onto President Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist — tried to bait the court into issuing a wide-reaching ruling that would have endangered commonsense gun safety laws across America. 

Fortunately, Justice Ginsburg was there to tear through these weak arguments. Just as she had done throughout her inspiring career, she stood up for public safety and for what was right –– and the NRA lost. 

But in that same case, we saw the threat to gun safety from President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined a 31-page dissent against the court’s decision, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh indicated that he was ready — eager, even — to constrain gun safety laws in a future case. In Judge Barrett, they’ll likely have a willing partner.  

Gun safety push: If Democrats take charge next year, will COVID push gun violence down their to-do list?

What does that mean for gun safety? Nothing good. Background checks on all gun sales, a lifesaving policy supported in polls by over 90% of American voters and gun owners, could be at risk of being ruled unconstitutional. Red flag laws, which also have broad support, are also in danger.

Each of these lifesaving policies has repeatedly withstood legal challenges in the lower courts –– but that isn’t stopping President Trump, Senate Republicans and the NRA from trying to ignore the will of the people and undo decades of progress by stealing a Supreme Court while votes are already being cast in a presidential election.

Over the past few years, Moms Demand Action volunteers have taken on the NRA at the ballot box, in statehouses and in Congress. Our movement is winning. But our progress on this public health crisis, and on racial justice and so many critical issues, can be halted — and even reversed — with one more Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice. Every one of our nearly 6 million supporters will fight like hell to make sure that the American people –– not President Trump and Sen. McConnell –– get to decide who picks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.   

Justice Ginsburg fought for us for decades. Now, it’s our turn. 

Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action and a board member of the Supreme Court Voter project. Follow her on Twitter: @shannonrwatts

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett threatens gun safety progress


Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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