By Stephanie Nebehay and Cecile Mantovani
GENEVA (Reuters) – Protesters are being tortured in police stations across Belarus, where authorities have failed to open investigations, human rights experts said on Wednesday, holding a press conference in Geneva where alleged victims spoke by video link from Minsk.
The Belarus interior ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment. In the past, the Belarusian authorities have said the police are humane and professional, but have declined to comment on specific allegations of abuse which are under review.
Some 7,000 protesters have been detained since President Alexander Lukashenko retained power after a disputed presidential election on Aug. 9, said the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and Spring, a human rights group based in Minsk.
More than 500 people had provided testimony of torture, which may be “only the tip of the iceberg”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT secretary-general.
“The key issue here is that what we have seen after the election unfolding is systematic, planned and intentional torture, used by the State,” Staberock told Reuters Television.
“We see clear evidence of a planned and organised type of violence, a policy of cruelty, you could call it.”
In an investigation published earlier this month, Reuters interviewed 12 people who said they had been abused in custody. Medical records from six of them showed injuries including external and internal bruising, traumatic brain injury, concussion and a vertebral fracture.
U.N. human rights investigators said on Sept. 1 that they had received reports of hundreds of cases of torture, beatings and mistreatment of anti-government protesters.
Valentin Stefanovich, deputy chair of Spring, speaking from Minsk, said the group had recorded more than 1,000 complaints of abuse by police, none of which had resulted in a case being opened.
Detainees had been “beaten with batons, maltreated, injured, (causing) bone fractures, wounds and massive bruises, and electrocuted with stun guns and shot with rubber bullets,” he said. “The detainees were deprived of sleep, hygiene products, food and water, denied medical assistance and necessary medicines.”
Three alleged victims — two men and a woman — addressed the briefing from Minsk via video link, with their faces out of the frame. They said police had beaten and mistreated them in detention centres.
“Frankly speaking I don’t remember what I signed because I was under threat of electroshock,” said one of the men.
(Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by Anton Zverev and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)
United is testing Hawaii-bound passengers for COVID-19 to help them avoid quarantine — a move that could revive travel demand across the board
United Airlines will offer coronavirus tests at San Francisco International Airport to help passengers travel to Hawaii without having to quarantine.
United said the testing program is a pilot, and suggested it could be expanded for other airports and destinations.
Experts do not expect travel demand to fully recover until a vaccine is available and widely distributed, but have said that rapid testing offers a way to make travel safer and more practical in the interim.
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United is introducing a new airport coronavirus testing procedure make flying to Hawaii more appealing, with the hope that this kind of program could salvage the already grim 2021 travel season.
Starting October 15, the airline will offer passengers flying from San Francisco to the archipelago state the chance to take a COVID-19 test before takeoff, so those with negative results don’t have to quarantine when they touch down on the sand.
Hawaii has been requiring all out-of-state travelers to quarantine for 14 days, but on October 15 will begin waiving that mandate for anyone who tests negative for the virus, no more than 72 hours before their flight arrives.
United’s program will offer two options for passengers headed for Hawaii, neither of them cheap.
Tests at the airport will be administered by GoHealth Urgent Care, which has been testing United’s international flight crews at San Francisco since July. For $250, the company will test Hawaii-bound passengers each day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., whose results are available within about 15 minutes. Passengers can make an appointment online to avoid having to wait on a line at the airport. (That price may drop as capacity increases. It was not clear whether health insurance will cover it.)
Passengers can also opt for an $80 (plus shipping) at-home, mail-in test from a company called Color. United will email passengers 10 days before their flight with a link to purchase a testing kit. Passengers can collect their own samples 72 hours before traveling, and return the test via overnight mail or to a drop box at the airport.
Results from Color are available within 24 to 48 hours, so if a passenger returns their sample at the airport, there’s a chance they will have to quarantine in Hawaii for a day or two until their results become available.
Depending on how the program goes, United could expand its reach, saying this kind of testing “could make it easier for [travelers] to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world.”
Borders around the world remain largely closed or restricted as countries try to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Travel demand for US airlines is down 70% compared to the same time last year, and most of the current demand is for domestic flights.
Experts largely believe that mass testing is the only effective way to prompt travel to return until there is a widely distributed vaccine. However, limited testing capacity and long waits for results have largely hindered widespread use for a travel context within the US.
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Chadwick Boseman is remembered in new ‘Black Panther’ mural
Nearly a month after his untimely passing, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman’s life and career continues to inspire other artists. The latest tribute to the late actor’s legacy comes from Nikkolas Smith, an author and illustrator who got his start as a Disney Imagineer — the wizards who bring the magic of the Mouse House to life.
On Instagram, Smith unveiled a new mural honoring “King Chad” that is currently on display at the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim. “This one is special,” he wrote of the image, which depicts Boseman and a young Black child wearing a Black Panther mask giving each other the “Wakanda Forever” salute. “To millions of kids, T’Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman.”
Smith went on to reveal why the image meant so much to him beyond his love for Boseman and Black Panther. Before departing Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked on Disney’s 2018 initiative to make over children’s hospitals around the country with themed patient rooms and new elements like “enchanted” artwork. Smith was also part of the team that worked on early design concepts for Avengers Campus, which was scheduled to open at Disneyland this summer. (With the theme park still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, that opening has been delayed.) “It is a full circle moment for me,” he wrote, adding: “I’m so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick’s life and purpose in this way.”
Twitter has already declared Smith’s painting to be worthy of cinematic royalty like King Chad.
And Smith doesn’t only sketch big-screen heroes: he also posted a portrait of beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her death last week.
Black Panther is currently streaming on Disney+
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment
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3 “Strong Buy” Stocks That Are Flirting With a Bottom
In the investing game, it’s not only about what you buy; it’s about when you buy it. One of the most common pieces of advice thrown around the Street, “buy low” is touted as a tried-and-true tactic.Sure, the strategy seems simple. Stock prices naturally fluctuate on the basis of several factors like earnings results and the macro environment, amongst others, with investors trying to time the market and determine when stocks have hit a bottom. In practice, however, executing on this strategy is no easy task.On top of this, given the volatility that has ruled the markets over the last few weeks, how are investors supposed to gauge when a name is flirting with a bottom? That’s where the Wall Street pros come in.These expert stock pickers have identified three compelling tickers whose current share prices land close to their 52-week lows. Noting that each is set to take back off on an upward trajectory, the analysts see an attractive entry point. Using TipRanks’ database, we found out that the analyst consensus has rated all three a Strong Buy, with major upside potential also on tap.Progenity (PROG)Offering clear and actionable genetic results, Progenity specializes in providing testing services. The company started trading on Nasdaq in June and saw its shares tumbling 44% since then. With shares changing hands for $8.11, several members of the Street recommend pulling the trigger before it heats up.Piper Sandler analyst Steven Mah points out that even against the backdrop of COVID-19, PROG managed to deliver with its Q2 2020 performance. “We are encouraged by the recovery in late Q2 2020 with 75,000 accessioned tests (~79,000 in Q1 2020), driven by noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and carrier screening,” the analyst noted. Expounding on this, Mah stated, “Progenity did not provide guidance, but June test volumes of ~28,000 were strong (Q1 2020 monthly average was ~26,000) which we believe showcases the durability of its reproductive tests and the success that Progenity has in co-marketing and attaching carrier screening to the more essential NIPT. Of note, despite the pandemic disruptions, Progenity was able to maintain its leading pre-COVID test turnaround times.”Additionally, health insurer Aetna is temporarily extending coverage of average-risk NIPT until year-end as a result of the pandemic, with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also expected to endorse average-risk in the future given its clinical utility, in Mah’s opinion.Reflecting another positive, the fourth generation NIPT (single-molecule counting assay) test was able to measure fetal fraction, a key milestone according to Mah, and will continue to be developed into 2021. As the technology could potentially be applied to DNA, RNA, epigenetic markers and proteins for additional clinical applications such as oncology, the analyst is looking forward to the completion of the preeclampsia verification in Q4 2020 and a possible 2H21 launch. “We believe preeclampsia (~2.3 billion serviceable market) is a major differentiator for Progenity, allowing them to cross-sell across the full-continuum of reproductive testing,” the analyst added.If that wasn’t enough, PROG signed its first GI Precision Medicine partnership agreement with a top-20 Pharma company in August. The Oral Biotherapeutic Delivery System (OBDS), an ingestible drug and device combination designed to precisely deliver biologics systemically through a needle-free liquid jet injection into the submucosal tissues of the small intestine, is set to be utilized as part of the collaboration. Mah commented, “We believe Progenity can sign additional Pharma deals and look forward to the newsflow coming out on this front.”To sum it all up, Mah said, “We believe Progenity shares are undervalued given the robust recovery in the core testing business and multiple upcoming growth catalysts.”To this end, Mah rates PROG an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $17 price target. Should his thesis play out, a twelve-month gain of 105% could potentially be in the cards. (To watch Mah’s track record, click here)Are other analysts in agreement? They are. Only Buy ratings, 4, in fact, have been issued in the last three months. Therefore, the message is clear: PROG is a Strong Buy. Given the $13.33 average price target, shares could climb 60% higher in the next year. (See PROG stock analysis on TipRanks)Tactile Systems Technology (TCMD)Developing at-home therapy devices, Tactile Systems Technology wants to provide new treatments for lymphedema, which occurs when the lymphatic system is impaired, disrupting normal transport of fluid within the body, and chronic venous insufficiency. Down 52% year-to-date, its $32.67 share price lands close to its $29.47 52-week low. Thus, with business trends improving, the Street is pounding the table.Writing for Canaccord, analyst Cecilia Furlong acknowledges that the pandemic has hampered the company, with COVID-19 weighing on both volumes and sales. In the second half of March, volumes were down 50% compared to the first half of the month, and TCMD’s patient volumes in April and May remained challenged. That being said, trends started to improve at the end of May.“Going forward, given the vast majority of TCMD’s clinician customers practice in outpatient or office-based settings, we remain positive on TCMD’s ability to demonstrate better insulation against COVID impacts and likely experience a greater bounce-back relative to overall med-tech volume trends, with TCMD further benefitting from its expanding using of technology to remotely engage with clinicians and support patients,” Furlong explained.The analyst added, “Furthermore, recent trends among some providers to prescribe Flexitouch (an advanced intermittent pneumatic compression device to self-manage lymphedema and nonhealing venous leg ulcers) earlier along the therapy process, as a means to reduce in-person contact, could provide upside near term, as well as potentially transition to a longer-term tailwind.”On top of this, Furlong is also optimistic about new CEO Dan Reuvers and the reprioritization of the company’s investment and market development efforts. TCMD will shift focus away from its acquired Airwear product line, with it redirecting investments toward its Flexitouch and Entre (a pneumatic compression device used to assist in the home management of chronic swelling and venous ulcers associated with lymphedema and chronic venous insufficiency) products.“Given significant under-penetration in the lymphedema/phlebolymphedema market targeted by Flexitouch alongside the large patient population with limited treatment options today targeted by the firm’s Head & Neck platform, we view the combination of education and clinical data as key to further developing and penetrating these markets… Going forward, we expect management to continue to compile a broad base of clinical data to support reimbursement and drive broad adoption,” Furlong commented.All of this prompted Furlong to keep a Buy rating and $62 price target on the stock. This target conveys her confidence in TCMD’s ability to soar 90% in the next year. (To watch Furlong’s track record, click here)In general, other analysts are on the same page. With 3 Buy ratings and 1 Hold, the word on the Street is that TCMD is a Strong Buy. The $62.33 average price target brings the upside potential to 91%. (See TCMD stock analysis on TipRanks)uniQure N.V. (QURE)Last but not least we have uniQure, which delivers curative gene therapies that could potentially transform the lives of patients. Even though shares have fallen 44% year-to-date to $40, not much higher than its 52-week low of $36.20, multiple analysts still have high hopes.Representing SVB Leerink, 5-star analyst Joseph Schwartz acknowledges that shares struggled after news broke of its collaboration and licensing agreement with CSL Behring for AMT-061, QURE’s gene therapy for Hemophilia B, he argues the “shareholder base turnover is likely now complete as investors and QURE shift focus to next-in-line AMT-130, its AAV5 gene therapy for Huntington’s Disease (HD).”Schwartz further added, “With the M&A premium now out of the stock, we see the QURE’s current level as an attractive buying opportunity for those investors interested in the company’s up and coming CNS gene therapies, internal manufacturing, and robust intellectual property and knowhow.”Looking more closely at the agreement with CSL Behring, QURE will be tasked with the completion of the pivotal Phase 3 HOPE-B trial as well as the manufacturing process validation and manufacturing supply of AMT-061.According to management, 26-week Factor IX (FIX) data from all 54 patients enrolled in the trial remains on track, and topline data from the pivotal trial is still slated to read out by YE20. It should be mentioned that in a Phase 2b dose-confirmation study, QURE reported 41% FIX activity out to one year. Additionally, Schwartz points out that with HOPE-B progressing as planned, QURE has continued its manufacturing process validation work ahead of the anticipated BLA/MAA submissions in the U.S. and EU in 2021.On top of this, as part of the deal, QURE is eligible to receive more than $2 billion including a $450 million upfront cash payment, $1.6 billion in regulatory and commercial milestones and double-digit royalties ranging up to the low-twenties percentage of net product sales.“With a strengthened cash position, QURE is well funded to rapidly advance CNS assets including AMT-130 (AAV5 gene therapy for Huntington’s Disease (HD)) and AMT-150 (AAV gene therapy for Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3/SCA3)…We continue to believe that as QURE’s CNS pipeline assets mature, the company could once again be an attractive partner to larger biopharma companies that have recently acquired many publicly traded gene therapy platforms with substantial manufacturing capabilities,” Schwartz noted.Everything that QURE has going for it convinced Schwartz to reiterate an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating. Along with the call, he attached a $67 price target, suggesting 68% upside potential from current levels. (To watch Schwartz’s track record, click here)What does the rest of the Street have to say? 9 Buys and 3 Holds have been issued in the last three months, so the consensus rating is a Strong Buy. In addition, the $69.89 average price target indicates 75% upside potential. (See QURE stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for beaten-down 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.
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