An Australian policeman has been suspended over the arrest of a man who was allegedly hit by a police car and then kicked in the head by an officer.
The man, 32, was put in an induced coma and admitted to intensive care after the arrest in Melbourne on Sunday.
His family has called for an independent investigation, after footage of the incident went viral.
Victoria Police said an internal unit was investigating.
Melbourne has been under a strict coronavirus lockdown for the past two months.
Police have been given unprecedented powers, under public health orders, to fine and detain people, but it does not appear that Sunday’s arrest was related to a lockdown breach.
The man had been at a hospital seeking treatment for mental health issues when he left, prompting staff to call the police.
A video of the arrest taken by a bystander shows a policeman appearing to stomp on the man’s head before officers pin him to the ground.
Victoria Police said the man had been behaving erratically and assaulted an officer.
What does the video show?
Footage broadcast by the Seven News TV channel shows the man walking in the middle of the road, waving his arms in front of a police car.
The man turns his back and walks away slowly, before being hit by the police car from behind.
In another video, taken several minutes later, an officer stands over the man and appears to kick down on his head to prevent him from getting up. He and five other officers then pin him down.
What did the man’s family say?
His father has accused the officers of using excessive force.
“It is like watching a video from America or Beirut,” he told the Herald Sun newspaper.
“Police are not above the law – they should be held accountable. They were kicking him and he wasn’t even fighting back. It was extremely excessive.”
The man’s lawyer, Jeremy King, told ABC News that his client had not committed a crime and was in a “vulnerable” state at the time of his arrest.
“Really he’s a person that the police should be dealing with in a very unique way,” Mr King said.
What did authorities say?
Victoria Police said its officers were called to reports of a man behaving erratically in the suburb of Epping at about 16:10 (06:10 GMT) on Sunday.
“During the highly dynamic incident a police officer was assaulted and [pepper spray] was deployed before the man was arrested and subsequently taken to hospital for assessment,” a police spokesperson said on Monday.
“Upon arrival the male allegedly became aggressive and damaged a police vehicle while attempting to avoid arrest.”
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State Police Minister Lisa Neville said body-camera footage of the arrest would be reviewed by Victoria Police’ Professional Standards Command, which oversees the conduct of the state’s police officers.
Ms Neville said the officers were in “difficult circumstances”, but added there were “concerning aspects of the arrest, particularly at the end”.
Have there been other police controversies?
Since Melbourne’s lockdown began on 9 July, stay-at-home rules have been enforced by a heavy police presence. Some incidents have sparked public anger.
Earlier this month, the arrest of a pregnant woman in her home for promoting an anti-lockdown protest on social media drew much criticism. Social media videos have also captured other confrontations.
In turn, Victoria Police has said it has faced a rise in aggressive and violent behaviour from people opposed to lockdown.
Police have also faced greater scrutiny in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movement. In Australia, that has focused anger on the disproportionate number of deaths in custody among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In recent months, police in New South Wales and South Australia have launched investigations into separate arrests of Aboriginal men, after facing accusations of using inappropriate force.
India victim’s death sparks outrage
A 19-year-old Dalit (formerly untouchable) woman has died after she was allegedly gang raped by four upper-caste men, sparking outrage in India.
The woman was admitted to a hospital in Delhi two weeks ago with several serious injuries.
The attack occurred on 14 September in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Four men have been arrested.
The news of her death has prompted many in India to take to social media and demand justice.
Police told local media that the four men had dragged the victim to a field in Hathras district, where they allegedly raped her. She was grievously injured in the attack.
The victim’s brother confirmed her death to BBC Hindi, saying that no arrests had been made in the first 10 days after the incident took place. “She was left for dead. She fought for her life for 14 days,” he said.
The family told the Indian Express newspaper that the main accused in the crime had always harassed Dalits in their area.
Opposition parties in the state have condemned the attack.
“The government should provide all possible help to the victim’s family and ensure speedy punishment to the culprits by prosecuting them in a fast-track court,” Mayawati, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Dalit politician, tweeted on Tuesday.
Akhilesh Yadav, another former chief minister, said the government was “insensitive” to crimes against women.
Dalit politician and activist, Chandrashekhar Azad, had visited the victim over the weekend. His party has now called for nationwide protests over her death.
Dalits are some of India’s most downtrodden citizens because of an unforgiving Hindu caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the ladder. Despite laws that protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for the Dalit population, thought to number around 200 million.
On Twitter, her death is among the top discussion trends, with many calling her the forgotten Nirbhaya, a reference to the gang-rape and murder in Delhi in 2012 that shocked the world.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student was named Nirbhaya – the fearless one – by the press as she could not be named under Indian law.
Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 Delhi attack, which led to huge protests and changes to the country’s rape laws. But there has been no sign of crimes against women and girls abating.
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3 Stocks Flashing Signs of Strong Insider Buying
If you really want to know which stocks the experts – and those in the know – are buying, pay attention to what they’re doing. Stock reports, company reviews, and press statements are helpful, but you’ll get significant information from watching what the insiders are up to.The insiders – the corporate officers and board members – have to disclose when they snap up shares to prevent any unfair advantages. Tracking their stock purchases can be a useful strategy because if an insider spends their own money on a stock, it could signal that they believe big gains are in store.So, investors looking for stocks that may be flying ‘under the radar,’ but with potential to climb fast, watching for insider purchases identify some sweet market plays. To make that search easier, the TipRanks Insiders’ Hot Stocks tool gets the footwork started – identifying stocks that have seen informative moves by insiders, highlighting several common strategies used by the insiders, and collecting the data all in one place.Fresh from that database, here are the details on three stocks showing ‘informative buys’ in recent days.TravelCenters of America (TA)We’ll start with a company that you probably don’t think about often, but that does provide an essential service. TravelCenters of America is the largest publicly traded owner, operator, and franchisor of full-service highway rest stops in the US. TA started out operating truck stops for rest, repair, and maintenance, and has since expanded to full-service fueling stations offering both gasoline and diesel, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and other rest stop amenities. Their network of rest stops is part of the infrastructure that makes long-distance motor transport, both private and commercial, possible in the USA.As can be imagined, the social lockdowns and travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic were not good for TA. The good news is, the worst of the pandemic hit during Q1, and the first quarter is normally TA’s slowest of the year. This year, the first quarter showed a net loss of $1.81 per share. In the second quarter, when warmer weather normally leads to increased driving, the pandemic restrictions were also – at least partially – lifted, and TA reported a sudden turnaround, with a 59 cent EPS profit. Even so, that missed the forecast by almost a dime. The outlook for Q3, normally TA’s strongest of the year, is for EPS of 73 cents.Turning to the insider trades, Adam Portnoy of the Board of Directors has the most recent informative buys. Earlier this month, he purchased over 323,000 shares, laying out more than $5.32 million for the stock. Analyst James Sullivan, of BTIG makes two observations about TravelCenters. First, he points out, “The long-haul trucking industry has an approximate 71% share of total primary tonnage in the U.S. freight industry, making it the primary mode of freight transportation.” Sullivan then adds that this opens up opportunity for TA going forward: “The increasing demands of the nation’s large trucking fleets for consolidated service providers that can provide fuel and truck service on a national basis appear likely to drive additional consolidation in the industry.”Sullivan rates TA shares a Buy, and his $34 price target suggests the stock has an impressive 82% upside potential for the coming year. (To watch Sullivan’s track record, click here)Overall, shares in TA are rated a Strong Buy from the analyst consensus, based on 5 recent reviews including 4 Buys and 1 Hold. The shares are selling for $19.24, and the $22.70 average price target implies room for 18% upside growth. (See TA stock analysis on TipRanks)Highwoods Properties (HIW)The next stock is a real estate investment trust. Highwood operates mostly in the Southeast US, but also in Pittsburgh, where it acquires, develops, leases, and manages a portfolio of suburban office and light industrial properties.Where most companies reported heavy losses during the corona crisis, HIW saw revenues in 1H20 remain stable. EPS has grown sequentially into Q1 and remained flat in Q2 at 93 cents. Both quarter beat EPS expectations.Despite the solid financial results, HIW shares have still not recovered from the market collapse of midwinter. The stock is down 27% year-to-date.Through all of this, Highwoods has maintained its dividend, as is common among REITs. The company has a 17-year history of dividend growth and reliability, and the current payment of 48 cents per common share has been stable for the past 7 quarters. At this level, it annualizes to $1.92 and gives a yield of 5.8%.Highwoods’ insider trading has come from Board member Carlos Evans, who purchased 10,000 shares for $337,000 dollars last week. His move was the first informative buy on HIW in the last 6 months.Truist analyst Michael Lewis is impressed by the quality of HIW’s portfolio. He writes, “We continue to believe that HIW’s portfolio is one of the best-positioned among traditional office REITs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rent collections have been excellent and there are no large near-term lease expirations. More broadly, the portfolio should benefit from being focused in drivable, close-in Sunbelt suburbs.”In line with these comments, Lewis rates the stock a Buy. His price target, $45, indicates a 31% potential upside from current levels. (To watch Lewis’ track record, click here)Overall, HIW has a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy consensus rating from the Street. This breaks down into 2 Buy ratings and 1 Hold. We can also see from TipRanks that the average analyst price target is $43, which implies a ~25% upside from the current share price. (See HIW stock analysis on TipRanks)VEREIT (VER)The last stock on our insider trading list is another REIT. VEREIT is major owner and manager of retail, restaurant, and commercial real estate, with a portfolio that includes over 3,800 properties worth a collective $14.7 billion. The company’s assets are 45% retail and 20% restaurants; the rest is mainly office and light industrial sites. The total leasable square footage is 88.9 million square feet.So VEREIT is a giant in the REIT sector – but size didn’t protect it from the general downturn this year. Share performance has been lackluster, and revenues have been falling off gradually since Q4 of last year. The second quarter results showed $279 million on the top line, the lowest in a year – but the quarter also saw earnings turn back upwards, reaching 17 cents per share.VER cut back on its dividend earlier this year, reducing the payment to 8 cents per share to keep it in line with earnings. That dividend has been maintained, and the next payment is set for mid-October. The current dividend yield is 4.5%, well over double the average found among S&P stocks.The big insider trade on VER comes from Board member and CEO Glenn Rufrano. He spent over $252K on a block of 40,000 shares, pushing the insider sentiment on this stock into positive territory.Covering the stock for JPMorgan, 5-star analyst Anthony Paolone sees an important strength in VER, noting that the company has been successful in collecting rents during the crisis period. “[Its] collections showed good improvement going into July, with 85% collections in 2Q and 91% in July; when considering all the abatements and deferrals, it appears that at this point about 94% of pre-COVID contractual rental revenue has been addressed, and it seems to us that a normalized run rate for this vast majority of the portfolio should take hold in early 2021; the company is making progress in working through the remaining 5-6% of non-collections,” Paolone noted.Paolone gives VER an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and his $8 price target implies a 22% upside for the next 12 months. (To watch Paolone’s track record, click here)All in all, VER has drawn optimism mixed with caution when it comes to consensus opinion among sell-side analysts. Out of 5 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 3 are bullish on the stock, while 2 remain sidelined. With an 11% upside potential, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $7.25. (See VEREIT’s stock analysis at TipRanks)To find good ideas for 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.
India builds Himalayan bridges and highways to match China
By Devjyot Ghoshal
CHILLING, India(Reuters) – Ligen Eliyas deftly turns the excavator’s hydraulic arm to push a huge boulder into the Zanskar river below in a cloud of dust, clearing another bit of land for a strategic highway that India is hurriedly building near the Chinese border.
The construction site near the hamlet of Chilling in the Ladakh region is around 250 km (150 miles) west of the area where Indian and Chinese troops are locked in the most serious confrontation in decades.
But when ready, the road will provide the only year-round access to large parts of Ladakh, including the border zone. That will go some way to bringing India on par with China, which has a network of roads and helipads on its side of the border.
“It will become a lot easier for the army after this road is finished,” Eliyas said, with parts of his face and khaki uniform caked in fine stone dust.
The protracted standoff in the remote western Himalayan region erupted into a bloody hand-to-hand clash in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and China suffered an unspecified number of casualties. The Asian giants fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962.
The 283-km (175-mile)-long Nimmu-Padam-Darcha (NPD) highway, where Eliyas is working, is expected to be completed in three years, officials said. It highlights the efforts by India, which have been redoubled after the latest tensions, to develop key infrastructure – roads, tunnels, bridges and airfields – along the unsettled 3,500 km (2,170 mile) border with China.
The road will link up with an 8.8-km (5.5-mile) tunnel that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate in coming weeks, opening the snow deserts of Ladakh to the rest of the country all year round.
There are two main highways that connect Ladakh to the rest of India, but they are closed for at least four months every winter. The only way urgent supplies are sent to Ladakh during these months is by air.
With thousands of its troops amassed at the border and no sign of a drawdown, India is now pushing harder to blast and smash its way through the Himalayas.
“We will not back down from taking any big and tough step in the interest of our country,” Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament this month, adding the government had doubled the budget for infrastructure work on the China border.
The frenetic construction itself has become a thorny issue this summer with the Chinese complaining that the Indian activity in the mountains was destabilising, Indian officials said. But China built its infrastructure in the area years ago, and it needs to be matched, they said.
“China does not recognise the so-called ‘Ladakh Union Territory’ illegally set up by India and is opposed to infrastructure building at the border area for the purpose of military control,” the office of China’s foreign ministry spokesperson said. It added that according to a recent consensus by both sides, no side should be taking any action that complicates the situation at the border area.
China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MATTER OF HOURS
China’s network of roads and railways, logistics depots and helipads mean that it can move troops to forward areas in a matter of hours, said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a distinguished fellow at New Delhi think-tank Observer Research Foundation.
For India, it would take days to match those deployments, she said.
“The infrastructure buildup by the Chinese is not only aiming at the quick deployment of forces but also to sustain them for a relatively longer period of time,” Rajagopalan said.
Conceived in 1999, India’s NPD project moved at a glacial pace till work picked just a couple of year ago, said N.K. Jain, a commander in the state-run Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
Since then, the BRO has built some 100 km of the NPD project, and constructed 11 of the 15 major bridges on the route. “Our work is happening at double the speed in the last two years,” Jain said.
New drilling machines that push dynamite sticks deeper and faster into hard rock to blow them apart have improved the speed of construction, said B. Kishen, a BRO executive engineer who is supervising the project near Chilling.
On a recent afternoon, dozens of workers cleared debris from a freshly blasted section of the road. A few kilometres away, another group crouched under an excavator as explosives went off to clear land for another section of the highway.
Work will continue through the bitter winter, when temperatures drop to below minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) and biting winds at altitudes above 11,000 feet (3,300 m) make road construction even more challenging, Kishen said.
The government has identified 73 strategically important roads along the Chinese border, of which 61 are with the BRO, running over 3,300 km (2,000 miles). A parliamentary committee report in March noted that 75% of the work under BRO had been completed.
The full network of roads will cut down travel time between key Indian military bases, allowing for quicker mobilisation of troops and ease patrolling in some forward areas, an Indian official said.
“It will also lead to lower expenditure for the forces,” the official said, with all-weather roads replacing the need for expensive airlift operations during the winter months.
“We will have a better chance of catching up with the Chinese.”
(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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