Injury-plagued Roo ‘in a really good spot’ after sitting out 2019

NORTH Melbourne tagger Ben Jacobs has taken the first steps towards a potential AFL return.

The 27-year-old has started a modified training schedule as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms that kept him sidelined for all of last season.

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Jacobs suffered neck pain, headaches and blocked ears after sustaining a ‘whiplash’ injury against Brisbane in round 11, 2018.

He made two more appearances that season before pulling the pin to focus on his treatment, and has not returned to the field since.

Jacobs’ last AFL game was against Gold Coast in Round 16, 2018. 

“It’s been a very frustrating time for Ben and the club,” then-football chief Cameron Joyce told the club website at the time. 

“We sat down this week and decided the best way forward was to take the pressure off him for an imminent return and allow him all the time he needs to prepare for the pre-season. 


“Our sole focus has been Ben and his health for the short, medium and long-term.

“While we’ve seen some improvement, unfortunately it hasn’t been to the level where he’s been able to train consistently and ultimately get back to playing this season.”

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Kangaroos coach Rhyce Shaw said this week that the signs are promising for Jacobs, who was widely recognised as one of the AFL’s best taggers.

“It’s a very tough situation for Benny. He’s shown a lot of courage,” Shaw told SEN radio.

“It’s a real hard one. You get a bit emotional talking about it because you see the fight he goes through every single day to get himself up.

“He’s in a really good spot now, he’s starting to do a bit of running, he’s joined in some stationary skills with us and he’s on a path that may take a little bit longer than people want but for me it’s more about his life than footy and he’s getting better, so that’s the main thing.”

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Saudi Arabia executed record number of people in 2019 – Amnesty

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Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia executed 184 people in 2019, compared to 149 in 2018, according to Amnesty

Saudi Arabia put to death 184 people in 2019 – a record number for the kingdom – despite a decline in executions worldwide, Amnesty International says.

The number of executions also doubled in Iraq to 100 last year, while Iran remained the second most prolific executioner after China, with 251.

However, global confirmed executions decreased for the fourth consecutive year to 657 – 5% less than in 2018.

It was the lowest recorded figure of the past decade, according to Amnesty.

The human rights group’s tally does not include China, where the number of executions – believed to be in the thousands – remains a state secret.

It also notes that other countries, including Iran, North Korea and Vietnam, hide the full extent of their use of the death penalty by restricting access to information.

“The death penalty is an abhorrent and inhuman punishment; and there is no credible evidence that it deters crime more than prisons terms. A large majority of countries recognize this and it’s encouraging to see that executions continue to fall worldwide,” said Clare Algar, Amnesty’s senior director for research.

“However, a small number of countries defied the global trend away from the death penalty by increasingly resorting to executions.”

Recorded executions around the world, 2019

Not including China, North Korea, Syria and Vietnam*

Saudi Arabia’s growing use of the death penalty was an “alarming development”, she added.

The kingdom executed 178 men and six women in 2019, just over half of whom were foreign nationals. The total was 149 in 2018.

The majority were convicted of drug-related offences and murder. But Amnesty documented what it called the “increased use of the death penalty as a political weapon against dissidents from the Shia Muslim minority”.

In April 2019, there was a mass execution of 37 people. All but five were Shia men convicted on “terrorism” charges after trials that Amnesty said relied on confessions extracted through torture.

Ms Algar also said the large jump in executions in Iraq – from at least 52 in 2018 to at least 100 in 2019 – was “shocking”.

The rise was largely due to the continued use of the death penalty against individuals accused of being members of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

In South Sudan, the authorities executed at least 11 people last year – the highest number recorded since the country’s independence in 2011.

Yemen executed at least seven people in 2019, compared to at least four in 2018.

Bahrain and Bangladesh also resumed executions after one-year hiatuses.

Amnesty said several factors were mainly responsible for the global drop in recorded executions.

There were significant reductions in the number of confirmed executions in countries – such as Egypt, Japan and Singapore – that are strong adherents of the death penalty.

And for the second consecutive year, Iran executed fewer people than it had historically done, following amendments to its anti-narcotics law in 2017.

No executions were carried out in Afghanistan for the first time since 2010. There were also hiatuses in Taiwan and Thailand, both of which executed people in 2018.

Worldwide, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

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