Large trove of early Islamic gold coins discovered in Israel

A trove of early Islamic gold coins have been unearthed during a recent dig in the central Israeli city of Yavne, archaeologists said Monday.

The collection of 425 whole gold coins, most dating to the Abbasid period around 1,100 years ago, was was a “extremely rare” find, Israel Antiquities Authorities archaeologists Liat Nadav-Ziv and Elie Haddad said in a joint statement.

The coins were unearthed by youth volunteers over the last few days.

Hundreds of other smaller clippings from gold coins that would have served as smaller denominations were also discovered.

Initial analysis indicates the coins date back from the late 9th century, according to Robert Kool, a coin expert with the antiquities authority.

The period is is considered the golden age of the Abbasid Caliphate that controlled most of the Near East and North Africa.

“Hopefully the study of the hoard will tell us more about a period of which we still know very little,” Kool said.

The discovery was among the largest caches of ancient coins found in Israel.

In 2015, amateur divers found around 2,000 gold coins off the coast of the ancient port city of Caesarea dating to the Fatimid period in the 10th and 11th centuries.

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Anthony Griffin the early front-runner for St George Illawarra Dragons coaching job

At a board meeting last Tuesday, Dragons directors prioritised defence, discipline and a history of being involved in successful cultures as the three main criteria they are looking for when they appoint McGregor’s successor in the next month.

Other names in the mix include Newcastle Knights assistant David Furner and Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon. However, the Dragons are resigned to the fact that Fitzgibbon is unlikely to leave the Roosters before the end of next season such is his loyalty to chairman Nick Politis and coach Trent Robinson.

Gould and Griffin during their time together at the Panthers.

Gould and Griffin during their time together at the Panthers.Credit:Photo Supplied

If Fitzgibbon changes his mind, he will likely leapfrog Griffin to the top of the list. It’s unlikely current assistant coach Shane Flanagan will remain at the Dragons if Griffin gets the job.

Griffin, who spent time at the Storm and Broncos before linking with Phil Gould and the Penrith Panthers in 2016, ticks all three boxes but has struggled to get a look-in since his acrimonious exit from the foot of the mountains on the eve of the 2018 finals series.

There’s a belief at the Dragons that McGregor may have been too close to the players during his seven-year reign as coach, which could have created an environment of complacency.


Griffin is known as a strict disciplinarian and has had a high level of success in the NRL, with a 55.5 per cent win ratio from 173 games.

The 53-year-old led Brisbane (53.5 per cent win rate) to three finals series in four years before Wayne Bennett’s second coming ended his tenure.

He was then head-hunted by Gould to replace Ivan Cleary in 2016, guiding the Panthers (58 per cent) to back-to-back finals appearances before he was shown the door on the eve of a third finals series while his team sat in fourth position.

Griffin debuted 16 players in his two-and-a-half-year stint at the Panthers, including Nathan Cleary, James Fisher-Harris, Dylan Edwards, Corey Harawira-Naera and Viliame Kikau. He also coached Dragons prop Trent Merrin during his time at Penrith.

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Canadian emergency room visits dropped 25 per cent in early stages of pandemic: report

Emergency room visits dropped by 25 per cent between January and March during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to the previous year, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

The new data released Monday suggests that emergency departments had a decrease of 318,000 visits between Jan. 1 and March 31 when governments and health agencies began implementing measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

During the last week of March when travel restrictions were imposed and schools closed across much of Canada, the data found that emergency department visits decreased by 49 per cent compared with the same week in 2019.

In March 2019, emergency departments reported 1,299,110 visits while there were 981,069 visits in March 2020.

The data is based on more than 80 per cent of emergency room visits in Canada reported to CIHI from hospitals in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, P.E.I. and Yukon.

In some hospitals, daily emergency room visits drastically dropped. The number of emergency visits on March 31, 2020 were approximately 50 per cent lower than the number of visits on March 31, 2019 (20,427 visits and 40,803 respectively).

The data also looked at Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) levels, which health professionals use to organize and prioritize patients in Canada’s emergency departments by severity of illness.

According to the CIHI, the largest volume reduction in emergency room visits was seen in CTAS level 4 or less urgent patients with visits down 29 per cent across Canada during March. Even among the most seriously ill or injured patients — those in CTAS level 1 who require resuscitation — there was a 14 per cent decrease.

Greg Webster, director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services at the CIHI, said in a press release that Canadians were staying away from hospitals at the start of the pandemic. While some may visit emergency departments for minor issues, he said avoiding them when there is an actual medical emergency may result in worsening conditions.

“We’ve heard anecdotally that visits to emergency departments for issues other than COVID-19 have significantly decreased during the pandemic. The data released today confirms this,” Webster said.

“When we compare to last year, it’s clear that many Canadians avoided visiting emergency departments in the initial weeks of the pandemic, which may have had serious consequences for some patients.”

Hospitals reported that there were less Canadians coming into emergency departments between January and March for abdominal or pelvic pain, throat and chest pain, gastroenteritis, colitis, back pain, urinary infections, headaches, head injuries, nausea and vomiting compared to the same three months in 2019.

Despite reporting less visits overall, emergency departments saw an increase in some conditions, especially those that may be symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the data, emergency rooms saw an increase in patients for acute upper and lower respiratory infections, viral infections, influenza, coughs, pneumonia, medical observation and evaluation for suspected diseases, and screening exams for infectious diseases than in 2019.

The CIHI says the data only represents the number of emergency department visits, not the number of patients. The data does not distinguish between patients who were transferred from one facility to another or readmitted.

The CIHI is currently compiling emergency department data for April and May 2020 and plans to release their findings in the fall.

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Early voters likely to decide ACT election result well before the traditional Saturday ballot


August 23, 2020 08:14:17

Canberrans could have a clear picture of who wins October’s election within an hour of polling booths closing at 6pm on voting day.

Key points:

  • Voting for the ACT election will be spread over three weeks, starting on September 28
  • More than half of Canberrans are expected to vote early on electronic touchscreens
  • Prepoll voting is becoming increasingly popular in elections across Australia

That is because as many as four in five people will have already cast their vote before the traditional polling day on October 17, estimates the man in charge of the operation, Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell.

Most will do so on an electronic touchscreen, which means the count will not be delayed — and, unlike other jurisdictions where the complex counting of large numbers of prepoll ballot papers can drag out an outcome, the ACT’s result may be known sooner.

“Early voting is an [Australian] trend that’s here to stay,” Mr Cantwell said.

This weekend’s Northern Territory elections have already shown that — more than half of enrolled voters chose to take the prepoll option.

Where Canberrans can vote:

“In 2016, 34 per cent of people voted early [in the ACT election] — slightly more than that if you include those who voted by postal means,” Mr Cantwell said.

“So I’m thinking at least 50 per cent of voters will vote early, and we’re ready to accommodate those sort of numbers.

“But it could be even more than that — perhaps 70 to 80 per cent.”

Mr Cantwell said the commission should be able to determine an interim distribution of votes within the first hour of counting.

“I think we’ll be able to turn around a result very quickly — more so than, of course, if it was reliant upon paper ballots,” he said.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, Mr Cantwell is actively encouraging people to vote electronically.

He has tripled the number of early voting centres from five to 15, as well as the number of electronic-voting terminals from 100 to 300 — and if you cannot make it to a booth on polling day, you do not have to explain why.

Prepoll voting becoming Australians’ normal practice

The Commissioner’s forecast come as no surprise to ABC election analyst Antony Green.

“Australia uses the results to call the elections. A lot of other countries, like the United States, use exit polls — they don’t wait for the results,” Green said.

“In the case of the ACT, what we’re going to see is maybe three-quarters of the votes arrive within half an hour and then the preference distribution delivered after, which means you’ve basically got it within the hour.”

Although the ACT is a small jurisdiction, its electronic voting system is advanced compared with other states and territories, many of which rely solely on paper votes.

Electronic voting also makes counting much simpler, especially given the complex distribution of preferences under the ACT’s Hare-Clark electoral system.

“They can just release the numbers and then do the distribution of preferences from the 80 per cent of [early votes],” Green said.

“It takes five minutes. In Tasmania, it takes two weeks to do it.”

Green said the rise of early voting in Australia had affected how results were reported.

“You get a surge of all the ordinary votes from polling day, then a gap, and then the prepoll votes come later,” he said.

“So the election coverage, which used to be wrapped up at 10 o’clock, is now dragging on to near midnight while we wait for the prepolls to arrive.”

While the number of prepoll votes could produce an early outcome on October 17, Green said it would be safer to assume the result would not be clear.

“If the ACT election is close, and there’s a fine balance between one or two candidates in key seats, then the electronic votes aren’t going to tell us who’s won — you’re just going to have to wait for all the votes to be counted,” he said.

Canberrans can start voting from September 28. Voting centres will have longer opening hours, including on weekends and public holidays.

Paper ballots will still be offered for early voters, but the commission says electronic terminals are less likely to spread COVID-19 — and their screens will be wiped down regularly.

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Broncos, Lions playing early games without fans

Aug 20, 2020; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) and quarterback Brett Rypien (4) warm up during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

August 21, 2020

The Denver Broncos will play their home opener and the Detroit Lions will play their first two home games without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams announced Friday.

The Broncos kick off the season at Empower Field at Mile High on Monday night Sept. 14 against the Tennessee Titans. The stadium’s normal capacity is 76,125 for football.

“We are grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm that Broncos fans have shown this year,” the team said in a press release. “… But this is the responsible thing to do right now.”

The Broncos are hoping to host a “limited number of fans on a gradually increasing basis” as the season goes on. Their second home game is Sept. 27 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions’ first two home dates at 65,000-seat Ford Field are Sept. 13 against the rival Chicago Bears and Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.

The Lions said a decision about their third home game, Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, and other dates will be determined after further evaluation.

“Lions fans have traditionally created an intimidating environment for visiting teams at Ford Field,” the team said in a statement. “… We are hopeful for an opportunity to host fans at the remaining six 2020 home games.”

Both teams said these decisions were made in conjunction with state and local officials and with the health and safety of fans, players and stadium staff members as the top priority.

The Broncos and Lions joined a growing list of NFL teams who will begin the season without fans, including the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Titans, Bears, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Giants and the Washington Football Team.

–Field Level Media

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Canberra’s first unit for early pregnancy loss to be a healing space for mothers and families

Bereaved Canberra mother Karen Schlage felt robbed of her dignity when son Charlie was induced at 16 weeks’ gestation.

Despite losing Charlie early, she had always thought of him as her baby, but said maternity staff at the public hospital had not echoed her sentiment.

Hospital staff told Karen she would be “taken for surgery to have the products of conception removed,” a reference to her baby that deeply hurt her.

“They’re our children,” Karen said.

At the time, Karen was given no choice but to deliver Charlie in the hospital’s emergency ward with only a thin sheet for privacy. 

“I couldn’t labour the way that I actually needed to,” she said. 

But she channelled her grief into fighting for a dedicated early pregnancy ward on behalf of other early loss mothers — and her work has finally been rewarded.

Karen Schlage with memory boxes for her late children.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Early loss unit to be a ‘healing space’

About 500 women each year receive care through Canberra Health Services for surgical miscarriages, terminations due to medical emergency or ectopic pregnancies.

Yesterday, the ACT Government announced a new unit dedicated to early pregnancy complications will be part of the $50 million expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children already underway.

The three-bed unit will be co-located with the antenatal unit, and is due to be completed in 2022.

It will care for early pregnancy loss or termination, whether for foetal abnormalities or if continuing the pregnancy would physically or mentally harm the mother.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the planned unit would be a “healing space”.

She praised Karen for sharing her heartbreaking story and said she was helping to dispel secrecy and stigma surrounding early pregnancy loss.

“It is something that is taboo to talk about, that people don’t want to think about,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Three women study development plans for maternal health facility
Mother Karen Schlage, Canberra Health Services’ executive director of women, youth and children Tina Bracher, and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith examine plans for the expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

It would be difficult to determine whether the number of beds planned was sufficient until the unit was operational, she said.

“One of the challenges we always face across our health system is that demand seems to come in peaks and troughs,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“It’s not necessarily even across the year, but I think the existence of this unit will give us an opportunity to understand what that demand is.”

‘So sorry you have to’, but grateful you can

After losing Charlie, Karen gave evidence at the Legislative Assembly’s Maternity Services Inquiry while pregnant with her second baby — a daughter, Sophia, who she had already been told would not, and did not, survive.

Having been through loss twice, she said the Government’s early pregnancy unit announcement is welcome progress.

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children
The Centenary Hospital for Women and Children at Woden in Canberra’s south.(ABC News)

“It will prevent other women from having to deliver in emergency departments or lose their babies in emergency departments,” Karen said.

“To the women and families who will use this facility, I am so, so sorry that you will have to, but I am so grateful that you will be able to.”

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Mexico inflation seen ticking up to 14-month high in early August

FILE PHOTO: A woman selects food at a supermarket in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

August 21, 2020

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican annual inflation likely accelerated in the first half of August to its highest level in over a year as the coronavirus pandemic helped to push up prices, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Friday.

The median forecast of 12 analysts surveyed by Reuters showed that inflation would tick up to 3.91% in early August from 3.66% in the second half of July . That would fan inflation to its highest peak since early June 2019.

The poll predicted that consumer prices likely rose 0.15% in the first half of August compared to the previous two-week period, while a measurement of core consumer prices was seen advancing by 0.14%.

As for core annual inflation, the analysts forecast a rate of 3.89%, the survey showed.

The national statistics institute is due to publish the latest inflation data on Monday morning.

(Reporting by Abraham Gonzalez, Noe Torres and Gabriel Burin; editing by Dave Graham and Grant McCool)

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Scheffler joins PGA Tour’s elite 59 club for early TPC Boston lead

FILE PHOTO: Aug 9, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Scottie Scheffler watches after teeing off on the 4th hole during the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

August 21, 2020

(Reuters) – PGA Tour rookie Scottie Scheffler became the newest member of golf’s 59 club with a sizzling display of shotmaking in Friday’s second round of the Northern Trust in Norton, Massachusetts, that earned him a share of the early clubhouse lead.

Less than two weeks after playing in the final pairing of the PGA Championship, Scheffler set a new TPC Boston course record with a 12-under-par 59 — just the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

The 24-year-old became the second-youngest player to shoot a 59 on the Tour, trailing only Justin Thomas, who was 23 when he accomplished the feat in 2017.

“Today was obviously a good day on the course,” said Scheffler, who needed just 23 putts in his round. “Had some key up-and-downs at the beginning of the round that kind of got me rolling, freed me up a little bit.

“Then the momentum just kind of kept going. Never really lost momentum, which was nice.”

World number 45 Scheffler rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th and then needed to play the final two holes in two-under to join Jim Furyk as the only player to shoot a 58 on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler’s birdie try from 22 feet at the penultimate hole rolled past the hole but then, after his second at the par-five 18th was short of the green, he managed to get up and down from 87 feet to join the exclusive club.

Overnight co-leader Australian Cameron Davis (65), playing one group behind Scheffler, also birdied the 18th to join the American atop the leaderboard, one shot clear of New Zealand’s Danny Lee (64).

This week’s tournament, open to the top 125 golfers in the season-long points standings, is the first of three playoff events that culminate with the Sept. 4-7 Tour Championship in Atlanta and the $15 million prize to the FedExCup champion.

Only the top 70 in the standings after this week go on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields outside Chicago, and from there the top 30 move on to Atlanta.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Chadband)

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English grabs early lead at TPC Boston, Woods four back

FILE PHOTO: Aug 8, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Harris English tees off on the 12th hole during the third round of the 2020 PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

August 20, 2020

(Reuters) – Harris English, enjoying one of his most consistent years since joining the PGA Tour in 2012, grabbed the clubhouse lead at the Northern Trust in Norton, Massachusetts, on Thursday as Tiger Woods lurked four shots back in the FedExCup playoffs opener.

English, who brought a streak of five top-23 finishes to TPC Boston for the first of three playoff events, mixed an eagle with seven birdies and two bogeys for a seven-under-par 64 to sit one shot clear of Louis Oosthuizen and Scott Piercy.

“I’m ready to make a run at it. I feel like my game is in a good spot. It’s been on the verge of breaking through for a while now, and I’m ready for it,” said English.

“I’m not satisfied with just barely being inside the Tour Championship. I want to make a move up the ranks and have a chance at lifting the FedExCup.”

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, English made a rousing start with an eagle hole-out from 169 yards at the par-five second followed by two straight birdies before a bogey at the eighth sent him into the turn at three-under 33.

English, who entered this week 27th on the season-long FedExCup points standings, made four consecutive birdies starting at the 11th and offset a bogey at his penultimate hole with a birdie at 18 where he stuck his approach to 12 feet.

This week’s tournament, open to the top 125 golfers on the season-long points standings, is the first of three playoff events that culminate with the Sept. 4-7 Tour Championship in Atlanta and the $15 million prize to the FedExCup champion.

Only the top 70 golfers in the standings after this week go on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields outside Chicago, and from there the top 30 move on to Atlanta.

Woods, in his fifth event of 2020, started on the back nine and warmed up after the turn with four birdies over a sizzling six-hole stretch before a closing bogey for a three-under-par 68.

“I had a good feel today. I had nice pace, and I like the speed of these greens. They’re fast,” said Woods. “Even though they’re soft, but they’re still quick. I just felt comfortable.”

Reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy (69) was among a pack of players five shots off the pace.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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