Prototype of first coin in auction

This undated photo provided by Heritage Auctions shows the front of a piece of copper that was struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1794 and was a prototype for the fledgling nation's money. The item, which is known as the “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar," is owned by businessman and Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson and will go up for auction at Heritage Auctions in Dallas on Friday, April 23, 2021. (Emily Clements/Heritage Auctions via AP)

A piece of copper that was struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia in 1794 and was a prototype for the fledgling nation’s money will go up for auction Friday. Businessman and Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson owns the item, which is known as the “No Stars Flowing Hair Dollar.” While it closely resembles silver dollars that were later minted in Philadelphia, it gets its name because it is missing stars. “While subsequent dollar coins struck featuring stars were added to the front of the coin, starless coins are considered by collectors and institutions as one-of-a-kind prototypes for the silver examples that would follow,” said Jacob Lipson of Heritage Auctions. Heritage Auctions estimates the prototype will sell for between $350,000 and $500,000 when it goes on the block online in Dallas on Friday. Known as a pattern, the front features the flowing hair portrait of Liberty and the date 1794, while the reverse side shows a small eagle on a rock within a wreath. Similar starless examples are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection. “It’s incredibly exciting,” said California-based numismatist David McCarthy. “It gives us a view into what was going on inside the Mint in 1794 when it was gearing up to make the first dollars ever struck.” The pattern was forgotten as the Mint continued the process of creating the nation’s first silver dollars. The pattern is corroded and not in perfect condition, Lipson said, likely because it was buried at the site of the original Mint. There are some scratches and other marks on its brown surfaces. It has traded hands eight times. Simpson, 73, purchased it along with other patterns in 2008 to add to his large collection. He views himself as a steward and thinks it is time for someone else to enjoy it. “I think coins should be appreciated almost as artwork. I have gotten more than enough joy from them.” Simpson said he wasn’t wealthy when he started collecting. As a boy, he said he would go to a bank, get a roll of coins and examine them. It was part of the fun he said he has had in this country. “America is the only place I think where you can travel from near poverty to wealth based on education,” he said.

Baby sharks released into Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The baby sharks, bred at a gargantuan luxury resort on Dubai’s artificial palm-shaped island, had never before encountered the open sea. But on Thursday, the tiny carpet sharks were jolted out of their warm pools at the flashy Atlantis Hotel aquarium to travel farther than they ever have in their two years of existence. A team of Dubai conservationists gingerly caught the sharks with nets and moved them into oxidized tanks in a Ford pick-up truck. Soon, the baby sharks were on the move. The specialists plopped them into big plastic bags and carried their squirming bodies over the white sandy beach of the Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary, a short drive from the hotel. For the past few years, the hotel’s aquarium has sought to contribute to the conservation of native marine species by breeding honeycomb stingray and brown Arabian carpet sharks before releasing them into the wild, rich with coral reefs and mangroves. The team stood shin-deep in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, surrounded by the small and slowly circling sharks. The creatures are harmless to humans, preferring a diet of snake eels, shrimps, crabs and squid. For a few minutes, many of the sharks appeared spooked, staying close to the shore, before venturing into their vast new home.

Covid hospitalizations tumble

WASHINGTON — Covid-19 hospitalizations among older Americans have plunged 80% since the start of the year, dramatic proof the vaccination campaign is working. Now the trick is to get more of the nation’s younger people to roll up their sleeves. The drop-off in severe cases among people 65 and older is so dramatic that the hospitalization rate among this highly vaccinated group is now down to around the level of the next-youngest category, Americans 50 to 64. That slide is especially encouraging because senior citizens have accounted for about 8 out of 10 deaths from Covid-19 since the virus hit the U.S. Overall, Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. have plummeted to about 700 per day on average, compared with a peak of over 3,400 in mid-January. All told, the scourge has killed about 570,000 Americans.

Worked zero hours, made $650K

ROME — Authorities have placed a half-dozen public hospital employees in southern Italy under investigation for abuse of office after they allegedly allowed a 67-year-old to draw a total of 538,000 euros ($650,000) in salary over 15 years without ever working. The prime suspect is also under investigation for alleged fraud and aggravated extortion. Italy’s financial police said in a statement that he allegedly had someone threaten a hospital superior in 2005 to keep him on the payroll. Subsequent superiors then failed to take action or sanction him even after launching an internal investigation. Police say the suspect was officially hired in 2005 in the fire safety department of the Pugliese-Ciaccio public hospital in Catanzaro and earned 538,000 euros salary over the following 15 years. They say they cross-referenced work schedules, cell phone records and testimony from fellow hospital workers to determine he never worked. Accused along with the prime suspect are six other hospital workers and administrators. Two of them were part of a commission of inquiry launched by the hospital that, despite what the police said was ample evidence, determined the suspect couldn’t be disciplined. He was eventually officially fired in October.

Suspect had 10 high-capacity mags

BOULDER, Colo. The man accused of killing 10 people at a crowded Colorado supermarket last month armed himself with 10 high-capacity ammunition magazines, devices banned in the state after previous mass shootings. Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty told reporters that Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 22, possessed the magazines that hold more than 15 rounds unlawfully but that investigators don’t believe Alissa purchased the magazines illegally. Although the magazines can’t be sold, people in the state can still buy the parts for the magazines at some gun stores and assemble them on their own, at which point it is illegal to possess them. The magazines were found on Alissa and in a car parked outside the King Soopers store in Boulder after the March 22 attack, Dougherty said. He declined to say how many unused bullets investigators recovered and did not say how many bullets the magazines seized could hold.

Passenger struck by flying turtle

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It’s not unusual for rocks and other debris to crash through a windshield and injure a driver or passenger — but a turtle? A 71-year-old woman riding with her daughter on Florida’s Interstate 95 suffered a gashed forehead Wednesday when a turtle smashed through the windshield of their car, striking her. The daughter pulled over and got help from another motorist. According to a 911 recording, both were surprised by what they found. “There is a turtle in there,” the man can be overheard saying. “A turtle!” the daughter exclaimed. “An actual turtle?” The gash drew a lot of blood, but the woman was not seriously hurt. The turtle was likely crossing the interstate and got knocked into the air by another vehicle. “I swear to God this lady has the worst luck of anything,” the daughter told the 911 operator as she tended to her injured mother. The turtle, on the other hand, had the best luck of anything — it just had a few scratches on its shell and was released back into the nearby woods.

Copter soars higher, longer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s little Mars helicopter aced its second test flight, soaring even higher and longer than before. The 4-pound chopper, named Ingenuity, hovered longer and also flew side to side this time, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It achieved the intended altitude of 16 feet and even accelerated sideways 7 feet. This hop lasted 52 seconds, 13 seconds longer than the first one. “Go big or go home!” JPL tweeted in announcing the Earth Day news.

Shackled during labor, gets $750K

NEW YORK — A woman who says she was shackled by police for hours while in active labor has settled a lawsuit against New York City for $750,000, her lawyers announced Thursday. The woman, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, was arrested for a minor charge in 2018 when she was more than 40 weeks pregnant, she said in the suit filed in Brooklyn federal court. She was handcuffed and shackled during labor and after she gave birth to her son, according to the lawsuit filed by The Legal Aid Society and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP. The lawsuit charged that the woman, identified as Jane Doe, was driven around to various holding cells and then to Kings County Hospital after her arrest. She was handcuffed in the ambulance en route to the hospital even though she was in active labor and in a great deal of pain, the lawsuit said. After giving birth, the woman struggled to feed her newborn with one arm cuffed to the hospital bed, according to the lawsuit. All the charges against the woman were ultimately dismissed. In a statement, the law department said the police department’s patrol guide was revised early last year, “with input from the parties in this case. The incident that was alleged in this case took place before the revisions.”

Cardi B takes on congressman

WASHINGTON — Rapper Cardi B took issue Thursday with a Wisconsin congressman who criticized her Grammy performance during a speech on the House floor. U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Republican, said he has received complaints in his office about Cardi B’s performance last month at the Grammy Awards as “inconsistent with basic decency.” She and Megan Thee Stallion performed the song “WAP.” Grothman joins many other conservatives who have criticized the performance, which featured scantily clad dancers. “Wake up FCC and begin to do your job,” Grothman said. “The moral decline of America is partly due to your utter complacency.” Cardi B responded on Twitter, saying Grothman was ignoring more important issues like the murder conviction this week of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. “This gets me so mad ya don’t even know!” Cardi B tweeted. “I think we all been on the edge this week since we seen police brutality back to back including watching one of the biggest case in history go down DUE to police brutality but wait ! This is wat state representative decide to talk about.”

Issued dozens of bogus citations

HIALEAH, Fla. — Two Florida police motorcycle officers are facing charges that they issued dozens of bogus tickets to drivers they never pulled over. Hialeah officers Ernesto Arias Martinez, 23, and Armando Perez, 40, are facing multiple counts of official misconduct after their arrests Wednesday. Perez has been with the city police department for five years, Arias Martinez for four. Tthe scheme fell apart when lawyers who specialize in defending drivers who get tickets started soliciting business from people who had no idea what they were talking about. One law office asked Reicel Sosa Polo if wanted help with the 10 tickets he had received. Sosa had never been pulled over, but remembered driving past two Hialeah motorcycle officers recently. He filed a complaint with Hialeah police. Another driver filed a complaint after she received a letter from the state saying her license was about to be suspended because she had not paid six tickets. All were issued on the same day in January 2020 and she said she had never been pulled over, records show. That led to the internal affairs investigation and the pair’s arrest.

Pipe-bomb fizzled, life in prison

NEW YORK — A judge sentenced a Bangladeshi immigrant to life in prison Thursday, saying he plotted to carry out a “barbaric and heinous” plot to kill as many people as he could with a suicide bombing attack in New York City’s subway beneath Times Square in 2017. Akayed Ullah, 31, was sentenced by Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who said Ullah had carried out “about as serious a crime as there is,” though he largely failed when the bomb attached to his chest barely exploded, burning him severely but largely sparing those around him from severe injuries. Ullah, 31, speaking through a white mask over his black beard and with his tearful mother looking on from a courtroom bench behind him, apologized before hearing the sentence. “Your honor, what I did on Dec. 11, it was wrong I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I’m deeply sorry. … I do not support harming innocent people.”

Improper memorials to WWI dead

LONDON — British authorities apologized Thursday after an investigation found that at least 161,000 mostly African and Indian military service personnel who died during World War I weren’t properly honored due to “pervasive racism.” It said that number could possibly range up to 350,000. The investigation found that those service members were either not commemorated by name or weren’t commemorated at all, according to a report commissioned by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Between 45,000 and 54,000 other casualties were “commemorated unequally.” The treatment of these soldiers, who served in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, contrasts with that of the men and women who died in Europe. It also violates the principle that all war dead should be remembered in the same way because they all made the same enormous sacrifice. “On behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the government, both of the time and today, I want to apologize for the failures to live up to their founding principles all those years ago and express deep regret that it has taken so long to rectify the situation,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in the House of Commons. “Whilst we can’t change the past, we can make amends and take action.” The commission was created in 1917 to ensure that all who died in the service of the British Empire during World War I were identified and properly honored. Its responsibilities were later expanded to include those who died during World War II, and it now oversees the graves of 1.7 million men and women who died during the two wars.

No chips, no Jag Land Rovers

LONDON — Jaguar Land Rover said Thursday it’s suspending production at two U.K. factories, becoming the latest automaker to fall victim to a global shortage of microchips. “Like other automotive manufacturers, we are currently experiencing some COVID-19 supply chain disruption, including the global availability of semiconductors,” the British luxury car brand said in a statement. The shortage “is having an impact on our production schedules and our ability to meet global demand for some of our vehicles.” Manufacturing at another plant in Solihull in central England will continue. The Halewood factory makes Jaguar’s XE, XF and F-type models, and the Castle Bromwich plant produces the Land Rover Discover Sport and Range Rover Evoque. General Motors and Ford said earlier this month they were being forced to cut production at their North American factories because of tightening chip supplies. Other marques like Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, Volkswagen, Nissan and Honda have also been hit hard by the semiconductor shortage.

Missile not aimed at reactor

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Thursday that a Syrian missile that reached deep into Israeli territory and set off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor was the result of a misfire and not a deliberate attack. The missile landed in southern Israel early Thursday, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes on the missile launcher and other targets in Syria. The army’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said the projectile, identified as a Russian-made SA-5 missile, missed its target and exploded in southern Israel. An Israeli missile-defense system tried but failed to intercept the incoming missile.


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