Tiger Woods claims Tour Championship for 1st win in over 5 years

Tiger Woods, in his Sunday red shirt, both arms raised in victory on the 18th green.

For so many years, the scene was familiar.

This time, it was surreal.

“I can’t believe I pulled this off,” Woods said Sunday during the trophy presentation at the Tour Championship, where he gave thousands of delirious fans at East Lake, and millions more around the world, what they wanted to see, and what they thought they might never see again.

And at that moment, Woods was overcome with emotion and paused.

After two back surgeries six weeks apart, he couldn’t lie down, sit or walk without pain. Golf was the least of his concerns, so much that he once said anything else he achieved would be “gravy.”

One year ago, while recovering from a fourth back surgery, he still had no idea if he could come back to the highest level of golf.

“Just to be able to compete and play again this year, that’s a hell of a comeback,” he said.

Watch highlights of Tiger Woods’ win:

New version of Tigermania

Woods delivered the perfect ending to his amazing return from back surgeries with a performance out of the past. He left the competition feeling hopeless as he built a five-shot lead early and then hung on for a 1-over 71 and a two-shot victory over Billy Horschel.

It was the 80th victory of his PGA Tour, two short of the career record held by Sam Snead that is now very much in play. And it was his first victory in more than five years, dating to the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational.

And that brought a new version of Tigermania.

After he hit his second shot to the par-5 18th safely in a bunker in front of the green, the crowd came through the ropes and followed behind in a chaotic celebration. It was like that when he walked from the left side of the 18th fairway at the 1997 Masters he won by 12. It was reminiscent of that walk up the 18th fairway later that summer at the Western Open in Chicago.

This was pure pandemonium. Fans chased after any inch of grass they could find to watch the ending.

“I didn’t want to get run over,” Woods said with a laugh.

Plenty of respect for Tiger

This felt just as big as a major, maybe better considering where Woods had been.

Several players, from Zach Johnson to Rickie Fowler to Horschel, waited to greet him. It was Johnson who unveiled red shirts at the Ryder Cup two years ago in the team room that said, “Make Tiger Great Again.”

“They knew what I was struggling with,” Woods said. “It was special to see them.”

Woods played only one PGA Tour event over two seasons because of his back. Off the golf course, he had to overcome the embarrassment of a DUI arrest in the early morning of Memorial Day in 2017 when he was found asleep at the wheel, later found to have a concoction of pain medication in his system.

He was becoming a legend on in video highlights.

Comeback season complete

And then he brought it back to life this year, especially the last four days at East Lake. The players who have turns at No. 1 during his absence caught the full brunt of Woods in control. McIlroy faded early. Justin Rose faded late.

All that was left was the 42-year-old Woods in that red shirt, blazing brighter than ever, and a smile he couldn’t shake walking up the 18th to collect another trophy.

“The 80 mark is a big number,” he said. “It’s a pretty damned good feeling.”

He finished at 11-under 269 and won $1.62 million US, along with a $3 million bonus for finishing second in the FedEx Cup.

The only disappointment — a minor one under the circumstances — was realizing as he came down the 18th that Rose had made birdie to finish in a three-way tie for fourth, which gave him the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus.

Without that birdie, Woods would have won his third FedEx Cup title after starting at No. 20 going into the Tour Championship.

“Congrats, Rosie,” Woods told him. “World No. 1, hell of a season.”

Actually, former world No. 1 for Rose. His four bogeys over the last 10 holes cost him the No. 1 ranking back to Dustin Johnson, who shot 67 and finished third.

But this wasn’t about the FedEx Cup or even the world ranking.

This is Tiger’s big day, and nothing was going to change it.

NAFTA talks ‘very likely’ on sidelines of UN General Assembly, Trudeau says

U.S. and Canadian officials trying to reach a deal on NAFTA are “very likely” to hold informal talks on the sidelines of a major UN meeting in the next few days, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

With time running out ahead of a U.S.-imposed deadline of the end of September, negotiators are making slow progress on updating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump struck a side deal on NAFTA with Mexico last month and has threatened to exclude Canada if necessary. He also said he might impose a 25 per cent tariff on Canadian auto exports, which would badly hurt Canada’s economy as well as affecting U.S. automakers.

Trump took office last year vowing to tear up NAFTA unless major changes were made to a pact he blames for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — the two top officials at the talks — are due to be in New York on Monday and Tuesday for the UN General Assembly.

“Certainly the fact that many of our negotiators, many of our teams, will be in New York at the same time [means] it’s very likely that conversations continue in a constructive but less formal way,” Trudeau told reporters.

Trudeau, speaking after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, said nothing had formally been arranged. A Freeland spokesperson declined to comment.

The U.S. and Canada are divided over the best way to resolve trade disputes and a U.S. demand for more access to Canada’s protected dairy market.

Markets are reacting nervously to uncertainty over the future of the 1994 pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade. Over the past 25 years, the three countries’ economies have become increasingly integrated, especially the auto industry.

Canadian negotiators have said they will not be rushed and Trudeau reiterated on Sunday that he would not sign a bad NAFTA deal.

Freeland and Lighthizer met in Washington last Thursday and made little progress. Canada also made clear the U.S. needed to withdraw the threat of auto tariffs for a deal to be possible.

‘It’s not real’: Some left homeless by Ottawa-area tornadoes ponder next steps

All levels of government are joining forces to help with restoration efforts Sunday, two days after a pair of tornadoes ravaged Ottawa and the Gatineau, Que., area, leaving tens of thousands without power. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Ottawa Sunday afternoon to tour the damage. The province has also committed to launching a disaster recovery program for families and businesses trying to get back on their feet. 

“It’s absolutely heart-wrenching,” Ford said. “But this is a strong community.  

“We’re being briefed every few hours and it’s devastating. A lot of us have never seen anything like it.”

Ford promised Ottawa residents that the provincial government “will spare no expense” to help people get back on their feet. 

“There’s been great co-operation,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CBC Radio’s Fresh Air Sunday. But he said the damage to homes and hydro poles was extensive and it would take several days to restore power.

“It’s something I never witnessed.… It’s just really quite incredible the damage it did in a very short period of time.”

Hydro Ottawa reported that 70,000 customers were still without power Sunday morning, down from over 170,000 when the tornadoes hit Friday. Around 8,100 ​Hydro-Québec customers in the Outaouais are still in the dark and a few thousand Hydro One customers in the Ottawa region are also still without power. Many of these households could be in the dark for days. 

“We’ve made tremendous headway in this effort,” said Hydro Ottawa’s Joseph Muglia. “This was a widespread storm … and wreaked a lot of havoc.”

Environment Canada said Saturday there were two tornadoes. The one that hit Dunrobin, a rural Ottawa community about 36 kilometres west of the city’s downtown, was likely an EF-3, meaning it had wind speeds of up to 265 km/h.

A second tornado was classified as an EF-2, with wind speeds of up 220 km/h, and affected the neighbourhood of Arlington Woods in Ottawa.

With roughly 400 traffic lights still out as of 5 p.m. Sunday, Ottawa city officials warned there would be major traffic delays Monday and urged people to stay home.

Federal government employees in the National Capital Region were told late Sunday night that they should avoid coming in to work Monday and should instead work from home if possible.

Ottawa’s English public and Catholic school boards have also announced that all their schools will be closed Monday. Six of the city’s French Catholic schools and two French public schools will also be closed.

Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College have all said classes will go ahead.

Dozens of homes were severely damaged when a tornado touched down in Dunrobin on Friday. (Catherine Cullen/CBC )

An ’emotional roller-coaster’ 

Watson called the events an “emotional roller-coaster” for some communities in the Ottawa area, including rural Dunrobin.

Watson said that Saturday night, community members listened intently as emergency services from the area read out the homes destroyed by the extreme weather event. Many residents were unable to go back to Dunrobin for safety reasons and were learning, for the first time, what happened to their residences. 

Officials escorted many people to see their homes in Dunrobin for the first time Sunday afternoon.

Resident Chantal Rocheleau left her home Friday night by climbing out of the rubble. 

Chantal Rocheleau and her puppy managed to escape their home after a tornado ripped through Dunrobin on Sept. 21, 2018. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

“The neighbourhood is devastated, I mean virtually every house is to the ground,” Rocheleau said.

Relief efforts continue Sunday 

Hundreds of homes in Ottawa are either partially damaged or completely destroyed, Watson said. These families are either living with relatives or at one of the two emergency shelters set up by the city. 

Residents who are displaced can seek shelter at the West Carleton High School or at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex.

Those wishing to help can donate to the Canadian Red Cross, which is working with those in need of emergency assistance, the mayor said.

“Many of them are in shock and disbelief,” he said. “They have lost everything.”

The tornadoes also sent six people to local hospitals. The Ottawa Hospital said Sunday four people remain in the hospital, two are in critical condition and two are stable.

In addition to the traffic lights still not working, hundreds of trees have also been destroyed. Hydro crews from Vaughan, Ont., and Toronto are making their way to the city to support repair efforts, the mayor said. 

Emergency crews are focusing on the most severely hit areas, including Dunrobin, Craig Henry, Arlington Woods, the Hunt Club-Riverside area and the Paul Anka-McCarthy area.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau visits Gatineau shelter 

After the tornado touched down in Dunrobin, it went east across the Ottawa River, causing serious damage to Gatineau’s Mont-Bleu neighbourhood.

Several people in Gatineau were transported to hospital with minor injuries. 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and her two children were visiting an emergency shelter in Gatineau on Sunday to meet those affected by the storms.

“You see this kind of event 30 minutes from your house, and you see the footage of people losing their home, their car, their security,” she said in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

“The courage and the resilience of the community are very impressive…. There are old people there, pregnant women, people with three to six kids.… We need to help as much as possible.”

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh denies 2nd sexual misconduct allegation

The U.S. Senate judiciary committee has scheduled a hearing Thursday for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager, as second claim of sexual misconduct emerged from another woman.

The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday night that Senate Democrats were investigating a second woman’s accusation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh dating to the 1983-84 academic year, Kavanaugh’s first at Yale University.

The New Yorker said 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine. Ramirez recalled that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away, the magazine reported.

In a statement provided by the White House, Kavanaugh said the event “did not happen” and that the allegation was “a smear, plain and simple.” A White House spokesperson added in a second statement that the allegation was “designed to tear down a good man.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee, called Sunday night for the “immediate postponement” of any further action on Kavanaugh’s nomination. She also asked the committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to have the FBI investigate the allegations of both Ford and Ramirez.

The magazine reported that Ramirez was reluctant at first to speak publicly “partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident.” She also acknowledged reluctance “to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty.”

The magazine reports that after “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections” to recall the incident.

Ford to testify before Senate

The new information came hours after the Senate committee agreed to a date and time for a hearing after nearly a week of uncertainty over whether Ford would appear to tell her story.

The agreement and the latest accusation set the stage for a dramatic showdown as Kavanaugh and Ford each tell their side of the story. The developments could also determine the fate of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which hangs on the votes of a handful of senators.

It had seemed assured before Ford, a 51-year-old California college professor, went public a week ago with her allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.

Kavanaugh, 53, an appellate court judge, has denied Ford’s allegation and said he wanted to testify as soon as possible to clear his name.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal fight with U.S. President Donald Trump, inserted himself into the maelstrom Sunday night when he claimed to represent a woman with information about high school-era parties attended by Kavanaugh and urged the Senate to investigate. Avenatti told The Associated Press that he will disclose his client’s identity in the coming days and that she is prepared to testify before the committee, as well as provide names of corroborating witnesses.

Grassley wrangled with Ford’s lawyers for the last week over the exact terms of her appearance. She made several requests, some of which were accommodated — a Thursday hearing, three days later than originally scheduled, and a smaller hearing room with less press access to avoid a media circus, for example. Grassley’s staff also agreed to let Ford testify without Kavanaugh in the room, for there to be only one camera in the room, “adequate” breaks and a high security presence.

The committee said it would not negotiate on other points, though, including Ford’s desire for additional witnesses and a request to testify after, not before, Kavanaugh.

“As with any witness who comes before the Senate, the Senate judiciary committee cannot hand over its constitutional duties to attorneys for outside witnesses,” Mike Davis, Grassley’s top nominations counsel, wrote in an email exchange with Ford’s lawyers obtained by The Associated Press. “The committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, in what order to call them, and who will question them. These are non-negotiable.”

The 11 senators on the Republican side of the dais are all men, which could send an unwanted message on live television against the backdrop of the #MeToo era. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Ford’s lawyers said it was still unclear who will ask questions, as Republicans were trying to hire an outside female counsel who could take over the questioning. The 11 senators on the Republican side of the dais are all men, which could send an unwanted message on live television against the backdrop of the #MeToo era. They could also use Republican staff attorneys on the committee.

Democratic senators were expected to ask their own questions.

“We were told no decision has been made on this important issue, even though various senators have been dismissive of her account and should have to shoulder their responsibility to ask her questions,” the attorneys for Ford said in a statement.

As he builds a case for his innocence, Kavanaugh plans to turn over to the committee calendars from the summer of 1982 that don’t show a party consistent with Ford’s description of the gathering in which she says he attacked her, The New York Times reported Sunday. The newspaper reported that it had examined the calendars and noted they list basketball games, movie outings, football workouts, college interviews, and a few parties with names of friends other than those identified by Ford.

A person working on Kavanaugh’s confirmation confirmed the Times account to The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

GOP, Ford’s lawyers working out terms

Earlier Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, said lawyers for Ford were contesting two Republican conditions — that Ford and Kavanaugh would be the only witnesses and that an independent counsel would ask the questions.

“If they continue to contest those two things, there won’t be a hearing,” Graham said. “We’re not going to let her determine how many people we call” and on outside counsel. “I hope she comes.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he’s “not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.” (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Graham, speaking on Fox News Sunday, promised a fair hearing in which both Ford and Kavanaugh “will be challenged” but said “unless there’s something more” to back up her accusation, he indicated he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Graham said he’s “not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”

One issue that appeared to have been resolved in Sunday’s hour-long phone call between judiciary staff and Ford’s lawyers was the committee’s refusal to subpoena Mark Judge, the other person Ford alleges was in the room when the assault occurred. Judge has told the committee he does not recall the incident.

The lawyers for Ford want the committee to hear from other witnesses, including a person who conducted a polygraph of Ford earlier this year, the person familiar with the talks said. Ford’s lawyers also want to call on two trauma experts, the person said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat on the committee, said Sunday he believed Ford’s requests have been reasonable and that she deserves a fair hearing to determine whether her allegations are serious enough to vote down Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Man with mental disability nearly bankrupted by door-to-door sales contracts

For a long time, John Telepcak struggled with a secret. He was facing a “mountain of bills” he couldn’t afford to pay for products and services he didn’t understand, didn’t need or already had.

The Toronto man is one of many Canadians locked into long and pricey contracts after coming face to face with high pressure and misleading sales tactics by door-to-door salespeople.   

Only two provinces have banned unsolicited door-to-door sales of most heating, air and water services. Despite the bans, critics say gaps in the rules leave consumers open to abuse.

Door-to-door salespeople convinced 69-year-old Telepcak, who has a mental disability, to sign long-term contracts for everything from water heaters to carbon offsets. In some cases, Telepcak bought the same product twice from different companies. 

Telepcak was sold two HEPA filters by different companies. One was not even hooked up and just sat in his basement. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

Other contracts show he was locked into leasing agreements that had him paying four, five or six times the retail value of a product. For example, a water softener that retails for around $1,000 cost Telepcak more than $3,600 for the first year alone. 

“Why I went ahead with this and agreed? Uh I don’t know, I don’t know,” Telepcak said from his Toronto home. “They wouldn’t stop talking. Non-stop [talking] just to confuse the issue until, I guess, till I agreed.”

Go Public gets contracts cancelled 

Telepcak broke down at work in March and told his boss Brian Hoecht that he was crumbling under the weight of the more than $700 a month he was obligated to pay under the contracts.

John Telepcak’s boss, Brian Hoecht, tried to help his employee get out of the pricey contracts, but his calls and letters to the companies involved were mostly ignored. (David MacIntosh/CBC )

He didn’t know it yet, but he also had $32,338 in liens against his house from the heating and cooling contracts that were secured against the home. ​​​

Hoecht says his employee showed him so many bills it was hard to figure out how Telepcak ended up in the situation and exactly what he was paying for.

They say you don’t have to look for trouble, it comes to you. Well it’s found me, it’s found my exact home.– John Telepcak

“When I first heard about it, John was sitting in the cafeteria in the [car] dealership where we both work, holding his head in his hands,” Hoecht said. 

“The cafeteria lady, who John is close with, said ‘John needs to talk to you about something.'”

Telepcak had signed so many contracts he’d lost track. They included heating and cooling maintenance plans, a plumbing and drain protection plan, water softener, drinking water system, two HEPA filters and a $70 a month charge for something identified in the billing as “home improvements.” Some of the contracts locked Telepcak in for 10 to 15 years. 

“I have a lot of anxiety over this,” he said. “They say you don’t have to look for trouble, it comes to you. Well it’s found me, it’s found my exact home.”

Hoecht tried to help his employee by calling and sending registered letters to the businesses listed on Telepcak’s bills, asking them to release Telepcak from the contracts. 

He says most of the companies didn’t respond. Those that did, wanted Telepcak to pay thousands of dollars for breaking the contract. 

After Go Public approached the companies billing Telepcak, all but one released him from his obligations. None addressed why they sold Telepcak products and services he says he didn’t understand or need.

The Rules 

After years of complaints from consumers, in March, the Ontario government banned unsolicited door-to-door sales. The ban covers most heating, air and water services, but stops short of including companies in other sectors. 

Alberta is the only other province with such a ban.

Contracts that violate the new rules are void, and consumers are able to keep the goods and services with no obligations. 

Contract lawyer Tom Curran says not only does Ontario’s ban come too late for thousands of people like Telepcak — who signed some of his contracts before the ban — it also does little to stop these kinds of door-to-door sales from happening now. 

Lawyer Tom Curran says even with a ban on door-to-door sales and other consumer protections, it’s hard to hold companies and salespeople accountable. (Marc Robichaud/CBC)

“The new rules in Ontario put a $500 fine in place, well a $500 fine that’s a licensing fee, it’s nothing else, you add $500 to the cost of the merchandise you’re selling to this incompetent client, it’s not going to do anything at all,” Curran says.

Proving a violation is almost impossible because the people who show up at a consumer’s doorstep often don’t work directly for the company they are selling for, he says. Instead, they are third party representatives who make the sale and then disappear. 

“So when the act says that the person who makes that sale could be subject to a fine, it doesn’t really matter,” the lawyer says.

Curran also says the companies behind the contracts will often reinvent themselves or go out of business after selling contracts to financing companies that then collect on the debt. That means the companies that signed the original contracts can’t be held accountable.

Given his mental disability, Telepcak should also have protection under provincial consumer protection laws, but Curran says under those rules violations are also hard to prove. 

Government a ‘toothless tiger’

Jordan Redlin is a former door-to-door HVAC sales person who says he quit after becoming increasingly uncomfortable with how the sales were done and which customers were being signed.

Jordan Redlin runs a business that helps get people out of bad contracts. He says companies that sell door to door often target vulnerable people, like the elderly. (CBC)

He now runs his own business, named Cancel It, that aims to get people out of bad contracts. The service can cost thousands of dollars for longer contracts. He says business is booming. 

“Unfortunately [Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services] is a bit of a toothless tiger,” says Redlin.

“They do have a lot of power as far as investigating into the companies and the issues, however, they do not have the power to actually nullify the contracts themselves.”

Go Public asked Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services Todd Smith about the gaps in consumer protection laws.
 
In an email to CBC News he wrote:

“Our government understands the significant concerns consumers have over door-to-door sales. We are committed to making sure that the appropriate protections are in place to protect Ontario consumers‎.
           
“We will be working with industry, stakeholders and consumers as we determine next steps. I look forward to providing further updates in the coming months.”

As for John Telepcak, he says he’s learned his lesson and won’t sign any more contracts. He also has his family looking out for him. They plan to put legal measures in place to ensure Telepcak can’t sign any more contracts without the approval of his sister.

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AstraZeneca CEO warns of medicine shortages after Brexit: Sunday Times

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain could see widespread medicine shortages if there is no deal to prevent friction at the border with the European Union after Brexit, the AstraZeneca chief executive told the Sunday Times.

The company said in July it would stockpile drugs as a Brexit safety net, and CEO Pascal Soriot told the Sunday Times in an interview that the complexity of the supply chain in pharmaceuticals meant that delays would be likely.

“We have products that go back and forth between the UK and Europe at different stages of manufacturing,” he was quoted as saying. “If drugs are stuck, you have a problem.”

Separately, the Sunday Times reported that Jaguar Land Rover was considering following BMW’s lead and bringing forward its annual summer factory shutdown to coincide with Britain’s departure from the EU in case there is no deal, but added no decision had been taken.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Sandra Maler

Asian firms shuffle production around the region as China tariffs hit

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – A growing number of Asian manufacturers of products ranging from memory chips to machines tools are moving to shift production from China to other factories in the region in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports.

Companies including SK Hynix of South Korea and Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba Machine Co. and Komatsu of Japan began plotting production moves since July, when the first tariffs hit, and the shifts are now under way, company representatives and others with knowledge of the plans told Reuters. Others, such as Taiwanese computer-maker Compal Electronics and South Korea’s LG Electronics, are making contingency plans in case the trade war continues or deepens.

The company representatives and other sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The quick reactions to the U.S. tariffs are possible because many large manufacturers have facilities in multiple countries and can move at least small amounts of production without building new factories. Some governments, notably in Taiwan and Thailand, are actively encouraging companies to move work from China.

The United States imposed 25 percent duties covering $50 billion of Chinese-made goods in July, and a second round of 10 percent tariffs covering another $200 billion of Chinese exports will come into effect next week. The latter rate will jump to 25 percent at the end of the year, and Trump has threatened a third round of tariffs on $267 billion of goods, which would bring all of China’s exports to the United States into the tariff regime.

The tariffs threaten China’s status as a low-cost production base that, along with the appeal of the fast-growing China market, drew many companies to build factories and supply chains in the country over the past several decades.

At SK Hynix, which makes computer memory chips, work is under way to move production of certain chip modules back to South Korea from China. Like its U.S. rival Micron Technology, which is also moving some memory-chip work from China to other Asian locations, SK Hynix does some of its packaging and testing of chips in China, with the chips themselves mostly made elsewhere.

“There are a few DRAM module products made in China that are exported to the United States,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation, referring to widely used dynamic random-access memory chips. “SK Hynix is planning on bringing those DRAM module products to South Korea to avoid the tariff hit.”

Most of SK Hynix’s production won’t be affected, the source added, since China’s dominance in computer and smartphone manufacturing makes it by far the largest market for DRAM chips.

Toshiba Machine Co says it plans to shift production of U.S.-bound plastic moulding machines from China to Japan or Thailand in October.

The machines are used for making plastic components such as automotive bumpers. “We’ve decided to shift part of our production from China because the impact of the tariffs is significant,” a spokesman said.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Mitsubishi Electric, meanwhile, says it is in the process of shifting production of U.S.-bound machine tools used for metal processing from its manufacturing base in Dalian, in northeastern China, to a Japanese plant in Nagoya.

In Taiwan, an executive at notebook PC maker Compal, who declined to be named, said the trade war’s impact had been limited so far, but the company was studying its options.

“We can also use facilities in Vietnam, Mexico and Brazil as alternatives,” the person said. “It won’t be easy because our majority production is in China; no other country can replace that at this moment.”

Smaller companies are exploring their options too. South Korean medical equipment manufacturer IM Healthcare, which makes products including air purifiers, is studying a move to Vietnam or South Korea if the trade conflict intensifies, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Some Asian governments hope for an economic and strategic boost from the U.S.-China conflict. In Taiwan, the government is actively encouraging companies to move production out of China, pledging last month to speed up its existing “Southbound Policy” to reduce economic reliance on China by encouraging companies to move supply chains to Southeast Asia.

Taiwan economics ministry official William Liu told Reuters that the trade war was “a challenge and an opportunity” for the self-ruled island. Taiwan depends on China as an export market, he noted, but at the same time could see a boost in jobs from companies moving operations back home.

Thailand also hopes to benefit from the “flow of technology and investment leaving China during the trade war”, said Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary-General of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office of Thailand, which is coordinating a $45 billion project to attract investment into the country. The EEC last month took some 800 representatives of Chinese companies on a tour around the eastern industrial heartland, and the country’s Board of Investment has done seven roadshows in China this year to woo investors.

Reporting by Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang in Seoul and Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Jess Macy Yu and Yimou Lee in Taipei, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok, Sankalp Phartiyal in Mumbai and Fanny Potkin in Jakarta; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Alex Richardson

Timeline: Shell’s operations in Nigeria

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell pioneered Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and remains a major investor in the West African country. But over the decades it has come under fire over spills in the Delta region and struggles with oil theft, corruption and oil-fueled violence.

Following are some of the highlights of Shell’s history in Nigeria:

1936 – The Royal Dutch Shell Group establishes a Nigerian venture with the precursor company of BP Plc. The first shipment of oil from Nigeria takes place in 1958.

April 1973 – Nigerian government takes a stake in the venture. Over the coming years, the government increases its stake and BP exits.

1979 – The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) is established, incorporating assets of the older Shell-BP consortium. Over time, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation comes to own 55 percent, Shell owns 30 percent, France’s Total owns 10 percent and Italy’s Eni 5 percent. Shell remains the operator.

1990 – The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by firebrand environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, starts campaigning for a fairer share of oil wealth for the Ogoni people living on oil fields and compensation for environmental damage.

January 1993 – MOSOP organises protests of around 300,000 Ogoni people against Shell and oil pollution. Nigeria’s military government occupies the region.

April 1993 – Shell forms Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), which signs Production Sharing Contracts to develop offshore oil and gas interests.

1993 – Shell ceases production in Ogoniland.

November 1995 – Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders are executed by Sani Abacha’s military government on alleged murder charges, to worldwide horror. Nigeria is suspended from the Commonwealth.

Late 1990s – Over time, Shell’s focus shifts to offshore exploration, where it enjoys better margins and fewer threats of attack by militants.

October 2003 – SPDC pumps more than 1 million barrels of oil per day.

2005 – Shell starts production at the giant Bonga offshore field.

2006 – Militant group MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) emerges and begins to attack Shell facilities. Like MOSOP it seeks a great share of oil wealth for the Delta’s people and remediation for oil spills. SPDC pump stations and platforms in Niger delta are attacked and production falls.

2008 – Two large spills, a result of operational faults, hit the community of Bodo in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. Tens of thousands of barrels of oil are spilt.

January 2010 – SPDC sells some onshore fields and says it is no longer looking to Nigeria for growth.

April 2011 – Shell and Italy’s Eni acquire oil production licence (OPL) 245, a large offshore field, for $1.1 billion from local company Malabu.

August 2011 – A U.N. report criticises Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in Ogoniland which it says needs the world’s largest oil clean-up, costing an initial $1 billion and taking up to 30 years.

March 2012 – A group of 11,000 Nigerians from Bodo, Ogoniland, launch a suit against Shell at the London High Court, seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation for the 2008 oil spills.

January 2013 – A Dutch court rules that Shell could be held partially responsible for pollution in the Niger Delta, saying the company should have prevented sabotage at one of its facilities. Four Nigerians and Friends of the Earth filed the suit originally in 2008 in the Netherlands.

January 2015 – Shell accepts liability for the Bodo spills, agreeing to pay 55 million pounds ($83 million at the time) to Bodo villagers and to clean up their lands and waterways.

May 2018 – Court case against Shell and Eni over the 2011 OPL 245 acquisition starts in Milan. Nine current and former executives and contractors, including ENI Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi, are accused by Italian prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the license.

Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

In Nigeria, Shell’s onshore roots still run deep

BODO, Nigeria (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell wants to reweight its footprint in Nigeria to focus on oil and gas fields far offshore, away from the theft, spills, corruption and unrest that have plagued the West African country’s onshore industry for decades.

Graphic: Oil spills at Shell’s Nigeria operations – tmsnrt.rs/2KzACfH

But for the company that pioneered Nigeria’s oil industry in the 1950s, the Niger Delta remains as important — and problematic — as ever.

While Shell has cut onshore oil production and sold some onshore assets, it continues to invest in others. In fact, onshore production has risen in recent years as a share of Shell’s output in Nigeria, an analysis of company data over the past decade shows.

Graphic: Shell Nigeria production – tmsnrt.rs/2OB5wa0

Much of the increase comes from less polluting gas, used mainly in power generation, which Shell thinks will be key to the transition to lower carbon energy. Gas made up 70 percent of onshore production in 2017, up from 47 percent in 2008.

Graphic: Nigeria onshore production – tmsnrt.rs/2CLPxEU

The company still controls thousands of kilometers of pipelines connecting inland fields to coastal terminals through its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Co of Nigeria (SPDC), however.

So while SPDC has cut oil production in the Delta by 70 percent since 2011, when it first started reporting data on spills, the incidence of spills and theft from pipelines has fallen at a much lower rate and has picked up again recently, the data shows.

Shell’s Nigeria Country Chair Osagie Okunbor hinted it was a sensitive balancing act.

  • Timeline: Shell’s operations in Nigeria

“We are too big just to see ourselves as ‘there is a problem and we have to run’. That is not what we are thinking of doing,” he told reporters on a media trip to the country in July. “But at the same time we don’t want to spread our footprint.”

Two pipeline spills in 2008 in the small community of Bodo in Ogoniland are emblematic of the problems in the Delta, a vast maze of creeks and mangrove swamps criss-crossed by pipelines and blighted by poverty and oil-fueled violence.

On a speedboat trip to the site of a clean-up operation launched by Shell last year, a makeshift oil refinery stood idle on a charred landing. The ground was soaked with oil, the air heavy with petrol fumes and slicks glistened in the water nearby. There were few signs of birds or fish.

So far this year, 85 crude spills have been recorded, already higher than the previous two years. In 2016, militant attacks pushed the volume of spills to more than 30,000 barrels, a high since 2011.

Oil theft from SPDC rose to around 9,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 – a loss of nearly $180 million for the year – from 6,000 bpd the year before.

Despite all the problems and costs, however, Nigerian onshore operations generate billions of dollars annually.

Shell does not break down profits by country, but a report on payments to governments that the company publishes annually showed it paid around $1.1 billion in royalties, taxes and fees to the Nigerian government in 2017.

That means Shell earned more than $4 billion from oil and gas production in Nigeria in 2017 – around 7 percent of its total global output.

A Shell spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of Reuters’ data analysis.

The Nigerian Petroleum Ministry declined to comment.

Shell has shown it can shut down if it is not making money. It stopped producing oil completely in Iraq last year after half a century in the country, although it retains substantial gas operations.

“It’s hard to think Shell would stay put onshore and weather all the problems if the assets didn’t offer decent returns,” said Aaron Sayne, a financial crime lawyer working at the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). “To some extent, the onshore must still be worth the trouble.”

THEFT AND SPILLS

Shell remains central to Nigeria’s economy and society. SPDC – operated by Shell with a 30 percent stake while the Nigerian National Petroleum Co has 55 percent, France’s Total has 10 percent and Italy’s Eni has 5 percent – is the country’s largest oil joint venture, employing thousands.

The Anglo-Dutch giant’s operations drew unwelcome attention in the early 1990s when residents of the Delta’s Ogoni region called for fairer distribution of oil wealth and compensation for spills. The government cracked down and in 1995 executed nine protest leaders, including prominent writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, prompting Shell to end production in the area forever.

It retained control of the Trans-Niger Pipeline, however, and nearly a quarter of a century later, little seems to have changed on the ground.

In 2015 Shell accepted responsibility for operational faults that caused the 2008 spills that dumped tens of thousands of oil barrels into creeks around Bodo, and paid a settlement of 55 million pounds to villagers.

Dozens of spills since, including one by a barge carrying stolen oil that sunk in July, are frustrating remediation efforts, clean-up officials said.

“You clean it up, you walk away, somebody goes back there and does the same thing. It’s like going around in circles,” said Ogonnaya Iroakasi, Ogoni restoration project supervisor and an SPDC member.

Around 80 percent of the spills are a result of sabotage, Shell data shows.

Shell has taken a number of steps to improve the situation in the area, including training youth to start up businesses and funding local community patrols, campaigns to raise local awareness and even a local radio station.

But critics say it is not enough.

Slideshow (8 Images)

“I am not minimizing the challenge of re-pollution but Shell are not doing enough to solve it,” said Daniel Leader, the Bodo community’s lead UK lawyer. “The pipelines are not equipped with the most basic leak detection technology and Shell is simply not present on the ground in these communities.”

Local residents are frustrated as the slow process stops many from fishing, one of the main sources of income. Much of the anger is focused on Shell but Eni has also struggled to cope in recent years. Since starting to report data to authorities in 2014, the Italian company has recorded more spills than Shell, according to Amnesty International.

“Please, don’t give up on us … I hope that you guys here can force Shell to do the right thing,” Michael Porobunu, chairman of Gokana council of chiefs, told the clean-up crew and reporters on his porch.

OFF THE COAST

SPDC has sold 10 of the 27 field licenses in the Delta it held in 2010, mostly to local companies. It has applied to renew the remaining licenses, which expire next year.

The divestments are a reminder of another cost of doing business in Nigeria – corruption. Shell has filed a criminal complaint against a former senior employee over suspected bribes in the $390 million sale of oil mining license 42 to local firm Neconde in 2011.

Offshore operations are an attractive alternative to the Delta in many ways. The Bonga field 120 km (75 miles) off the coast is one of Shell’s prized assets since starting up in 2005.

The giant tanker, with a drilling platform that pumps 225,000 barrels of oil and 210 million cubic feet of gas per day from a field one km below, won the company’s “asset of the year award” in 2016 for its safety and reliability.

Many risks remain. In 2016, the Trans-Forcados pipeline was shut down for months after militants detonated a bomb at its sub-sea section. Shell and Eni face bribery allegations in a Milan court over the 2011 purchase of an offshore license. Drilling offshore is also more expensive and technically complex.

Shell and its partners will decide next year on whether to develop a new offshore field, Bonga Southwest.

“Such an investment will reopen the window for the next wave of investment in deep water Nigeria,” Bayo Ojulari, managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, said in Lagos.

Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Didi Akinyelure in Lagos, Julia Payne in London; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

Volkswagen’s Porsche to stop offering diesel models

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Porsche will stop offering diesel versions of its cars, the unit said on Sunday, sharpening its focus on hybrid and battery-powered vehicles instead.

Volkswagen has admitted to deliberately cheating diesel emissions tests, sending shockwaves through the automotive industries and causing a sector-wide crackdown on polluting diesel engines.

“Porsche is not demonizing diesel. It is, and will remain, an important propulsion technology,” Porsche Chief Executive Oliver Blume said in a statement.

“We as a sports car manufacturer, however, for whom diesel has always played a secondary role, have come to the conclusion that we would like our future to be diesel-free.”

Porsche’s existing diesel customers would continue to be served, he said.

Porsche, which is investing more than 6 billion euros ($7.1 billion) in electric mobility by 2022, said that demand for diesel models was dropping, adding their share of worldwide Porsche cars was 12 percent in 2017.

“We have never developed and produced diesel engines ourselves. Still, Porsche’s image has suffered. The diesel crisis has caused us a lot of trouble,” Blume said in a separate interview with weekly Bild am Sonntag.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a meeting on Sunday to discuss whether to require the car industry to carry out costly hardware upgrades for older diesel vehicles to reduce inner-city pollution, government sources said.

Porsche has sold diesel versions of its cars for nearly a decade, Bild am Sonntag said. It has not had a diesel in its line up since February.

About 63 percent of the group’s Panamera cars sold in Europe are hybrid models, it said. Porsche will launch the Taycan – which it says is its first fully-electric sports car – next year.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Louise Heavens