FILE PHOTO: Aug 3, 2018; Akron, OH, USA; PGA golfer Matt Kuchar tees off on the 17th hole during the second round of the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club – South Course. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
(Reuters) – Matt Kuchar sank eight birdies in a second round 64 to take a two-stroke lead over fellow American Cameron Champ at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico on Friday.
It was the second consecutive day that Kuchar shot seven under par at the El Camaleón in Playa del Carmen after his bogey-free opening round on Thursday.
The seven-times PGA Tour winner’s most impressive shot of the day came on the par-four 12th, where he sank a 19-foot putt to limit the damage to a bogey, his only one of the day.
Champ was sensational in just his third career PGA Tour start on Friday, mixing eight birdies and an eagle with one bogey for a round of nine-under par 62 that gave him the outright lead before Kuchar overtook him later in the day.
The big-hitting 23-year-old, who is coming off his first PGA Tour win at last month’s Sanderson Farms Championship, said he is feeling more comfortable on the course, which has allowed him to get into a groove on Friday.
“I forgot what par was, to be honest,” he said.
“I was just flowing, I just kind of felt in the zone, really. I was just trying to execute each shot at a time.”
The tournament will go into the weekend with slightly less drawing power after three-time major champion Jordan Spieth failed to make the cut after rounds of 71 and 69.
But Masters runner-up and world number nine Rickie Fowler is still in the hunt after shooting a three-under par 68 on Friday to go into the weekend tied for 20th with 13 other players.
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Greg Stutchbury
PARADISE, Calif. (Reuters) – Two monster wildfires burned out of control on Saturday in northern and southern California, having already killed at least nine people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
President Donald Trump blamed the fires on forest mismanagement and threatened to withdraw related federal funding.
In Los Angeles County, the 35,000-acre (14,164 hectares) Woolsey Fire was threatening 75,000 homes and more than 200,000 people were under mandatory evacuation early on Saturday.
Some of the evacuation orders were for residents within the City of Los Angeles in the West Hills area. It was unclear how many homes have been evacuated within the City of Los Angeles.
About 500 miles (800 km) to the north, nine people were found dead in and around the Northern California town of Paradise, where more than 6,700 homes and businesses were burned down by the Camp Fire. That made it one of the most destructive blazes in state history, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire protection data.
“This event was the worst-case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a Friday evening press conference. “Regrettably, not everybody made it out.”
Trump early on Saturday tweeted that “gross mismanagement of forests” was to blame for the two unchecked wildfires.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
“Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!,” he added.
The remains of five of the victims in Northern California were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, Butte County’s Honea said.
Another 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters had been injured.
The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.
A home is engulfed in flames during the Woosley Fire in Malibu, California, U.S. November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
The Camp Fire, which broke out on Thursday at the edge of the Plumas National Forest northeast of Sacramento, has since blackened more than 90,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained as of nightfall on Friday.
FIRE BURNS TOWARD MALIBU
The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thursday and quickly jumped the 101 Freeway, a major north-south artery, in several places. On Friday, it moved over the Santa Monica Mountains toward Malibu, where flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) raced down hillsides and through canyons toward multi-million dollar homes.
Thousands of residents took to the Pacific Coast Highway to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets.
Among those forced to flee were celebrities including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, who said on Twitter that flames had damaged the home she shares in nearby Calabasas with Kanye West.
“Fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu,” the city said in a statement online. “All residents must evacuate immediately.”
Some 95,000 residents have been evacuated in Ventura County alone, the county’s fire department said on Twitter on Friday night.
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The blaze also threatened parts of the nearby town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people earlier this week in a shooting rampage.
Elsewhere, the Hill Fire in Ventura County’s Santa Rosa Valley had charred about 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) as of Friday evening, according to Cal Fire.
In Los Angeles, another, smaller fire in Griffith Park forced the Los Angeles Zoo to evacuate a number of show birds and some small primates on Friday as flames came within less than 2 miles (3 km) of the facility, zoo officials said in a statement.
Reporting by Stephen Lam, Andrew Hay, Bernie Woodall and Gina Cherelus, Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Nick Macfie and Hugh Lawson
FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) said on Thursday it is restructuring its wealth and investment management business to combine its two high-net worth operations, the private bank and Abbot Downing, under a new unit leader who it has not yet named.
As part of the plans, the bank will also create a new unit under wealth management for its direct-to-client products, Intuitive Investor and Wells Trade. Another new unit will cover lending, trust and mergers and acquisitions, bank spokeswoman Shea Leordeanu said in an emailed statement.
Leaders of the three units, who have not yet been named, will report to Jon Weiss, head of wealth and investment management.
Reporting by Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Dilts in New Yori; Editing by Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio
LONDON (Reuters) – World Chess Championship officials might rethink the role of ceremonial starter after Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson knocked over a king and moved the wrong pawn in a comical start to the 2018 event in London on Friday.
Norwegian title holder Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana were bemused onlookers as the U.S. actor began their eagerly anticipated match-up by knocking over the American challenger’s king, the move that traditionally signals a concession.
Caruana had asked the “Hunger Games” and “Cheers” actor to move his pawn to start the game, only for Harrelson to hit the king and moved a different piece.
A bewildered Caruana initially appeared to accept the mistake before officials allowed the pawn to be returned. A grinning Harrelson then moved the correct pawn before quickly exiting the stage.
It was a memorable start to the 1 million euro ($1.1 million) contest, which organizers expect to be watched by millions around the world. The duo are scheduled to play 12 matches through November, with the winner the first to reach 6.5 points.
Carlsen, 27, has won the last three championships and is the world’s top ranked player. He became a chess grandmaster at 13.
Caruana, 26, is bidding to become the first American to win the title since the enigmatic and volatile Bobby Fischer beat Russia’s Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War in 1972. ($1 = 0.8831 euros)
Reporting by Will Russell; Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Kevin Liffey
PARADISE, Calif. (Reuters) – A fast-moving wildfire advanced to the outskirts of the Northern California city of Chico early on Friday, forcing thousands to flee after it left the nearby town of Paradise in ruins.
Fire officials issued evacuation notices for homes on the eastside of Chico, a city of about 93,000 people situated about 90 miles (145 km) north of Sacramento.
“Firefighters continue to actively engage the fire in order to protect life and property,” the Chico Fire Department said in a Tweet.
Flames from the unchecked, 20,000-acre (8,100-hectare) Camp Fire were being driven westward by 35-mile-per hour (56 km-per-hour) winds, fire officials said.
The fire earlier ripped through Paradise, about 20 miles east of Chico. “The town is devastated, everything is destroyed. There’s nothing much left standing,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Maclean.
“This fire moved so fast and grew so fast a lot of people got caught by it.”
Maclean said an as yet unspecified number of civilians and firefighters had been injured, and that it could be days before authorities would know whether anyone had died.
Paradise is located on a ridge and had limited escape routes. Traffic accidents turned roads into gridlock and residents abandoned vehicles and ran from the flames carrying children and pets, officials said. One woman stuck in traffic went into labor, the Enterprise-Record newspaper reported.
“It’s very chaotic,” Officer Ryan Lambert of the California Highway Patrol.
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Rescuers used a bulldozer to push abandoned cars out the way to reach Feather River Hospital and evacuate patients as flames engulfed the building, Butte County Supervisor Doug Teeter told reporters.
The hospital was totally destroyed, Mike Mangas, a spokesman for operator Dignity Health, told Action News Now.
The fire, which began early on Thursday, was the fiercest of several wind-driven blazes across California, during what has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien; editing by John Stonestreet
The DUP has accused the PM of breaking promises over plans to avoid a hard Irish border post-Brexit.
The party reacted angrily to a letter from Theresa May to DUP leader Arlene Foster, leaked to the Times.
In it, Mrs May explains the EU wants a contingency of Northern Ireland staying in a customs union if no border solution is found during the post-Brexit transition period.
Downing Street reiterated the PM’s own commitment to avoiding a hard border.
Negotiating a backstop – an insurance policy to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland until the UK and EU agree their future relationship – remains the main obstacle in the way of a wider agreement between the two sides.
If sufficient progress is made on the issue in the next few days, it is thought a special cabinet meeting could be held early next week for ministers to approve the draft agreement on the terms of the UK’s exit.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the BBC that “these things take time to get right” and Mrs May should be given the space to do a deal which protects the UK and Northern Ireland’s interests.
Why has the letter annoyed the DUP?
The five page letter was sent three days ago – in response to a letter from the DUP outlining the party’s expectations for a Brexit deal.
It states that the EU has proposed a contingency plan to keep Northern Ireland tied to Brussels’ customs union and single market if future trade talks are unsuccessful.
But one paragraph in particular has been seized on by the DUP.
In it, Mrs May writes that she could not accept any circumstances in which a proposal that would break up the UK customs territory “could come in to force”.
But the DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that the EU’s proposal – known as the “backstop to the backstop” – will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May’s insistence it will never come into effect.
Arlene Foster says it has “raised alarm bells” as Mrs May appears “wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea”.
What is the backstop?
The UK and the EU both want to avoid a “hard border” – physical checks or infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The backstop solution is a safety net – an arrangement to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.
The UK government has so far proposed a backstop – with an expected end date of 2021 – which would effectively keep the whole of the UK in the EU customs union for a limited period after Brexit.
And the backstop to the backstop?
The EU is adamant that there cannot be a time limit – any backstop must apply “unless and until” it is no longer needed.
So if a proposal for a time-limited, all-UK backstop formed part of an agreement there would also need to be something in place in case the issue of the Irish border was not sorted out by that end date.
That “something” – a “backstop to a backstop” – is a return to the original EU proposal which would see Northern Ireland in a European customs union and would mean a customs border in the Irish Sea.
What does the government say?
Downing Street says the letter sets out the prime minister’s commitment “to never accepting any circumstances in which the UK is divided into two customs territories”.
A spokesman added that “the government will not agree anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland”.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Thursday filed a civil fraud lawsuit accusing UBS Group AG (UBSG.S), Switzerland’s largest bank, of defrauding investors in its sale of residential mortgage-backed securities leading up to the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
UBS was accused of misleading investors about the quality of more than $41 billion of subprime and other risky mortgage loans backing 40 securities offerings in 2006 and 2007, the Department of Justice said in a complaint filed with the federal court in Brooklyn.
The lawsuit came after UBS rejected a government proposal that it pay nearly $2 billion to settle, according to a person familiar with the talks who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.
While UBS was not a big originator of U.S. residential home loans, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn said investors suffered “catastrophic losses” from the bank’s failure to fully disclose the risks of mortgage securities it helped sell.
A UBS spokesman and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the settlement talks, but the bank said it will fight the lawsuit.
“The DOJ’s claims are not supported by the facts or the law,” it said in a statement. “UBS is confident in its legal position and has been fully prepared for some time to defend itself in court.”
U.S. officials are seeking unspecified fines against UBS under a federal law allowing it to pursue penalties up to the amounts the bank gained or others lost from alleged misconduct.
The case is one of the last addressing alleged misconduct in the pooling and sale by large banks of mortgage securities that were a major cause of the financial crisis.
Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Barclays Plc (BARC.L), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S), Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS.L) previously settled.
‘LYING IS OK’
U.S. officials faulted UBS for having a business culture that placed a higher priority on profits than full disclosure to investors, who were deprived of crucial information about the quality of the loans underlying the securities they bought.
Thursday’s lawsuit quoted a UBS trader who in a 2006 instant message said “our crack due diligence effort is a joke,” and a UBS mortgage employee who the same year complained to his bosses about the bank’s ethics, including that “Lying is ok.”
Like UBS, Barclays had also resisted settling prior to being sued by the Justice Department. That case ended in March with a $2 billion settlement.
UBS was among the banks hardest hit in the financial crisis, and has said it lost more than $45 billion after the U.S. housing market collapsed.
It was not immediately clear how much UBS has set aside for the U.S. case, though analysts said it might be more than half the 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.20 billion) it has reserved for so-called non-core legal risks.
UBS is also fighting charges by investigators in France that it helped wealthy clients avoid taxes in that country, and turned down a 1.1 billion euro ($1.25 billion) settlement offer, judicial sources have said.
Shares of UBS closed up 1.3 percent in European trading earlier on Thursday. The U.S. lawsuit was made public after markets closed in that country.
The case is U.S. v UBS Securities LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 18-06369.
Additional reporting by Angelika Gruber and Michael Shields in Zurich; editing by Jane Merriman and Dan Grebler
(Reuters) – Major League Baseball heads into the offseason with no shortage of issues to address, most pressingly the drop in stadium attendance and TV ratings, a trend toward longer games and a dearth of star power in its ranks.
FILE PHOTO: Oct 28, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
Easy answers, however, may prove hard to come by.
Average attendance for regular season games in 2018 fell four percent from the previous year to 28,830 per game, according to MLB, while the total number of fans who showed up at the ballpark fell below 70 million for the first time since 2003.
Rain delays and cold temperatures early in the season played a part in that drop, but so did the average length of the games, which clocked in at 3 hours or more for the seventh consecutive year.
New rules this year, including limiting the number of visits a manager can make to the pitcher’s mound, increased the speed of games and the league will look to improve further, said MLB spokesman Michael Teevan.
But the pace of the games can still feel glacial as managers, dependent on reams of statistical data, rely on pitching changes to give their side an advantage.
While the right matchup can help a team prevail, it also forces fans to wait while reliever after reliever warms up.
Frequent breaks in the action make it hard for the sport to attract younger fans and other newcomers, especially when America’s pastime is facing competition from traditional sports rivals as well as esports and ever-buzzing cell phones.
MLB felt it would at least end the 2018 campaign on a high note and was salivating at the World Series matchup between two well-known teams from major markets — the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yet the Series itself proved a disappointment, with the favored Red Sox winning the best-of-seven Fall Classic in five games amid lackluster TV ratings.
The five games averaged 14.3 million viewers, down 23 percent compared to the 2017 average of 18.7 million viewers for the seven-game series that featured the Dodgers losing to the Houston Astros.
‘LONGER ATTENTION SPANS’
Baseball, like other sports, is a victim of the increasingly fractured media and entertainment landscape, said Victor Matheson, a specialist in sports economics at the College of the Holy Cross.
“It was a whole lot easier to draw huge ratings for the World Series when there were only three channels on TV,” he said.
“And baseball is a little bit of a throwback to an old era where things were a lot slower and we had longer attention spans,” he added.
“It’s just such a long game. I have friends who are huge soccer fans in part because you’re in and out in two hours. With baseball it’s extremely lucky to be in and out in three hours.”
This year’s Series featured a record-setting seven hour and 20 minute Game Three, which was won by the Dodgers in 18 innings — a great game for baseball nuts but excruciating for anyone with only a passing interest.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was confused by the drop in World Series ratings prior to Game Three.
“We’re looking hard at it and haven’t isolated a cause,” he told SportsBusiness last month.
One reason may be the relative lack of star power on the field.
The World Series MVP went to 35-year-old journeyman and Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce, a little-known player who the Toronto Blue Jays shipped to Boston for next to nothing in June.
His team mates Mookie Betts and slugger J.D. Martinez do not transcend the sport in the way that Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz did before their retirements.
Matheson said the absence of stars was not due to a lack of talent, noting the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout may be considered the best to ever play the game by the time he retires.
Yet he says there is not enough public attention on the sport right now to propel young players to stardom.
Addressing baseball’s many challenges will begin in earnest when MLB’s Winter Meetings kick off in Las Vegas on Dec. 10.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Prosecutors said on Thursday they have decided not to bring criminal charges against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May after four women accused him of physical abuse.
FILE PHOTO: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a news conference to discuss the civil rights lawsuit filed against The Weinstein Companies and Harvey Weinstein in New York, U.S., February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
The decision was announced by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, who was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate the allegations shortly after Schneiderman’s sudden May 7 resignation.
Singas said she personally interviewed Schneiderman’s accusers and found them credible, but that state law made it impossible to bring criminal charges.
“I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team. However legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution,” Singas said in a statement.
In a statement on Thursday, Schneiderman apologized “for any and all pain that I have caused,” and said that after spending time in a “rehab facility” he was committed to “making amends” to those people he harmed.
“I recognize that District Attorney Singas’ decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schneiderman, 63, resigned hours after allegations by his accusers, who said they were romantically involved with him, were published in The New Yorker magazine.
The women claimed that Schneiderman subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence, sometimes during sex, including being slapped or choked. bit.ly/2HWSrcf
Schneiderman, a Democrat, resigned after more than seven years in office. He had become a persistent critic of the Trump administration and a leader in the #MeToo movement.
He was replaced as attorney general by Barbara Underwood, who did not seek a full term. Letitia James, New York City’s public advocate, was elected attorney general on Tuesday.
Singas separately proposed a new law that she said would protect victims of sexually motivated violence.
She asked state lawmakers to make it a Class A misdemeanor to commit sexual harassment, defined as the slapping, striking, kicking or shoving of someone without consent for the purpose of “sexual arousal or gratification.”
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Dan Grebler
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