MIAMI (Reuters) – World No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods, who withdrew from the game late last year after a damaging adultery scandal, announced on Tuesday he would make his comeback to professional golf at the U.S. Masters in early April.
“The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta,” Woods said in a statement published on his website.
MIAMI, , March 16 (Reuters) – World No. 1 golfer Tiger
Woods, who withdrew from the game late last year after a
damaging adultery scandal, announced on Tuesday he would make
his comeback to professional golf at the U.S. Masters in early
“The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this
tournament with great respect. After a long and necessary time
away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at
Augusta,” Woods said in a statement published on his website
, March 15 (Reuters) – U.S. tax authorities
are expected to “very shortly” launch another prosecution
against a foreign bank similar to the tax evasion case they
pressed against Switzerland’s UBS AG <UBSN.VX>, an Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) agent said on Monday.
Linda J. Osuna, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa
Field Office, told Reuters the expected U.S. case against the
foreign bank, which she declined to name, would be for “the
same behavior that got UBS in trouble.”
HOLLYWOOD, Florida (Reuters) – U.S. tax authorities are expected to “very shortly” launch another prosecution against a foreign bank similar to the tax evasion case they pressed against Switzerland’s UBS AG, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent said on Monday.
Linda J. Osuna, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Field Office, told Reuters the expected U.S. case against the foreign bank, which she declined to name, would be for “the same behavior that got UBS in trouble.”
HOLLYWOOD, Florida (Reuters) – Adjusting and even selectively loosening U.S. sanctions against countries like Iran and Cuba can serve foreign policy goals by encouraging democratic change through greater Internet freedom and other means, a U.S. Treasury official said on Monday.
Adam Szubin, director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces U.S. sanctions against designated states, companies and people, told a conference such “smart sanctions” would help the U.S. government further its goals of fostering greater freedom and democracy.
MIAMI, March 9 (Reuters) – U.S. government insurer and lender OPIC is supporting U.S. private relief organizations working in quake-hit Haiti and will back U.S. companies that invest in the Caribbean country’s reconstruction, an OPIC official said on Tuesday.
"We see a lot of opportunity in the reconstruction," said Suzanne Etcheverry, manager for insurance at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government agency that provides project financing and political risk insurance cover for U.S. investors in developing countries.
"We are looking at supporting infrastructure, as well as rebuilding shelter, schools, roads, helping the energy sector, deploying assets to do all this, supporting U.S. companies that are putting their own equity at risk," Etcheverry told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on Haiti’s reconstruction in Miami.
Following the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake that shattered the capital and other towns in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state, Haiti’s government and its foreign aid partners are now turning their attention from emergency humanitarian relief to recovery and rebuilding strategies.
Up to 300,000 people may have been killed in the quake, Haiti’s President Rene Preval has said, and some experts have called it the deadliest natural disaster of modern times.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have already poured into Haiti in the form of emergency aid provided by governments, multilateral lenders and nongovernmental organizations, but private companies are now scenting lucrative business opportunities in areas like rubble removal and the rebuilding of housing and infrastructure.
Etcheverry said OPIC could help provide a more secure investment framework for U.S. companies looking to find business in Haiti’s reconstruction.
"We can do a lot, provided that there is U.S. investment that is willing to take the risk and go there," she said.
Etcheverry said OPIC’s existing exposure in Haiti before the quake was small — nearly $23 million in insurance support for three projects — but was expected to rise.
"We are very willing to increase our exposure there for projects that are eligible," she said.
Since the quake, OPIC had opened up a $50 million special line of credit, as well as direct loans and discounted political risk insurance, for U.S. NGOs working on disaster relief in Haiti.
This was intended to support such groups as they deployed assets, vehicles and construction equipment on the ground.
RISK OF POLITICAL INSTABILITY
In addition, the agency was extending a $10 million loan to a Miami Beach, Florida-based company, InnoVida Holdings, LLC, to build fiber composite panels that would be used to construct 32,000 energy-efficient homes in Haiti in the next five years.
"We turned that around very, very quickly, which demonstrates how committed we are to doing work in Haiti," said Etcheverry.
Experts predict rebuilding of housing could account for as much as 60 percent of the overall Haiti reconstruction effort.
Etcheverry said OPIC was ready to support investment in the long-term rebuilding of the country, as well as underwriting more immediate humanitarian operations.
Telecommunications and energy would be other possible areas of investment for U.S. companies, she added.
Under OPIC’s statutes, however, the agency could not back investment projects that might have a negative impact on the U.S. economy and jobs — specifically in the Haitian apparel sector, which benefits from the United States’ Hope II Act that gives such textile exports preferential access to the United States.
Etcheverry was clear, however, that U.S. investors in Haiti’s reconstruction could face risks.
"I think the risks are political instability, unrest that can result from a general breakdown of living structures, basic infrastructure, basic security. I think that’s a real risk in any situation where something as catastrophic (as this) has happened," she said.
But she added: "I hope we can play a role in making investors more comfortable in going into these kinds of situations."
Analysts and aid workers say they fear delays in providing humanitarian aid and longer-term shelter and employment for hundreds of thousands of Haitians left homeless and jobless by the earthquake could spark unrest in the poor nation which has a history of political instability and conflict. (Editing by Leslie Adler)
ABOARD THE USS CARTER HALL, Haiti, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Haiti’s main seaport at Port-au-Prince has managed to handle container traffic at a level higher than before the Jan. 12 earthquake, and full repairs to damage should be completed in April, a senior U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.
The Caribbean country’s main maritime terminal for import and export shipments was badly damaged in last month’s quake, especially its south pier, initially blocking off a key entry point for urgently needed humanitarian supplies and imports.
Divers from the U.S. Navy and other countries have been working for weeks on repairs to clear debris and wreckage from blocked channels and berths, and contractors brought in floating piers to help unload containers.
"We’ve had several days where we’ve delivered 600 containers in a single day, so their capacity is ahead of where they were before the earthquake," said Major General Daniel Allyn, deputy commander of the U.S. military Joint Task Force participating in the international relief effort in Haiti.
This compared to the 200-250 containers the port was handling a month ago, following the disaster.
Repairing the main seaport was seen as a critical step to bring in sufficient volumes of humanitarian supplies and equipment needed to help the victims of the quake, which may have killed up to 300,000 people, according to the Haitian government. More than a million people were left homeless and in need of assistance.
"The really good news story is that the Haitians are running port operations at Port-au-Prince, from the ship’s pilotage to the offloading of the ships," Allyn told Reuters.
He said the majority of incoming port traffic in the last week had been commercial cargo, while humanitarian aid cargo had tapered off from previous levels. Off Port-au-Prince, both warships and commercial container ships could be seen.
"I think that’s a sign that we’re past the immediate emergency response window and we’re sort of in that phase in between, when the reconstruction cargo starts coming ashore in large numbers," the U.S. general said.
He expected repairs on the south pier, the port’s primary pier before the quake, to be completed about April 10.
Allyn was speaking aboard the USS Carter Hall, a U.S. amphibious warship which played a key role in putting ashore U.S. Marines and heavy earth-moving equipment west of Port-au-Prince in the days following the Jan. 12 earthquake.
After President Barack Obama mobilized U.S. armed forces to assist the Haiti relief effort, U.S. military personnel have carried out a wide variety of roles, ranging from protecting aid distribution and patrolling dangerous slums, to providing medical services and assisting with the complex planning and logistics of the humanitarian operation.
From a peak at one point of about 22,000 U.S. military personnel involved in the Haiti operation, Allyn said the U.S. presence was being adjusted according to the needs of the Haitian government and its relief partners.
"Our footprint is down in the 6,000 range ashore and about 6,000 afloat and obviously we’ll continue to adjust that as the mission requires as we go forward," he said.
"We will remain committed as long as we are needed, as the president of the United States has announced," he added.
The USS Carter Hall, stationed off the coast near Petit Goave and Grand Goave, was pulling back and reloading heavy equipment and other vehicles which had been used to clear debris and assist survivors in Haiti’s western region. (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Shifting debris and twisted metal by hand, Haitian workers backed by Japanese U.N. military engineers on Monday rescued remaining valuable paintings and sculptures from the collapsed rubble of one of Haiti’s most notable art museums.
The workers and U.N. troops were trying to salvage what they could of Haiti’s rich artistic heritage, ravaged by the January 12 earthquake that may have killed up to 300,000 people, according to the country’s president.
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – American Airlines on Friday flew the first commercial passenger flight into Haiti since the January 12 earthquake, reopening major commercial airline links with the quake-hit Caribbean country.
Flight AA 377 from Miami, a Boeing 737 carrying 136 passengers, touched down at Toussaint L’Ouverture airport in Port-au-Prince and taxied up to the terminal, which was damaged in the quake but has been operating with the help of U.S. military engineers and air force controllers.
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Providing shelter for hundreds of thousands of homeless earthquake victims in Haiti jumped to the top of the country’s relief priorities on Thursday after heavy rain turned makeshift survivors’ camps into muddy quagmires.
Several hours of overnight rain, much of it torrential, battered the thousands of crude cloth tents and huts in the quake-shattered capital Port-au-Prince, turning the ground between them to mud and soaking their occupants.