Obama supports driverless vehicles

The president has signed off on a largely hands-off approach to federal regulation, his transportation chief says.

Automated cars have the backing of President Obama, who’s signed off on what’s largely been a hands-off approach to regulating the burgeoning industry, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says.

The U.S. is allowing road trials by the likes of Alphabet Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. because real-world testing is critical to the technology’s acceptance, and for companies and regulators to understand its potential, Foxx said in an interview Saturday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week released guidelines for the industry that stopped short of offering prescriptive rules that car and tech companies have to follow.

“The president is a techie at heart,” Foxx said in Karuizawa, Japan, while attending a meeting of G7 transport ministers. Foxx said Obama has given him “wide latitude” in figuring out “how to improve mobility, raise the level of safety and create more choice and equity in how transportation is accessible to people.”

The Obama administration’s embrace of the technology stands in contrast with the approach taken by China, which surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market in 2009. The government warned automakers in July against testing their self-driving vehicles before regulations are finalized. That’s been a setback to companies including Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Baidu Inc. and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., which have urged China’s government to speed up its rule-making process.

“Real-world testing will teach manufacturers as well as us regulators more about what works well and what doesn’t work well” and is a “critical part of the path to autonomous vehicle acceptance,” Foxx said. “We also believe that can be done with a high relative level of safety.”

Alphabet’s Google self-driving car program racked up about 1.97 million miles of autonomous-mode testing near its Mountain View, California, headquarters and three other U.S. cities through August. Uber last month started allowing customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicles capable of automated driving.

The technology hasn’t entirely escaped scrutiny. NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety board are investigating a May 7 fatal crash involving Tesla Motors Inc.’s Autopilot driver-assist system. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said a software update introduced this month may have been able to prevent the death of the driver.

Highway fatalities climbed by 7.2 percent, the highest one-year increase in almost half a century, to 35,092 last year, according to the Transportation Department.

While NHTSA has emphasized the potential of automated vehicles, the hands-off approach may not stay for good. NHTSA said within its guidelines last week that it may eventually seek authority for a pre-market approval system, in which the regulator would have to sign off on the safety of automated vehicles before they’re sold.

This would be a “wholesale structural change” from the existing regulatory approach, in which automakers self-certify the safety of their cars, the agency said.

“There’s obviously an issue around acceptance and trusting the technology, and one way perhaps that the confidence level can be increased is by having more rigor on the front end of a product coming into the marketplace,” Foxx said. “It’s certainly a question we felt strongly enough needed to be placed in the document.”

Commentary: Golf was lucky to have a man like Palmer

Arnold Palmer was a great player, but the way he treated people is how he will be remembered.

As the statements poured out in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s death on Sunday night – ranging from 23-year-old Jordan Spieth to 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus to the President of the United States – I was struck by one thing: Almost no one said anything about Palmer’s golf.

It was all about the man.

Palmer, who was 87 when he died in a Pittsburgh hospital, was a great player: a seven-time major champion who won 62 times on the PGA Tour, fifth on the career list. But Palmer wasn’t one of the most iconic athletes of the past 100 years because of what he did on the golf course, but because of what he did off the golf course.

No one understood and embraced the responsibilities of stardom the way Arnold Palmer did. No one ever signed more autographs – never a scrawl, but a very clear signature. No one was more accessible or open with the media – all media, ranging from TV networks to high school kids – who wanted to ask a few questions.

Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the greatest players in golf history. Palmer was the most important: He made golf a sport for TV, for corporate America and for millions of fans – his “army.”

Palmer had an almost unique gift: He could make anyone he was talking to feel as if they were the most important person he had ever met. Everyone who ever met Palmer has a story about their first encounter.

Here’s mine: In 1994, while researching, “A Good Walk Spoiled,” I asked Doc Giffin, Palmer’s right-hand man for 53 years, whether Palmer might have some time to talk during the annual PGA Tour event he hosted at Bay Hill. The next day, Doc asked me if I could go to Arnold’s house for breakfast later in the week.

When we shook hands at the front door, Palmer said, “So, Doc tells me you went to Duke.”

I said that was correct. Palmer smiled, shook his head and said, “So, I guess you couldn’t get into Wake Forest.”

His alma mater . . . of course.

Two hours later, he had supplied me with enough material for several chapters.

Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I thanked him for his time, his hospitality and for breakfast.

“You got enough?” he asked. “I’m going down to my workshop to work on some clubs if you want to stick around a while longer.”

That became another 90 minutes.

Palmer did that for everyone.

More than anything, Palmer always understood that fame and fortune aren’t a one-way street. Prior to the 1997 Masters, Palmer took Tiger Woods to lunch in the champion’s locker room at Augusta National. Woods was still a few days away from his first Masters victory – so Palmer hosted him.

Woods was singing a song that went something like, “It’s just not fair. I can’t be a normal 21-year-old.”

“You’re right,” Palmer said. “Normal 21-year-olds don’t have $50 million in the bank.”

Palmer always connected with young players. As with Woods, he never coddled them. He told them exactly what he thought about their games, the way they behaved, even the way they looked.

In 1996, when Paul Goydos won at Bay Hill – and thus qualified for the Masters – he asked Palmer during the awards ceremony if he could play a practice round with him at Augusta.

“Only if you lose that ridiculous beard,” Palmer said. “You look awful.”

Goydos lost the beard and asked that it be air-brushed out of his champions portrait that hangs in the Bay Hill clubhouse. “I didn’t want Mr. Palmer to walk by it and think I looked ridiculous,” he said.

This past March, a number of players changed their schedules to play Bay Hill because they knew Palmer was ill and it might be their last chance to pay tribute.

Twenty-five years ago, Palmer made the cut at Bay Hill – for the final time – at the age of 61. That night, Peter Jacobsen went to a bakery and asked for a sheet cake for 100 people.

“I need it first thing in the morning,” Jacobsen said.

“Monday is the earliest I can do it,” the baker said.

“It’s for Arnold Palmer.”

“We open at 8 tomorrow. Is that soon enough?”

When Jacobsen presented the cake to Palmer that afternoon during a rain delay with the entire field in the locker room, Palmer cried. Then he cut a piece for every player.

“I cried because Peter and all the guys were saying to me that I was still one of them,” Palmer said. “That meant a lot.”

He never stopped being one of them.

On a searingly hot June day in 1994, Palmer played his last U.S. Open round. He was clearly exhausted coming down the stretch, but it never stopped him from returning every wave, every, ‘go Arnie,’ every cheer of any kind, with a smile, a wave, a “thanks,” or “how’s it going?” Every one of those people got a look in the eye and the famous smile.

They all could go home and told their friends, “Arnold Palmer said hello to me today.”

Because he did.

As Palmer walked up the 18th fairway that afternoon, many players came out of the clubhouse to stand behind the green and join the throngs. On the 10th tee – adjacent to the green –players refused to tee off so they could watch.

When Palmer made his final putt, playing partner Rocco Mediate, like Palmer a blue-collar kid from western Pennsylvania, leaned down, pointed at the thousands around the green and said softly, “All this is because of you.”

A few minutes later, when Palmer came into a packed interview room, he was overcome by tears on several occasions. He tried to talk – and stopped. He tried again – and stopped. Finally, he stood to leave. Every single person in the room jumped to their feet and applauded.

It was completely unprofessional. No cheering the press box. And yet, it was absolutely the right thing to do because no one ever did more for the media than Palmer.

A handful of us trailed him back to the locker room. There, he composed himself and talked for another 20 minutes.

“I shot 81 today,” he said softly. “I was terrible. In any other sport, I’d have been booed – should have been booed. Instead, I get cheered.”

He paused for a moment. “How lucky have I been to have played this game for all these years?”

Actually, the luck was ours.

Dexter Girls Soccer 0 at Orono 6

At Orono, Brinsley Chasse had two goals to lead the Red Riots past the Tigers. Becky Lopez-Anido had a goal and three assists while Leah Ruck, Elise Kenney and Daphney Murphy added goals for Orono. Becca Gallant had two assists. Maggie Coutts had three saves on five shots. Reaghan Patterson …

At Orono, Brinsley Chasse had two goals to lead the Red Riots past the Tigers. Becky Lopez-Anido had a goal and three assists while Leah Ruck, Elise Kenney and Daphney Murphy added goals for Orono. Becca Gallant had two assists. Maggie Coutts had three saves on five shots. Reaghan Patterson …

Arnold Palmer won over Maine fans as he won at Purpoodock in 1986

The golf legend, who died Sunday, added to Arnie’s Army in a victory at the Unionmutual Seniors Golf Classic that included eagles all three days on the 16th hole.

CAPE ELIZABETH — Thirty years ago Arnold Palmer could still strike the ball with the best players on the Senior PGA Tour. Putting was the problem. Palmer wasn’t about to change his famous knock-kneed style after winning 62 PGA events, seven majors and nine more titles on the Senior Tour.

Instead, he changed putters. At least that’s what he was doing at Purpoodock Club in 1986 before the third round of the Unionmutual Seniors Golf Classic, according to club member Jonathan Grogan.

“The pro then, Bryce Roberts, obviously had a bunch of putters sitting around and Arnold would grab a handful of putters and he would go out to the practice green with five different putters,” said Grogan, 57. “He’d take a few putts with these five different putters and then decide which one would get auditioned for the day. So here he is leading the tournament and he’s got all these different putters he’s trying out.”

Palmer, who died Sunday at the age of 87, must have found the right putter (or putters) that weekend.

Palmer earned what would be his next-to-last tournament victory and $38,000 at Purpoodock Club on Sept. 28, 1986, besting an invitational field of top senior professionals by three shots with rounds of 65-67-68 and gaining new fans to Arnie’s Army.

“I was always a Jack Nicklaus fan because I was too young when Arnold was at his peak,” Grogan said. “And then when I saw him play out here and saw how he reacted and how he interacted with the crowds, you could see it in two seconds. He was amazing. He just had a way of looking at people that made everyone think he was looking right at them. People talk about charisma or however you describe it but he had it. The crowd loved him and he loved them.”

Palmer, who had gone nearly two years without a victory, acknowledged the estimated crowd of over 10,000 that packed the tight layout.

“The fans in his area have been fantastic,” Palmer told television station WCSH that day. “They showed up in force and I think that is great.”

Current Purpoodock pro Tony Decker was in the throng, a teenager who had been newly introduced to golf.

“He just seemed to have a presence about him and really was engaging with the gallery and it seemed like people were always rooting for him,” Decker said. “In a sport where you never root against anybody, people were definitely pulling for him.”

Palmer didn’t disappoint. He played aggressively, intent on expanding his first-round lead.

Palmer eagled the par-5 16th hole all three days. That feat is now commemorated by a bronze plaque beside the 16th tee, which was dedicated in 2005 with approval from Palmer. The current plaque is actually the second one that was completed.

Grogan said the first attempt had a profile image of Palmer that did not do him justice and the manufacturer agreed to make a second one

“When he played at Purpoodock he was still dashing even though he was getting up there in years,” said Tom Chard, the former longtime Portland Press Herald golf writer who covered the event. “He had the swagger still and obviously he could still play a lick.”

Palmer’s most memorable shot in the final round was his second on the newly reconfigured par-5 second hole.

“It wasn’t an ideal position but it was far enough back for him to go over the trees,” Chard said. “He put it on the green and he was on in two, which is kind of unheard of.”

“The safe shot is to wedge it up and go for birdie. He’s looking at it, looking at it, and he takes his 4-wood out and drives it right over this big oak tree and onto the green,” Grogan said. “The crowd went crazy and he was just fired up.”

Palmer missed his eagle putt by an inch. After the round he explained his decision.

“If I had dumped the ball in the middle of the trees I would have been in trouble. I knew I could hit the shot that was required,” Palmer said. “Like I said before, the idea is to get as big a lead as possible. That’s the best way to do it.”

The Unionmutual tournament, which was not affiliated with the Senior PGA Tour, was held for three years, 1984-86. It was the brainchild of then club president Ralph “Bud” Deangelis and Colin Hampton, an avid golfer and the president of Union Mutual. The tournament invited top senior pros and rewarded the top salespeople at Union Mutual (now Unum) with the opportunity to play in a pro-am.

Palmer played all three years.

“The first year it was a match play tournament and Palmer lost in the first round so he was out after a day. He was obviously the draw,” Chard said. “The next year they went to three rounds of stroke play to insure Arnold stayed all three days.”

After the pros’ first visit in 1984, tournament organizers encouraged the course to change the aforementioned second hole from a par 4 to a par 5.

“The pros wanted a par 5 on the front nine, which the members did, too,” Grogan said. “In the process they also turned a weak third hole into a good third hole. It was really a win-win for the course.

Standing next to the 16th tee Monday, Decker noted that 30 years ago to the day was the opening round of Palmer’s Purpoodock win.

“Not only did he shape the game but, in a certain way, just his presence here shaped our golf course,” Decker said.

 

Story of 5-year-old living in Portland woods prompts flood of offers to help

Dozens of readers of the Maine Sunday Telegram article offer the girl’s family clothes, toys, furniture and other support.

The story of a 5-year-old girl living in Portland’s woods prompted dozens of readers of the Maine Sunday Telegram to offer her family clothes, toys, furniture and other support.

Jason Libby, a 40-year-old Windham resident, has twin 6-year-old girls and a 4-year-old son and was among those seeking a way to help Arianna and her family Monday. Libby said he was moved to tears by the story, which he read shortly after putting his kids to sleep.

“My kids are about the same age. I was thinking about all the things we do every day that’s so easy because we have a home,” Libby said, noting how Arianna was unable to brush her teeth in the woods because they didn’t have water. “It was really hard for me to think of this little girl not having these things.”

Sally Richardson, a 67-year-old grandmother who lives in Stonington, said she couldn’t help but think of her four grandchildren.

“The mother and father appear to be trying. There’s all kinds of obstacles in their way, but they’re trying,” Richardson said. “This child is an innocent child.”

Many readers wondered how society could allow children to be homeless. “It was … infuriating and sad when I read that,” Richardson said.

While some readers said they wanted to ask the family how they can help, others hoped to make specific gifts, such as a bed or toys, for Arianna. The offers were being referred directly to the family.

Meanwhile, Arianna’s family continues to settle into a new apartment in Auburn, where she is enjoying kindergarten. Her mother, Chrissy Chavez, is looking for work while Chavez’s boyfriend, Troy Jethro, is now working nights in a nearby warehouse to support the family.

In the last two weeks, the family has received a small dining room table and a dresser, which all three share, Chavez said.

Otherwise, they are still without furniture. “We’re picking up little pieces here and there when we can,” she said.

Chavez said she had never been homeless before coming to Maine during the summer. She was surprised by the stigma associated with homeless people here, and hoped her family’s story would reduce that stigma.

“I’m glad it is affecting people in a positive way. That’s the only reason I’m comfortable with this,” Chavez said. “No matter what the situation, you have the right to be treated the same way as another person.”

Arianna is excited to go to school every day, her 38-year-old mom said. Jethro bought her a pet guinea pig, named Rosie.

“Arianna is loving school now,” Chavez said. “She got her little friends. She’s doing excellent now.”

The family came to Portland from Florida looking for a new start. Jethro, who is 34 and finished a three-year prison sentence for felony drug offenses in 2014, said he was looking to escape a life of drug abuse so he could be a father to Arianna. They chose Maine because Jethro planned to get a job on a lobster boat. That never happened and they were kicked out of an apartment they had been renting because the building had been sold.

After losing their Portland apartment, the family went to the city’s homeless shelter, which is frequently overcrowded. At the time, one of the city’s overflow shelters was an office, where fire codes required people to sit in chairs all night. That practice has since been changed and city officials are looking to revamp their shelter services.

Jethro was issued a no-trespass order when he complained about the conditions and made a video, violating shelter privacy rules.

The family ended up living with dozens of other homeless people in an illegal encampment behind Lowe’s on Brighton Avenue. As police planned to clear the encampment last month, the family secured housing in Auburn with the help of a state social worker and a tiny nonprofit, the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance.

Local sports results for Sept. 26, 2016

Results Monday’s Results GIRLS SOCCER Bangor Christian 3, Schenck 1 Bucksport 5, Mattanawcook Acad. 0 Hodgdon 5, Shead 1 Piscataquis 2, Penquis 2 BOYS SOCCER Ellsworth 2, Old Town 1 Woodland 6, Narraguagus 3 FIELD HOCKEY Dexter 6, Orono 2 Piscataquis 1, John Bapst 0 Sunday’s Results COLLEGE MEN’S SOCCER …

Results Monday’s Results GIRLS SOCCER Bangor Christian 3, Schenck 1 Bucksport 5, Mattanawcook Acad. 0 Hodgdon 5, Shead 1 Piscataquis 2, Penquis 2 BOYS SOCCER Ellsworth 2, Old Town 1 Woodland 6, Narraguagus 3 FIELD HOCKEY Dexter 6, Orono 2 Piscataquis 1, John Bapst 0 Sunday’s Results COLLEGE MEN’S SOCCER …

Stocks slump on worry over Deutsche Bank

A report from a German magazine says the bank won’t get a bailout if it asks for one.

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks slumped Monday, and banks took the biggest losses. Deutsche Bank plunged as investors worried about the financial health of Germany’s largest bank. Pfizer pulled drugmakers down after it announced it won’t break up into two companies.

Stocks fell for the second day in a row. Banks were hurt by a drop in bond yields, which means lower interest rates and smaller profits on loans. Consumer companies fell as home improvement retailers were affected by a slowdown in sales of new homes.

European banks tumbled after the German magazine Focus said Deutsche Bank won’t get a government bailout if it asks for one.

“There’s some stress in the banking industry there, and questions about whether governments have the will to step in,” said Steve Chiavarone, associated portfolio manager for Federated Investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 166.62 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,094.83. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 18.59 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,146.10. The Nasdaq composite dropped 48.26 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,257.49. Stocks are coming off two weeks of solid gains, and the Nasdaq set all-time highs twice last week.

TV, radio sports schedule for Sept. 27, 2016

BASEBALL, MAJOR LEAGUE NY YANKEES at BOSTON, 7 p.m., NESN-TV; ESPN2-TV; WZON Bangor 620 AM, WDEA Ellsworth (1370 AM), WHOU Houlton (100.1 FM), WQDY Calais (92.7 FM), WYBA Rockland (105.5 FM), WKTJ Farmington (99.3 FM), WALZ Machias (95.3 FM), WLOB Portland (1310 AM), WJJB Portland (96.3 FM), WPEI Portland/Saco (95.9 …

BASEBALL, MAJOR LEAGUE NY YANKEES at BOSTON, 7 p.m., NESN-TV; ESPN2-TV; WZON Bangor 620 AM, WDEA Ellsworth (1370 AM), WHOU Houlton (100.1 FM), WQDY Calais (92.7 FM), WYBA Rockland (105.5 FM), WKTJ Farmington (99.3 FM), WALZ Machias (95.3 FM), WLOB Portland (1310 AM), WJJB Portland (96.3 FM), WPEI Portland/Saco (95.9 …

Monday’s harness racing

Harness racing Cumberland Fair Monday’s results First, Pace, $2,200 1. Cyclone Artist, W. Campbell 4.00-2.80-2.20 2. Youragambler’sson, Mm. Athearn 6.80-2.40 5. Rambling Jet, G. Mosher 2.80 T-1:58; Qu. 1-2, $4.40; Ex. 1-2, $10.80; Tri. 1-2-5, $10.60 Second, Pace, $2,000 6. Putnams Kream, G. Mosher 19.60-7.80 1. Vicky Killean, W. Campbell …

Harness racing Cumberland Fair Monday’s results First, Pace, $2,200 1. Cyclone Artist, W. Campbell 4.00-2.80-2.20 2. Youragambler’sson, Mm. Athearn 6.80-2.40 5. Rambling Jet, G. Mosher 2.80 T-1:58; Qu. 1-2, $4.40; Ex. 1-2, $10.80; Tri. 1-2-5, $10.60 Second, Pace, $2,000 6. Putnams Kream, G. Mosher 19.60-7.80 1. Vicky Killean, W. Campbell …

Tom Caron: Red Sox barreling down the road and into the playoffs

Boston, poised to clinch the AL East, has the major leagues’ best road record since the All-Star break.

The Boston Red Sox are streaking into the playoffs. They’ve won 11 straight games and are making a mockery of the American League East race, clinching a playoff spot on Saturday night.

The next goal in sight for the Sox is the AL East title. They could clinch it as early as Tuesday night. That’s an important step for a team hoping to play deep into October. Winning the division means you get to avoid the one-game wild-card elimination game that kicks off the playoffs. Win the East and you can map out your plans for a best-of-five American League Division Series, which starts Oct. 6.

Since Major League Baseball added a second wild-card team in 2012, three of the four AL teams that won the wild-card game went on to lose in the division series. That would stand to reason since a wild-card team would undoubtedly use its top pitcher in that game, making him unavailable for the first two games of the ALDS.

This week, the Red Sox also will battle with Texas and Cleveland for the best record in the American League – and home-field advantage throughout the World Series.

Not that they need it. The Sox have won 11 of 12 games on the road, and have the best road record in baseball since the All-Star break at 27-14. That’s a remarkable .650 winning percentage. Boston is 7-0 on its current 10-game trip.

This team has come together on the road. The Sox faced a daunting schedule in the final two months of the season. This week they’ll wrap up a stretch of 29 of 42 games away from home.

The Red Sox have steadfastly refused to talk about the playoffs. Even after clinching their spot – a remarkable achievement, considering they had finished in last place the past two years – the Sox refused to even raise a glass for a toast. They have their sights set firmly on the bigger prizes ahead.

They’ve got a real chance to accomplish their goals. For the past three weeks this team has been as good as any in baseball. The Sox have the lowest bullpen ERA of any team in MLB, their starters have the lowest ERA in the AL since July 9, and the offense has scored the most runs in baseball.

And they are developing the swagger a team needs to succeed in October. During their winning streak they have rallied to win five games when trailing after five innings. They are a confident group. They believe in themselves, believe they can rally from a deficit at any time.

New England believes in them, too. This team has won over the region after two disappointing seasons.

Baseball is back in Boston – and it may be back for a while.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.