NEWS OF THE DAY

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION -

_1 Traf­fic deaths: Traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties surged about 8 per­cent in the first nine months of last year, con­tin­u­ing an alarm­ing up­ward spi­ral that be­gan in late 2014, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion es­ti­mates re­leased Fri­day. The in­crease comes at the same time Amer­i­cans are putting more miles on the road than ever, the gov­ern­ment said. But the rise in deaths is out­pac­ing the in­crease in travel. Ve­hi­cle miles trav­eled in the first nine months of 2016 rose about 3 per­cent. There were 1.15 fa­tal­i­ties per 100 mil­lion ve­hi­cle miles trav­eled in the first nine months of 2016, up from 1.10 fa­tal­i­ties dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2015.

_2 Mileage stan­dards: The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency moved Fri­day to ce­ment strict fuel econ­omy re­quire­ments that force the auto in­dus­try to make new cars and trucks sig­nif­i­cantly more ef­fi­cient, a de­ci­sion that will be dif­fi­cult for the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to undo. The EPA said in late Novem­ber that it had com­pleted a re­quired midterm re­view of Cor­po­rate Av­er­age Fuel Econ­omy stan­dards put in place in 2012 and de­cided they should not be re­laxed as re­quested by the auto in­dus­try. The move in the wan­ing days of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion brought protests from the in­dus­try, which ac­cused the agency of play­ing pol­i­tics with a rushed de­ter­mi­na­tion.

_3 Rebel leader plea: With dozens of sup­port­ers pack­ing a Mi­ami fed­eral court­house, a for­mer Haitian coup leader and re­cent sen­a­tor-elect pleaded not guilty Fri­day to decade-old U.S. drug traf­fick­ing charges. Guy Philippe en­tered the plea to a three-count co­caine smug­gling and money-laun­der­ing con­spir­acy in­dict­ment dat­ing to 2005 that car­ries a max­i­mum life prison sen­tence. Philippe, 48, was flown to the U.S. to face the charges af­ter his ar­rest last week in the Haitian cap­i­tal of Port-auPrince. A leader of the 2004 coup that top­pled then-Pres­i­dent Jean-Ber­trand Aris­tide, Philippe had re­cently been elected to the Haitian Se­nate and was days away from be­ing sworn in when he was ar­rested.

_4 Space walk: The In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion’s so­lar power grid got three more top-of-the-line bat­ter­ies Fri­day dur­ing the se­cond space­walk in a week. NASA con­trollers in Cape Canaveral de­scribe the lithium-ion bat­ter­ies as crit­i­cal up­grades to the space sta­tion’s so­lar power sys­tem. Eigh­teen more need to be in­stalled over the next two to three years, for a to­tal of 24. The new bat­ter­ies can hold more charge and keep it longer.

_5 Pay­ment in pen­nies: A Vir­ginia man used 300,000 pen­nies to pay sales tax on two cars at the Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles. Nick Stafford de­liv­ered five wheel­bar­rows full of change, mostly pen­nies, at the DMV of­fice in Le­banon on Wed­nes­day. The coins weighed in at 1,600 pounds. Stafford said he paid in coins to “in­con­ve­nience” the DMV. Stafford was up­set be­cause he was un­able to find out the di­rect num­ber to the Le­banon DMV un­til fil­ing a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest. He later sued the state be­cause he says he was de­nied di­rect phone num­bers to other DMV of­fices in his area.

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