TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 1 (UPI) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declined to appoint the medical examiner who autopsied the body of Anna Nicole Smith in 2007 to another term in office.
Scott said Wednesday he would not reappoint Dr. Joshua Perper, who has been Broward County’s chief medical examiner for 17 years, The Miami Herald reported. Scott asked the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, which recommended Perper’s reappointment, to forward him more names.
Perper, 78, has handled a number of high-profile cases. He became a celebrity after Smith — a former Playmate of the Year, model, actress and television personality — died in Broward County. Perper determined she was killed by an overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate and other medications.
In a high-profile embarrassment in 2009, Perper’s office ruled that Bernice Novack, 87, the widow of the owner of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, had died accidentally in a fall. The death was reclassified as a homicide after Novack’s daughter-in-law, Narcy, was charged with killing her husband.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Thursday agreed on a date for the president to address a joint session of Congress on jobs.
Initially, the White House had said the president would speak to Congress Sept. 7 but Boehner’s office said that would not work and the two sides agreed late Wednesday to shift the appearance to Sept. 8.
Boehner’s office announced Thursday it had formally invited Obama to speak to a joint session of Congress Sept. 8, and the White House subsequently said Obama has accepted
“After consulting with the Speaker’s office, the President has accepted an invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress at 7pm on Thursday, September 8th,” the White House said in a statement.
Wednesday’s back and forth on the issue dominated much of the White House press corps’s focus during Thursday’s daily briefing with administration spokesman Jay Carney, who characterized press interest in the matter as an “obsession” and called the controversy a “sideshow.”
“Our focus from the beginning was to have the president have the opportunity to speak to the American people and to Congress, in front of Congress, at the soonest possible date upon Congress’ return from its long recess,” Carney said in answer to one of numerous questions during the briefing. “Wednesday seemed to be the best option. When that wasn’t available — or when that seemed to be a problem, Thursday was fine with us.”
Asked whether the dickering over scheduling suggested the president and Congress could not come up with a plan for expanding employment, Carney said “the sideshows don’t matter. The economy matters.”
GRAVEVINE, Texas, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Thousands of fish were killed in a Texas lake this week by a combination of high temperatures and low water and oxygen levels, wildlife officials say.
The total number of fish killed in Lake Grapevine, a few miles northwest of Dallas, was about 124,000, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. Biologists said they died Monday and Tuesday when the high temperature at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport hit 103 degrees, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Biologist Melissa Dudley said almost all the casualties were threadfin shad, a 6-inch fish often used for bait. She said sampling of the dead fish found that less than 1 percent were game fish like smallmouth bass.
Tom Hungerford, a fisheries biologist, said the water temperature hit about 91 degrees Tuesday. As water heats up, it holds less dissolved oxygen, and the water level in the lake is also down more than 3 feet because of the prolonged drought.
BRIGHAM CITY, Utah, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A wildfire in northwest Utah grew to 5,000 acres but was about 55 percent contained Thursday afternoon, fire officials said.
The Maple Canyon fire in Box Elder County was reported Wednesday evening and is believed to have been caused by lightning.
Jason Curry, a spokesman for the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said the fire gave the state a chance to test the effectiveness of “green strips” around buildings, The Deseret News reported. Utah has been working with private landowners in Box Elder County to plant areas around buildings with plants that hold water and thus burn more slowly.
Curry said the strips probably saved a ranch house and its outbuildings.
“If it were not for those green strips it would be right up against the ranch house,” he said.
Utah and neighboring states have been having one of their worst fire seasons ever this year. In Utah, 852 fires had been reported as of Monday, with lightning blamed for about 50 percent of them.
Several small fires in southern Utah were reported at or near containment Thursday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Trails in Zion National Park were closed as a precaution.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — President Barack Obama plans a quick trip to Detroit for Labor Day, his office announced Thursday.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will make the trip with the president, who plans to discuss jobs initiatives with “workers and their families,” the White House said.
Aretha Franklin and the Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit are to serve as the president’s warm-up acts.
Obama plans to spend much of the weekend traveling. On Sunday, he is to visit Paterson, N.J., which was devastated by flooding following Hurricane Irene.
TORONTO, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A small amount of suspected marijuana was found in the belongings of a Toronto city bus driver involved in a deadly crash this week, police said Thursday.
Detective Carl Anderson told 680 News the substance was found in the driver’s compartment of the Toronto Transit Commission bus hours after the Tuesday crash that killed one woman and injured 13 others.
The substance was being tested, he said. The TTC said the driver has been suspended pending results from the police and the commission’s own disciplinary investigation.
Anderson said the bus driver — whose name has not been released — wasn’t tested for drugs immediately after the crash, as there was no indication of impairment. He said video footage from four cameras on the bus initially indicated the bus struck the back of a large truck carrying a construction crane, but the investigation into the collision was not complete.
A 43-year-old woman who recently immigrated to Canada was killed, six others were seriously injured and six others suffered broken noises, facial and dental injuries, the reports said.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — The U.S. budget deficit this year will be 20 percent lower than previously estimated but economic growth will be “slower than we like,” the White House said.
In a report called the Mid-Session Review, the Office of Management and Budget said tax receipts have been stronger than anticipated and government spending has been reduced, leading to a forecast deficit for the year of $1.316 trillion — down from earlier estimates of $1.645 trillion, but still a record high annual deficit.
In a conference call with reporters OMB Director Jack Lew said Thursday his agency’s report “underscores that we need to get back on a sustainable fiscal path, and that we also need to invest in long-term economic growth and job creation,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The OMB report indicates that, as a result of the debt limit deal agreed to this summer in Washington — and the expectation of further federal spending cuts — projected annual deficits will be lower for the remainder this decade, the newspaper said.
Katharine Abraham, a member of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said no double-dip recession is in the forecast but growth in the gross domestic product will be modest.
“Although growth is slower than we like, we are still forecasting slow and steady growth,” Abraham said.
The OMB report said unemployment nationally will likely average 8.8 percent in 2011 and 8.3 percent by 2012.
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A magnitude-4.3 earthquake rumbled through the Los Angeles area Thursday but there were no initial reports of property damage, authorities said.
The quake — at 1:47 p.m. PDT — was followed by a magnitude 3.0 aftershock less than hour later.
The quake was centered near Newhall, north of Los Angeles, but was felt across the LA area, the Los Angeles Times reported. Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Savage told the newspaper the department not had any calls for assistance.
There were no reports initially of property damage resulting from the quake, the Times said.
CHARLOTTE, Tenn., Sept. 1 (UPI) — The mother of a woman who died during a stay at a Tennessee drug treatment center says crowding and understaffing at New Life Lodge helped kill her daughter.
A lawsuit filed in Dickson County this week names both New Life and its parent company, CRC Health, which is headquartered in California, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.
Lindsey Poteet, 29, of Monterey, Tenn., died Sept. 1, 2010, after she was transferred from New Life to a hospital in Nashville. She had checked in to New Life Aug. 4.
Her mother, Kathy Mauk, says New Life employees delayed giving her medication for two days after an antibiotic was prescribed. When the decision was made to hospitalize her, employees sent her by van to Nashville 30 miles away instead of Horizon Medical Center, 8 miles from New Life.
“Financial gain was placed ahead of the welfare of New Life Lodge’s residents including Lindsey Poteet,” Mauk’s lawyer said in his complaint.
Randal Lea, director of operations at New Life, said he was waiting for “all sides of this matter to come to light.”
New Life is expected to face another lawsuit from the family of Patrick Bryant of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. He died last year on his 20th birthday.
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 1 (UPI) — Casey Anthony must provide videotaped testimony in the defamation suit against her, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.
Minutes from a hearing at the Orange County Courthouse indicate motions from the parties in the suit could result in the video and the transcript being sealed from public view, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Anthony is being sued by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, who claims Anthony ruined her reputation.
Anthony, 25, had told Orange County investigators in 2008 her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, had been kidnapped by a nanny with that name. No such nanny existed and Anthony’s defense attorney said during her trial she had made up the kidnapping story.
The trial is expected to take about 10 days, the Sentinel said.
A jury acquitted Anthony in July of murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter charges. She was convicted of four counts of lying to law enforcement officials.
Anthony began serving probation last week on check-fraud charges. Her attorneys have not said where she is, and the Florida Department of Corrections is keeping her location secret to protect her safety.