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Sept. 15, 2011 at 10:01 PM
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Boehner to tax panel: No increases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner Thursday took a hard line on the economy, calling on the special debt committee to focus on spending cuts, not tax increases.

In remarks prepared for delivery to the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner, R-Ohio, said it will take a bipartisan effort to fix the economy and get spending under control.

"When it comes to producing savings to reach its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target, the Joint Select Committee has only one option: spending cuts and entitlement reform," Boehner said.

Boehner said he is aware many people have expressed doubt the newly appointed panel will be unable to come up with a plan to trim the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

"The skepticism is understandable. A Joint Select Committee is, after all, no substitute for a president who continues to control most of the arms of government," he said.

Boehner said while it is unlikely the committee will be able to rewrite the tax code by its November deadline, it can lay the groundwork for tax reform that will lower rates for individuals and corporations while closing deductions, credits and "special carveouts."

"Making short-term fixes in exchange for long-term flawed policy is not tax reform," Boehner said. "Tax reform should deal with the whole tax code, both the personal side and the corporate side, and it should result in a code that is simpler and fairer to everyone."

Boehner took a swipe at the jobs bill offered up by President Obama, calling it "a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America."

Boehner said Washington just doesn't understand economics, saying private employers need the right incentives to hire workers.

"I can tell you the American people -- private-sector job creators in particular --- are rattled by what they've seen out of this town over the last few years," Boehner said.

"My worry is that for American job creators, all the uncertainty is turning to fear that this toxic environment for job creation is a permanent state.

"Job creators in America are essentially on strike."

Boehner said action must be taken to restore confidence in the U.S. government.

"There are a few other things I want to mention that we can do in the weeks and months ahead to free our economy and bolster confidence among our job creators," he said.

"One is very simple. Both parties can boost confidence and reassure job creators by being clear: there will be no shutdown of the federal government, and we aren't willing to default on our debt. The United States will meet its obligations to its citizens and to its creditors."

Quakes near Fiji, New Zealand, Cuba, Japan

RESTON, Va., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Earthquakes rumbled near Fiji, New Zealand, Cuba and Japan Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

A 7.3-magnitude quake struck at a depth of 389.1 miles in the Fiji region, the USGS said. The epicenter was about 74 miles south-southwest of Ndoi Island, Fiji, and 1,111 miles north-northeast of Auckland, N.Z.

A 6-magnitude earthquake was recorded east of North Island, New Zealand, about 1,000 miles south of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga, and 2,130 miles southwest of Papeete, Tahiti, in French Polynesia, said the USGS, located in Reston, Va. It was roughly 8 miles below the surface.

A 6-magnitude quake was reported in the Cuba region in the Caribbean Sea, the geological service said. The epicenter of the quake, about 6 miles deep, was 67 miles southwest of Campechuela, Cuba; 77 miles north of Montego Bay, Jamaica; 78 miles north-northwest of Falmouth, Jamaica; 79 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Cuba, and 137 miles northwest of Kingston, Jamaica.

A 6.2-magnitude event struck near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, the USGS said. The quake, about 6 miles deep, was 46 miles east of Mito, 58 miles south-southeast of Iwaki and 97 miles east-northeast of Tokyo.

Maria forecast to pass west of Bermuda

MIAMI, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Maria dumped 1 to 3 inches of rain on Bermuda before taking aim at Newfoundland Thursday, forecasters in Miami said.

Bermuda was under a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning much of the day, as Maria built up maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. EDT advisory. The storm was about 205 miles north-northwest of Bermuda and about 1,025 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, moving north-northeast at 36 mph.

The storm could become a hurricane, but was expected to weaken thereafter, the hurricane center said.

Environment Canada issued a hurricane watch for the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland and a tropical storm warning was in effect for Newfoundland from Arnolds Cove to Jones Harbor.

Maria was expected to shift from present track to a more northeasterly path and increase its forward speed Friday, the center said.

Rain bands from Maria could produce 1-3 inches of rain across Newfoundland, the center said. Coastal flooding was expected where the storm makes landfall.

Judge rules Anthony owes $97K

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Florida Judge Belvin Perry ruled Thursday Casey Anthony must pay more than $97,000 of the cost of the investigation into the death of her daughter, Caylee.

Perry ordered Anthony, acquitted in July in Casey's killing, to pay $61,500 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, $10,300 to the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, $26,000 to the Orange County Sheriff's Office and $50 to the State Attorney's Office, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The total was less than 20 percent of what prosecutors had sought.

Law enforcement officers searched for Caylee Marie Anthony from July 15 to Sept. 29, 2008. The costs enumerated "are reasonably related to the investigative work provided as a result of Defendant providing false information as to the location of her daughter, Caylee Anthony, and making other misrepresentations to law enforcement," Perry wrote.

Failure to pay could lead to the suspension of Anthony's driver's license and a referral to a collection agency, the newspaper said.

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