ILLINOIS: No closing of Chicago locks
Federal officials ruled out closing Chicago-area shipping locks on a regular basis Thursday, saying it probably would not stop dreaded Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes but could damage the local economy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said anything short of permanently closing the two locks was unlikely to make a difference in the battle to prevent the voracious fish from gaining a foothold in Lake Michigan. The decision after months of study dashed the hopes of Michigan and neighboring states, which have unsuccessfully asked the Obama administration, Congress and the Supreme Court to order immediate closure. Supporters fear the locks will provide an easy path to the lakes for bighead and silver carp, which biologists say could starve out native species and ruin the $7-billion fishing industry. Illinois government and business leaders resisted, saying closure would cripple Chicago shippers and tour boat operators while costing the local economy $4.7 billion over two decades.
WASHINGTON: President's role denied
The White House scrambled Thursday to explain new revelations of political deal making, defending attempts to steer state primary races but saying the president was unaware an aide had urged a Colorado Democrat to seek a federal job rather than run. With Republicans denouncing "Chicago-style politics," White House aides mustered a multipronged response. The White House has the right to try to avoid messy Democratic primaries, they said, but Obama leaves the details to underlings. Earlier, the White House had been accused of trying to hush a similar Pennsylvania episode that broke wide open last week.
Obama to visit India
President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he will visit India in early November. Obama spoke during the inaugural U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, a high-level meeting meant to ease Indians' fears that their country is slipping behind rivals China and Pakistan in U.S. interest. "Relations with India are at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as president of the United States," Obama said at a reception at the State Department hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her Indian counterpart, S. M. Krishna, and an array of U.S. and Indian officials.