Judge approves Obama library plans

CHICAGO — Plans to build Barack Obama’s $500 million presidential center in a lakefront Chicago park can move forward, a federal judge said Tuesday, adding that a written ruling dismissing a park advocacy group’s lawsuit would follow.

After hearing oral arguments, U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey said there should be “no delay in construction.”

The state-of-the-art center — to include a recording studio, classroom space and public library branch — was supposed to open in 2021 in Jackson Park. It’s located along Lake Michigan and close to where the former president started his political career and later lived with his family.

Protect Our Parks argued the city illegally transferred land for a park to The Obama Foundation, a private entity overseeing construction of the center. City lawyers accused the group of exaggerating potential environmental problems, misreading the law and misrepresenting how the approval works.

Jury selected for scholar’s murder trial

PEORIA — A jury has been selected in the trial of a former graduate student accused of kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China.

A federal judge in Peoria told jurors to return today for opening statements. Brendt Christensen could be sentenced to death if convicted in the 2017 slaying of Ying- ying Zhang, whose body hasn’t been found.

The case is a rare instance of the U.S. Justice Department seeking the death penalty in one of the more than 20 states that doesn’t have capital punishment. Federal law allows executions for exceptional crimes.

Open valves led to ammonia leak

BEACH PARK — Federal investigators say open valves on farm fertilizer tanks apparently led to a serious ammonia leak that injured 41 people in April.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the anhydrous ammonia spill in Beach Park, near the Wisconsin border.

The NTSB said a hazardous-materials team from Lake Forest found some valves were fully open on a pair of 1,000-gallon tanks, which were being pulled by a tractor. The ammonia release stopped when a valve was closed. Investigators plan to examine the valves at a laboratory in Washington.

The NTSB said the loaded tanks were picked up at a farm cooperative in Kansasville, Wis., about 30 miles from the accident scene.

Marine’s remains found after crash

TREMONT, Ill. — Authorities say the remains of a central Illinois Marine have been recovered, months after he died in a plane crash off Japan’s southern coast.

Cpl. Daniel Baker, of Tremont, was one of six Marines who died in the Dec. 6 crash. The 21-year-old was aboard a refueling plane that collided with a fighter jet.

The Marine Corps said Baker’s remains were found during a salvage operation conducted from May 27 through June 7. In a written statement, the Marines expressed “deepest sympathy for all affected by this tragedy.”

Baker was a 2015 graduate of Tremont High School.

Catholic church holding street Masses

CHICAGO — A Catholic church is holding a series of weekday Masses in Chicago streets to promote peace.

The first Mass by St. Agnes of Bohemia Church was held Tuesday night in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Another is planned for tonight. The 7 p.m. service will mostly be twice a week through July 16.

The Rev. Don Nevins said the Masses are an “opportunity to pray for the end of violence and ... a continued push for peace.” Children will receive a special blessing.

Mobile home park residents evacuated

EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU — Residents of a mobile home park in southern Illinois have been evacuated due to the high level of the Mississippi River.

An order was issued Monday night in East Cape Girardeau. Electricity was cut off Tuesday. Members of the Illinois National Guard are building sandbag barriers.

The Associated Press

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