David Schaper

David Schaper is a NPR National Desk reporter based in Chicago.

In this role, he covers news in Chicago and around the Midwest. Additionally he reports on a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region.

The range of Schaper's reporting has included profiles of service members killed in Iraq, and members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools.

In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business.

When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. Additionally, he served as a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM in Springfield, IL; and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, WI; and at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM in in Illinois.

Schaper earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an Master of Arts from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Our cars and trucks are being made with more safety features. New technologies such as lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, vehicle stabilizers and anti-lock brakes can, and do, save lives.

Yet more people are dying on the nation's roadways — nearly 18,000 in the first six months of this year. That's a huge jump of 10.4 percent over the same time period in 2015, and it's part of a disturbing trend, according to federal officials, because traffic fatalities rose significantly last year, too.

Many travelers have resigned themselves to paying $25 or more to check a bag when flying. But that fee becomes especially onerous when the bag doesn't show up on the carousel at baggage claim.

The White House is proposing a new rule that would require airlines to refund the checked baggage fee if luggage is "substantially delayed," though it does not define "substantially."

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The U.S. Department of Transportation released a statistic on Wednesday that should surprise no one who flies: In the first six months of the year, nearly 1 in every 5 flights was delayed.

Flights can be delayed for reasons ranging from bad weather to mechanical problems, but airlines know delays are a problem.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's a warm and muggy summer afternoon in Chicago, but that doesn't seem to bother the kids clamoring to ride the Ferris wheel, the Rock-O-Plane and other carnival rides set up in this southwest suburban park.

At the annual Chicago Fraternal Order of Police summer picnic, city cops and their families hauled in coolers and set up grills to enjoy food and bond with brothers and sisters in blue.

But there's something hanging over this picnic: the stress and strain of the job, and the scrutiny that many here say is harsher than ever.

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A record number of Americans are dying by accident and increasingly because of fatal overdoses and falls, and not so much in car crashes.

A new report from the National Safety Council shows more than 136,000 people in the U.S. died accidentally in 2014, the highest number ever recorded. That's an increase of 4.2 percent from the year before and 15.5 percent more than a decade ago.

The higher accidental death rate is being fueled in large part by the opioid and heroin epidemic.

Illinois lawmakers may soon vote to eliminate the state's statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes.

The move comes in response to the 15-month sentence given last month to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Although Hastert admitted molesting teenage boys he coached decades ago, he could only be sentenced for a financial crime related to his efforts to pay one of his victims millions of dollars in hush money to cover up the crime.

In Chicago, one neighborhood's rat problem is about to get a lot worse.

Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats' worst enemies instead — cats.

Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem

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Chicago is having a bloody year.

Already since January, more than 100 people have been murdered in the city — double the number of homicides in Chicago during the first two months last year. The number of shooting incidents is also up by 120 percent compared to the first nine weeks of 2015.

The spike in violent crime comes at a time when the police in Chicago are under increased scrutiny for misconduct.

Amid low gas prices and a stronger economy, Americans are driving more than ever before, with new federal government figures showing traffic volumes are at an all-time high.

However, there is a downside to this resurgence of driving: increased traffic congestion and pollution.

New data from the Federal Highway Administration show that Americans drove a record 3.15 trillion vehicle miles last year — that's the equivalent of traveling from Earth to Pluto and back 337 times.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A growing number of Americans are driving less and getting rid of their cars.

The trend is gaining traction in middle-aged adults, to the point where fewer of them are even bothering to get or renew their driver's licenses, but it's been prominent among younger adults — millennials — for years now.

"Honestly, at this point, it just doesn't really seem worth it," says 25-year-old Peter Rebecca, who doesn't own a car or have a driver's license. "I mean, I live in Chicago, there's really good access to, you know, public transits for pretty cheap."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reached a long sought-after agreement with two major airlines — United and American — to build a new runway at O'Hare airport. The $1.3 billion project will increase capacity at the congested airfield in hopes of reducing delays.

However, the deal does not include an agreement with the airlines to increase terminal space and add new gates, which some travel industry experts say is critical to reducing congestion at O'Hare, an airport notorious among frequent fliers for delays.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears to be reversing course and says he now "welcomes" a Justice Department investigation in "systemic issues embedded" in the city's police department.

The mayor's office Thursday morning released a statement seeking to "clarify" Emanuel's comments Wednesday, in which he suggested a federal civil rights pattern-and-practice investigation "in my view, would be misguided."

He was considered a model police officer — a devoted family man and a mentor to the young people in the small Illinois town of Fox Lake, near the Wisconsin state line.

Stepping off his recent flight from Boston at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, education consultant Debashis Sengupta looked a little surprised.

"The flight today was actually quite nice," says Sengupta. "No problems at all, in fact — not something I was expecting from United."

This frequent flier says an uneventful, on-time flight on United is the exception, not the rule.

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After Hurricane Katrina's massive storm surge annihilated tens of thousands of homes on the Gulf Coast, many families tried to quickly rebuild. Ten years later, some are still trying, while others are losing hope.

Tiny Pearlington, Miss., sat unwittingly in the center of Hurricane Katrina's path of devastation. They eye of the storm passed directly overhead, and a 30-foot storm surge nearly obliterated the town.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast 10 years ago, the eye of the storm made landfall near a tiny speck of a town at the mouth of the Pearl River on the Louisiana border with Mississippi.

To say Katrina — one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history — nearly wiped Pearlington, Miss., off the map isn't entirely true. The fact is, Pearlington was so small that it wasn't even on many maps.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Water levels in the Great Lakes are rising from record lows. Lakes Huron and Michigan are 3 feet higher than a year ago. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

The federal government's new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.

The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren't strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will continue to preside over it, even though he made campaign contributions to Hastert, as neither the prosecution nor the defense see it as a conflict of interest.

During Hastert's arraignment Tuesday, Chicago U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin acknowledged that in 2002 and 2004, he contributed $500 and $1,000 to Hastert's campaign through his law firm, but he said he had never met the speaker.

Many investigators say Positive Train Control (PTC), an automated safety system, could have prevented last month's Amtrak train derailment. Amtrak officials have said they will have PTC installed throughout the northeast corridor by the end of this year, which is the deadline mandated by Congress.

But the vast majority of other commuter railroad systems, which provided nearly 500 million rides in 2014, won't be able to fully implement positive train control for several more years.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say Positive Train Control — a system of satellites, communication towers and complex software that makes sure trains' safely follow their routes — would have prevented Tuesday's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight passengers.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The city of Chicago has become the first in the nation to create a reparations fund for victims of police torture, after the City Council unanimously approved the $5.5 million package.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the abuse and torture of scores of mostly black, male suspects in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s by former police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his detectives is a "stain that cannot be removed from our city's history."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

One of the nation's savviest politicians is in an unexpected fight.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former White House chief of staff, is in an unprecedented runoff election next month.

The challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, contends that Emanuel favors the rich and powerful over working-class Chicagoans. But Emanuel is firing back, attacking Garcia for having no plan to deal with the city's deep financial problems.

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