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.

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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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.

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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.

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It's been a good year for commercial airlines.

With the economy recovering, more people are getting on planes and flying for both business and pleasure. And the cost of fuel, one of the airlines' biggest expenses, is dropping.

But as anyone traveling for the holidays can tell you, airfares remain high. And many frequent fliers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport say they wouldn't give the airlines perfect grades this year.

With President Obama beginning the process of normalizing relations with Cuba this week, many may envision soon soaking up the sun on a warm Cuban beach, sipping a refreshing rum drink.

In reality, that's not likely to happen for quite a while. But just the increased opportunity for travel between the two countries has those with longtime ties to Cuba already thinking about the possibilities it will bring.

Gasoline prices are at their lowest level in four years. The price at the pump in many states is almost a full dollar cheaper than it was last spring.

So some politicians think this is a good time to raise gasoline taxes. Several states are tired of waiting for Congress to fix the federal highway trust fund, so they're considering raising gas taxes themselves to address their crumbling roads.

Imagine Manhattan under almost 300 feet of water. Not water from a hurricane or a tsunami, but purified drinking water — 2.1 trillion gallons of it.

That's the amount of water that researchers estimate is lost each year in this country because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.

Fixing that infrastructure won't be cheap, which is something every water consumer is likely to discover.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to deflect criticism over an arson fire at an air traffic control center that shut down Chicago's airports last week.

Administrator Michael Huerta toured the fire-damaged Chicago air traffic control center in suburban Aurora on Friday with members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

Huerta admitted the agency has no quick fix to prevent a similar shutdown of a control facility from paralyzing air traffic across the country.

Hollywood is getting the green light to fly its own drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration is giving approval to six movie and TV production companies to use drones for filming. And the move could pave the way for the unmanned aircraft systems to be used in other commercial ventures.

The FAA will permit the six companies to use remote-controlled drones to shoot movies and video for TV shows and commercials, but there will be certain limitations.

Police in Ferguson, Mo., are bracing for the possibility of a large protest Saturday night, as the community marks two weeks since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Racial tensions have cooled considerably in the St. Louis suburb, after nearly 10 days of loud, raucous and sometimes violent protests. During those demonstrations, some protesters would throw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with rubber bullets, smoke bombs and tear gas.

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Most airlines are now diverting their planes away from the Ukrainian-Russian border to avoid the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot-down. The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. operations in the air space around Crimea back in April. Aviation authorities in other countries warned about flying through parts of the region, too. But those restricted flight zones are some distance away from where flight 17 went down. NPR's David Schaper reports.

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Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.

Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results.

So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city's most blighted areas.

Heavy rains over the past couple of weeks have rivers rising all across the Upper Midwest, flooding homes, swamping fields and washing out roads.

Fans hum 24/7 as Laura Westra tries to dry out her sopping-wet basement in the small town of Rock Valley, Iowa.

The nearby Rock River, in the northwest corner of the state, swelled last week wider and deeper than anyone can remember.

"We've lived here 45 years, and this is the first time we had water in the basement," Westra says.

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Authorities say they've broken up a major heroin and crack cocaine distribution ring in Chicago.

A joint federal and local task force that includes the DEA, FBI, Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies arrested and charged more than two dozen gang members who allegedly supplied a significant amount of heroin to customers coming from the city and suburbs.

In a case in which some observers suggest the FBI may have gone too far to snare a politician in a bribery scheme, a jury has convicted an Illinois lawmaker of corruption.

The verdict against State Rep. Derrick Smith relates to the then-freshman representative's acceptance in 2012 of a $7,000 payoff from an FBI informant.

The jury agreed with the prosecution that Smith abused his office for personal gain. The defense had argued that the representative repeatedly refused the bribe before finally relenting and that the undercover sting amounted to entrapment.

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