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David Schaper

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

In this role, Schaper covers aviation and airlines, railroads, the trucking and freight industries, highways, transit, and new means of mobility such as ride hailing apps, car sharing, and shared bikes and scooters. In addition, he reports on important transportation safety issues, as well as the politics behind transportation and infrastructure policy and funding.

Since joining NPR in 2002, Schaper has covered some of the nation's most important news stories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and other mass shootings, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, California wildfires, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other disasters. David has also reported on presidential campaigns in Iowa and elsewhere, on key races for U.S. Senate and House, governorships, and other offices in the Midwest, and he reported on the rise of Barack Obama from relative political obscurity in Chicago to the White House. Along the way, he's brought listeners and online readers many colorful stories about Chicago politics, including the corruption trials and convictions of two former Illinois governors.

But none of that compares to the joy of covering his beloved Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, and three Stanley Cup Championships for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent almost a decade working as an award-winning reporter and editor for WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, NPR's Member station in Chicago. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems and progress — financial, educational and otherwise — in Chicago's public schools.

Schaper also served as WBEZ's Assistant Managing Editor of News, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing the reporting staff while often still reporting himself. He later served as WBEZ's political editor and reporter; he was a frequent fill-in news anchor and talk show host. Additionally, he has been an occasional contributor guest panelist on Chicago public television station WTTW's news program, Chicago Tonight.

Schaper began his journalism career in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as a reporter and anchor at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM. He has since worked in both public and commercial radio news, including stints at WBBM NewsRadio in Chicago, WXRT-FM in Chicago, WDCB-FM in suburban Chicago, WUIS-FM in Springfield, Illinois, WMAY-AM in Springfield, Illinois, and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schaper earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a Chicago Public School teacher, and they have three adult children.

Millions of Americans are ignoring the advice of public health experts and traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration reported that more than 1.04 million people went through airport security checkpoints Sunday, the most since mid-March, and about 1 million more went through TSA checkpoints each day on Friday and Saturday.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

After 20 months on the tarmac following two fatal crashes, Boeing's troubled 737 Max airliner has been given the green light to resume passenger flights, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration is getting closer to allowing Boeing's troubled 737 Max commercial jetliner to fly passengers again.

FAA chief Stephen Dickson says his agency "is in the final stages of reviewing the proposed changes to the Boeing 737 Max," adding that the agency could complete its evaluation of the fixes "in coming days" and allow the plane to return to service. Reuters is reporting that the plane could be recertified by the FAA as soon as Nov. 18.

Not long after The Associated Press and other news outlets declared Wednesday that Democrat Joe Biden had won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, the Trump campaign announced it would ask for a recount in the state.

The margin separating Biden and Trump in what is one of the nation's most contested swing states is roughly 20,000 votes, or less than 1%. It was absentee ballots in the cities of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, added to county totals Wednesday morning, that appear to have put Biden on top.

Phil Brach spent the weekend putting huge sheets of plywood up over the massive glass windows of the Washington, D.C., store where he works, Rodman's Food and Drug, in preparation for Election Day.

"We'll probably go up two or three boards high," Brach says.

Across the country, there are growing concerns that the bitterness and animosity over the presidential election will not end when the polls close Tuesday night. From coast to coast, cities are preparing for possible protests, civil unrest and violence regardless of the election's outcome.

Boeing will be laying off thousands of additional employees as the airplane manufacturer continues to lose money due to the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged grounding of its 737 Max jet.

A global collapse in air travel has all but eliminated airlines' need to buy new commercial jets. As a result, Boeing has slowed production of new aircraft and announced this summer that it would be eliminating 19,000 jobs.

But now the aerospace giant says it needs to reduce its workforce even more.

For people who are itching to travel, airlines are working hard to offer reassurance. They're requiring masks, disinfecting airplane cabins between flights and using hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems. Airlines are also touting a recent study that shows that modern aircraft ventilation systems help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and suggests the probability of spreading and contracting the coronavirus on even a packed airline flight is low.

How's this for an October surprise? Despite a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, it appears that more people are flying on commercial jetliners than at any time over the last seven months.

More than one million people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints Sunday. It's the first time the TSA's daily traveler count has topped the one million mark since March 16.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a huge financial toll on the travel industry, airlines are trying to shift their focus from stopping the bleeding to planning for a recovery.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is expressing confidence, saying a recovery is "now visible on the horizon," even though that recovery still appears to be a long way off.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is a long way away, but this is the turning point," Kirby told reporters and analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

With summer vacation travel weaker than expected and business travel a fraction of what it used to be, the losses continue to mount at Delta Air Lines.

Delta, the nation's second largest airline by the number of passengers flown last year, reports losing $5.4 billion in the third quarter of this year, as the travel industry continues to suffer from low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Add that to the $5.7 billion loss reported in the second quarter, Delta's total losses due to the pandemic rise to more than $11 billion.

With about 40,000 workers furloughed in recent days, airlines and their employee unions are pleading with Congress and the White House to pass an extension of federal payroll support for the industry.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Public health officials in the cities and states that President Trump visited in recent days are working to contact those who were in close proximity to him, first lady Melania Trump and others who traveled with him.

Since he has tested positive for the coronavirus, health officials worry those who attended events with the president could be at risk for the virus, too.

Among the many things that have been radically changed by the coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. Air travel demand is down a whopping 70% from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America, and now the clock is ticking for tens of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, reservation agents and other airline employees, who will likely lose their jobs on Oct. 1, if Congress doesn't extend federal aid for the airlines.

In another effort aimed at getting travelers back on planes, United Airlines will begin offering on-the-spot coronavirus testing to some passengers at the airport before they board their flight.

A sweeping congressional inquiry into the development and certification of Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane finds damning evidence of failures at both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration that "played instrumental and causative roles" in two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

The old metal gumball machine is still there - standing in a corner near the door. It's scorched and some of its plastic is melted but it's still standing there. But very little else inside what was The Good Taste Ice Cream Shoppe in Kenosha is recognizable as the blackened remains of the roof, walls, tables, chairs, and other fixtures are scattered about in heaps of charred wood and twisted and scorched metal.

Updated at 10:19 p.m. ET

The union representing police officers in Kenosha, Wis., have provided to NPR what they say is a detailed account of the moments leading up to the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was severely wounded by a police officer Sunday.

That account says Blake was armed with a knife and "forcefully fought" with the officers who tried to arrest him, putting one of them in a headlock. The statement from the Kenosha Professional Police Association also says officers twice shot Tasers at Blake but these failed to subdue him.

Protests over a police shooting of a Black father in Kenosha, Wis., continued for a fourth straight night on Wednesday. Though the gatherings again defied the county-imposed curfew, the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful.

The crowds were smaller than on previous nights, and the relative calm was a stark contrast to the scene that unfolded during the third night of protests, which turned chaotic and deadly.

The thought of packing herself onto a crowded bus or train makes Magali Olson cringe.

"I'm afraid to really take the train," Olson says. "I mean, I don't know if people are being clean or not, you know?"

She is able to work from home some days, but she's had to ride Chicago's Blue Line trains two days a week to her job at an insurance company downtown.

"Although I had Clorox wipes to clean everything, before I sat or touch anything, I was still a little scared," she says. "Some people weren't wearing masks, so it's a little scary."

The number of people flying on commercial jetliners is down 75% from last summer, but the rate of those getting caught either inadvertently or deliberately trying to bring a gun on board is soaring.

Transportation Security Administration officers are finding guns in carry on bags at security checkpoints at a rate three times higher than they did last summer. And 80% of those guns are loaded.

The Federal Aviation Administration is ordering emergency inspections of about 2,000 Boeing 737 airplanes because of a possible engine valve problem that could lead to engine failure.

The FAA's emergency air worthiness directive orders inspections of older 737 Classic and Next Generation planes that may have been in storage as a result of sharply reduced air travel demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Aviation Administration is taking another step towards re-certifying Boeing's 737 Max, saying it plans to issue a proposed airworthiness directive for the grounded jetliner "in the near future."

In a statement, the FAA says the impending airworthiness directive will address Boeing's design changes to fix a flawed flight control system that is partly to blame for two 737 Max plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

Over the last three months, Delta Air Lines lost nearly $6 billion as the company's CEO said a slow, brief recovery in air travel has now stalled amid a big resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Delta is the first U.S. airline to report second-quarter financial results; it is the first full quarter since the pandemic began, and the results are worse than anticipated.

The devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the air travel industry is becoming clearer, as United Airlines announced on Wednesday that it may need to cut its U.S.-based workforce nearly in half when federal payroll funding runs out in October.

On Wednesday, the Chicago-based airline notified 36,000 employees, about 45% of the company's domestic employees, that they may lose their jobs on or after Oct. 1, the earliest date that airlines that received government-funded payroll grants can eliminate jobs under the terms of the CARES Act.

The Trump administration is urging airlines to leave some airplane seats empty to help protect travelers and crew members from the coronavirus but it is stopping short of requiring airlines to keep seats open to create physical distancing on flights.

The federal COVID-19 guidelines also encourage all passengers to wear face coverings or masks but again, the administration will not mandate it.

More than 15 months after grounding Boeing's 737 Max, the Federal Aviation Administration conducted the first in a series of certification test flights of the aircraft Monday, a pivotal step toward allowing the troubled plane to return to service.

The news sent Boeing's stock soaring, as the aerospace giant's share price climbed more than 14% on Monday. The 737 Max is the company's best-selling commercial jet ever. Nearly 5,000 of the planes were on back-order at the time the plane was grounded last March.

The Federal Aviation Administration is facing bipartisan outrage. Senators from both parties accuse the agency of "stonewalling" congressional investigators and keeping them "in the dark" in their effort to examine what went wrong in certifying Boeing's troubled 737 Max airplane.

More than a dozen Minneapolis police officers who say they represent hundreds of others condemned the former officer charged in the killing of George Floyd. And they expressed support for policing reforms in an open letter released Thursday that is addressed to "Dear Everyone — but especially Minneapolis citizens."

"We wholeheartedly condemn Derek Chauvin," the letter said at the outset, and it went on to denounce the now-fired officer's actions.

Police in Minneapolis will be forbidden to use chokeholds and neck restraints under reforms negotiated by city and state authorities.

In an emergency vote Friday, the Minneapolis City Council approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which opened a civil rights investigation this week into the city's police department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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