David Schaper

The nation's roads, bridges, airports, water and transit systems are in pretty bad shape, according to the civil engineers who plan and design such infrastructure.

The new report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the infrastructure of the United States a D-plus.

When he addresses a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Trump is expected to outline some of his plans for rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

And he will likely reiterate his commitment to "buy American and hire American," as he repeated often during the campaign and since taking office last month.

But what exactly does that mean for state departments of transportation and the contractors who build transportation projects?

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There's no question the tragic and intransigent problem of gun violence weighs heavily on Chicago residents, but for some there's resignation as well.

"This is nothing new in Chicago," says Keith Muhammed, while waiting at a bus stop on Chicago's west side.

He's right, but it has been getting worse: More than 760 people were murdered in Chicago in 2016, the highest total in nearly two decades, and this year is shaping up as more of the same.

On a night that the national election results had her discouraged, Seattle resident Anne Johnson had at least one ballot measure to celebrate: ST3, which will raise the local sales tax in the Seattle-Tacoma area to help pump $54 billion into expanding the region's rail and bus systems. It passed by a wide margin.

"That is awesome, and we've put a lot of work into that, and I'm excited for the direction that that will take Seattle," says Johnson, who adds that the transit improvements will help people get to their jobs, to school and will have environmental benefits, too.

If it's true that misery loves company, then the heartbreaking failures of the Chicago Cubs over the last century certainly cemented bonds through generations of fans.

The Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and they haven't won the fall classic since 1908.

That makes this year's success somewhat bittersweet for many fans in Chicago, who remember parents, grandparents, spouses and other loved ones who didn't live long enough to see this day.

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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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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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.

The excruciating wait times at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports the past couple of weeks have travelers fuming and some city officials looking for other options.

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke is calling on the city to do airport security the way it's done in Kansas City, San Francisco and several smaller airports around the country. He wants to hire a private company to staff the screening checkpoints.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration is promising the agency will do a better job of staffing enough officers at airport security checkpoints to reduce long lines. But he says those long lines are likely to continue through the peak summer travel season.

Travelers at some airports have been waiting two to three hours or more to get through screening. As a result, thousands have missed their flights in recent weeks.

The problem has been particularly bad at Chicago's airports.

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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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One of the country's most passionate advocates for health care reform has died. Dr. Quentin Young was a civil rights activist in Chicago and a personal physician to city's first black mayor, to a governor and to Martin Luther King. David Schaper has this remembrance.

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Transcript

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Editor's note: This report contains graphic descriptions of torture.

The Chicago Police Department is the latest force in the national spotlight for a controversial shooting of a young black man, but the issues raised by recently released videos showing police shootings are not new in Chicago.

The incidents, critics say, are evidence of what they call a long history of Chicago police using excessive force on minorities in the city.

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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.

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