David Schaper

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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.

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the FAA to take another look at the safety of the battery used in its Dreamliners. The recommendations issued by the NTSB on Thursday call on the FAA to evaluate whether additional requirements and independent testing outside the aviation industry are needed on the lithium ion batteries used in the Boeing 787s. Incidents involving the batteries' failure caused the fleet to be grounded last year.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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It's a historic day on the campus of Northwestern University. Football players there became the first college athletes in this country to vote on whether to unionize. The results may not be known for some time. The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing Northwestern's appeal of an earlier ruling to allow this union vote to take place. NPR's David Schaper reports.

When the first pitch is thrown between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, it will mark the start of the 100th professional baseball season at iconic Wrigley Field.

The ball park on Chicago's North Side, known as the Friendly Confines, opened as the home of the Chicago Federals 100 years ago this month.

The Cubs moved there two years later, and in all that time the Cubs have never won a World Series. There hasn't even been a World Series game played at Wrigley since the end of World War II.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

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