Bill Chappell | WAMC

Bill Chappell

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

Chappell's work for NPR includes being the lead writer for online coverage of several Olympic Games, from London in 2012 and Rio in 2016 to Pyeongchang in 2018 – stints that also included posting numerous videos and photos to NPR's Instagram and other branded accounts. He has also previously been NPR.org's homepage editor.

Chappell established the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps on NPR's website; his assignments also include being the lead web producer for NPR's trip to Asia's Grand Trunk Road. Chappell has coordinated special digital features for Morning Edition and Fresh Air, in addition to editing the rundown of All Things Considered. He also frequently contributes to other NPR blogs, such as The Salt.

At NPR, Chappell has trained both digital and radio staff to tell compelling stories, promoting more collaboration between departments and desks.

Chappell was a key editorial member of the small team that performed one of NPR's largest website redesigns. One year later, NPR.org won its first Peabody Award, along with the National Press Foundation's Excellence in Online Journalism award.

Prior to joining NPR, Chappell was part of the Assignment Desk at CNN International, working with reporters in areas from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Chappell also edited and produced stories for CNN.com's features division, before moving on to edit video and produce stories for Sports Illustrated's website.

Early in his career, Chappell wrote about movies, restaurants, and music for alternative weeklies, in addition to his first job: editing the police blotter.

Updated at 6:15 a.m. ET Wednesday

Hurricane Sally's eye made landfall Wednesday morning, bringing a perilous threat of floods to areas along the northern Gulf Coast, according to forecasters. The hurricane is crawling along at just 2 mph, giving its heavy rains even more potential impact. A tornado watch has also been issued.

"Because of that slow movement, we're going to see torrential rainfall, a dangerous amount of rainfall," National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in an online briefing Tuesday morning.

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Portland, Ore., Mayor Ted Wheeler is telling the city's police to "end the use of CS gas for crowd control" in a policy change that he says is effective immediately.

Updated at 10:37 p.m. ET

At least 14 people have died in wildfires that are raging in Oregon, California and Washington state, adding to the horrible toll from record-setting fires in 2020.

Intense winds caused havoc on Utah's highways Tuesday, flipping dozens of semi trucks onto their sides and forcing officials to restrict travel on interstates. Hurricane-force wind gusts were common, forcing the Capitol building to be closed to employees.

Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency on Wednesday due to the severe wind event.

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Intense wildfires are ravaging large swaths of the West Coast, prompting thousands of people to flee parts of Oregon and forcing power outages in California, where fires have already burned a record of more than 2.3 million acres this year. Fires are burning from Washington state to Southern California.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

La'Ron Singletary is resigning as police chief in Rochester, N.Y., as protests continue over the March death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, by asphyxiation after being restrained by police. Much of the encounter was caught on video.

Other senior police leaders are joining Singletary in leaving the department, Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said.

Nine drug companies pledged Tuesday that they will not submit vaccine candidates for FDA review until their safety and efficacy is shown in large clinical trials. The move is intended to bolster public confidence amid the rush to make a COVID-19 vaccine widely available, and counter fears of political pressure to have a vaccine before the November presidential election.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Rescue workers in Beirut are delicately exploring the rubble of a collapsed building where a specialist team says it detected signs of life — one month after Lebanon's capital was devastated by a massive explosion at its port.

The effort began after a sniffer dog named Flash signaled to his Chilean search and rescue team that someone might be alive under the concrete and debris in the neighborhood of Mar Mikhael.

"There's no doubt whatsoever" that an operation to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was approved at the highest levels of Russia's government and intelligence services, according to Steven Hall, the former CIA chief of Russia operations.

"There really is no other way to explain this," Hall said in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. "And this is something that the Russian intelligence services have been doing literally for decades, if not longer."

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

Facebook said it won't accept any new political ads in the week leading up to the presidential election, one of several policies that CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will help ensure a fair election in November. One such measure involves deleting posts that claim people will get COVID-19 if they vote.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a variant of Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent, according to tests carried out by a German military laboratory. A German government spokesman said the evidence is "without a doubt."

Navalny "is the victim of a crime that intended to silence him," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a news conference Wednesday about the findings. The crime, she said, was an "attempted murder."

The Army has removed Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt from his post as Fort Hood's senior commander, a week after another soldier from the base was found dead. The Army also says it will expand its inquiry into the killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who is one of a string of disappearances and deaths at the Texas post.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering state agencies to end their relationships with Quest Diagnostics after the large medical laboratory said it had mistakenly delayed reporting the results of nearly 75,000 coronavirus tests to the state.

The delayed results dated as far back as April. Quest has apologized, saying a technical error was at fault.

While the problem resulted in Florida's Department of Health being left in the dark about a large clump of results, it did not keep people who took the tests from getting their results, the lab said.

New York City will delay its start of in-person classes at public schools until Sept. 21 as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials announced Tuesday.

The union, which represents most of the city's educators, had been on the brink of voting whether to authorize a strike over safety precautions related to the coronavirus. The new agreement is aimed at addressing health concerns for educators and their students.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shot and killed a Black man Monday afternoon, sparking a protest and an investigation by homicide detectives. Two deputies tried to stop the man as he was riding his bicycle and the encounter turned violent, the Sheriff's Department says.

Hurricane Laura unleashed terrible winds on the Louisiana coast, but its effects are "looking relatively tame from an economic perspective" – especially when compared with other powerful storms, according to an early analysis by Moody's Analytics.

Alexei Navalny has been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator since last week, but the Charité hospital in Berlin says the Russian opposition figure's condition is stable and his life is not in danger.

"While his condition remains serious, there is no immediate danger to his life," the hospital said in a statement released Friday.

"There has been some improvement" in Navalny's condition, it added.

Emergency crews, utility workers and residents are mourning over the damage and cleaning up the mess Hurricane Laura made in southwest Louisiana. The storm — whose 150-mph winds tie for the strongest to ever hit the state — wrought destruction on a broad scale, leveling warehouses and crashing trees through roofs.

Residents are finding telephone poles and large trees strewn across streets. In Iowa, a small town a few miles east of Lake Charles on Interstate 10, the hurricane smashed Fire Station No. 1.

Hurricane Laura has caused at least four deaths in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards says. All of the deaths reported due to the Category 4 storm were caused by its powerful winds.

"All were related to trees falling on residences, which is in line with this being a major wind event," Edwards said in a news conference at 2 p.m. ET. He added that other deaths may be discovered as emergency crews perform rescue and recovery operations.

The Confederate statue bore the words "The South's Defenders." But when Hurricane Laura walloped Lake Charles, La., on Thursday, the controversial statue was toppled by one of the strongest storms ever to hit Louisiana.

Protesters had asked the parish to remove the prominent memorial this summer, only to be turned away — prompting talk of an economic boycott. Then came the hurricane.

Laura is now a tropical storm, bringing sustained winds of up to 65 mph to the area just south of Louisiana's border with Arkansas. But forecasters warn that the storm remains a dire threat, due to flood-inducing rainfall and other perils.

The former hurricane is now moving north at 15 mph – maintaining the same motion it has taken for much of Thursday, since making landfall in southwest Louisiana with intense winds and a large storm surge.

About 600,000 electrical customers are currently out of power, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in an update at 2 p.m. ET.

Hurricane Laura is diminishing – but it still has sustained winds of at least 100 mph, and it will remain a hurricane "near Shreveport, almost into Arkansas," National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in an update Thursday morning.

"Even if you're well inland, you could still see some of these impacts because it can knock down the trees. You can see flash flooding and power outages throughout Louisiana, East Texas and even into Arkansas," Graham said.

Hurricane Laura is destroying buildings, sparking flash floods and bringing a "catastrophic" storm surge to southwestern Louisiana on Thursday morning, remaining a fearsome hurricane more than seven hours after making landfall.

Laura rapidly intensified into an extremely dangerous storm as it neared land, with the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters spinning its maximum sustained winds up to at least 150 mph.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is asking state legislators to legalize recreational marijuana, saying the government could use the tax revenue to support small businesses and to fund restorative justice programs.

The governor's call to legalize the sale and use of marijuana is part of a broader plan that Wolf says will help Pennsylvania's economy, which is suffering from months of shutdowns and slowdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated at 10:24 a.m. ET Wednesday

Hurricane Laura is "rapidly intensifying" and will make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday as a major hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of Wednesday morning, Laura is a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of at least 115 mph. Forecasters predict a storm surge from 9 to 14 feet when it strikes near the Louisiana-Texas border.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Alexei Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics, was poisoned by an unknown substance from a group of drugs that affect the nervous system, according to the German hospital that is treating the Russian opposition leader.

The drug is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it disrupts the body's ability to break down acetylcholine — an important neurotransmitter in the brain and body.

Navalny remains in a medically induced coma in intensive care.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Tropical Storm Marco has made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River but it is Tropical Storm Laura that has Louisiana and Texas residents bracing for what could be the strongest storm since 2005's Hurricane Rita — still ranked as the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Updated on Aug. 23 at 4:30 a.m. ET

Two tropical systems — Marco and Laura — are heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, and both are expected to become hurricanes before they near the U.S. mainland early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The current forecast sees both storms hitting the near Louisiana, with Marco arriving on Monday and Laura on Wednesday.

Updated Saturday at 10:16 a.m. ET

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in a coma from an apparent poisoning, has been flown to Berlin where doctors are now attending to him.

"The plane with Alexei flew to Berlin," his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said in a tweet late Friday. "Many thanks to everyone for their support. The struggle for Alexei's life and health is just beginning, and there is still a lot to go through, but now at least the first step has been taken."

Dr. Anthony Fauci underwent surgery to remove a polyp from one of his vocal cords Thursday, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the agency Fauci has led for decades. The surgery was an outpatient procedure.

"He's now home and resting," an NIAID spokesperson tells NPR. "Expect him to be completely resting his voice at least through the weekend."

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