Bill Chappell | KCUR

Bill Chappell

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the Newsdesk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, DC.

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.

The high-rise building where fire and smoke killed 25 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, did not have a proper fire suppression system — and some of its emergency exit doors were locked, officials say. A criminal case is being pursued against the building's owners.

The death toll rose sharply after firefighters brought the fire inside the 22-story FR Tower under control Thursday afternoon and were able to search the office building in Dhaka's Banani area.

French film director Agnès Varda, who was a pioneer during the new-wave revolution of the 1950s and '60s and who kept making important films for the next five decades, has died at age 90.

A representative of Varda's family confirmed the news of her death to NPR Friday. In a statement, her film company says the filmmaker and artist "died from a cancer at her home in the night of March 29, 2019, surrounded by her family and friends."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit President Trump in Washington on April 11, after U.S. denuclearization talks with North Korea fizzled; the two sides are now at a stalemate.

Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook will visit the Trumps at the White House, where the two leaders will discuss "the latest developments regarding the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as well as bilateral matters," the White House says.

Wow Air's sudden halt of all flights Thursday has caught travelers by surprise, sinking the airline's customers into frustration about their plans and sowing doubts about their ability to recoup travel expenses.

The most intense turmoil hit Wow customers who are currently on trips, as well as those who were slated to fly late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Wow Air surprised its passengers by abruptly saying it's going out of business Thursday, in a move that left travelers scrambling to book other tickets — and wondering whether they would be able to secure a refund.

"WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled," the low-cost Iceland-based airline announced Thursday morning.

Firefighters battled a blaze in a high-rise office building Thursday in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, where dozens of people were trapped by flames and smoke. In a dramatic moment, some of those inside used ropes or cables to climb down, in a desperate effort save themselves.

"We have so far confirmed death of six people in the fire," SM Mostak Ahmed, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said, according to the Daily Star newspaper.

Idaho Power plans to stop using coal energy and rely instead on hydroelectric, solar and wind resources, the utility says. The utility vows that 100 percent of energy will come from "clean" sources by 2045. Utility companies have made similar pledges in only a handful of states.

Idaho Power customers increasingly see clean energy that doesn't rely on carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels as a priority, the company says.

"We believe this goal is attainable," Idaho Power President and CEO Darrel Anderson said in announcing the plan.

Meng Hongwei, who was the president of Interpol when he was reported missing in China last fall, has been expelled from the Communist Party of China and will be prosecuted on bribery charges.

Meng's case drew international headlines last fall. Meng, one of the world's top law enforcement officials, suddenly lost contact with his family during a trip to China from Lyon, France, where he had been living with his family near Interpol's headquarters.

Bump stocks — the gun add-ons that can dramatically increase their rate of fire — are now officially illegal in the U.S., after a Trump administration ban took effect Tuesday. Anyone selling or owning bump stocks could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 for each violation.

Chief Justice John Roberts declined to hear an appeal from gun makers on the new ban Tuesday, allowing it to remain in place. A separate appeal that seeks a stay on enforcing the ban is before Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Updated March 27 at 5 p.m. ET

The Department of Defense is shifting $1 billion from a military personnel account to build a 57-mile fence at the southern U.S. border, saying the funds were freed up after some service branches fell short of their recruiting goals.

Duke University is paying the U.S. government $112.5 million to settle accusations that it submitted bogus data to win federal research grants. The settlement will also bring a $33.75 million payment to Joseph Thomas, the whistleblower who drew attention to the fraud when he worked for Duke.

Thomas, a former Duke lab analyst, sued the university on behalf of the federal government, saying that a Duke researcher fudged data to help the university win and keep lucrative grants from two agencies, the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Thailand's main opposition is leading the ruling military junta's party in national elections, but no clear-cut winner has been determined from Sunday's vote, amid confusion and complaints of voting irregularities.

With more election results still to be announced, both of the leading parties say they're working to form Thailand's next government.

A British petition to cancel Brexit and remain in the European Union is drawing too much support for the U.K. government's website to handle, with the petition site crashing repeatedly on Thursday. More than 1 million people have signed the petition to revoke the triggering of Article 50 — blowing past the 100,000 signatures needed to compel a debate in Parliament. Article 50 is the EU treaty's exit clause.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó said Thursday that government agents detained his chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, in an overnight raid. Describing what he called a kidnapping, Guaidó said weapons had been planted at Marrero's house and that he should be freed immediately.

The raid took place around 2 a.m. local time, Guaidó said, adding that he does not know Marrero's current whereabouts — and saying his chief of staff had denounced any knowledge of two rifles and a grenade that he says authorities allegedly found in his home.

The European Commission is hitting Google with a fine of 1.49 billion euros (some $1.7 billion) for "abusive practices" in online advertising, saying the search and advertising giant broke the EU's antitrust rules and abused its market dominance by preventing or limiting its rivals from working with companies that had deals with Google. The case revolves around search boxes that are embedded on websites and that display ads brokered by Google.

The Sackler family's $1.3 million donation to the U.K.'s National Portrait Gallery will not go ahead as planned, as both sides say they're concerned that allegations of opioid profiteering against the family could overshadow the gift and become a distraction.

"It has become evident that recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work," a spokesperson for the Sackler Trust said.

"I find that I am bored with anything I understand," Karen Uhlenbeck once said - and that sense of curiosity is part of why she won the prestigious Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Uhlenbeck, an influential mathematician who was for decades a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and who has sought to encourage women to study mathematics, has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — often called the Nobel Prize of math.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev says he will resign the post he has held for nearly 30 years, abruptly announcing the end of an era that began in the early 1990s. But Nazarbayev, 78, also said he'll keep several key official posts, in a speech that aired on national TV Tuesday.

In the former Soviet bloc, formerly comprised of 15 countries, Nazarbayev is the only longstanding leader to sustain power for three decades. The president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, died in 2016 after his presidential reign of 26 years.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are now in control of an ISIS encampment in Baghouz after weeks of operations and attacks on the village. But isolated gun battles are continuing in the area, seen as ISIS' last remaining redoubt.

"This is not a victory announcement, but a significant progress in the fight against Daesh," said Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office. In a tweet, he added, "Clashes are continuing as a group of ISIS terrorists who are confined into a tiny area still fight back."

Turkey and Iran launched a joint military operation against Kurdish militants along the the mutual border between the two countries on Monday, according to an announcement from the Turkish interior minister.

Turkey says the two unlikely allies — one a NATO member, the other a target of U.S. sanctions — have joined forces to target a common enemy: the Kurdistan Worker's Party or PKK, which the U.S., Turkey and others consider to be a terrorist group.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Dutch police have arrested a man they call the main suspect in a shooting that left three people dead and five others wounded on a tram in the city of Utrecht on Monday. A motive for the shooting remains unclear; police have said they were investigating a "possible terrorist motive" for the attack, but reports have also emerged that the shooting might have its roots in a family dispute.

An intense winter storm — a "bomb cyclone" of snow and wind — has stranded drivers and shut down interstates in the Rockies and Plains regions of the U.S.

Colorado's National Guard said Thursday that it has now rescued 75 people and two dogs, after checking on 148 vehicles stuck in the storm.

Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration says it is temporarily grounding all Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.

The announcement Wednesday afternoon follows decisions by many other countries to ground the planes after 157 people died in Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

Federal officials have charged dozens of well-heeled parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in what the Justice Department says was a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admissions standards. The parents allegedly paid a consultant who then fabricated academic and athletic credentials and arranged bribes to help get their children into prestigious universities.

Bowing to weeks of protests, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has reversed his decision to run for a fifth term and says he will not seek re-election. But the 82-year-old leader stopped short of stepping down and has delayed elections set for next month.

"I particularly understand the message given by youth, in terms of anxiety and ambition for their own future and that of the country," Bouteflika said in a message published by the Algeria Press Service.

The U.S. has apparently warned Germany that if Chinese tech companies such as Huawei help build the country's new 5G telecom infrastructure, U.S. agencies might not share as much intelligence with the German government as they currently do.

That's the gist of a letter U.S. Ambassador Richard A. Grenell recently sent to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is drawing criticism for saying that Israel is "the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people." The comment prompted many people — including Israel's president and the star of Wonder Woman — to defend Israel's Palestinian Arab minority.

Palestinian Arab citizens are about a fifth of Israel's population and often face discrimination and accusations of disloyalty.

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration says it plans to require a series of design changes to the Boeing 737 Max fleet after a pair of fatal plane crashes including one Sunday in Ethiopia that killed all 157 people on board. Airlines in other countries have grounded their Boeing 737 Max jets.

As NPR's Russell Lewis reports, the FAA plans to order the changes by next month.

Chelsea Manning, the former Army private, is back in U.S. federal custody, jailed over her refusal to testify before a grand jury in a case involving WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Judge Claude Hilton of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia ordered Manning to jail Friday "after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying," the Associated Press reports.

Hilton said Manning must stay in custody until she either changes her mind about testifying or the grand jury finishes its work.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The SpaceX Crew Dragon hit its splashdown time of 8:45 a.m. ET right on target Friday, landing in the Atlantic Ocean after undocking from the International Space Station and re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

The successful test and splashdown is "an amazing achievement in American history," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who called the SpaceX flight the "dawning of a new era in American human space flight."

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