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.

A federal judge has vacated the Trump administration's rule that would have forced hundreds of thousands of Americans off food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's rule change was capricious and arbitrary, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said.

The USDA rule "radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice," Howell said in her ruling, adding that it would have "exponentially" increased food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans and imposed significant costs on states.

The venerable Sizzler USA family steakhouse chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a business environment roiled by COVID-19 restrictions — and saying that not enough has been done to help restaurants survive.

"Our current financial state is a direct consequence of the pandemic's economic impact," Sizzler President Chris Perkins said, "due to long-term indoor dining closures and landlords' refusal to provide necessary rent abatements."

Michigan has reached a $600 million agreement to compensate Flint residents for the state's role in failing to protect them from lead-tainted water, the state's attorney general says.

The deal "puts the needs of Flint's children first," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said in an announcement Thursday. A summary of the settlement shows that nearly 80% of the money would go to resolve claims filed on behalf of minors and children.

The idea of using a public bathroom with see-through walls may sound like the stuff of nightmares. But a famous Japanese architect is hoping to change that view, using vibrant colors and new technology to make restrooms in Tokyo parks more inviting.

"There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park," according to architect Shigeru Ban's firm. "The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside."

Updated 5:10 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with plans to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The first leases to drill for oil and gas in the area could be sold by the end of 2020, Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt said as his agency formally announced its leasing program on Monday.

The temperature at Death Valley National Park hit a scorching 130 degrees on Sunday, marking what could be the hottest temperature on Earth since at least 1913, the National Weather Service says. Any visitors to the park are getting blunt advice: "Travel prepared to survive."

A massive cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is arriving along the U.S. Gulf Coast this week after traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. The phenomenon happens every year – but the 2020 version is especially large and imposing, experts said.

The dust cloud is "quite large" this year, said Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered. "I think that's why it's garnering so much attention."

Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to end tens of thousands of lawsuits filed over its Roundup weedkiller, the company announced Wednesday. The settlement also resolves many other cases over the herbicide dicamba as well as water contaminated with toxic chemicals called PCBs.

Many plaintiffs say Roundup's active ingredient — glyphosate — caused them to develop cancer. Roundup was developed by Monsanto, which Bayer bought in 2018 for $63 billion.

After sitting undisturbed for more than 10 years, a treasure chest holding gold nuggets and precious gems has been found in the Rocky Mountains. The box was hidden by millionaire art dealer Forrest Fenn; his only clues included a map and a poem. But after countless quests, the search is over.

"The treasure has been found," Fenn wrote in a statement to a blog run by Dal Neitzel for discussions among Fenn treasure seekers.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

Public health officials closed a restaurant in Castle Rock, Colo., on Monday, one day after its owner hosted a Mother's Day event in which the entire dining room was open to seat customers — most of whom weren't wearing face masks.

Shake Shack is returning a $10 million federal loan after the Paycheck Protection Program that was meant to help small businesses ran out of money in less than two weeks of operation. The burger chain and other large businesses were able to get the money because the program covers any company with fewer than 500 workers in a single location.

The coronavirus pandemic is heightening interest in raising young chickens for a reliable supply of eggs, with hatcheries saying they're seeing a flood of new customers.

"We are swamped with orders," says Nancy Smith, owner of the Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, Mo. "We can't answer all the phone calls, and we are booked out several weeks on most breeds."

Musician and philanthropist Dolly Parton is launching a weekly series in which she reads a children's book to an online audience at bedtime, drawing books from her popular Imagination Library project. The goal, the nonprofit says, is to give kids and families "a welcome distraction during a time of unrest and also inspire a love of reading and books."

The Navajo Nation reported its first two coronavirus cases on March 17. Just over a week later, there are now 69 cases. The reservation is under stay-at-home orders — but thousands of people must regularly leave their houses for necessities such as water.

Where there was a white ice cap, there are now brown blotches of land; melted snow and ice have created ponds of water. Those are the effects of the recent record high temperatures in Antarctica, according to NASA, which on Friday released stunning before-and-after satellite images of the northern Antarctic Peninsula.

A month ago, Australians were praying for rain to put out horrific wildfires and save forests, animals and homes. A deluge is now falling on Australia's east coast — and while it's quashing stubborn fires, the water is also causing flash floods and other hazards.

The Bureau of Meteorology in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, warns of "very dangerous conditions" ranging from heavy rain to damaging winds.

Australia's southeast was already dealing with the terrible effects of historic bushfires and huge smoke clouds. Then Canberra, Melbourne and other places were hit by golf-ball-sized hail that destroyed car windshields, killed birds and shredded the leaves off trees.

The Bureau of Meteorology in New South Wales, the country's most populous state, warned residents of "damaging winds, large, possibly giant hailstones and heavy rainfall" as it issued severe thunderstorm warnings in the east and northeast.

In the binary times in which we live, it might not surprise anyone that people can't even agree on when one period of time ends and another begins. The question many are now asking is: When we ring in the new year and welcome 2020, should we also celebrate a new decade?

Confusion over the answer is similar to the uncertainty that hung over watershed events from the millennium to the 2009-2010 changeover.

Surprise, anger, parenting and Lizzo: That's one way to sum up NPR's list of our most engaging stories in 2019, as those themes drew a huge amount of interest from our readers this year. Other big topics included consumerism and climate change — and officials behaving badly.

Greta Thunberg, the activist who has quickly become a leading voice on climate change, is Time's Person of the Year for 2019. At 16, she is the youngest person to earn the title in the magazine's 92-year history.

Thunberg burst onto the world stage in the past year, organizing school strikes and protest marches to call attention to a climate crisis that she says older generations are not taking seriously enough.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

"Venice is on its knees," Mayor Luigi Brugnaro says as the lagoon city suffers through some of the worst flooding in its history. The highest tide in 50 years has brought seawater that is threatening monuments and works of art in the historic city.

With more than 85 percent of the city flooded, Brugnaro says the city is in a state of emergency and that he has asked Italy's government for help.

Greta Thunberg led a protest at the White House on Friday. But she wasn't looking to go inside — "I don't want to meet with people who don't accept the science," she says.

The young Swedish activist joined a large crowd of protesters who had gathered outside, calling for immediate action to help the environment and reverse an alarming warming trend in average global temperatures.

She says her message for President Trump is the same thing she tells other politicians: Listen to science, and take responsibility.

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

England's largest retailers are now selling 90% fewer plastic bags than they did before a 5-pence plastic bag fee began in late 2015, the U.K. government says. In the past year alone, the retailers' sales fell by nearly half, from more than 1 billion bags to fewer than 550 million.

The statistics come from reports by the seven biggest retailers in England: Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose.

A stretch of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico was adorned with a set of pink see-saws this week — allowing children (and grownups) to play together across the barrier. The event was "filled with joy, excitement, and togetherness," says architect Ronald Rael, a leader of the project.

The seesaws were installed on Sunday, when their steel beams were eased through the slats of the tall fence that divides Sunland Park, N.M., from Colonia Anapra — a community on the western side of Ciudad Juárez in Mexico.

A bloom of toxic algae has forced Mississippi to close 25 beaches along its Gulf Coast. State environmental officials say people can still visit the sandy beaches — but they should avoid any contact with the water.

The blue-green algae "can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting," the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says. And it warns that exposure can affect pets.

Updated at 1:28 p.m. ET

Sotheby's has accepted a merger offer from entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, who will purchase the auction house for $3.7 billion. The deal puts Sotheby's, which was founded in 1744, on a path to becoming a private company again.

The last time Belgium's Grimbergen Abbey brewed beer, the United States was only about 20 years old. But the abbey now plans to make beer again, and for inspiration, it will turn to the original recipes and brewing instructions in its archive of medieval texts.

After it was founded in 1128, the Norbertine abbey's clerics spent centuries making beer. But they were forced to stop when the abbey was destroyed in 1798. Now they want to get back into brewing — and to do it, they're hoping to use secrets they've gleaned from ancient books the abbey managed to preserve.

Grumpy Cat — the blue-eyed cat with the withering stare and permafrown that suggested perpetual irritation — has died, her family announced early Friday. She was 7.

The scowling kitty died of complications from a urinary tract infection, her owners said.

"Some days are grumpier than others," Tabatha Bundesen wrote, announcing her cat's death.

Born in 2012, Grumpy Cat became a darling of memes, cat fanciers and anyone who needed to be reminded that somewhere out there, there was a cat who looked as grumpy as they felt.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

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