Russell Lewis

Russell Lewis is the Southern Bureau Chief for NPR News, a post he has held since 2006. Lewis focuses on the issues and news central to the Southeast — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In addition to developing and expanding NPR's coverage of the region, Lewis assigns and edits stories from station-based reporters and freelancers alike, working closely with local correspondents and public radio stations. He also spent a year in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, coordinating NPR's coverage of the rebuilding effort. He's currently based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lewis began his public radio career in 1992 at NPR member station WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, where he was an executive news producer. He spent time at WSVH in Savannah, Georgia. Lewis also worked for Kansas Public Radio and reported on the state legislature. He spent six years on the West Coast, working at one of public radio's flagship stations: KPBS in San Diego where he was senior editor and a reporter. He most recently was assistant news director and talk-show host at WGCU in Fort Myers, Florida. He was a frequent contributor to NPR, specializing in military and business issues.

In his spare time, Lewis loves to cook, read, and ride his bicycle.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The United States will have a presence at today's semifinal World Cup match between Brazil and Germany. It won't be the U.S. National Team on the field, but American referee Mark Geiger. FIFA selected Geiger to be on the officiating crew of the high-stakes match. It's the first time a U.S. referee has been used this late in a World Cup.

The stadiums of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are all different, constructed to reflect the region. Natal's arena has a wavy beach-dune style, while the stadium in Manaus looks like a woven basket.

Inside those stadiums, however, you'd never know you're in Brazil. Budweiser is an official beer seller, and Coke has the soda market cornered. Other menu items include hot dogs, cheeseburgers and turkey sandwiches. It's almost impossible to find any Brazilian fare on the menu.

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Of all the Brazilian cities staging games at the World Cup, none is more exotic than Manaus. It's nestled in the heart of the Amazon jungle. You can only get there by plane or boat - an unlikely place to host soccer games. And there's something else in Manaus that's unexpected - a centuries-old theater and opera house. NPR's Russell Lewis took a break from soccer and paid a visit.

RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: The first thing you notice about the Teatro Amazonas is how lovely it is. Then the beauty melts away and it's what you hear.

The World Cup round of 16 in Brazil is taking shape.

Already in: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. The big question: Will the United States join that distinguished list today?

The U.S. soccer team has a tough matchup against Portugal. Win, and the Americans are in. Lose or tie, and the road gets a lot tougher with next Thursday's game against Germany.

Brazil's World Cup preparation endured some heavy criticism leading up to the games. Stadiums were still under construction, Internet connections were sketchy and transportation faced major challenges. A week into the tournament, NPR's Russell Lewis has traveled to three airports and three cities so far. He talks to Melissa Block about what has worked and what remains a challenge.

On Monday night, the U.S. soccer team accomplished a feat it failed to achieve in the past two World Cups: beat Ghana. With a 2-1 victory, the Americans position themselves well for the games to come.

It's day five of the World Cup in Brazil. But it's the most important day for the U.S. men's soccer team — it's game day.

Tonight at 6 p.m. ET, the U.S. opens World Cup play squaring off against Ghana in the seaside city of Natal. The tiny African country is not particularly a soccer powerhouse. But Ghana has vexed the U.S. — eliminating the team from the past two World Cups.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

One of America's first astronauts has died. Scott Carpenter was part of the original Project Mercury team and he was the second American to orbit the Earth. Carpenter died this morning in Denver after complications from a stroke. He was 88 years old. As NPR's Russell Lewis reports, Scott Carpenter made it into space just that one time back in 1962, but he continued his pioneering ways.

Tyler Saladino is one of thousands of minor league baseball players hoping to make it to the major leagues. He plays in Alabama for the Birmingham Barons, the AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Last year, NPR profiled Saladino. But since then, maybe things have changed for the 23-year-old infielder.

New details about one of Mississippi's most infamous murders are coming to light — more than a half-century later. The death of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who allegedly whistled at a white woman, helped spark the civil rights movement.

Till lived in Chicago, and was visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he was murdered. His body was mutilated and dumped into a river. The accused were the woman's husband and her half-brother, and their trial drew reporters from both the white and black press.

In Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, the "Last Great Race on Earth" begins.

Sixty-seven sled dog teams will start the 998-mile Iditarod race across the barren, frigid and unforgiving land. In this year's competition, there are a handful of first-time racers — but those aren't the only rookies.

One is veterinarian Greg Reppas, whose job is to ensure the dogs are healthy throughout the race.

Her name was Emilie Parker. Six years old. Long, flowing blond hair, piercing blue eyes and a sweet smile. Emilie was one of the 20 children killed on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As we learn the names of the victims, we're also learning their stories.

Months after safety advocates embraced wearing helmets during tornadoes — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines on the practice. The CDC says there's not yet enough scientific evidence to fully endorse the idea. But the agency is warming up to people donning helmets when severe weather threatens.

Since a horrific outbreak of tornadoes killed more than 250 people last year in Alabama, safety advocates have been on a crusade.

Tornadoes killed more than 500 people in the U.S. last year — the highest number in decades. Already this year, 63 people have died, and the tornado season doesn't hit its peak until June.

For many, the only way they learn a tornado is approaching are sirens. In the spring and summer, tornado sirens go off a lot more when twisters roar across Alabama, which has been hit by 900 since 2000, accounting for a quarter of all U.S. tornado deaths.

"I am still surprised that so many people rely on just one source of getting warned, and that has to change," said Jim Stefkovich, meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.

It's election day Tuesday — this time in the Deep South as voters in Alabama and Mississippi head to the polls. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent some time campaigning in the two states while Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich blanketed the region. And Santorum and Gingrich met at a forum Monday night in Birmingham in a last-minute effort to woo undecided voters.

The setting couldn't have been more picturesque: the stately Alabama Theater in downtown Birmingham. About 2,000 Republican faithful turned out for the presidential forum, which began with a prayer.