Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.

Before her stint on the News Desk, Romo spent the early months of the Trump Administration on the Washington Desk covering stories about culture and politics – the voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of Maxine Waters as a septuagenarian pop culture icon and DACA quinceañeras as Trump protests.

In 2016, she was at the core of the team that launched and produced The New York Times' first political podcast, The Run-Up with Michael Barbaro. Prior to that, Romo was a Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism where she began working on a radio documentary about a pilot program in Los Angeles teaching black and Latino students to code switch.

Romo has also traveled extensively through the Member station world in California and Washington. As the education reporter at Southern California Public Radio, she covered the region's K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and won the Education Writers Association first place award as well as a Regional Edward R. Murrow for Hard News Reporting.

Before that, she covered business and labor for Member station KNKX, keeping an eye on global companies including Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft.

A Los Angeles native, she is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where she received a degree in history. She also earned a master's degree in Journalism from NYU. She loves all things camaron-based.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

Teams treated children and adults for minor injuries at four suburban Los Angeles elementary schools Tuesday after a Delta flight dumped jet fuel on the way to an emergency landing.

Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano burst to life on Thursday in a spectacular gush of lava and clouds of ash that hurled incandescent rock about 20,000 feet into the sky.

The dramatic explosion of the active stratovolcano, a little over 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, was captured on video by Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention, CENAPRED.

The U.S. Army wants Americans to know they have not been selected for a military draft despite a rash of texts that falsely tell people they're heading to fight a war against Iran.

The warning comes amid escalating tensions with Iran. Last week, the U.S. launched a drone strike that killed the top Iranian military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and in retaliation, Tehran launched more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq on Tuesday.

Updated at 10:03 p.m. ET

Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces, targeting at least two military bases in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department announced late Tuesday.

The strikes on military and coalition personnel at the Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar province and in Irbil — at the center of Iraq's Kurdistan region — began at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET, according to a statement.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the strike, saying it was an act of "self-defense."

Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced on Monday that some forces are being repositioned inside Iraq, not leaving the country.

Two other U.S. officials told NPR that some are going to Kuwait temporarily.

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

Harvey Weinstein was charged with four felony counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County on Monday, the same day jury selection began in the Hollywood mogul's New York trial.

Typhoon Phanfone, which swept through the central Philippines on Christmas Eve, has killed at least 28 people, leaving large areas in shambles, with thousands losing their homes and livelihoods.

The typhoon, known locally as Ursula, made landfall in the islands on Dec. 24, pounding remote villages and popular tourist destinations.

Six-term Washington state Rep. Matt Shea is accused of participating "in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States," according to a report released Thursday.

Independent investigators commissioned by the Washington State House of Representatives found that Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, "planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States government" between 2014 and 2016.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

A lone gunman opened fire near the headquarters of the FSB, Russia's Federal Security Service, on Thursday night, killing at least one person before authorities were able to "neutralize" the attacker, according to reports.

The incident took place within hours of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual news conference.

Multiple eyewitness reports said the gunfire came from near the main FSB building — formerly the KGB — on Lubyanka Square. The location is a short distance from the Kremlin.

For decades, historians poring over photographs, written records and oral interviews have suspected where victims may have been buried after the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. And on Monday night, researchers announced there is new evidence that supports those suspicions.

More than 4,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals in California launched a five-day strike on Monday at Kaiser facilities across the state.

Psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, addiction specialists and others represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers say that Kaiser mental health clinics are severely understaffed, forcing some to work after hours to serve more patients. Meanwhile, they say, patients are forced to wait as long as two months for follow-up appointments because of inadequate staffing.

Updated at 1:40 p.m ET

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal in a case originating from Boise, Idaho, that would have made it a crime to camp and sleep in public spaces.

The decision to let a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand is a setback for states and local governments in much of the West that are grappling with widespread homelessness by designing laws to regulate makeshift encampments on sidewalks and parks.

At least three patients died on Wednesday after hundreds of lawyers besieged a cardiac hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, for hours — attacking doctors, guards and other staff and setting several vehicles ablaze, officials said.

The origins of the clash are not entirely clear, but it seems to stem from a scuffle last month between doctors and a lawyer that was captured on surveillance video. Since then, lawyers have been demanding some kind of action against the doctors, and on Wednesday that culminated in the brutal attack.

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The Pacific island nation of Samoa will shut down government services for two days so that civil servants can focus on a nationwide immunization drive as the country struggles to end a measles outbreak that has claimed more than 50 lives, most of them children.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed sweeping legislation to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, making his state the first to enact such stringent controls.

The new law, which is set to take effect on June 1, 2020, is not a blanket ban. Instead, it limits the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol, "to licensed smoking bars where they may only be smoked on-site." The same restrictions apply to all other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco.

The man believed to be the last living carver of Mount Rushmore has died.

Donald "Nick" Clifford was one of nearly 400 men and women who worked on the iconic American monument. He died on Saturday at a hospice in Rapid City, S.D., at the age of 98, his wife told NPR.

Clifford, who celebrated his last birthday in July, was immensely proud of his work on the mountainside as a teenager.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET

President Trump told reporters at the White House that he was "sticking up for the armed forces" in his pardons of military personnel.

The commander in chief has repeatedly intervened on behalf of the Navy SEAL recently convicted of misconduct. And Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Trump did it again over the weekend, directly ordering him to allow Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher to retire as a SEAL.

Twitter is letting users become their own moderators. The company announced Thursday that it has rolled out a new feature allowing users to hide replies to their tweets.

"Everyone should feel safe and comfortable while talking on Twitter," said Suzanne Xie, director of product management at Twitter, said in a blog post. "To make this happen, we need to change how conversations work on our service."

For decades, Bruce Bagley has been regarded as a leading expert on organized crime in Latin America, particularly on money laundering. Now, the University of Miami professor is in trouble for the way he may have applied that knowledge.

Bagley was arrested Monday on charges of laundering $3 million on behalf of corrupt foreign nationals who collected the illicit funds through bribes and by embezzling from a public works project in Venezuela.

The Mustang — one of the most quintessentially American cars — is about to kick off a new chapter. After years of secrecy, Ford is unveiling the Mustang Mach-E, an electric SUV "inspired" by the classic car's key design elements.

The big reveal is happening Sunday in Los Angeles, days ahead of the annual auto show there.

Recreational pot is about to become legal in Illinois, but Chicago's Housing Authority says not in our backyard or front yard or anywhere on public housing premises, for that matter.

Housing voucher recipients received a letter from the agency last week, warning them about the ramifications of smoking or possessing pot on federally funded grounds even after it becomes legal on Jan. 1. In a nutshell, those who violate the federal law could face eviction.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

Spain's Socialist Party again won parliamentary elections on Sunday, but it fell short of a majority, and the recently emerging far-right Vox party made major gains.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists earned 120 of 350 seats, three fewer than in April's election. In second, the mainstream conservative People's Party won 88 seats, up from 66 in the last vote.

Lawrence Levee's evacuation call came at 4 a.m. The Getty fire was just a few miles away. He and all of his Mandeville Canyon neighbors needed to evacuate.

He grabbed what he could and threw it into his bright blue electric Chevy Bolt. His car battery was only charged halfway, but that left him with plenty of power to make a quick getaway and then some.

But after driving around the next day, running errands in an area he didn't know well, he was in a pickle. He couldn't find a charging station. And he had 25 miles left to his tank.

A podcast hosted by Groot would easily become repetitive – "I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot?" and all that – but Marvel is betting fans of Star-Lord, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Wolverine are eager to hear about their life or universe-saving-missions on a weekly basis.

The Walt Disney-owned company announced Tuesday it's joining forces with SiriusXM and Pandora to launch a series of superhero-based shows in 2020.

As cars become smarter and safer, some members of Congress want to require them to be built to prevent drunk driving.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced legislation last week that would make it mandatory for all new cars and trucks to come loaded with passive, virtually unnoticeable, alcohol detection systems by 2024.

Turkey's defense ministry says the country's forces have captured a Syrian border city after clashes with Kurdish-led militias. But a Syrian monitoring group said the fight was still ongoing.

Turkish officials said on state media Saturday that the strategic town of Ras al-Ayn, which sits on the northeastern part of the border, has been "brought under control." Several surrounding villages have also been overtaken, the officials said.

More than two months after the carnage of the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, victims and immediate family members of those involved in the massacre can now apply for financial assistance from the fund that has drawn millions of dollars in donations.

One Fund El Paso, the group that has raised more than $6 million since the Aug. 3 shooting, is hosting a community resource fair on Saturday to help those who may qualify to navigate the application process.

The 21-year-old white man accused of driving more than 11 hours through Texas to kill Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart in August pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges on Thursday, contradicting a confession he made following the shooting, according to police documents.

In his first public court appearance, Patrick Crusius remained calm, speaking only twice in response to the judge's questions. The hearing lasted for three minutes.

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