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.

In the voyage to the final frontier there is a wave of ridicule being directed toward President Trump who unveiled the U.S. Space Force logo on Friday afternoon.

"After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!" Trump tweeted.

Actress Annabella Sciorra took the stand Thursday in the criminal sex crimes trial of movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

She is the first of six women expected to testify that they were raped or sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

Weinstein is charged with five counts of rape and assault against two women in New York City. Weinstein maintains all of the sexual contact was consensual.

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.

The sudden death of rapper Juice WRLD as he landed in Chicago last month, was caused by an accidental overdose of codeine and oxycodone, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office revealed Wednesday.

New Jersey became the first state in the country to enact a law that guarantees severance pay for mass layoffs, according to the bill's sponsors this week.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday, ensures that businesses with 100 or more full-time employees pay their workers one week of severance pay for every year of service whenever widespread downsizing or plant closures affecting 50 or more employees is on the horizon. The law also requires employers to give workers at least 90 days notice when such changes are imminent. That's up from 60 days.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for water crisis victims to sue state and local government officials in Flint, Mich.

For years, Flint city officials and state regulators have argued that they are protected by "qualified immunity" from being sued for their role in the water contamination crisis. But lower courts have ruled to the contrary.

Angry residents took to the streets of Puerto Rico on Monday.

Fury over the government's mishandling of disaster aid following a spate of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, coupled with the recent discovery of unused supplies — some dating back to Hurricane Maria — is driving frustrated demonstrators to the gates of the governor's mansion.

The Pentagon is updating the way it vets foreign military students in the wake of the deadly shooting at the Pensacola, Fla., Naval Air Station by a Saudi military officer last month, officials announced.

Weeks after a powerful earthquake and dozens of aftershocks rocked Puerto Rico, citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the quakes will be granted access to some financial relief, officials announced on Thursday.

President Trump "declared that a major disaster exists" in the southern regions of Puerto Rico and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.

A 19-year-old man from Virginia appeared in court on Wednesday in connection with allegations that he made fake bomb and shooting threats to draw extreme law enforcement responses on unwitting people, as a member of a swatting ring linked to a neo-Nazi group.

John William Kirby Kelley, who went by "Carl" and "BotGod" online, was charged with conspiracy to make threats by the Department of Justice last week.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the latest casualty of the baseball cheating scheme that has rocked the sports world this week.

Cora, who was bench coach for the 2017 World Series-winning Houston Astros and went on to become manager for the Red Sox, and lead that team to victory in 2018, announced on Friday he is parting ways with Boston.

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.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that his state will not accept new refugees this year, making Texas the first state to reject resettlements under a new rule from President Trump.

Trump signed an executive order in September, saying that states and municipalities must give written consent before refugees can be resettled.

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.

Updated at 9:58 p.m. ET

The latest documents Boeing has released related to the design and certification of the 737 Max paint a dark picture of employee reactions to problems that came up during the development of the now-grounded airliners.

The documents include emails and internal communications. In one message, employees mock the Federal Aviation Administration and brag about getting regulators to approve the jets without requiring much additional pilot training.

Surveillance video taken outside of the Manhattan jail cell of accused child-sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein during his first suicide attempt was permanently deleted, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The admission, revealed in a court filing, provides another embarrassing glimpse into the failures by staff at the Metropolitan Correctional Center to adhere to protocol or keep accurate records on the troubled federal detention facility.

The request for the video was made by Epstein's former cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, who is awaiting trial on four drug-related killings.

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.

As the new year rolls across the globe — first in independent Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati, the first countries to ring in the new year, and ending, in a poetic circle-of-life-kind of way, in American Samoa — in the U.S., people are getting ready to usher in 2020 by looking up and watching a giant object fall from the sky.

The most famous, of course, is the dazzling lighted New Year's Eve ball that slides down a pole in New York's Times Square.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday he has approved recommendations to fire all of the correctional officer cadets who participated in an apparent Nazi salute during a class photo.

"As I said from the beginning, I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class 18 in the strongest possible terms," Justice said in a statement.

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by Charles Kupperman, a former aide to President Trump who had sought a ruling on whether he needed to comply with a subpoena from the House impeachment inquiry.

Kupperman was Trump's deputy national security adviser and briefly served as acting national security adviser. He listened to the president's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Radio shock jock Don Imus died Friday at the age of 79.

The broadcaster, who typically wore a cowboy hat, was a pioneer of the radio genre that prizes irreverence and caustic wit and had pushed back against political correctness.

Imus embraced those traits and was sometimes accused of tipping into sexist and racially insensitive territory.

He died at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in College Station, Texas; he had been hospitalized since Christmas Eve, his publicist said in a statement.

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.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a bill restoring voting rights to more than 80,000 people who are on probation or parole, making New Jersey one of several states to enact legislation granting former felons access to the ballot box.

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.

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