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.

California has a giant rodent problem.

To clarify, it's not that California has a huge problem with run-of-the-mill rats, it's that the state has an emerging problem with jumbo-sized critters.

Nutria, otherwise called Myocastor coypus, were thought to have been eradicated from the state's wetlands and rivers as far back as 1965, but they have mysteriously reappeared in three counties over the past year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Peter Tira told NPR.

The Albuquerque Journal issued an apology Thursday for running a nationally syndicated cartoon that has been assailed as a racist attack on Latino immigrants by critics.

"In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions. This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes," Editor Karen Moses wrote in the paper.

Just days after a monthlong hiatus from making megabucks-generating videos, YouTube vlogger Logan Paul is in trouble again for creating more questionable content.

Seattle's mayor and city attorney announced plans to ask the courts to vacate all misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions that were prosecuted before it was legalized in Washington state in 2012 — a move that could affect the records of hundreds of people.

For years, pot convictions have had painful implications on the everyday lives of Washington's most vulnerable populations, Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a press conference Thursday.

"It could be a barrier to housing, to getting credit, to getting good jobs and an education," she said.

A federal judge concerned over the safety of jurors has ordered special protections for the panel of people who will eventually determine the fate of the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, according to court documents obtained by NPR.

Updated at 2:45 a.m. ET Wednesday

A series of earthquakes is rocking Taiwan, leaving at least four people dead and more than 100 injured, according to The Associated Press, which cites Taiwan's premier, William Lai.

The shaking started late Tuesday night local time, toppling buildings, destroying one bridge and buckling paved streets along the island's eastern coast. The quakes continue to jolt the area near Hualien County through early Wednesday morning.

The latest AP tally reports 225 people injured and more than 140 unaccounted for.

Actor John Mahoney, best-known for his portrayal of the grouchy and sharp-witted father of the title character in the TV show Frasier, died Sunday. He was 77.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company confirmed his death, saying in a statement, "John Mahoney passed away due to complications from cancer while in hospice care on Sunday."

For 11 years, from 1993 to 2004, Mahoney played the blue-collar, retired-cop foil to Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, his dandy and effete sons on the NBC hit show.

Federal prosecutors have charged Douglas Haig, a man identified earlier this week as "a person of interest" in the Las Vegas mass shooting, with selling bullets he had modified to make them more potent — referred to as armor-piercing.

The 55-year-old aerospace engineer did not have a license to manufacture and sell the armor-piercing bullets he sold to Stephen Paddock in the weeks before the massacre that left 58 people dead. Paddock died at the scene from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Here's a reminder that while you are out in the world buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning or catching up on The Crown, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is on the red planet doing work.

A woman who was sexually assaulted by a Stanford University swimmer outside a campus fraternity party will no longer participate in the creation of a memorial marking the site of her attack.

University spokesman Ernest Miranda told The Associated Press Tuesday the decision was made after campus officials and the victim, who was attacked while unconscious by then-star swimmer Brock Turner, failed to agree on a quote to include on the plaque.

Updated 6:45 p.m. ET

Actor Mark Salling died Tuesday in what was reported to the coroner's office as a suicide by hanging. No official determination on whether it was suicide has been annouced. The 35-year-old former Glee star was weeks away from sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor.

Attorney Michael Proctor confirmed Salling's death.

German carmakers Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler are already facing an onslaught of outrage by animal rights activists and environmentalists for emissions research they conducted on monkeys, but new reports from two German news outlets say the companies also financed human testing.

Venezuela's pro-government Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the main opposition coalition won't be allowed to register for the presidential election, a decision that is fueling accusations of election rigging even before people head to the polls.

The ruling follows the government's decision, under President Nicolás Maduro and the United Socialist Party, to hold early elections, before April 30.

Casey Affleck will not be presenting the trophy for best actress at the upcoming Academy Awards, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press Thursday.

It is customary for the previous year's best actor to return to present the best-actress award. Affleck won the award for his performance in Manchester By the Sea.

A panel of scientists and policy experts moved their Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight on Thursday, citing President Trump's rhetoric on nuclear weapons, environmental deterioration due to climate change and a lack of trust in political institutions.

"We are very concerned with the unpredictability of the United States and how it's thinking of its nuclear weapons," Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which created the clock, told NPR.

Because there are no second takes, re-shoots or do-overs at the Oscars, PwC, the accounting firm that tabulates votes for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has devised new rules for how winners are announced at this year's awards.

Caught in a renewed firestorm of controversy, Pope Francis apologized for remarks he made last week defending a Chilean bishop accused of covering up decades of sexual abuse. But the pontiff held fast in his support of the bishop, maintaining his innocence.

The Department of Justice intends to retry Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Salomon Melgen, after a federal judge declared a mistrial in the bribery and fraud case.

The notice, filed Friday, was brief and requested a retrial "at the earliest possible date."

"The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review," the department explained in a statement. "The conduct alleged in the indictment is serious and warrants retrial before a jury of citizens in the District of New Jersey."

Put away the soy sauce and wasabi and get ready to be grossed out.

A Fresno man and avid lover of sushi — more specifically, salmon sashimi — pulled a 5 1/2 foot-long tapeworm out his own body. It had been growing inside of him for some time.

Dr. Kenny Banh recounted the gruesome story as a guest on a recent episode of "This Won't Hurt A Bit," a medical podcast that dissects odd or unusual health cases with experts.

Editor's note: This report includes disturbing descriptions of abuse.

Walmart is the latest national company joining in the fight to try to help curb America's harrowing opioid epidemic, which now kills more people than breast cancer.

As the prospect of a long-term immigration deal for young people who were brought to the country illegally as children dwindles, the Justice Department is appealing a court ruling that blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The department says it will take "the rare step" later this week of filing a petition asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

Nearly 90 women who allege they were sexually assaulted by a former USA Gymnastics doctor plan to speak about the abuse during a four-day sentencing hearing that started Tuesday.

Larry Nassar is accused of sexually abusing more than 140 women and girls as the doctor for Team USA and Michigan State University.

He has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Mich., to seven first-degree sexual assault charges. Before ordering a sentence, the judge in the case is allowing all of his accusers to speak if they want to.

Updated at 1:40 a.m. ET Tuesday

Some members of the Trump administration started off the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at a wreath-laying ceremony at the civil rights leader's memorial in Washington Monday. But the president's first stop was his own golf club.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has postponed a planned Tuesday session on nuclear attack preparedness, deciding instead to focus the workshop on influenza.

The agency announced the switch in topics late Friday, citing the spike in flu cases as the reason for the pivot.

Newly released court documents show the Las Vegas shooter's girlfriend deleted her Facebook account before police announced the identity of the gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern history.

Chaos and panic broke out aboard a Turkish plane that skidded off the runway, slid down the edge of a cliff and stopped just short of plunging into the Black Sea.

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans not to travel to five Mexican states, issuing a "do not travel" advisory.

"Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread," the State Department said in the notice Thursday.

Updated at 8:11 p.m. ET

Officials have released the identities of 17 people killed in Tuesday's Santa Barbara, Calif., mudslides, as workers continue search and rescue efforts for victims caught in the deluge that swamped houses, crumpled cars and sent boulders careening through streets.

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