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Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.

Wamsley got her start at NPR as an intern for Weekend Edition Saturday in January 2007 and stayed on as a production assistant for NPR's flagship news programs, before joining the Washington Desk for the 2008 election.

She then left NPR, doing freelance writing and editing in Austin, Texas, and then working in various marketing roles for technology companies in Austin and Chicago.

In November 2015, Wamsley returned to NPR as an associate producer for the National Desk, where she covered stories including Hurricane Matthew in coastal Georgia. She became a Newsdesk reporter in March 2017, and has since covered subjects including climate change, possibilities for social networks beyond Facebook, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and joke theft.

In 2010, Wamsley was a Journalism and Women Symposium Fellow and participated in the German-American Fulbright Commission's Berlin Capital Program, and was a 2016 Voqal Foundation Fellow. She will spend two months reporting from Germany as a 2019 Arthur F. Burns Fellow, a program of the International Center for Journalists.

Wamsley earned a B.A. with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Wamsley holds a master's degree from Ohio University, where she was a Public Media Fellow and worked at NPR Member station WOUB. A native of Athens, Ohio, she now lives and bikes in Washington, DC.

Updated at 10:28 p.m. ET

Northern California is grappling with a new threat: the Kincade Fire. It has already burned through more than 16,000 acres in Sonoma County.

The blaze began Wednesday night.

Two of Rudy Giuliani's associates appeared in federal court Wednesday in Manhattan, where they pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally funneling foreign donations to U.S. political candidates.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are both U.S. citizens born in the former Soviet Union: Parnas in Ukraine, and Fruman in Belarus.

For days, people have gathered in the central squares of cities across Lebanon. They've chanted, they've sung, they've carried cheeky signs.

What do they want? Wholesale change in their political system. When do they want it? Now.

The government took notice, and announced a raft of changes: No new taxes. Halving government officials' salaries. Privatizing the telecom industry because cellphone plans in the county are so expensive. Fast-tracking licenses for new power plants, as there are daily electricity cuts in most Lebanese cities.

In only the second climate change trial in the U.S., Exxon Mobil goes to court Tuesday accused of defrauding shareholders and the public. New York's attorney general brought the suit, which alleges that the oil giant misrepresented how carbon regulation would affect the company's financial outlook.

The U.S. may now keep some troops in northeast Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday. It is the latest in a series of consequential pivots that the Trump administration has made in its Syria policy.

A protest by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion sparked violence and disruption at a train station on Thursday. Before the sun had come up, some trains were at a standstill. Protesters had climbed atop the railcars; at least one grandfather had glued his hand to one.

In a bizarre moment Tuesday that seemed straight out of reality television, President Trump dropped a bombshell on a grieving British family — surprising them with the news that the woman who had killed their son in a car crash was in a nearby room and then urging the family to meet with her.

A thief walked into a San Francisco gallery on Sunday afternoon, plucked a rare Salvador Dalí from an easel in the front window, and strode out the door.

Rasjad Hopkins, associate director at Dennis Rae Fine Art Gallery, was working at the time. The door to the gallery was open, and Hopkins had his back turned.

"Snatch and run," Hopkins tells NPR.

It took just a few minutes to realize the etching was gone. For some reason, the work hadn't been locked with a tether as it normally was.

Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast of our time – or any time in history. She proved that Sunday at the World Championships, where she raked in her 24th and 25th world medals, both gold.

Biles, 22, took home five of the six golds to be won in Stuttgart, Germany, winning the top of the podium in team competition, all-around, and vault in addition to floor and beam. (On the uneven bars, she took fifth.)

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET

All U.S. forces involved in the anti-ISIS fight will withdraw from northeast Syria in the coming days, according to two U.S. officials close to the conflict. Only a small garrison of U.S. troops will remain at al-Tanf near Syria's border with Iraq and Jordan.

The troops in border areas are endangered by Turkey's incursion against Kurdish-led forces. The move is a sudden change in policy by the Trump administration.

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET

Federal judges in three states — New York, California and Washington — have issued temporary injunctions against the Trump administration's "public charge" rule, preventing it from taking effect on Oct. 15.

The controversial rule would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards if it looks as though they might need public assistance. Titled "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds," the rule sparked several legal challenges.

Updated at 7:48 p.m. ET

The United Nations Secretary-General warned this week that the organization is facing a "cash crisis" if member states do not pay the annual dues they owe: $1.3 billion in payments are outstanding.

For some 40 years, women have been largely banned from attending soccer matches at Iran's stadiums. But under pressure from FIFA, soccer's governing body, Iranian authorities are allowing a few thousand women to watch a game Thursday at Tehran's Azadi Stadium – in a section separate from men.

Women were permitted to buy about 3,500 tickets to watch a World Cup qualifier between the men's teams of Iran and Cambodia.

Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET

Two people were shot and killed in the eastern German city of Halle on Wednesday. Police and witnesses say shots were fired in multiple locations, including outside a synagogue and near a Jewish cemetery.

The attack came as Jews observed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Germany's Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, said that based on current information authorities must assume it was an anti-Semitic attack.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Monday that will make HIV-prevention drugs available without a prescription. It allows pharmacists to dispense both PrEP, or preexposure prophylaxis, and PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis.

The wife of a U.S. diplomat is accused of using diplomatic immunity to flee the U.K. after she allegedly struck and killed a young man with her car in late August.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized the use of diplomatic immunity in the case and said he would raise the matter with the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. on Monday.

French lawmakers have approved a tax on digital companies that will affect U.S. tech behemoths known in France as "Les GAFA" — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

The U.S. government is already threatening to retaliate: On Wednesday, President Trump ordered a probe of the French tax. It's a sign that another trade war like the one between the U.S. and China could be stirring – except that it's with one of America's allies, and in this case, it's U.S. companies that are seen as the tax dodges.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended a 2008 plea agreement he oversaw as a U.S. attorney in Florida in which multimillionaire and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein got a light sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to state charges.

"Facts are important, and facts are being overlooked," Acosta told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

A constitutional challenge to President Trump's continued ownership of his businesses has been ordered dismissed by a federal appeals court.

The case was brought by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland, arguing that Trump had violated the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution by accepting money from state and foreign governments via his Washington hotel and business empire.

It's the end of an era — an era that has stretched on for a very long time, albeit with slightly different silhouettes.

The last Volkswagen Beetle, a third-generation Denim Blue coupe, will be produced in Puebla, Mexico, on Wednesday.

"It's impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished."

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Federal prosecutors have charged multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking of minors and paying victims to recruit other underage girls, accusing Epstein of creating a network that allowed him to sexually abuse dozens of young victims.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced two counts against Epstein on Monday morning: one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking, according to the indictment.

Epstein appeared in court Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty.

Before the World Cup began, nearly everyone predicted a final between the United States and, well, some team from Europe. Perhaps Germany, England or France. When the quarterfinals arrived, that soothsaying was on target: The Yanks and seven European squads remained.

Now all the blanks on the World Cup bracket have been filled in, save one. On Sunday, the mighty United States will battle the bright orange Netherlands as two soccer-crazed nations tune in.

Will the U.S. continue its march of greatness undaunted, or will the Dutch pull off an upset for the ages?

Temperatures climbed to 90 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday, breaking the all-time heat record for the northerly city.

Anchorage's previous record high (at least since 1952) was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, set on June 14, 1969.

U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican law enforcement are searching for a 2-year-old girl who went missing in the Rio Grande. They are searching a section of the river near the border city of Del Rio, Texas, which is about 150 miles west of San Antonio.

"Any time a child is lost it is a tragic event," said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz in a statement Tuesday evening. "I can not imagine the anguish the parents of this young girl must be feeling and I hope our search efforts pay off with a positive outcome."

Protests in Sudan demanding civilian rule were met by violence over the weekend. Tens of thousands of Sudanese filled the streets of the capital city, Khartoum, and other areas calling for the military government to relinquish control.

Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET

The man who drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killing one person and injuring 35 has been sentenced to spending the rest of his life in prison.

A federal judge issued the sentence of life without the possibility of parole on Friday for self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr., 22, of the Toledo, Ohio, area.

The Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship earlier this month, and the team's thrilling run has boosted the city's excitement about basketball to a new level.

But you wouldn't know it, watching a video posted this week of a Toronto city worker removing a basketball hoop from an outdoor court at one of the city's parks.

In the first seven days of the Women's World Cup, there have already been stunning goals, crushing defeats and no shortage of controversy. We've been following the action from France — oui, un croissant, s'il-vous plaît — and here are some of the key stories we've seen in a week of great soccer.

A very big win

One game at a time. That's the mantra of the U.S. women's soccer team today, as they play Thailand in their first match of the Women's World Cup in France — after watching every other team play first.

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off today in Paris. Twenty-four teams will vie for their chance at glory.

Here's what you need to know to follow all the action.

When does the Women's World Cup start?

The tournament begins at the Parc des Princes in Paris, where a strong team from host nation France takes on South Korea in the opening match. The schedule ramps up Saturday with three games: Germany vs. China, Spain vs. South Africa and Norway vs. Nigeria.

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