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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.

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.

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.

More Americans are ordering more rounds, and that's leading to more funerals, according to a new study on alcohol-related deaths.

Looking at data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers estimate deaths from alcohol-related problems have more than doubled over the past nearly 20 years.

Death certificates spanning 2017 indicate nearly 73,000 people died in the U.S because of liver disease and other alcohol-related illnesses. That is up from just under 36,000 deaths in 1999.

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.

Updated at 10:50 p.m. ET

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is calling up 3,000 reservists for operations related to the massive bushfires in eastern Australia that have forced mass evacuations and killed at least 11 people since Monday.

Record heat has contributed to the ferocity of blazes. Flames now threaten the outskirts of the country's largest city, Sydney.

As international law enforcement authorities try to figure out how former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escaped from Japan to Lebanon while the millionaire was out on bail, some pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

Surveillance video taken outside of Ghosn's Tokyo home shows the former chairman leaving the house around noon, shortly before fleeing, NHK reported on Friday.

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.

A 40-year-old Chinese national convicted of murder was executed in Japan on Thursday. His hanging marks the first execution of a foreign-born prisoner in that country in a decade.

Wei Wei, who was living in Japan on a student visa, was found guilty of burglarizing the family home of a clothing shop owner and killing the entire family in 2003.

The offices of Russia's most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, have been raided by security forces in Moscow.

Video of the Thursday raid posted online shows a shower of fiery sparks as the door to Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation office is forced open with power tools.

As NPR reported, once inside officers in face masks ordered the staff to stand against a wall while they confiscated office and broadcasting equipment.

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.

The number of vaping deaths have climbed over 50 as the outbreak of lung injury cases have topped 2,500 nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the number of hospitalizations slowed in recent weeks, the latest figures released on Thursday show that most people who have had lung injuries after vaping had consumed THC-containing products.

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.

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.

A law enforcement scandal that could impact thousands of criminal cases in Orange County, Calif., is pitting the region's top attorneys and sheriffs against one another.

The county's public defender's office on Wednesday suggested that top prosecutors covered for law enforcement, helping to keep widespread lapses in evidence booking out of public view. Now, Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders is demanding to know who knew what and when.

President Trump on Tuesday raised the prospect of postponing a trade deal with China until after the 2020 election, shaking market confidence and sending stocks tumbling.

"A China trade deal is dependent on one thing — do I want to make it," Trump told reporters in London, where he is attending the NATO summit.

"In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right," he added.

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.

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