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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.

Updated on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET

The U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday targeting Iranian-backed militia groups in the first known offensive military operation carried out by the Biden administration.

President Biden on Wednesday revoked a freeze that his predecessor had put on many types of visas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the order did not advance U.S. interests and hurt industries and individuals alike.

"It harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here," Biden said in a proclamation revoking the measure.

Tiger Woods will not face reckless driving charges in the rollover accident in which the renowned golfer totaled an SUV he was driving down a dangerously steep road in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Tuesday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters on Wednesday that the department has ruled the single-vehicle crash an accident although a traffic investigation is ongoing.

A reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor crime "that has a lot of elements to it," Villanueva said during an online press conference.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered emergency inspections of Boeing 777 aircraft with engines like the one that exploded on a United Airlines jet last weekend.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

New York Attorney General Letitia James says a grand jury voted that no charges will be filed against Rochester police officers in connection with the March 2020 death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was in the midst of a mental health free fall during his encounter with the police.

Without power to run water treatment plants, city and state officials across Texas are pleading with residents to conserve water and are issuing boil-water notices.

The warnings not to consume water out of the tap began in many places as early as Monday, but as of Wednesday night many municipalities had expanded those orders as the state grapples with the ongoing weather, energy and water crises that have placed unprecedented strain on the state's entire power grid.

President Biden's COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20% to 13.5 million doses this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced.

Psaki also said the supply going directly to pharmacies will double to 2 million this week.

Before taking office, Biden promised to improve and streamline Trump's Operation Warp Speed and pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses into arms in the first 100 days of his administration.

Three former Aurora, Colo., police officers have lost a bid to get their jobs back after being fired in connection to posed photos reenacting a chokehold near the site where Elijah McClain was pinned down by police.

The city's Civil Service Commission upheld the firings of Officers Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jason Rosenblatt. A fourth officer resigned before the others were kicked out of the department.

While the U.S. Senate began its second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, local lawmakers in the town of Palm Beach, Fla., also gathered to consider the former president's fate – specifically, whether to let him live full-time at his sprawling private club, Mar-a-Lago.

In a presentation at the council, John Marion, who represents Trump, argued that the former president meets the definition of a "bona fide" employee of the swanky club, and therefore can legally reside there.

Ethan Nordean, a self-described "Sergeant of Arms" in the extremist group the Proud Boys, will remain in custody for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol riot until his trial hearing later this month.

A Seattle magistrate judge on Monday ruled that Nordean, who also goes by Rufio Panman, would be released on bond but then halted the decision, giving the Department of Justice time to appeal. Hours later, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ordered Nordean's return to the capital pending the appeal.

Updated at 7:11 p.m. ET

The Senate voted 87-7 on Monday to confirm President Biden's pick, Denis McDonough, to serve as Veterans Affairs secretary, making him only the second non-veteran to lead the troubled department.

A maskless President Biden addressed the nation Wednesday night standing at the feet of Abraham Lincoln Memorial during a televised and star-studded celebration of the historic inauguration.

"We're good people," he reassured viewers, before picking up the theme of his earlier speech on the steps of the Capitol.

"Unity forces us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans," Biden said.

Maine health officials discovered that a majority of Moderna vaccine shipments received across the state on Monday were not kept adequately cold during transport, meaning 4,400 doses may have to be thrown out.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the announcement during a "sad and somber" coronavirus briefing on Tuesday and said the problem extends to other states as well.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET Wednesday

The months-long investigation into allegations that Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina engaged in insider trading has been closed by the Justice Department and it will not pursue any charges, the GOP senator announced on Tuesday.

"Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year. The case is now closed," Burr said in a statement.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has a new reason to raise a clenched fist in the air: After much controversy, his book The Tyranny of Big Tech will be published.

Washington-based Regnery Publishing, which aims to spread the message of "prominent and lasting voices in American conservatism," announced on Monday it will publish the title in May.

The Aurora, Colo., Police Department officers who held a woman and four Black girls ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old at gunpoint after wrongly suspecting they were in a stolen car, will not face any charges.

The decision puts an end to months of review by the District Attorney's Office of the 18th Judicial District, which called the incident "disturbing" but ultimately ruled the officers hadn't acted unlawfully during the traffic stop.

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that it repeatedly concealed and lied about the 737 Max's engineering problems that led to two catastrophic crashes claiming hundreds of lives.

The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of the deferred prosecution agreement announced on Thursday and will face no further charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

President Trump has signed an executive order banning business with several leading Chinese technology companies, claiming apps run by the companies have the ability to spy on Americans, including federal employees.

Trump's order seeks to prohibit transactions with eight companies including Alipay, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma; the payment platform on the popular app WeChat; and a Chinese messaging service called QQ owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Other software apps included in the order are CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, VMate and WPS Office.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning health care workers that any changes to the authorized dosing schedules of COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered will significantly place public health at risk and undermine "the historic vaccination effort to protect the population" from the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET

The Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine at Christmastime told police he did it because he believed the drug is somehow hazardous.

"He'd formed this belief they were unsafe," Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said of Steven Brandenburg on Monday during a virtual hearing, The Associated Press reported.

Florida is the third U.S. state to announce it has a case of the more contagious coronavirus strain that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

A man in his 20s, with no history of travel, tested positive for the mutated coronavirus. The state Department of Health said he is in Martin County.

Updated at 2:05 a.m. ET

A Milwaukee pharmacist was arrested Thursday and accused of "tampering with and causing the destruction" of more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus last week, Grafton, Wis., police confirmed.

In a statement, Grafton Police Department officials said the pharmacist — now fired from the Advocate Aurora Health hospital system — was arrested on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.

The new highly contagious coronavirus strain from the U.K. has spread to Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday.

He made the statement during an online conversation about the pandemic with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, but Newsom offered little additional information about the circumstances of the diagnosis.

The first case of the coronavirus variant in the U.S. was detected in Colorado on Tuesday. Experts have said it spreads faster than the common strain.

The U.S. Department of Justice will not charge any of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old boy who was killed by police in Cleveland in 2014. The department has closed its investigation.

The Justice Department announced it found insufficient evidence to "support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback."

Updated 11 p.m. ET

President Trump issued dozens more pardons on Wednesday evening to many wealthy and well-connected convicts with ties to his innermost circles, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father-in-law of Ivanka Trump.

In total, Trump pardoned 26 people and commuted the sentences of three more people — the second consecutive night of what is expected to be a flurry of acts of clemency before he leaves office.

Updated at 9:33 p.m., Dec. 28, 2020

Seventy-three suspected cheaters, one critical mistake.

Dozens of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were caught cheating on a calculus final exam in May after they all made the same errors on the test, according to officials.

The U.S. State Department is shutting down its consulate in Vladivostok, Russia, and suspending operations at one in Yekaterinburg, officials confirmed on Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consulted with Ambassador John Sullivan before deciding to implement the changes which the department says will "optimize the work of the U.S. mission in Russia," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The move is part of U.S. "ongoing efforts to ensure the safe and secure operation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation," the official wrote.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

Debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccinations will be swiftly removed from Twitter starting next week, the company announced on Wednesday.

And moving into 2021, officials said, the company may start placing labels or warnings on messages containing "unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines."

The Minnesota Board of Pardons on Tuesday commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell, a Black man who was sentenced to life in prison as a minor.

Burrell, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, was accused of fatally shooting an 11-year old girl, who was struck by a stray bullet while doing her homework inside her family's Minneapolis home.

Following the announcement of his imminent release, Burrell held back tears.

"Thank you. Thank you very much," he said reaching a hand out to the camera.

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