Vanessa Romo | WYPR

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.

Los Angeles County courts may soon throw out nearly 66,000 marijuana-related convictions of residents dating back more than 50 years.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has asked a judge to dismiss and seal the records of 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases as early as 1961, as well as, 3,700 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases.

Lacey, who is caught in a tight race for the district attorney seat against two progressive candidates, called it a marker of the sweeping change that can occur when government partners with technology leaders.

A Utah bill that would reduce polygamy among consenting adults from a felony to an infraction — on par with a traffic ticket — was unanimously endorsed by a state Senate committee earlier this week, despite opposition from critics who argue the law could potentially protect abusers.

The move advances Senate Bill 102 to the full chamber for a vote.

"Vigorous enforcement of the law during the mid-twentieth century did not deter the practice of plural marriage," Sen. Deidre Henderson told NPR.

The Trump administration disbanded a controversial wildlife advisory board that was criticized for promoting the benefits of international big game hunting. Now, the government is calling on courts to kill a years-long lawsuit it spawned.

"The Council will not meet or conduct any business again, it can no longer be renewed, and there [is] no plan to establish another committee with a similar mission or scope in the future," the Department of the Interior explained in a court filing Friday.

After living in the U.S. for five years, cousins Walter T. and Gaspar T. were deported to their home country of El Salvador in 2019, where they were ripped from their beds one night and beaten by police, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

"They began beating us until we arrived at the police barracks," Gaspar said in interviews.

After nearly a month on the run, Lesotho's first lady was reportedly charged on Tuesday with the murder of her husband's first wife.

Maesaiah Thabane, 42, stands accused of killing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's wife, Lipolelo, days before the his second inauguration ceremony in June 2017.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Picture a nude George Washington riding a white horse, wearing high heels and nothing but a coquettish pout on his lips. Now imagine a portrait of the scene hanging at the National Portrait Gallery in the nation's capital.

That's not much different from what is happening in Mexico's most prestigious museum, Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is displaying a controversial portrait of Emiliano Zapata, one of the country's most beloved revolutionary heroes.

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.

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.

The man believed to be the last living carver of Mount Rushmore has died.

Donald "Nick" Clifford was one of nearly 400 men and women who worked on the iconic American monument. He died on Saturday at a hospice in Rapid City, S.D., at the age of 98, his wife told NPR.

Clifford, who celebrated his last birthday in July, was immensely proud of his work on the mountainside as a teenager.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET

President Trump told reporters at the White House that he was "sticking up for the armed forces" in his pardons of military personnel.

The commander in chief has repeatedly intervened on behalf of the Navy SEAL recently convicted of misconduct. And Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Trump did it again over the weekend, directly ordering him to allow Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher to retire as a SEAL.

Twitter is letting users become their own moderators. The company announced Thursday that it has rolled out a new feature allowing users to hide replies to their tweets.

"Everyone should feel safe and comfortable while talking on Twitter," said Suzanne Xie, director of product management at Twitter, said in a blog post. "To make this happen, we need to change how conversations work on our service."

Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher may be stripped of his status as a Navy SEAL, potentially setting up a confrontation between the Navy's top brass and the commander in chief.

On Wednesday, Gallagher and three of his supervising officers were notified that a review board will be convened to determine whether the men should be allowed to remain in the elite SEALs.

For decades, Bruce Bagley has been regarded as a leading expert on organized crime in Latin America, particularly on money laundering. Now, the University of Miami professor is in trouble for the way he may have applied that knowledge.

Bagley was arrested Monday on charges of laundering $3 million on behalf of corrupt foreign nationals who collected the illicit funds through bribes and by embezzling from a public works project in Venezuela.

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