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.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced he will support changes to the military justice system that would take sexual assault cases away from the chain of command and let independent military lawyers handle them.

In a statement on Tuesday, Austin said he will present President Biden with a series of recommendations aiming to "finally end the scourge of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military."

Just as hundreds of thousands of Americans return to the skies again this summer, many of the old inconveniences and aggravations of commercial airline travel are back, too. And experts say travelers should expect ongoing problems throughout the busy summer season.

Long lines at security checkpoints, disruptive passengers and lengthy flight delays and cancellations are greeting many air travelers who may not have boarded a plane in 15 months or more because of the pandemic.

Updated June 21, 2021 at 10:06 PM ET

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out in a personal Instagram post on Monday, saying he has "agonized over this moment for the last 15 years."

"I just want to take a quick moment to say that I'm gay," Nassib said in an Instagram video he posted on his verified Instagram account. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest."

File under sorry not sorry.

The wealthy husband-and-wife team who were slapped with criminal charges for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, Mo., last year, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in court on Thursday and agreed to give up the guns seized during the investigation.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 4:23 PM ET

Opal Lee is 94, and she's doing a holy dance.

It's a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do.

Ever since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states. President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier.

Jennifer Rocha wanted to hear the rustle of her black graduation gown against the bell pepper bushes in the California farm fields. She wanted to see the hem float above the dirt paths that she and her parents have spent years walking as a family while plucking heavy gallons of perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables that end up in America's grocery stores.

That's why she decided to take her college graduation photos in the same hot vegetable fields in Coachella, Calif., where she has worked with her parents since she was in high school.

As temperatures rise in California and people in search of respite head for the beach, there's a new concern beyond damaging sun rays and strong undercurrents: disease-carrying ticks that appear to be spreading all along the Golden State's coast.

Updated June 10, 2021 at 1:31 PM ET

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico's most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, pleaded guilty Thursday to helping him run the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Coronel was captured and arrested by U.S. officials as she arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in February.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department have issued new travel advisories lowering the threat of COVID-19 in more than 90 countries and territories, including Japan, which is in the grips of a new wave of infections ahead of the Olympics next month.

The Department of Justice on Monday touted the recovery of $2.3 million — about half — of the ransom that was collected by hackers in the Colonial Pipeline attack last month. Experts say it was a surprising outcome to an increasingly frequent and severe crime.

Updated June 7, 2021 at 4:27 PM ET

The government has recovered a "majority" of the millions of dollars paid in ransom to hackers behind the cyberattack that prompted last month's shutdown of Colonial Pipeline, officials announced Monday.

"The Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid to the DarkSide network in the wake of last month's ransomware attack," Lisa Monaco, U.S. deputy attorney general, said during a press conference.

Updated June 4, 2021 at 6:57 AM ET

It's National Donut Day. And shops across the country are celebrating by giving away deliciously fluffy, airy, sugary goodies. But we're concerned with the more pressing issue: Does anyone actually still spell it D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T?

Mary McCoy, senior librarian in the arts, music and recreation department at the Los Angeles Central Library, says that is her preferred spelling, though she admits "the O-U-G-H version is definitely unwieldy."

Adventurous tourists travel to Alaska for various delights including the state's abundant wildlife, sparkling glaciers and dazzling northern lights.

Now officials are offering another attraction: free COVID-19 vaccines.

It's part of an effort to jump-start a floundering summer tourism industry that's been devastated by the pandemic's cruise bans and travel warnings. Officials hope the added incentive of a COVID-19 vaccine will attract visitors.

A weekend cyberattack on the world's largest meat processor won't have an immediate effect on U.S. prices, analysts said on the heels of an announcement that the company plans to restart production on Wednesday. But if the suspension across JBS USA's five plants continues for more than a week, then consumers could expect to pay a little more for a T-bone steak.

A 17-year-old Southern California girl got in a shoving match with a bear to protect her dogs and walked away nearly unscathed.

Hailey Morinico and her mother were gardening in their backyard in Bradbury, Calif., on Monday afternoon when a bear and her cubs began walking atop a cinder block wall at one end of the garden.

South America's greatest soccer contest may be moved to Brazil in a last-minute maneuver to save the troubled tournament less than two weeks before kick-off, but Brazilian officials say there is more to consider.

Millions of Americans are grabbing a quick getaway this Memorial Day weekend, now that COVID-19 cases are down and vaccination rates are up.

And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those who are vaccinated can go ahead and embrace those #shotgirlsummer vibes, there are some things you should keep in mind as you hit the road — including the fact that the seven-day average of new U.S. COVID-19 cases is still hovering around 24,000 infections per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and 50% of the population hasn't been vaccinated.

Workplace mass shootings are rare, but the killing of nine people by a fellow employee at a Northern California rail yard on Wednesday marks the third such rampage in under two months.

That could foreshadow a rise in this type of violence after the nationwide shutdown of businesses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego.

However, Schildkraut stresses that while such shootings "are increasing incrementally in frequency, they're still extremely statistically rare."

The brazen arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian government, in which it forced the plane he was aboard to land in Minsk, has sent a chill down the spine of the international community.

Protasevich, the former editor and founder of Nexta, an anti-regime blog and social media channel, has been instrumental in leading protests against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Prince William and Prince Harry on Thursday blamed the BBC for its role in the tragic death of their mother, Princess Diana, whose life they say was irrevocably damaged by a bombshell interview she gave in 1995 that was obtained through a scheme of forgery and deceit.

The broadcaster "made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fueled paranoia," Prince William said in a video statement.

Twitter announced on Thursday it has started accepting applications for its coveted blue check under a newly rolled out set of guidelines.

The company stopped giving the badges after approving the account of white nationalist Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville, Va. Public outrage over Kessler's verified status prompted the company to temporarily stop issuing the checks while it came up with a new set of rules.

Multiple charges have been filed against two former Colorado police officers for their roles in the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia last year.

The charges were filed on Wednesday against former Loveland Police Department officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali, who arrested and booked Karen Garner as she was walking home from a local Walmart after failing to pay for about $14 worth of merchandise.

Fox News has asked a Delaware court to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems over the network's coverage of the 2020 vote count, arguing it "threatens to stifle the media's free-speech right to inform the public about newsworthy allegations of paramount public concern."

What in other years would likely not be huge news is this year making headlines: President Joe Biden has released his tax returns.

The release of his financial records, as well as those of Vice President Kamala Harris, marks the return of a White House tradition defied by former President Donald Trump during the 45th president's term in office.

Updated June 22, 2021 at 1:14 PM ET

Tens of millions of American families are eligible for monthly payments of up to $300 through the newly expanded child tax credit starting on July 15, the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department announced last month.

After more than a year of telling Americans to cover their faces and keep their distance whenever they're in public, the Centers for of Disease Control and Prevention is now advising that masks aren't necessary in most indoor spaces, as long as someone is fully vaccinated.

"Now is the moment" to relax the guidance for vaccinated Americans, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday.

She credited a drop in infections, effective vaccines and availability of the shots to nearly everyone who wants one.

Financially strapped American families are now eligible for an emergency discount on their internet service under a COVID-19 relief program that went into effect on Wednesday.

The Colonial Pipeline hack that shut down the major gasoline and jet fuel pipeline to large swaths of the South and the East Coast is leading to temporary shortages.

After weeks of legal maneuvers, Andrew Brown Jr.'s family finally had the opportunity on Tuesday to see more of the last moments of the 42-year-old's life before he was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies in Elizabeth City, N.C., last month.

Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, is directing more than $1 billion toward the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the country's far-right president announced Monday, Reuters reported.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized lockdown measures and has told Brazilians to "stop whining" about the deadly virus, said about $1.05 billion will be spent on the inoculation effort.

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