Vanessa Romo | WCAI

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 at 8:41 p.m. ET

Mei Xiang, the 22-year-old panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, has given birth to a cub.

"A precious giant panda cub has arrived!" officials announced Friday, adding that they are "overjoyed."

The latest addition to the zoo was born at 6:35 p.m. ET, and zoo officials said that Mama Panda "is caring for her newborn attentively."

"Positive mothering behaviors include nursing her cub and cuddling it close."

Updated 1:05 p.m. ET

Lightning strikes, extreme weather conditions, dangerous levels of smoke and ash, and a deadly pandemic are pushing firefighters and the communities they're trying to save into uncharted territory.

Firefighters are battling more than a dozen wildfires across California as a scorching heat wave continues to bear down on the state. And in the midst of record-breaking temperatures, rare lightning storms have also sparked a handful of new fires that continue to rage on.

"We are all experiencing rather extraordinary conditions," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, adding that there are about 15 fires burning in the northern and southern ends of the state.

In a blow to gun control activists, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that California's ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines is unconstitutional, violating the Second Amendment.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel of judges found that such firearm magazines are protected arms under the Second Amendment and are not "unusual arms" that would fall outside its scope.

Gov. Brain Kemp is taking a new approach in his battle over face masks with Atlanta's mayor. Rather than have a judge rule on the conflict, he's going to issue a new order on the subject.

On Thursday Kemp announced the attorney general's office has withdrawn a lawsuit he filed against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, when she moved to reinstate more restrictive COVID-19-related safeguards.

Flanked by more than a dozen community leaders, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday that his office will not pursue cases against most Portland protesters.

The new policy states that only demonstrators who were involved in "deliberate property damage, theft or force against another person or threats of force" may face charges.

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration would "surge" federal law enforcement officials to help fight crime in Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the Justice Department's controversial Operation Legend.

Trump accused local politicians in the cities of not doing enough to address what he says are waves of crime as the public and some politicians call for the reduction of police department budgets.

The Justice Department has executed Dustin Lee Honken in Terre Haute, Ind., the third federal inmate put to death by the government this week.

Honken, 52, was sentenced to die in October 2005 after being convicted of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder — among them two small children — during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise.

A coroner pronounced him dead by lethal injection at 4:36 p.m. ET Friday.

At the time of his death, Honken had served more than 22 years in an Indiana prison.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms following her efforts to require face masks in public places as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket across the nation.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, asserts that Kemp alone "leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic" and adds he has the power "to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders."

The Dakota Access Pipeline may continue to pump crude oil through South Dakota after a federal appellate court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a shutdown ordered by a lower court that was to begin next month.

Three former staff members of a Michigan youth home have been charged in the death of a 16-year-old Black boy. He died last month after employees sat on his chest, abdomen and legs in an effort to restrain him.

The mystery near and around Stonehenge keeps growing.

The latest revelation is the discovery of a ring of at least 20 prehistoric shafts about 2 miles from the famous Neolithic site of immense upright stones, according to an announcement from the University of Bradford.

Phoenix has joined several cities across Arizona requiring residents to wear masks in public spaces as the state contends with an aggressive spike in coronavirus cases.

The City Council voted Friday to implement the mandatory face covering rule, which will go into effect on Saturday at 6 a.m.

Updated at 8:39 p.m. ET

Californians are required to wear face coverings in high-risk settings as the state continues to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide order on Thursday. It follows new guidance from the California Department of Public Health that asymptomatic or presymptomatic people can still spread the disease.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

NASCAR has banned the Confederate battle flag at all of its events and properties.

In a Wednesday tweet, the stock car racing organization said the presence of the flag "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and industry."

"Bringing people together around the love of racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sports special," the statement said.

The American Civil Liberties Union says a federal judge has temporarily blocked the deportation of a 16-year-old Honduran boy in a case that challenges the Trump administration's recently enacted policy, based on federal health statutes, of expelling unaccompanied minors without due process.

The ACLU says the boy entered the United States alone last week and was scheduled to be deported Wednesday. According to the ACLU, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the D.C. Circuit blocked the deportation late Tuesday.

Thousands of protesters who have been arrested in Los Angeles for violating curfew or failing to disperse will not be prosecuted, county and city officials announced Monday.

Manhattan's district attorney will not prosecute protesters arrested for breaking the city's curfew during the ongoing demonstrations against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance made the announcement Friday, saying the previous policy allowed people to have the low-level offenses dismissed within six months.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET

One week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody, demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism continued across the United States. Many cities imposed curfews, and President Trump again warned he would order active duty military forces to restore order if state and local governments, in his judgement, failed to do so.

Here are details of some protests around the country.

St. Louis

Updated 7:37 p.m. ET

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a new autopsy report Monday, ruling George Floyd's death was a homicide. The office said Floyd's heart and lungs stopped functioning "while being restrained" by law enforcement officers.

Floyd died due to "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression," according to the report.

Planned Parenthood scored a victory in Missouri on Friday in a ruling that allowed the state's only abortion provider to keep its doors open.

In a 97-page decision, a state administrative commission said the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services wrongfully denied the reproductive health organization a license renewal for a St. Louis clinic in 2019.

California churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship can reopen, the California Department of Public Health announced on Monday. Additionally, in-store retailers are allowed to resume business throughout the state.

The changes are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest round of modifications to the state's stay-at-home order that is intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made an unannounced visit to Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Del., on Monday.

It's the first time Biden has left the area around his home in Wilmington since mid-March, when he began self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He and his wife, Jill Biden, both wearing black masks, placed a wreath before a memorial wall commemorating war veterans from Delaware and New Jersey.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will follow through on her threat to take legal action against two Native American tribes that have defied orders to remove highway checkpoints onto tribal land in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on their reservations.

Coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities have surpassed a grim threshold in much of the country, accounting for at least a third of the deaths in 26 states and more than half in 14 of those.

The data, which was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports tallies from a variety of care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care residences, and other skilled nursing care settings. However, it does not break out those categories separately.

Pages