Vanessa Romo | WGLT

Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's Newsdesk. 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 Newsdesk, 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.

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.

The Mustang — one of the most quintessentially American cars — is about to kick off a new chapter. After years of secrecy, Ford is unveiling the Mustang Mach-E, an electric SUV "inspired" by the classic car's key design elements.

The big reveal is happening Sunday in Los Angeles, days ahead of the annual auto show there.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

Spain's Socialist Party again won parliamentary elections on Sunday, but it fell short of a majority, and the recently emerging far-right Vox party made major gains.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists earned 120 of 350 seats, three fewer than in April's election. In second, the mainstream conservative People's Party won 88 seats, up from 66 in the last vote.

Lawrence Levee's evacuation call came at 4 a.m. The Getty fire was just a few miles away. He and all of his Mandeville Canyon neighbors needed to evacuate.

He grabbed what he could and threw it into his bright blue electric Chevy Bolt. His car battery was only charged halfway, but that left him with plenty of power to make a quick getaway and then some.

But after driving around the next day, running errands in an area he didn't know well, he was in a pickle. He couldn't find a charging station. And he had 25 miles left to his tank.

A podcast hosted by Groot would easily become repetitive – "I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot?" and all that – but Marvel is betting fans of Star-Lord, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Wolverine are eager to hear about their life or universe-saving-missions on a weekly basis.

The Walt Disney-owned company announced Tuesday it's joining forces with SiriusXM and Pandora to launch a series of superhero-based shows in 2020.

As cars become smarter and safer, some members of Congress want to require them to be built to prevent drunk driving.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced legislation last week that would make it mandatory for all new cars and trucks to come loaded with passive, virtually unnoticeable, alcohol detection systems by 2024.

Turkey's defense ministry says the country's forces have captured a Syrian border city after clashes with Kurdish-led militias. But a Syrian monitoring group said the fight was still ongoing.

Turkish officials said on state media Saturday that the strategic town of Ras al-Ayn, which sits on the northeastern part of the border, has been "brought under control." Several surrounding villages have also been overtaken, the officials said.

More than two months after the carnage of the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, victims and immediate family members of those involved in the massacre can now apply for financial assistance from the fund that has drawn millions of dollars in donations.

One Fund El Paso, the group that has raised more than $6 million since the Aug. 3 shooting, is hosting a community resource fair on Saturday to help those who may qualify to navigate the application process.

The 21-year-old white man accused of driving more than 11 hours through Texas to kill Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart in August pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges on Thursday, contradicting a confession he made following the shooting, according to police documents.

In his first public court appearance, Patrick Crusius remained calm, speaking only twice in response to the judge's questions. The hearing lasted for three minutes.

Free software pioneer and renowned computer scientist Richard Stallman resigned from his post at MIT following recent comments about one of Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking accusers. He also resigned as president of the Free Software Foundation.

Shane Gillis, the comedian who has been under fire over the past few days for using racist and homophobic slurs on his podcast, has been fired from Saturday Night Live.

Gillis was one of three cast members recently added to the show, which is set to begin its 45th season. But the comedian was canned on Monday before ever making an appearance on the show.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of producer Lorne Michaels.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison on Friday for paying thousands of dollars to have one of her daughter's SAT scores inflated. She is the first parent to be sentenced in the massive college cheating scandal that has rocked the U.S. higher education system.

In addition, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said Huffman must serve 12 months of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine.

The 21-year-old white man accused of gunning down 22 people and wounded dozens of others at a Texas Walmart was formally indicted on a capital murder charge Thursday.

A grand jury in El Paso County indicted Patrick Crusius in connection with the mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart on Aug. 3, according to a statement from the El Paso District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Jaime Esparza said on Aug. 4 that he planned to seek the death penalty.

The suspect surrendered to law enforcement as he was driving away from the bloodbath, saying, "I'm the shooter."

A huge new marine heat wave has gripped the waters off the U.S. West Coast, threatening to ravage marine life and decimate commercial fishing over an expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

The new hot spot rivals "The Blob" — a gigantic patch of unusually warm water that appeared in nearly the exact same spot in 2014.

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Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET Tuesday

One day after a dive boat erupted in flames, killing at least 34 people, authorities are suspending their search efforts for survivors. At a news conference Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the bodies of 20 victims — 11 female and 9 male — have been recovered from the wreckage, while divers are still trying to recover the remains of several other victims they have spotted in the waters near California's Channel Islands.

Updated at 5:5o p.m. ET

For the first time, a U.S. military court judge in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has set a trial date for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four men charged with plotting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Judge W. Shane Cohen, an Air Force colonel who took over the case in June, said the trial should begin on Jan. 11, 2021, though a number of other deadlines would need to be met for the long-delayed trial to begin.

It turns out that in Maryland, reeking of marijuana is not sufficient probable cause for police to arrest and search a person.

In a unanimous ruling earlier this week, the state's Court of Appeals determined two police officers violated a man's Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unreasonable warrantless search of his person, after police found him in a car that smelled like pot.

For years, American smokers have been spared the unpleasant images of gangrene infected feet, swollen tongues overtaken by cancerous tumors and blackened lungs that are often plastered onto packs of cigarettes sold around the world. But that momentary reprieve before lighting up may only last a few more years.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned two Democratic U.S. congresswomen from visiting the country and the Palestinian territories this weekend, according to a government official.

Israeli radio reported that in an interview, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the country would bar entry to "those who reject our right to exist in the world."

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez has been sworn in as governor of Puerto Rico, ending for now the latest dizzying developments in Puerto Rican politics.

Pedro Pierluisi, who was just sworn in as governor on Friday, was removed from office because the commonwealth's Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that his swearing-in was unconstitutional.

Updated 4 p.m. ET

The shooter behind the grisly mass shooting that left 20 people dead and 26 wounded at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning has been identified by officials as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas.

State prosecutors in El Paso announced on Sunday that they will pursue the death penalty against Crusius.

Updated Sunday at 11 a.m. ET

Twenty people are dead and 26 wounded after a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning, according to state and local authorities.

Speaking at a news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said that what should have been a leisurely day of shopping "turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas."

"We pray that God will be with those who've been harmed in any way," he added.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

An administrative judge with the New York Police Department has recommended that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired for his role in the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

The judge found Pantaleo guilty of using a banned chokehold but did not find him guilty of intentionally restricting Garner's breathing. Garner's repeated cry of "I can't breathe" triggered national outrage and galvanized activists concerned about police use of force.

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