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 Jan. 25 at 9:30 a.m. ET

James Jackson wanted to kill black people. Specifically, he wanted to kill black men. A lot of them.

That's what the white supremacist admitted in court Wednesday after pleading guilty to killing Timothy Caughman in a gruesome act of violence that he said he believed would spark a nationwide race war.

Mexico's homicide rate continued to skyrocket last year, making 2018 the deadliest on record for the country with an average of 91 deaths a day.

Dozens of security personnel were killed and many others were injured in coordinated attacks that lasted several hours in Afghanistan's Wardak province on Monday, officials confirmed.

A suicide bomber rammed a Humvee loaded with explosives into a compound of the National Directorate of Security, or NDS, west of the capital city of Kabul, a security official told NPR. The brazen assault on the country's primary intelligence agency destroyed nearly all of the buildings at the compound.

Microsoft is investing $500 million to help develop affordable housing and address homelessness in the Seattle area as the growth of tech companies in the region continues to flood the real estate market with high-salaried workers, leaving many other people behind.

The owner of a long-term care facility in Arizona where a patient in a vegetative state was impregnated and gave birth last month has hired a former Maricopa County Attorney to lead an internal investigation into the "facts and circumstances" leading up to the sexual assault.

On Sunday, Phoenix-based Hacienda Healthcare confirmed in a statement that it had recruited Rick Romley "to ensure a comprehensive, objective and transparent review of the facts of this deeply disturbing matter."

Underpaid au pairs who have worked in homes across America, taking care of children, often cooking, cleaning, playing chauffeur and providing a range of other duties, will finally receive back pay they say they are owed.

On Wednesday, 15 of the companies authorized by the State Department to recruit young foreigners to provide low-cost child care in U.S. households reached a $65.5 million settlement in a class-action law suit filed by nearly a dozen au pairs in a Denver federal court.

A blistering report released on Wednesday by an investigative panel looking into the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last year, exposes a litany of school security breaches and chaotic protocol leading to the deaths of 17 students and faculty, and it recommends arming teachers to prevent or slow future on-campus attacks.

Bob Einstein, the gravelly-voiced comedic actor who delighted viewers by playing inept stuntman Super Dave Osborne and, more recently, by vexing Larry David on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, died on Wednesday at age 76. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.

As hope for a last-minute resolution to the political standoff that has triggered the government shutdown all but evaporates, Smithsonian officials announced Thursday that all of its museums, as well as the National Zoo, will be shuttered on Jan. 2 unless a deal is reached.

"There's no getting around it," Linda St. Thomas, chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian, told NPR.

A 12-year-old boy survived 40 minutes buried under an avalanche in the French Alps on Wednesday, a feat rescuers called a "miracle."

The boy was skiing on an off-piste section of the slopes at the La Plagne ski resort in Mâcot-la-Plagne when he was swept away and separated from his group, French police told The Associated Press.

In the wake of the death of a second migrant child in U.S. custody within the past two weeks, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Wednesday the government is calling on several federal agencies to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection implement a host of new directives intended to improve how it cares for children and adults held in federal facilities.

"In response to the unprecedented surge of children into our custody, I have directed a series of extraordinary protective measures," Nielsen said in a statement.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder Missy Franklin announced her retirement from swimming in an impassioned letter to ESPN.com on Wednesday, citing chronic shoulder pain that has ravaged her body and psyche over the last years of her career.

"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring.' A long, long time. But now I'm ready," she said.

Disgraced former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who's been accused of sexual harassment and assault, has been denied the controversial $120 million severance package contained in his contract, the network's board of directors announced on Monday.

A scathing report by the Office of the Inspector General revealed that a consulting company hired by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to fill thousands of new jobs to satisfy President Trump's mandate to secure the southern border is "nowhere near" completing its hiring goals and "risks wasting millions of taxpayer dollars."

A for-profit college chain mired in financial troubles announced on Wednesday it is shutting down dozens of campuses across the country by the end of the month. The abrupt decision comes a day after the company lost its accreditation and funding, leaving frantic students scrambling in the final days of the year to enroll in new schools.

A federal grand jury in Atlanta on Wednesday became the latest to indict two Iranian nationals on charges of creating and deploying the "SamSam" ransomware that attacked vital city computer systems earlier this year in an attempt to extort tens of thousands of dollars from the local government.

Starbucks announced on Thursday it will do next year what it promised to do two years ago — it will begin blocking pornography and illegal content on its free Wi-Fi networks in stores throughout the U.S.

"We have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019," a Starbucks spokeswoman told NPR in an emailed statement.

Raimundo Atesiano told a federal judge in Miami the pressure simply became too great for him to bear.

Crime rates in Biscayne Park, Fla., a village of about 3,200 people, remained stubbornly stagnant, and as the town's new police chief, Atesiano just couldn't stand for it. Plus, he wanted to impress elected officials by achieving a 100 percent crime-solving rate.

The Honduran president's brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, was arrested on Friday in Miami and charged with the smuggling of tons of cocaine from the Central American country into the U.S., weapons offenses involving the use of machine guns and false statements to federal agents.

Federal officials have indicted more than 40 people linked to the Ghost Face Gangsters, a violent white supremacist street gang operated largely from inside Georgia prisons.

Former President of Michigan State University Lou Anna Simon was charged with two felony and two misdemeanor counts on Tuesday for allegedly lying to police during their investigation into how the school handled sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of abusing scores of young women while employed by the university and USA Gymnastics.

A ruling by a federal judge last month seemed like it would end a long legal battle between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and tens of thousands of student loan borrowers waiting to have their debts canceled. But as of Tuesday, there is a new round of litigation.

Updated Nov. 15 at 10:43 a.m. ET

A group of LGBT migrants who were part of the massive caravan slowly marching toward the U.S. made it to the coastal border city of Tijuana on Sunday. They are the first of more than 3,600 Central Americans to reach the northern border of Mexico.

Updated 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday

The Borderline Bar & Grill could be counted on for a good time.

The former director of Peru's National Police was among 14 people arrested early Tuesday morning in a series of raids that rounded up alleged members of a baby-trafficking ring.

Authorities have not suggested the role Gen. Raúl Becerra played in the criminal organization but the group is suspected of targeting poor pregnant women and convincing them to sell their newborn infants, the national police said in a statement.

A Japanese medical school that admitted to systematically rigging its entrance exams to prevent eligible women from enrolling announced it would retroactively admit 67 who had recently been denied their rightful spots, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

A months-long internal investigation into Tokyo Medical University's admissions processes revealed that the school had been slashing women's test scores for at least a decade. Meanwhile, some men were given bonus points to boost their scores.

Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant was dropped as a jury member from the Animation Is Film festival in Los Angeles this weekend after backlash stemming from past sexual assault allegations against him.

The former NBA-phenom won an Oscar earlier this year for his animated short-film Dear Basketball, but under pressure from a group calling itself Women and Allies, festival organizers announced on Wednesday that Bryant would no longer participate in the second annual event.

After four days at the helm, former California congresswoman Mary Bono, who was picked to lead USA Gymnastics, resigned Tuesday. She was appointed as interim president and chief executive officer of the troubled organization on Friday.

"My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization," Bono said in her resignation letter.

Updated at 9:32 p.m. ET

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Tesla CEO Elon Musk, alleging securities fraud a month after he announced that he planned to take the publicly traded electric-car company private.

"Musk's false and misleading public statements and omissions caused significant confusion and disruption in the market for Tesla's stock and resulting harm to investors," the lawsuit says.

Dunkin' Donuts, purveyor of, well, donuts and other confections typically ingested in far too much haste, is dropping Donuts from its name starting in January. The company says it's making the move to become better friends with its customers.

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