Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.

Wamsley got her start at NPR as an intern for Weekend Edition Saturday in January 2007 and stayed on as a production assistant for NPR's flagship news programs, before joining the Washington Desk for the 2008 election.

She then left NPR, doing freelance writing and editing in Austin, Texas, and then working in various marketing roles for technology companies in Austin and Chicago.

In November 2015, Wamsley returned to NPR as an associate producer for the National Desk, where she covered stories including Hurricane Matthew in coastal Georgia. She became a Newsdesk reporter in March 2017, and has since covered subjects including climate change, possibilities for social networks beyond Facebook, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and joke theft.

In 2010, Wamsley was a Journalism and Women Symposium Fellow and participated in the German-American Fulbright Commission's Berlin Capital Program, and was a 2016 Voqal Foundation Fellow. She will spend two months reporting from Germany as a 2019 Arthur F. Burns Fellow, a program of the International Center for Journalists.

Wamsley earned a B.A. with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. Wamsley holds a master's degree from Ohio University, where she was a Public Media Fellow and worked at NPR Member station WOUB. A native of Athens, Ohio, she now lives and bikes in Washington, DC.

Updated at 8:51 p.m. ET

Los Angeles' Mount Wilson Observatory, the site of major 20th century scientific discoveries, has so far survived a terrifyingly close brush with a wildfire in the hills northeast of the city. But the threat isn't over.

The Bobcat Fire came within 500 feet of the observatory on Tuesday afternoon. Crews gathered to fight the fire, and tracked vehicles with front blades cleared fire lines to protect the area.

The driver behind the wheel of an autonomous Uber car that fatally struck an Arizona woman has been charged with negligent homicide.

Rafaela Vasquez, 46, appeared in court on Tuesday in Maricopa County, Ariz. She pleaded not guilty to the charge, NPR member station KJZZ reports, and has been released with an ankle monitor.

Her trial is set for Feb. 21, The Associated Press reports.


Wildfires in the Western U.S. continue to blaze, with much of the activity centered in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

In Oregon and Washington, 28 large fires are burning across 1.5 million acres. But the Bureau of Land Management noted that growth has slowed for a number of the major fires. The large Beachie Creek Fire east of Salem, Ore., had recorded no new growth in the previous day.

Wildfires have now burned more than 4.6 million acres in 87 large fires across 10 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. At least 35 people have died in California, Oregon and Washington, The Associated Press reported.

Dense smoke and fog enveloped an area far beyond the fires on Monday, keeping temperatures cooler but also creating new hazards in an ongoing catastrophe, with reduced visibility and a high risk of smoke inhalation.

Updated at 11:45 p.m. ET

George Washington University says it is investigating after a blog post purportedly written by history professor Jessica A. Krug said she fabricated various Black identities.

In a post published Thursday on the website Medium, a person under the name Jessica A. Krug writes that she is white and grew up in the Midwest, but lied to others in presenting herself as having a Black Caribbean identity.

The Trump Administration has leveled sanctions against the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, who is investigating allegations that U.S. troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Human rights groups swiftly decried the sanctions as an attack on international justice.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the sanctions at a news conference on Wednesday.

Updated 2:50 p.m. ET Wednesday

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will no longer pay for some safety measures related to COVID-19 that it had previously covered.

Keith Turi, FEMA assistant administrator for recovery, announced the changes during a call Tuesday with state and tribal emergency managers, many of whom expressed concerns about the new policy.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Fewer than eight months ago, the U.S. had yet to experience its first confirmed case of a deadly disease that was sweeping through China and threatening to go global. Today, more than 6 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus and some 183,000 have died from it, according to a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

Louisville, Ky., police have arrested dozens of protesters who staged a sit-in on an overpass.

Tuesday afternoon's protest marked the final day of an event known as "BreonnaCon," which called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whom police shot and killed while executing a "no-knock" warrant in her home in March.

The sit-in took place near the city's Cardinal Stadium, NPR member station WFPL in Louisville reported.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. ET

The former police officer known as the Golden State Killer was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Joseph James DeAngelo, now 74, admitted to committing more than a dozen murders in the 1970s and '80s after investigators identified him as a suspect using public genealogy websites to trace his DNA.

This week, German Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner proposed an animal welfare ordinance that has some pet owners barking mad: a mandate to exercise one's dog twice a day.

The ordinance would require that dogs be "permitted to exercise outside of a kennel at least twice a day for a total of at least one hour," according to the ministry. "This is to ensure that dogs are given sufficient exercise and contact with environmental stimuli."

After more than three months without any known community spread of the coronavirus in New Zealand, a new outbreak in Auckland has upset the fragile normalcy that had returned in the nation.

It was just Tuesday that the government said it had its first cases from an unknown source in 102 days, all within one family. By Friday, the outbreak had grown to 30 cases, including in other cities where members of the household had traveled.

An agreement that makes it easier for Rhode Island residents to vote by mail during the pandemic will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by Republicans to block it.

The agreement allows Rhode Islanders to vote in two upcoming elections without requiring voters to fill out mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. That requirement was already suspended for the presidential primary that took place June 2.

After more than 100 days without any community spread of COVID-19, New Zealand moved to an elevated alert level Wednesday with news of four new cases and another four probable ones.

The parents of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died last year after police twice put him in a chokehold and paramedics sedated him, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The lawsuit names as defendants the city of Aurora, Colo., as well as numerous Aurora police officers, a paramedic and the medical director of Aurora Fire Rescue.

More than three months after its last case of community spread, New Zealand has four new cases of the coronavirus from an unknown source. The island nation, seen as a global exemplar in the battle to contain the coronavirus, moved quickly to identify the source of transmission and halt further spread.

All four cases are members of the same family, who live in South Auckland, the government said Tuesday.

Updated at 4:51 p.m. ET Tuesday

New Zealand went 101 days without any community transmission of the coronavirus, and life in the country largely returned to normal – an experience far different from the havoc that the virus is causing elsewhere in the world.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

Amid staggering job losses in March and April, Florida's unemployment system was the slowest in the country to process claims. Residents described nightmarish experiences as they tried to get benefits. By April 20, just 6% of Floridians who had applied for unemployment benefits had received a check.

Michelle Obama said that she's dealing with "some form of low-grade depression" due to the coronavirus lockdown, racial strife in the U.S., and the Trump administration.

In the second episode of her new podcast, the former first lady spoke with her friend Michele Norris, the former longtime host of NPR's All Things Considered.

A Louisiana man will continue to spend his life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers, after the state's Supreme Court denied his request to review a lower court's sentence.

Fair Wayne Bryant was convicted in 1997 of stealing the hedge clippers. Prosecutors pursued and won a life sentence in the case, a penalty permissible under the state's habitual offender law. Bryant appealed the life sentence as too severe.

In the midst of another hot summer and an ongoing pandemic, public parks are vital refuge. But a new study has found that access to parks in the U.S. differs sharply according to income and race.

A study published by The Trust for Public Land found that parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are, on average, half the size of parks that serve majority-white populations, and are potentially five times more crowded.

Amnesty International says it has documented 125 separate instances of violence against protesters for racial justice in the U.S. over an 11-day period earlier this summer.

In a report published Tuesday, the human rights organization says that in the five years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., "there has been a disturbing lack of progress ... in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others."

Despite progress made on a vaccine against COVID-19, "there's no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be," the World Health Organization's director-general warned on Monday.

Afghan forces have retaken control of a prison in eastern Afghanistan, a day after it came under an attack by ISIS militants.

A suicide bomber drove a car loaded with bombs into the prison's main gate, exploding it. ISIS fighters moved in through the gap, firing on prison guards.

Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor's spokesman, told The Associated Press that 29 people had died, including civilians, prisoners, guards and Afghan forces. Another 50 or more people were wounded, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman told Reuters.

A month after lifting its lockdown, Spain announced 922 new cases of the coronavirus. The country has now seen 272,421 total cases and 28,432 deaths.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

Another day, another mind-boggling milestone: 4 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus. The U.S. hit the 3 million mark just 15 days ago.

That's according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.

As protests for racial justice in Portland have continued for more than 50 nights, striking new images and tactics have emerged – particularly in resistance to the federal law enforcement officers whose actions have earned the ire of Oregonians who want them to leave.

Updated at 6:19 p.m. ET

FBI agents arrested Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning at his rural farm. Householder was taken into custody in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates.

Four others were also arrested: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes.

As federal law enforcement agents continue to occupy Portland, Ore., state and local officials are demanding that they leave. Protesters have demonstrated in the city's downtown for more than 50 nights since George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

Updated Aug. 10: The Florida Department of Health says that the high positivity rate among children described below was due to a "computer programming error" in producing the pediatric data report.

In a statement, the DOH says that due to the error, "a subset of negative pediatric test results were unintentionally excluded from the pediatric report. The coding error was identified and has been corrected."

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