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.

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court decision blocking states' requirements that people must work in order to receive Medicaid.

Residents of Kentucky and Arkansas brought the action against Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, contending that Azar "acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when he approved Medicaid demonstration requests for Kentucky and Arkansas."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed, writing in an opinion posted Friday that the secretary's authorization was indeed unlawful.

Updated 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper spoke Saturday about a newly reached deal between the U.S. and the Taliban to deescalate the longest-running war in American history.

The "reduction in violence" deal will take place over a seven-day period and ultimately will aim to bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to 8,600 from around 12,000 over the following months.

The 8,600 number will still include counterterrorism and training operations.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A judge has overturned a contentious settlement that the University of North Carolina system reached with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.

The November 2019 agreement required the UNC system to give Silent Sam to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, along with $2.5 million for its preservation and display. It was announced within minutes of a lawsuit filed by the group.

Democrats could avoid another tech meltdown like the one that afflicted the Iowa caucuses with a better strategy for building the tools they need, progressive technology specialists say.

The origins of the Iowa debacle are in a boom-and-bust cycle that places technology in competition with other priorities as time-crunched campaigns grapple with how best to spend as they hurtle toward an election.

T-Mobile is closer to taking over Sprint after a federal judge rejected arguments by several states that the merger would stifle competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.

The deal would combine the country's third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers. The new company, to be called T-Mobile, would still be the third-largest, after AT&T and Verizon.

U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero concluded that the proposed merger "is not reasonably likely to substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market.

When a work of art is broken, is it destroyed — or transformed?

That's perhaps a generous question that one art critic is posing after a dramatic incident Saturday at the Zona Maco contemporary art fair in Mexico City.

One of the works on display was a large sculpture by Mexican artist Gabriel Rico. The piece involved a large sheet of glass with objects suspended through it, including a soccer ball, a tennis ball, a stick, a feather and a rock.

People often ponder how the world might be different if more women were in political power. In Finland, where women lead the five parties in the coalition government, here's one change they're making: equal paid leave for both parents in a family.

The Orange County, Calif., district attorney says he is dropping charges against a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend who had been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women.

A new law has taken effect in Germany that requires receipts to be issued at businesses such as restaurants, bakeries, hairdressers, no matter how small the transaction.

It's known as Kassengesetz, or "cash register law": a law for protection against the manipulation of digital records. The measure is meant to increase transparency and prevent tax fraud. The idea is to log each transaction in a format that can be reviewed and verified.

Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

This week, the sanctuary is in mourning for two of its protectors.

AGU / YouTube

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 31

People in northern climes have long gazed at the wonder that is the aurora borealis: the northern lights.

Updated at 7:50 a.m. ET Tuesday

The extradition hearing for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, began Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia. American officials want Meng sent to the U.S. to face federal fraud charges.

The U.S. Navy says it will name an aircraft carrier after Doris "Dorie" Miller, the African American mess attendant who heroically leapt into combat during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It marks the first time that an aircraft carrier has been named for an African American, and the first time a sailor has been so honored for actions taken as an enlisted man.

It was a lifesaving mission as dramatic as any in the months-long battle against the wildfires that have torn through the Australian bush.

But instead of a race to save humans or animals, a specialized team of Australian firefighters was bent on saving invaluable plant life: hidden groves of the Wollemi pine, a prehistoric tree species that has outlived the dinosaurs.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, says that it will now make climate change central to its investment considerations. And not just for environmental reasons — but because it believes that climate change is reshaping the world's financial system.

That was the message in BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink's annual letter to CEOs published on Tuesday.

It was billed as the Sandringham Summit: a meeting of Britain's royal family to discuss the desire of Prince Harry and his wife, the former Meghan Markle, to "step back" from the responsibilities of being "senior royals."

The meeting took place at the queen's estate in Norfolk and involved Queen Elizabeth II; Harry; his father, Prince Charles; and his brother, Prince William. Meghan joined by phone from Canada.

The New York Public Library has been loaning books for a long time — the institution turns 125 this year.

To celebrate, the library dug into its records and calculated a list of the 10 books that have been checked out the most in its history.

The most-wanted book? The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

The Caldecott Medal-winning tale of a young boy's encounter with snow has been checked out 485,583 times from the NYPL since it was published in 1962.

Facing criticism for his handling of the ferocious wildfires that have swept across Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he will call for a government inquiry into the response to the blazes.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex — also known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — have announced that they will step back from their duties as senior members of the British royal family.

The intrigue may be only beginning, amid reports that Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the royal family were not given advance notice of the move.

Two people were killed and five were injured in an avalanche at an Idaho ski resort on Tuesday.

Iran's cultural heritage is suddenly a topic of urgent global interest, after President Trump threatened to strike such sites if the country retaliates for the United States' killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.

Updated at 7:49 p.m. ET

Iran will no longer honor its commitment to limit its enrichment of uranium, stepping away from a key component of the landmark nuclear deal it agreed to with six nations, including the United States, in 2015.

The announcement was reported Sunday in Iranian state media. It marks the latest in the country's retreat from the limitations agreed to in the agreement, known as the JCPOA.

A plane crashed shortly after takeoff near Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Friday, killing at least 12 of the 98 people on board.

Kazakh officials say another 54 people were hospitalized with injuries, The Associated Press reports, 10 of them in critical condition. The captain was among those killed.

The plane was a Dutch-built Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Bek Air, which bills itself as Kazakhstan's first low-cost carrier. The manufacturer went bankrupt in 1996.

Updated Dec. 27 at 10 a.m. ET

About a week after Glenda and Raphi Savitz welcomed their daughter Samantha to the world, they learned that she was deaf.

"She was the first deaf person we had known, so obviously it was a surprise and a challenge," Glenda says. "We knew right away that we had to get involved in the deaf community, learn about the culture, and start getting fully immersed in American Sign Language."

What the new parents didn't know was that their neighbors in Newton, Mass., would decide they needed to start learning sign language, too.

In his annual Christmas Day address, Pope Francis offered a message of hope and a call for kindness to migrants around the world.

"May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life," the pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has acknowledged that one of his vendors hired a subcontractor that used prison workers to make phone calls for his 2020 campaign.

That prison labor was being used by the Bloomberg campaign was reported Thursday morning by The Intercept. The campaign says it was unaware that inmate workers were making phone calls on its behalf until informed by The Intercept's reporter, and says it immediately cut ties to the vendor.

Japan has been trying to increase its birth rate for years, hoping that a youthful boost could offset an otherwise rapidly aging population. It's not working.

The country's health ministry announced Tuesday that the number of babies born in 2019 fell by an estimated 5.9% this year, to 864,000. It's the first time since 1899, when the government began tracking the data, that the number has dipped below 900,000, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

Six-year-old Florence Widdicombe was writing notes on Christmas cards to her school friends in South London when she discovered that one card had already been written on.

"We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison China," it said in English, written in all capital letters. "Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization."

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death in the killing last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The court sentenced three others to prison terms adding up to 24 years, while exonerating two senior aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The trial was conducted in secret, and the defendants' names have not been released. The three people receiving prison sentences were found to have participated in covering up the crime. All the verdicts can be appealed.

When journalist Shiori Ito went public with her account of allegedly being raped by a prominent reporter, she became the public face of the country's #MeToo movement.

Now a judge has ordered the man she accused of the assault, former Tokyo Broadcasting System Washington Bureau Chief Noriyuki Yamaguchi, to pay Ito about $30,000 in damages, for her physical and psychological pain.

"I'm so happy," she said, according to Reuters. "It's not over. Now, I have to deal with how I live with my scars."

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