Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's Newsdesk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She will be 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 Jan. 10 at 3:50 p.m. ET

The U.S. government has been operating under a partial shutdown since Dec. 22. The shutdown, driven by a political battle over President Trump's demand that Congress approve funds for a wall along the border with Mexico, is touching the lives of Americans in myriad ways.

George, the last of his species of Hawaiian land snail, died on New Year's Day. He was approximately 14 years old.

His death was confirmed by Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.

George was born as part of a last-ditch effort to save his species. Back in 1997, the last 10 known Achatinella apexfulva were brought into a University of Hawaii lab to try to increase their numbers. Some offspring resulted, but all of them died – except for George.

Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET

Chelsea Football Club will pay 64 million euros — nearly $73 million — to sign U.S. soccer star Christian Pulisic, bringing the 20-year-old winger to England's Premier League.

Ten days into the partial government shutdown, it's time to ask a dreaded question: What if this keeps going?

A new congressional session begins Thursday, at which time Democrats become the majority in the House. There's no indication that progress will be made before then on the political standoff over funding a border wall that President Trump is demanding.

What's running — and what isn't — during the shutdown

Many of the United States' national parks remain open to visitors during the partial government shutdown. But if you go, be prepared – you're probably on your own in there.

A notice on the website of Big Bend National Park in West Texas is representative:

"There has been a lapse in federal appropriations.

"During the government shutdown, Big Bend National Park will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as always.

A week after a white referee told a black high school wrestler that he needed to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit a match, the referee has been suspended. But people in town — and on social media — are asking why other adults didn't do more to prevent what happened: A school official cut the student's hair as the crowd watched and the clock ticked down.

First came the eruption. Then, the quake.

An overnight earthquake, triggered by Mount Etna's eruption two days ago, caused injuries and damage in Eastern Sicily early Wednesday morning. The volcano has been spewing ash and lava has flowed down its slopes since it began erupting on Monday.

Ho ho ho, merry Christmas! What would you like this year, little girl? How about the president of the United States casting doubt on a story that American culture has worked tirelessly to make you believe, using a term you don't understand?

That's what happened on Christmas Eve.

Since its beginnings in the 1980s in France, parkour has been sporty – but not exactly Olympic sporty.

Parkour and its cousin freerunning involve scaling urban obstacles and using the city as a playground. Its adherents, called traceurs and traceuses, bound railings, climb walls, and leap across terrifying expanses.

But now parkour, emblematic of freedom and practiced risk-taking, is fighting for its autonomy — from the gymnastics establishment.

Altria, the leading U.S. cigarette manufacturer, announced Thursday it will make a $12.8 billion investment in e-cigarette maker Juul – giving it a 35 percent stake in what had been perhaps its most worrisome competitor.

The move allows Altria, which is the parent company of Philip Morris, to hedge its bets on the future of nicotine, as cigarette smoking declines in the U.S.

Last week, Canada repealed a number of so-called "zombie laws" that remained on the books after they were found to be unconstitutional, redundant, or just, well ... too old and weird.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

The U.S. plans to withdraw all of its troops from Syria, a senior Pentagon official tells NPR. About 2,000 U.S. troops are currently in the northeastern part of the country, near the Turkish border.

The decision to remove all troops from Syria was made by the White House late last week and sent to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the official says.

The first cases related to the Parkland school shooting in February are beginning to work through the courts, testing a number of thorny legal issues.

In the last week, for example, judges in different courts ruled on questions about what duty school deputy Scot Peterson had to protect the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the attack there in February.

Are New Yorkers too demanding or are they simply people who speak up when they see a better way? Let's take a look at a story about some Christmas decorations, and you be the judge.

Updated Dec. 26, 2018 at 1:37 p.m. ET

If you didn't catch this year's Miss Universe competition — that's just fine.

But you missed a few happenings at the pageant in Bangkok, which crowned Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, the winner Monday morning local time.

Miss Spain makes history

If you just happened to be in the crowd at a super featherweight bout in Indio, Calif., on Saturday evening, you might not understand the importance of that particular boxing match.

Kentucky's Supreme Court has struck down a pension law that spurred thousands of the state's teachers to protest last spring.

The court ruled that the way the pension bill was passed didn't give state lawmakers a "fair opportunity" to consider it. In a surprise maneuver, both chambers pushed the measure through in a matter of hours — before the public and even some lawmakers had had a chance to read it.

Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a National Vital Statistics System report published Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report sheds a bright light on the changing nature of America's drug landscape — and the devastating number of overdose deaths that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years.

Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET

A Canadian judge ruled Tuesday a Chinese tech executive, detained at the request of the U.S., can be free on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing.

The judge said Meng Wanzhou must meet stringent conditions aimed at making sure she doesn't flee Canada for China.

Updated Dec. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes office next month, representing New York's 14th District, she will be a part of the "blue wave" of new Democrats in the House. But the 29-year-old may end up being a part of a different kind of wave, too: a bipartisan effort for members of Congress to pay the interns they employ.

Twenty-four workers at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey were taken to area hospitals after being exposed to bear repellent on Wednesday morning, when a robot punctured a can of the aerosol spray.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing body, said today that it had voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month, several traditions are being celebrated. There's a Nativity scene for Christmas, a menorah for Hanukkah, and then something a little different: an arm holding an apple, with a snake coiled around it.

It's a gift from the Chicago branch of The Satanic Temple. Called "Snaketivity," the work also has a sign that reads "Knowledge Is The Greatest Gift."

Nearby stands a sign in which the state offers a civics lesson — and explains it didn't have much of a choice:

Sometimes it's the most well-intended messages that go awry.

Catholic News Service, a U.S. denominational news agency, posted a tweet on Sunday that said: "Hanukkah began at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!"

There are hundreds of statues in New York City. But once you remove the ones in which female figures represent Liberty, Freedom, etc., just five sculptures depict actual historical women. (In case you're wondering: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.)

Michelle Obama's fans have often remarked that she comes across as authentic even as her every move is analyzed, and sometimes criticized.

One such moment of candor occurred this weekend, as the former first lady took the stage at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the latest stop on the arena-filling tour for her memoir, Becoming.

For seven years, the online magazine Rookie cultivated close relationships with its teenage readers, looking them straight in the eye. On Friday, its founder, Tavi Gevinson, announced the site will shutter.

A San Diego businessman wanted to do something to help young people affected by the Camp Fire, which decimated the city of Paradise, Calif., earlier this month.

So Bob Wilson came with two suitcases full of $1,000 checks – enough for each of Paradise High School's 980 students and 105 staff members, including teachers, janitors and bus drivers.

On a rainy Tuesday night, the students and staff from a town now dispersed showed up at nearby Chico High School, where Wilson handed out the checks — $1.1 million in all, according to The Associated Press.

One of the companies that handles federal student loans has been steering some borrowers toward repayment plans that cost them more money over time.

That's the finding of a report that the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid did on Navient, one of its loan servicers. But while FSA offered suggestions for improving some of Navient's practices, it says the company didn't necessarily do anything wrong.

The sudden outbreak of chickenpox at a North Carolina private school isn't exactly surprising.

At least 36 students have become infected with the disease at Asheville Waldorf School in the city of Asheville — a school that has among the highest rates of parents who received an exemption from the state's vaccination requirements.

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