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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.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that about half of the land in Oklahoma is within a Native American reservation, a decision that will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court's decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

At a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other federal officials said that no one had told them — including President Trump — to slow down testing for the coronavirus. The statements came after Trump has repeatedly said that more testing would lead to more infections being revealed.

Updated June 17 at 11:50 a.m. ET

Rebekah Jones was fired last month from her job at the Florida Department of Health, where she helped create a data portal about the state's COVID-19 cases. Now, she has created a dashboard of her own.

Each week we answer pressing coronavirus questions. We'd like to hear what you're curious about. Email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

How big a risk is it to catch the virus through your eyes? Should people be wearing eye protection?

Updated July 4, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET

It has been months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But given that coronavirus cases continue to surge in many places, what's safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household.

Preliminary results of a major study of the antiviral drug remdesivir show it can help hospitalized patients with COVID-19 recover faster. Dr. Anthony Fauci hailed the findings, released Wednesday, as "quite good news."

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci said during a meeting with President Trump and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. "This is highly significant."

Since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, Americans have been told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to wear masks unless they are sick, caring for a sick person who is unable to wear one or working in health care.

Some people look at the weeks ahead and wonder how they will keep themselves from going stir crazy.

Across the U.S., new restrictions have limited in-person gatherings in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus infection, as concern grows from watching its effects on the hard-hit populations of China and Italy, where thousands have died.

The Trump administration has announced a series of measures intended to speed testing for the coronavirus disease COVID-19: a new federal coordinator to oversee testing, funding for two companies developing rapid tests and a hotline for labs to call to get help finding needed supplies.

The U.S. government has been sharply criticized for its slow response to the virus, particularly when it comes to testing. Only this week has testing become more widely available in the U.S., and kits remain in limited supply.

Updated at 6:08 p.m. ET

The NCAA has announced that it is canceling its Division I men's and women's college basketball tournaments. This year, there will be no March Madness.

"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," the NCAA said in a statement Thursday.

Updated at 8:25 p.m. ET

Federal health officials issued a blunt message Tuesday: Americans need to start preparing now for the possibility that more aggressive, disruptive measures might be needed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

The strongly worded warning came in response to outbreaks of the virus outside China, including in Iran, Japan, South Korea and Italy, which officials say have raised the likelihood of outbreaks occurring stateside.

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.

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 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced that they will "step back" from their duties as senior members of the British royal family, many members of the public in both the U.S. and the U.K. were supportive of their decision.

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.

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

The FBI is investigating the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday as an act of terror.

Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville Field Office, said in a news briefing Sunday that investigators are working with "the presumption that this was an act of terrorism."

Doing so, she said, "allows us to take advantage of investigative techniques that can help us more quickly identify and then eliminate any additional threats to the rest of our community."

There is currently no evidence of such a threat, she added.

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET

All U.S. forces involved in the anti-ISIS fight will withdraw from northeast Syria in the coming days, according to two U.S. officials close to the conflict. Only a small garrison of U.S. troops will remain at al-Tanf near Syria's border with Iraq and Jordan.

The troops in border areas are endangered by Turkey's incursion against Kurdish-led forces. The move is a sudden change in policy by the Trump administration.

It's the end of an era — an era that has stretched on for a very long time, albeit with slightly different silhouettes.

The last Volkswagen Beetle, a third-generation Denim Blue coupe, will be produced in Puebla, Mexico, on Wednesday.

"It's impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be without the Beetle," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "While its time has come, the role it has played in the evolution of our brand will be forever cherished."

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Federal prosecutors have charged multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking of minors and paying victims to recruit other underage girls, accusing Epstein of creating a network that allowed him to sexually abuse dozens of young victims.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced two counts against Epstein on Monday morning: one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking, according to the indictment.

Epstein appeared in court Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty.

Temperatures climbed to 90 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday, breaking the all-time heat record for the northerly city.

Anchorage's previous record high (at least since 1952) was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, set on June 14, 1969.

Okra. Bell peppers. Cherry tomatoes. Jalapeños and squash.

Those are some of the vegetables that Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll, planted in front of their home in Miami Shores, Fla., on Monday.

That's the day a Florida law went into effect that nullifies local bans on vegetable gardens at residential properties. It was one of those ordinances that had forced the couple to uproot a garden that Ricketts had tended for 17 years.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET

Before the U.S. took on France last week, many observers said that match should have been the World Cup final: the two most powerful squads in front of throngs of rabid fans. The Americans came away with the win on the strength of two goals by Megan Rapinoe.

So why doesn't that victory feel like a relief?

Because now the U.S. must face England. The Lionesses came into this tournament ranked No. 3 in the world, with a formidable defense that has allowed only a single goal in its seven games so far.

Updated at 6:23 p.m. ET Wednesday

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a controversial bill that bans nearly all abortions into law Wednesday evening.

It's considered the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The law makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly.

Under the new law, doctors in the state face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

Conan O'Brien says he has settled with a San Diego man who accused the late night host of stealing jokes.

Robert Alexander Kaseberg sued O'Brien and his writing staff in 2015, alleging that they stole five jokes from Kaseberg's blog and Twitter account. The Associated Press reports that attorneys for both sides of the case filed court documents about three weeks before a trial was slated to begin in San Diego federal court, and that terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Updated on Tuesday at 5:25 a.m. ET

Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world's most famous churches, erupted in flames Monday in Paris, losing its spire but remaining otherwise largely intact after firefighters worked through the night to contain the fire.

Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration says it is temporarily grounding all Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory.

The announcement Wednesday afternoon follows decisions by many other countries to ground the planes after 157 people died in Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8.

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

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.

Updated Oct. 31 at 4:34 p.m. ET

Eleven people were killed on Saturday when a gunman entered Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire on the congregants. The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97; eight were men, three were women. Two of them were brothers, and two were a married couple.

Chuck Diamond was a rabbi at Tree of Life until about a year ago, and he remains a member of the community, living just around the corner from the synagogue. He knew many of the victims.

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