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 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."

When LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, he used his acceptance speech not only to thank his teammates, his family and his coach — but also to highlight the struggles of people in his small hometown in Ohio.

"Coming from Southeast Ohio, it's a very impoverished area," Burrow said, in an emotional address during which he frequently brushed away tears. "The poverty rate is almost two times the national average, and there's so many people there that don't have a lot.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

Mississippi man Curtis Flowers was tried for the same crime six times: the murder of four people at a furniture store in 1996. He was convicted four times — but each was overturned. Two others ended in mistrials.

Earlier this year, the conviction in the sixth trial was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that prosecutors had shown an unconstitutional pattern of excluding black jurors from Flowers' trials.

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