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.

Three skiers died in two avalanches that struck Colorado mountains in recent days, in snow that avalanche experts warn is the most unstable it has been in years.

On Friday, a skier was buried by an avalanche on the northeast end of the Anthracite Range, west of Crested Butte. Two other skiers located the buried skier with a transceiver and pulled him out, but he did not survive.

"Warning lights — for our societies and the planet — are flashing red." That's according to a new report from the United Nations Development Programme.

The report notes that COVID-19 has thrived "in the cracks in societies, exploiting and exacerbating myriad inequalities in human development."

In a recent roundtable with Joe Biden, nurse Mary Turner told the president-elect something he found surprising:

"Do you know that I have not been tested yet?" said Turner, who is president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. "And I have been on the front lines of the ICU since February."

"You're kidding me!" Biden replied.

She wasn't kidding.

In civil court in The Netherlands, hearings began Tuesday in a case against energy company Shell that could have implications for future cases and the role of companies in meeting climate targets.

The case was brought by a group of seven environmental organizations and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens who are co-plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are demanding that Shell be forced to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the massive Pebble Mine project in Alaska – a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine that would be upstream from the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.

The Corps said in a statement Wednesday that it has determined that the plan "does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines" and it had concluded that "the proposed project is contrary to the public interest."

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

More time at home during the pandemic has meant more time online for many of us. And as we spend more of our lives in the digital world, our personal information can be compromised, and our technology is tracking our movements. For NPR's Life Kit, reporter Laurel Wamsley talked to experts to find out the best ways to keep our personal data safe and got a list of things you can do today to protect yourself and your data.

Remember the "murder hornets"? You know, the terrifyingly large Asian giant hornets that are threatening to wipe out the North American bee population?

Entomologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture have now located a nest of them – the first to be found in the U.S., the agency says.

The residents of Asbestos, Quebec, have selected a new name. Going forward, the town will be known as Val-des-Sources — valley of the springs — rather than the name of the carcinogenic mineral mined in the town until 2011.

The town, about 80 miles east of Montreal, has watched as its namesake transformed from being an asset in the late 1800s to a liability in recent decades.

How much should you pay for a home that is likely to be inundated by rising seas in the decades ahead?

It's a tough question — and an increasingly common one for homebuyers along the Florida coast. That's according to new research that finds the risk of sea level rise appears to have begun affecting residential real estate prices in the state's most vulnerable coastal areas.

Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has cleared the way to open the country's largest national forest to more development and logging.

In a revised environmental impact study made public on Friday, the Department of Agriculture recommends granting a "full exemption" for the Tongass National Forest, which covers some 25,000 square miles in southeastern Alaska.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET

At least 380 pilot whales have died off the coast of Tasmania in what experts are calling Australia's largest recorded mass-stranding event.

Nearly 500 whales have been stranded on a beach and two sandbars along the western coast of the island state.

Along the western coast of Tasmania, marine conservationists are gathering to conduct a massive operation: the rescue of some 270 pilot whales that have been stranded on sandbars there.

Tasmania is an island state of Australia, about 150 miles south of the mainland. The whales were first reported stuck on Monday morning.

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.


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.

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.

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 2:40 p.m.

A federal judge has ruled that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline must be emptied for now while the Army Corps of Engineers produces an environmental review.

In a decision posted Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said that it was clear shutting down the pipeline will cause disruption. But he said that "the seriousness of the Corps' deficiencies outweighs the negative effects of halting the oil flow" during the estimated 13 months it will take to complete the environmental impact statement.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a pipeline company in a dispute about whether a new 600-mile natural gas pipeline could cross underneath the Appalachian Trail on federal land.

The 7-2 decision overturned one part of a lower court decision that had blocked construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is being jointly developed by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 11:55 p.m. ET

Facing a barrage of criticism for pulling ads featuring a lesbian couple from its airwaves, the Hallmark Channel has reversed course, and says it will now work to "reinstate the commercials."

The ad for the wedding planning site Zola shows a couple at the altar, wishing they had used the service before their big day.

The global climate talks in Madrid ended on Sunday – two days after its scheduled closing, and with little to show for the marathon session.

The Madrid-based summit, known as COP25, or generically as the U.N. Climate Change Summit, was intended as a time to hammer out the rules and commitments that would get the world's nations on track to meet the targets of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Instead, the talks showed deep divisions, as small countries highly vulnerable to rising seas and powerful storms were at odds with wealthy, high-emitting countries like the United States.

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