Merrit Kennedy

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for The Two-Way, NPR's breaking news blog. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

Merrit joined NPR in Washington, D.C., in December 2015, after seven years living and working in Egypt. She started her journalism career at the beginning of the Egyptian uprising in 2011 and chronicled the ouster of two presidents, eight rounds of elections and numerous major outbreaks of violence for NPR and other news outlets. She has also worked as a reporter and television producer in Cairo for The Associated Press, covering Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Sudan.

She grew up in Los Angeles, the Middle East and places in between, and holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University and a master's degree in international human rights law from The American University in Cairo.

The violent death of a fish-seller sparked mass protests this weekend in Morocco — a rare show of dissent for the North African monarchy.

Now, Moroccan authorities have arrested 11 people in connection with fish-seller Mouhcine Fikri's demise on charges of "involuntary manslaughter and forgery of public documents," as the BBC reports.

NPR's Jane Arraf walks us through what happened to Fikri:

Iraqi security forces are closing in on the city of Mosul. It's a pivotal offensive for the U.S.-backed troops, and the last major ISIS-held urban center in the country hangs in the balance.

The hate-speech trial of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders opened Monday, with Wilders notably absent from the proceedings.

The Freedom Party leader known for his remarks against Islam said he's boycotting the trial for alleged racial discrimination and inciting hatred — accusations tied to comments he made about Moroccans at a 2014 rally.

Turkey has arrested senior staff members from the country's foremost opposition newspaper. It's the latest move in a sweeping government crackdown that began following a failed coup attempt in July.

Some 300 million children around the world are breathing highly toxic air, according to a new report from UNICEF.

As Iraqi security forces advance toward the ISIS-held city of Mosul, ISIS militants are said to be rounding up civilians from surrounding areas and bringing them to the city to use as human shields.

After years of negotiations, nations have reached an agreement to establish the world's largest marine sanctuary in Antarctica's Ross Sea.

Twenty-four countries and the European Union reached the unanimous deal at an international meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart, Australia on Friday.

Scientists have long suspected that the common swift remains airborne for extraordinary amounts of time during its annual migration.

Now, a team of scientists in Sweden has proved that these birds fly for tremendously long periods of time. They affixed data loggers onto a total of 19 of the master fliers in 2013 and 2014, and recaptured the birds months or years later. Researchers found that the birds can spend almost their entire 10-month nonbreeding period on the wing.

Amtrak has reached a $265 million settlement with people affected by last year's derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight and injured more than 200 others.

A federal judge approved the deal this morning. "The settlement is $30 million dollars less than the cap on damages for an accident like this," as NPR's Jeff Brady reports. "But attorneys for the victims say this agreement will get money to their clients more quickly than if the case were litigated."

Warplanes repeatedly bombed a complex of three schools in northern Syria on Wednesday in what UNICEF is calling one of the deadliest attacks on schools since the conflict began more than five years ago.

"This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime," said UNICEF Director Anthony Lake. "Children lost forever to their families ... teachers lost forever to their students ... one more scar on Syria's future."

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