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.

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."

Huge crowds of demonstrators rallied in the streets of Venezuela's capital and in cities across the country, after authorities halted a campaign to hold a recall election intended to oust the country's deeply unpopular president, Nicolas Maduro.

The U.N. General Assembly votes every year on a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. embargo on Cuba. The U.S. has always opposed the symbolic measure.

But today, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N Samantha Power told the General Assembly that for the first time, the U.S. would abstain.

A Canadian woman who worked as a nurse has been charged with the murders of eight nursing home residents in Ontario over the course of seven years.

If Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer is found guilty, The Globe and Mail reports, the 49-year-old woman would be "among the worst serial killers in Canadian history."

The New York Giants have released kicker Josh Brown over his admitted abuse of his then-wife, in a case that has previously raised questions about the NFL's willingness to punish players who commit acts of domestic violence.

"We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh," team President John Mara said in a statement. "Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility."

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