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.

Venezuelan authorities have halted a campaign to hold an election intended to recall President Nicolas Maduro, who is deeply unpopular and presiding over an economic implosion.

The opposition had been preparing to gather signatures next week for a petition drive required to trigger a referendum on Maduro's leadership, the BBC explains.

ISIS fighters launched attacks on police Friday in the city of Kirkuk, as Iraqi security forces continued a massive military offensive to try to pry Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, from the militant group.

"The fighters struck [Kirkuk] before dawn, with suicide bombers hitting four police stations and gunmen killing police," NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Irbil, Iraq, though the number of casualties wasn't immediately clear. "A curfew is imposed in Kirkuk, but eyewitnesses say fighting continues."

Spain's top court reversed a ban on bullfighting in the Catalonia region, saying it was unconstitutional and infringed on the government's responsibility to preserve Spain's cultural patrimony.

Catalan lawmakers approved the ban in 2010, citing animal cruelty. As NPR reported at the time, it was seen as a victory for animal rights activists and a "stinging anti-Spanish rebuke," from the fiercely independent region.

The Environmental Protection Agency had the authority and information to issue an emergency order protecting residents of Flint, Mich., from lead-tainted water a full seven months before it did so, an EPA internal investigation has concluded.

"It is clear that EPA intervention was delayed," the report from the EPA's inspector general states. "These situations should generate a greater sense of urgency."

Snakes used to wander the Earth on legs about 150 million years ago, before they shifted from strut to slither.

Now, two scientists have pinpointed the genetic process that caused snakes to lose their legs. What's more, they say the "molecular machinery" for leg development still persists in snakes after these millions of years — it's simply switched off.

A powerful super typhoon pounded the coast of the Philippines late Wednesday, and aid groups say they are preparing for possible wide-scale damage.

Super Typhoon Haima unleashed maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, with gusts reaching up to 195 mph. It made landfall at about 11 p.m. local time on Wednesday in Peñablanca, in the northern tip of the country, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

A cease-fire brokered by the United Nations took hold in Yemen on Wednesday night. The U.N. hopes the break will allow humanitarian workers to deliver badly needed aid and pave the way for peace talks.

U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the deal on Monday. A statement from the U.N. said Ahmed "has received assurances from all Yemeni parties" that they will abide by the Cessation of Hostilities that he negotiated in April.

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