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.

Multiple U.S. citizens were killed and injured in the attack overnight Saturday on a luxury hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, a State Department official says.

The Taliban-claimed attack at the Intercontinental Hotel killed at least 22 people and lasted more than 13 hours, according to The Associated Press. Reports of the death toll have varied, with Reuters saying 20 people were killed and some local news outlets saying more than 40.

Facebook is doing some soul-searching.

In a new commentary, the social media giant acknowledges the possibility that social media can have negative ramifications for democracy. This comes after repeated criticism that it didn't do enough to prevent the spread of fake news that had the potential to impact the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Last June, a jury found former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide. Now, Heaggan-Brown is taking a plea deal over separate sexual assault allegations that led the Milwaukee Police Department to fire him.

The shooting death of Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old black man, ignited riots in the north side of Milwaukee in August 2016.

This past year, 2017, was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The planet's global surface temperature last year was the second highest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, because of slight variations in the ways that they analyze temperatures.

Both put 2017 behind 2016's record temperatures. And "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010," NASA said in a press release.

In the competition for Amazon's second headquarters, just 20 metropolitan areas remain in the running.

Last year, Amazon set off a hyper-competitive proposal process, saying that it plans to invest $5 billion in building a second headquarters that could create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The Seattle-based company, which is a financial supporter of NPR, says it reviewed 238 proposals in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Here are the metropolitan areas that made the cut:

Over the span of three weeks in 2015, more than 200,000 saiga antelope suddenly died in central Kazakhstan.

Scientists knew that bacteria called Pasteurella multocida type B caused the mass death. Now, new research suggests that the bacteria was already present in the animals; it was triggered and became harmful because of a period of unusual weather.

Richard Kock, a professor of Wildlife Health and Emerging Diseases at The Royal Veterinary College, witnessed the "rapidly accelerating death."

Glenford Turner had surgery in 2013 at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Connecticut. Four years later, according to a new lawsuit, doctors discovered that a sharp metal surgical instrument had been accidentally left inside the Army veteran's body.

"It's perplexing to me how they could be so incompetent that a scalpel that really should only be on the exterior of your body not only goes into the body but then is sewn into the body," Turner's lawyer, Joel Faxon, tells NPR. "It's a level of incompetence that's almost incomprehensible."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon church, has named 93-year-old Russell M. Nelson as its new president.

"I express my deep love for you — love that has grown over decades of meeting you, worshipping with you and serving you," Nelson, a former surgeon and longtime church leader, said in a live video announcement Tuesday morning from the Salt Lake Temple in Utah.

Japan's public broadcaster sent out a false alert warning of a North Korean missile on Tuesday, just three days after Hawaii residents received an erroneous message about an incoming missile.

"North Korea appears to have launched a missile ... The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground," the message read, according to a translation from Reuters.

General Motors says it is ready to mass-produce a self-driving car that has no steering wheel, pedals or any other manual controls.

The car company said Friday that it has filed a petition with the Department of Transportation for the fourth-generation Cruise AV to hit the streets in 2019.

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