Merrit Kennedy

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

Kennedy joined NPR in Washington, DC, 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 ousting 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.

Washington, D.C., got its first snowfall of the season this week. And at Smithsonian's National Zoo, at least one animal was really, really excited about it.

On an afternoon last September, a string of explosions suddenly hit Merrimack Valley, Mass. At least five homes were destroyed and a person was killed. More than 20 others were injured.

Federal investigators say they have now pinpointed what caused the sudden explosions on Sept. 13 — a natural gas company field engineer made a major mistake in the plans he developed for construction work that happened earlier that day, resulting in a disastrous chain reaction.

A plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar from neighboring Bangladesh has stalled, apparently because the refugees were unwilling to go.

Bangladesh has stressed that it will not repatriate anyone against their will. Still, the program sparked protests among some refugees, while others reportedly hid within refugee camps out of fear of being forced to go back.

A Maryland auction house has sold a photo showing Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with his arm around a young girl of Jewish heritage for $11,520.

The young girl, named Rosa Bernile Nienau, was about 5 or 6 at the time. Known as Bernile, she had a Jewish grandmother but was apparently a favorite of the man who led Nazi Germany, which along with its collaborators murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.

Neanderthals might bring to mind images of cartoonish brutes whacking each other with clubs.

But even though a number of Neanderthal skeletons have been unearthed showing grave head and neck injuries, new research suggests their lives weren't as violent as the stereotype implies.

In fact, the levels of cranial injuries for Neanderthals are very similar to those of early modern humans, according to scientists whose work was published today in the journal Nature.

Updated at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday

CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration after the White House suspended CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta's press credentials.

"This is my very first day at Xinhua News Agency," says a sharply dressed artificial intelligence news anchor. "I look forward to bringing you the brand new news experiences."

A team of researchers peered inside bumblebee colonies and spied on insects individually labelled with a tiny tag to figure out exactly how exposure to a common insecticide changes their behavior in the nest.

Girl Scouts of the USA wants to take Boy Scouts of America to court. The organization has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Boy Scouts of trademark infringement.

This started last October, when the Boy Scouts said it would start allowing girls to join its programs.

For a whopping 57 miles, a runaway train loaded with iron ore hurtled down tracks in Western Australia with nobody on board.

The train was eventually deliberately derailed, creating a dramatic crash scene with huge lengths of crumpled, twisted metal on the bright orange desert sand next to the train track.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the man accused of having run the world's largest drug trafficking organization, is about to see his day in a U.S. court. Jury selection began Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said Thursday that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their consulate in Istanbul was premeditated, reversing course yet again on the Saudi account of what happened.

An iceberg recently spotted by NASA scientists looks like it was carefully cut into a perfect rectangle, and it's getting a lot of attention because of those unexpected angles and straight lines.

It looks nothing like the craggy, uneven mass that sank the Titanic, perhaps the most famous iceberg ever.

A German court has sentenced a man to 12 1/2 years in prison on charges of attempted murder and attempted extortion for poisoning jars of baby food and leaving them on store shelves.

According to local media, the 54-year-old man was sentenced Monday at a state court in Ravensburg, located in southern Germany, over the scheme he confessed to last year.

Hold on to your hats: A sea cucumber that looks like a headless chicken has been caught on video in the deep seas near East Antarctica.

It's a surprising location for the species, Enypniastes eximia, to turn up. The last place it was filmed was thousands of miles away in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

Updated at 9:13 p.m. ET.

Newly released surveillance footage shows a man apparently wearing the same clothes Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was wearing the day he disappeared after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. A Turkish ruling party official called the footage evidence of a Saudi cover-up, while another official described the man seen in the video as a "body double."

Editor's note: This story describes graphic allegations of sexual abuse.

The University of Southern California says it has reached a tentative class action settlement agreement worth $215 million over allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by a gynecologist who used to work at its student health center.

Approximately 500 current and former students have accused gynecologist George Tyndall of misconduct, according to The Associated Press.

The Washington Post has published the last column Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote before he disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

"We held on to this column he filed the day before he entered the consulate in the hopes that we could edit it with him, as we normally did," Fred Hiatt, who runs the Post's Opinions section, told NPR.

After more than four years as the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura is leaving his post. He says that in his final month, he'll make a major push to try to lay the groundwork for a new constitution in Syria.

De Mistura told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that he was departing for "purely personal reasons," and would wrap up the last week of November. He said that has always been his plan.

Still, he added: "A month can be a century in politics."

As U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May meets with EU leaders in Brussels, a deal for her country's imminent departure from the trade bloc appears far out of reach.

"We need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks," EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

May remained optimistic Wednesday, repeatedly saying that she thinks an agreement is possible. "I believe we can achieve a deal ... a deal is in the interest not just of the U.K. but also the European Union," she stated.

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