Merrit Kennedy

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. 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, 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 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.

Archaeologists have unearthed a unique pendant buried on the site of a Nazi extermination camp. They say that they know of only one other that is similar, which belonged to Anne Frank.

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial announced the find on Sunday, saying that they have ascertained the charm may have belonged to a girl named Karoline Cohn.

Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, has been arrested on federal charges.

Salman is charged with "Aiding and Abetting by providing material support to a terrorist and Obstruction of Justice," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement.

On June 12, 2016, 49 people died when Mateen opened fire at Pulse in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He was killed in a firefight with police.

European leaders are expressing alarm after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the EU is "basically a vehicle for Germany" and reiterated his view that NATO is "obsolete."

Speaking about the EU, Trump said "people want their own identity," and therefore "I believe others will leave." He has previously applauded the U.K.'s decision last year to depart from the 28-nation bloc and repeated that sentiment, saying that "I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing."

A top Egyptian court has ruled against the government's bid to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

It's an embarrassing ruling for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who has argued that the islands of Trian and Sanafir are historically Saudi. The Supreme Administrative Court disagreed, saying that they are Egyptian sovereign territory.

"It's enshrined in the court's conscience that Egypt's sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir is beyond doubt," presiding judge Ahmed al-Shazli told the court, according to The Associated Press.

The U.N. Secretary-General said today he was hopeful that peace talks on Cyprus, being held in Geneva, could lead to a breakthrough, though he cautioned that "we are not here for a quick fix."

Flanked by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Secretary-General António Guterres said a breakthrough is what the world needs now.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing and failing to disclose software in some 104,000 cars and trucks that alters emissions.

The automaker was required by law to disclose the software to regulators during the certification process but did not do so, the EPA announced Thursday. While the agency is still investigating the nature of these devices, it said the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides.

A U.S. military investigation has cleared the U.S. forces of wrongdoing in fighting that left 33 civilians dead and 27 others wounded last year in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, saying that they acted in self-defense.

"To defend themselves and Afghan forces, U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense at Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions," according to the U.S. military report published Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations over its diesel emissions cheating scheme involving some 590,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The company has also agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts.

Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to an hours-long rescue operation of a deer hopelessly stuck on ice in Simsbury, Conn.

The scared deer splayed on the frozen river was streamed live by several television channels on Monday, in some cases for more than three hours, as rescue workers tried to get it to safety.

You can watch the full, agonizing rescue operation in this video — it begins about 2 1/2 hours in.

Two bomb blasts near the parliament building in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, have killed at least 30 people and injured at least 70.

"The first bomb exploded near a parked minibus," NPR's Nishant Dahiya reported. "The second, when the police arrived to help the victims." It happened during the evening rush hour as parliament staff were leaving work.

A female lawmaker was said to be among the injured, Nishant added, and other parliament staff were also reportedly victims of the attack.

In a decade, soccer's biggest tournament is set to become even bigger.

FIFA, the game's governing body, unanimously voted to expand the tournament to 48 teams from 32 teams starting in 2026.

The new format starts with the 48 teams playing one another in 16 groups of three. Then, the top two teams from each group will advance into a 32-team group for the knockout stage.

Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022, give or take a year, creating an explosion in the night sky so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye.

If it happens, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists.

Two law enforcement officers have been killed during a massive manhunt for a murder suspect in Orlando, Fla.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton radioed from a Wal-Mart shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, saying she was "attempting to contact a murder suspect," according to a statement from the City of Orlando. Other officers radioed two minutes later, reporting that an officer had been shot. The 17-year veteran of the department died after she was transported to a hospital.

Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem.

This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.

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