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.

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A U.S.-brokered deal with Turkey to pause its campaign against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria appears to be largely holding on its first day, though there have been reports of continue Turkish shelling in a key border town, Ras al-Ain.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

U.S. Vice President Pence says he has brokered a cease-fire deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to suspend the Turkish incursion into northern Syria, targeting Kurdish forces. However, minutes later, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that he did not consider it a cease-fire.

More than 330 people have been arrested around the world in a major takedown of a massive child pornography website, which U.S. officials say is among the first to be found using cryptocurrency to carry out video sales.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has criticized a tweet sent by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong protesters, saying of Morey, "I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand."

James has just returned from the NBA's tense trip to China, where teams played exhibition games but many player appearances were canceled owing to the controversy over Morey's statement, which was deleted shortly after it was posted.

Faced with rare protests, Egypt's government has launched a crackdown that human rights groups say is one of the largest the country has seen during Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's five years as president.

Authorities have arrested at least 3,000 people since the protests began on Sept. 20, according to several Egyptian human rights groups. This is considered a major escalation, even for a regime that has long targeted dissenting voices.

Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET

U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani, Syria, came under artillery fire from Turkish positions Friday, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

"The explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present," Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt said in a statement. "All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries. U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani."

More than 200 years ago, scholars glued the remains of an ancient papyrus scroll onto cardboard to preserve it. But the scroll, a history of Plato's Academy, also had writing on the back. Now scholars have deployed imaging technology to read what's been concealed.

This scroll came from a library in Herculaneum, near Mount Vesuvius. And it was caught in the famous eruption of that volcano nearly 2,000 years ago — the same eruption that buried the city of Pompeii.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Seven people were killed when a World War II-era plane crashed and caught fire Wednesday morning as it was attempting to land at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Thirteen people were onboard the plane, Connecticut Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection James Rovella said at a news conference. Some of the survivors were in critical condition.

Rovella did not release the names of the victims.

Thousands of Dutch farmers rolled their tractors over highways to The Hague to protest a possible crackdown on nitrogen emissions from livestock and farming operations. The angry farmers snarled traffic for hundreds of miles in what has been called the Netherlands' busiest morning rush hour.

It's a make-or-break week in the U.K. right now, as the country barrels toward a deadline to withdraw from the European Union without yet securing a deal on the terms of the divorce.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pleading with lawmakers to support him amid a brewing rebellion in Parliament – even from members of his own party — to try to block the U.K. from leaving the bloc without securing a deal.

It looks like Costco is a hit in Shanghai. On Tuesday, the U.S. wholesale chain opened its first location in mainland China and was so inundated with eager shoppers that the store closed early owing to "security concerns."

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

North Carolina is suing electronic cigarette companies that it accuses of selling products to children, amid a major increase in U.S. teens getting hooked on vaping.

The state's attorney general, Josh Stein, announced Tuesday that his office will be filing lawsuits in state court against eight companies that sell vaping products. His office is accusing these companies of "aggressively targeting children and do not require appropriate age verification when selling these dangerous and addictive products."

At a cancer treatment center in Iran's capital of Tehran, a doctor's fight to treat her cancer patients has become harder. As U.S. sanctions sink in, the flow of medicine and medical supplies in Iran appears to have slowed — and the reasons are difficult to pin down.

Dr. Mastaneh Sanei, an oncologist at the Roshana Cancer Center, says she's treating patients without the benefits of consistently functioning equipment and a reliable supply of drugs.

With the right treatment, she says, "you may not cure these patients, but they have the chance to prolong survival."

A Japanese woman met a person online in March 2016 who said he was a U.S. Army captain based in Syria.

They quickly became close, exchanging messages over email. She thought she was in a romantic relationship with the man, who called himself Terry Garcia.

Over the course of 10 months, the Japanese woman lost more than $200,000, sending money to accounts in Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced that his resignation amid political chaos and jockeying for power within his own coalition.

In a scathing speech to the Senate, Conte railed against his right-wing coalition partner, Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini. Conte is an independent. His coalition includes the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Salvini's party, the League, which is staunchly anti-migrant and euroskeptic. Conte's government has held power for some 14 months.

A young woman from El Salvador who was convicted of aggravated homicide after she lost her pregnancy has been acquitted in a retrial.

El Salvador has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world — it's not allowed under any circumstances.

Evelyn Beatriz Hernández, 21, has said she was raped by a gang member and didn't know she was pregnant. In 2016, she gave birth into a toilet, and her mother found her passed out next to it.

Nearly two decades into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. suddenly appears to be nearing an agreement with the Taliban that could bring the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops home.

That's causing unease inside the Afghan government, which has been left on the sidelines as the U.S. and the Taliban have held multiple rounds of talks this year in the Gulf nation of Qatar. The latest round wrapped up last week without a deal, but with signs of progress.

When U.S. officials opened a trailer full of jalapeno peppers last week, they found something a bit more illicit tucked among the spicy chiles.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized nearly four tons of weed mixed in with a large shipment of red and green jalapenos at the Otay Mesa cargo facility in San Diego.

A man drove a truck into a group of peaceful demonstrators protesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies outside a detention facility in Central Falls, R.I., on Wednesday evening.

After a video of the incident went viral, the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility said that it has placed a correctional officer named Thomas Woodworth on administrative leave pending an independent investigation. A spokesperson for the facility would not confirm that Woodworth was the driver, saying that is "subject to the investigation."

Say the word "exosuit" and superheroes come to mind — somebody like Tony Stark from Marvel Comics, whose fancy suit enables him to become Iron Man.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings issued an emotional appeal for President Trump to visit Baltimore after the president has repeatedly attacked the congressman and his district.

"You know what, I want President Trump to come to my district," the Maryland Democrat said Wednesday at the National Press Club. "God, I want him to come, so bad."

Updated at 4:48 p.m. ET

The FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into last month's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, after discovering that the shooter had a list that may have indicated potential targets of violence.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

The Justice Department says the U.S. has extradited a Pakistani man from Hong Kong and accused him of bribing AT&T employees to unlock more than 2 million cellphones.

Muhammad Fahd, 34, allegedly committed the crimes as part of a scheme that unlocked and resold stolen iPhones.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a lower court was wrong to dismiss former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over an editorial linking her to a 2011 mass shooting.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court, saying her case against the newspaper "plausibly states a claim for defamation and may proceed to full discovery."

As the U.S. reels from a weekend of two mass shootings, federal authorities have released details of what they say could have been another tragedy — which didn't happen because the suspect's grandmother managed to stop it.

On Friday, federal prosecutors in Lubbock, Texas, said that they have charged a 19-year-old man with making false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer and that William Patrick Williams was allegedly plotting a mass shooting.

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