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.

A London water provider is asking people to please, please, stop pouring concrete down their drains.

The consequences are heavy: Thames Water says a "concreteberg" the weight of a blue whale is blocking three Victorian-era sewers. "It goes without saying that pouring concrete down the drains into our sewers isn't going to do any good," Thames Water said.

The mass is longer than a football field and weighs a whopping 115 tons (or almost 105 metric tons).

Early election results from Indonesia show the incumbent president easily securing victory against his old-guard challenger in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

President Joko Widodo, a former furniture businessman and political moderate, was up against former military general Prabowo Subianto. Subianto was the son-in-law of Indonesia's longtime dictator Suharto, who was ousted in 1998.

The results are not yet official – they're "quick counts" from multiple polling organizations, which show that Widodo won about 54 percent of the vote.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York has announced that it will no longer host an event honoring Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is outspoken about his desire to roll back environmental protections.

Workers on an oil rig about 135 miles offshore from southern Thailand noticed something stunning in the water: a dog.

The animal swam toward the rig's platform on Friday and clung to it as team members tried to figure out how to save him, Vitisak Payalaw, an offshore planner for Chevron Thailand Exploration & Production, told NPR.

Video that Payalaw posted on Facebook shows the shivering animal partially submerged in water, staring up at the workers.

Tiger Woods' historic comeback victory Sunday at the The Masters Tournament shows the enduring star — and earning — power of a player once dropped by many sponsors because of his problems on and off the golf course.

"It's crazy to think a 43-year-old who has experienced every high and every low and has just won his 15th major .... is chasing the same dream as a 3-year-old," a new Nike ad says.

A panel of judges at the International Criminal Court has rejected a request to proceed with investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those allegedly involving U.S. armed forces and the CIA.

This is in response to a request from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2017, a prospect that U.S. officials have strongly criticized.

Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is already accused of federal financial crimes, has been indicted on 36 counts of embezzlement and fraud by a California federal grand jury, U.S. prosecutors announced Thursday.

If Avenatti is found guilty of all charges in the new indictment, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 335 years in prison.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be on his way to a fourth consecutive term, and his main challenger has conceded defeat.

The election was neck and neck between his right-wing party and that of his top contender, centrist political newcomer Benny Gantz. But with at least 97 percent of the votes counted, Netanyahu appears to be in the best position to form a government because of the strength of other right-wing, nationalist and religious parties.

Updated at 9:00 p.m. ET

The final results of the Israeli parliamentary election are too close to call, but two television stations are forecasting a slim victory by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party.

Israel's channels 12 and 13 project that Likud will capture 35 seats in the 120-seat parliament, changing their forecasts from earlier in the vote-counting, according to the Associated Press.

Ukraine's presidential election – which was already high-drama — has taken an unusual turn. The two remaining candidates took highly public alcohol and drug tests on Friday, as part of an escalating series of challenges delivered on social media.

The runoff election on April 21 pits incumbent President Petro Poroshenko against Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comedian who plays a president on TV. Zelenskiy came out of the first round of election with 30 percent of the vote – nearly double the number of votes cast for Poroshenko.

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