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.

Federal officials in South Florida said Friday that a massive international operation in three countries arrested 25 people and seized thousands of weapons and their components.

Those arrested in the bust, dubbed Operation Patagonia Express, include a married couple in their 60s who lived in Broward County, Fla. John James Peterson and Brunella Zuppone have been charged with conspiracy to violate and attempted violations of U.S. weapons laws.

Americans bought tens of millions of pairs of eclipse glasses to watch the total solar eclipse that crossed the U.S. in 2017. Now tens of thousands of them are heading for South America for another eclipse.

A group of astronomers is repurposing boxes and boxes of the glasses to send to hopeful viewers ahead of the celestial event that will be visible across much of the continent on July 2.

Witnessing a total solar eclipse can be a transcendent, even life-changing experience. But to do so safely, you must be wearing proper eye protection or risk injury.

Modern crocodiles can trace their lineage back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. If you picture that crocodile ancestor, way back in the Cretaceous period, what do you imagine it snacking on? Maybe a fish or a bird?

Think again. Scientists say it's more likely it was chomping on prehistoric flowers or other plants. A new study in Current Biology has found these ancient crocodile cousins actually evolved into plant eaters at least three times, and probably more.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

Drivers with smartphones these days don't often get truly lost, thanks to navigation services such as Google Maps. But what happened in Colorado is a reminder that even with new technology, some shortcuts can still go very wrong.

After a crash that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire, lawyers for the man charged with seven counts of negligent homicide have entered a plea of not guilty.

According to the criminal complaint, 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was driving erratically in a Dodge pickup truck and trailer on Friday night. He allegedly crossed the center line of a rural road in the small town of Randolph, colliding with a group of motorcyclists.

A Catholic high school in Indianapolis says it has decided to fire a gay teacher to remain in the local archdiocese.

In a letter to the community, leaders of Cathedral High School said they had been in talks with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for 22 months before deciding to cut ties with the teacher.

The U.N.'s human rights chief says there are only two options for dealing with the tens of thousands of suspected ISIS fighters currently detained in Syria and Iraq: They must be either tried or let go, and their families cannot be detained indefinitely.

Some 55,000 suspected ISIS fighters and their family members have been swept up and detained since ISIS was effectively toppled and lost control of its territory, the U.N. says.

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET Tuesday

Hours after the White House imposed new sanctions against Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a televised speech, President Hassan Rouhani called the move "outrageous and idiotic."

Rouhani called the sanctions a sign that the Trump administration had "become mentally crippled." Earlier, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted that the latest "useless sanctions" marked "the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy."

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

A fire at an oil refinery in South Philadelphia caused a series of explosions before dawn on Friday, unleashing a giant ball of flames and plumes of smoke into the air. The incident prompted a shelter-in-place order for a nearby neighborhood and sent more than 100 firefighters to the scene.

Several people were treated on the scene for minor injuries, WHYY's Tom MacDonald reported.

Two female beluga whales have finally arrived in Iceland, where they will enjoy a sanctuary in cool coastal waters. But the longtime performers from an aquarium in China had quite the journey to get there.

Little Grey and Little White traveled from Shanghai by land, sea and air — a Boeing 747 aircraft.

Naturally, transporting two whales — each about 13 feet long — was a huge logistical headache. Trainers have been preparing the belugas for the journey and for their new life in open water.

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