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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.

Updated July 21, 2021 at 8:21 AM ET

TOKYO — It was a devastating start to the Tokyo Olympics for the U.S. women's soccer team. The U.S., ranked No. 1 and the reigning World Cup champions, played a familiar foe: Sweden. And unfortunately for the U.S., it was a familiar result. Sweden beat them 3-0.

Updated July 20, 2021 at 1:10 PM ET

TOKYO — The Tokyo Summer Olympics are here.

The start of the largest event in sports after a year postponement is a sign of hope for many. But critics view holding the Games during pandemic times as an unacceptable risk to the world's top athletes and the Japanese people.

Updated July 19, 2021 at 1:15 PM ET

TOKYO — Kara Eaker, an alternate for the U.S. women's gymnastics team, has tested positive for the coronavirus. USA Gymnastics said the rest of the team, which includes superstar Simone Biles, is continuing to prepare for the Games.

TOKYO — U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff will no longer lead the U.S. tennis team at the Tokyo Olympics. She has announced that she tested positive for the coronavirus, dashing her hopes of competing in the Games.

"It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future," the 17-year-old said in a statement on her Twitter account.

TOKYO — When anyone traveling to Japan for the Olympics touches down in Tokyo, they are immediately separated from everyone else on their plane and whisked away to complete hours of COVID-19 testing and other entry procedures.

Then, at least for journalists, three days of strict quarantine begins. The hotel that NPR journalists are staying in has barely enough floor space to open a suitcase.

Updated June 30, 2021 at 5:36 PM ET

Comedian Bill Cosby has been released from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday vacated the indecent assault conviction against him.

The court's decision upends the long-running legal battle against the once-beloved actor, whose conviction marked a major milestone in the #MeToo movement after he was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women stretching back decades.

Updated June 25, 2021 at 10:38 AM ET

At least four people are now confirmed dead and more than 150 others are unaccounted for after a 12-story condo building near Miami partially collapsed early Thursday.

A heroic rat named Magawa has been working for five years in Cambodia, sniffing out dozens of land mines. He is believed to have saved lives.

Now, the animal is about to embark on a well-deserved retirement.

"Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down," the nonprofit APOPO said Thursday. "It is time."

Amy Cooper, a white New York woman who called police on a Black bird-watcher in Central Park last Memorial Day, is suing the company that swiftly fired her over the controversial incident.

"We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton," the investment firm said the day after the incident. It said it had completed an internal review and decided to terminate her, effective immediately.

Updated May 20, 2021 at 6:19 PM ET

Israeli and Hamas have accepted a cease-fire plan that was to take effect at 2 a.m. local time Friday after 11 days of fighting in Gaza.

The Israeli Cabinet voted to accept an Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire, according to a statement from the Cabinet. A Hamas spokesman said, "The Palestinian resistance will commit itself to this deal as long as the occupation is committed."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, says that he expects COVID-19 vaccinations to open up to younger children in the coming months.

He said Wednesday that children at least as young as 4 "would likely be able to get vaccinated by the time we reach the end of calendar year 2021 and at the latest, into the first quarter of 2022."

Updated May 17, 2021 at 10:09 PM ET

The White House said that when President Biden talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, he "expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end."

Updated April 19, 2021 at 5:40 PM ET

The prosecution and defense, in closing arguments, accused each other of misleading the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had the last word, telling jurors, "the largest departure from the truth" was that "Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big."

Updated April 19, 2021 at 4:11 PM ET

The defense made its closing arguments Monday in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin is facing counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson began by discussing the presumption of innocence and the state's burden of proving Chauvin's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated April 19, 2021 at 12:42 PM ET

The prosecution made its closing arguments Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murder in the death of George Floyd.

Updated April 15, 2021 at 12:48 PM ET

Testimony ended Thursday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The defendant said he will not testify in his defense in the trial and would invoke his Fifth Amendment right.

Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death after he held his knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds on Memorial Day last year.

Updated April 7, 2021 at 2:51 PM ET

Tiger Woods crashed in February because he was driving at an unsafe speed and was unable to negotiate a curve on the road, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.

The legendary golfer sustained a compound fracture to one leg in addition to other injuries in the single-vehicle crash Feb. 23 in the Los Angeles area.

Updated April 3, 2021 at 11:53 AM ET

One U.S. Capitol Police officer is dead and another is hospitalized with injuries after an apparent attack Friday at a Capitol checkpoint in which a man rammed his car into officers and lunged at them with a knife, police said.

Capitol Police identified the slain officer as William "Billy" Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force.

Updated March 26, 2021 at 11:14 AM ET

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, saying the network spread false claims that the voting machine company was involved in voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

Umpires will have a little help behind home plate in some minor league games this season – from a "robot ump."

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET Wednesday

Golfer Tiger Woods is "awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room" after undergoing surgery following a dramatic traffic accident Tuesday morning in Los Angeles County, according to an update on his Twitter account.

A Dutch court has delivered a major victory to a group of Nigerian farmers in their 13-year-long effort to hold Shell's Nigerian subsidiary accountable for oil spills on their lands.

The Court of Appeal in The Hague sided with farmers and environmentalists on most of their legal claims, ruling that the Nigerian subsidiary owes the farmers financial compensation for the oil spill pollution in two villages.

San Francisco is pushing ahead with a plan to rename dozens of public schools, committing to potentially remove names of public figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

A "blue ribbon panel of community leaders" recommended 44 school names be changed, joining many other renamed institutions across the country, as the U.S. reckons with its history of racial injustice. But the move has also sparked debate in San Francisco about its timing and whether the list is overly broad.

News that AstraZeneca's promised COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Europe will be delayed isn't sitting well with officials, who are pushing the company to honor the agreed-upon delivery schedule.

"Europe invested billions to help develop the world's first COVID-19 vaccines," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement Tuesday. "And now, the companies must deliver. They must honor their obligations."

When Super Bowl LV kicks off next month in Tampa Bay, Fla., some special guests will be in attendance – thousands of health care workers from around the country.

A former top South Korean speedskating coach has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting an Olympic champion.

Shim Suk-hee, a star short track speedskater who has won four Olympic medals including two golds, accused former coach Cho Jae-beom of rape in 2019. He was indicted after she said she endured dozens of incidents of sexual abuse over the course of more than three years, starting in 2014 when she was 17.

The White House push to vaccinate against the coronavirus will have a new name and new leadership under the Biden administration.

The "Operation Warp Speed" name will be retired, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Friday. She said there was an "urgent need to address the failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution." Psaki did not say what the new name will be.

The New York State Bar Association is considering expelling Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as a member because of his comments ahead of the Wednesday attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his efforts for months to cast doubt on the results on the presidential election.

The bar association said it received "hundreds of complaints in recent months" about Giuliani, ultimately deciding Monday to launch a "historic" inquiry.

As coronavirus cases soar in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a "major incident" and says hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.

"The threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point," Khan said in a statement on Friday.

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