Merrit Kennedy

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for The Two-Way, NPR's breaking news blog. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

Merrit 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 ouster 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.

European Union leaders and Turkey's prime minister have ended talks aimed at resolving the flood of migrants into Europe, signaling their leaders are closer to an agreement.

The Associated Press reports, "Luxembourg's prime minister says that European Union and Turkish leaders have ended talks ... but that more work is needed to finalize an agreement. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said in a tweet early Tuesday that EU Council President Donald Tusk 'will take forward the proposals and work out the details with the Turkish side' before the next EU summit on March 17."

A Turkish court has sentenced two Syrian nationals to four years in prison each in a case tied to the drowning death of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi and four others.

Photos of 3-year-old Alan's body lying facedown on a Turkish beach in September 2015 produced a groundswell of global sympathy for people fleeing violence in the Middle East and North Africa, and laid bare the human cost of their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

When astronaut Scott Kelly's space capsule touched down in Kazakhstan, it was a familiar scene to Mark Kelly, who is a retired astronaut and Scott's identical twin.

NASA is conducting a "twin study" on the brothers to explore what spaceflight does to the body. Multiple universities are involved in the research.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, ending his two-year boycott over a ban on LGBT groups.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang tells our Newscast unit that the mayor's decision comes after organizers allowed a new group to march in the upcoming parade. New York's is the largest and oldest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country.

A team of refugees will compete alongside athletes representing their home countries at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

Previously, athletes who did not represent a country were not allowed to compete.

The team will likely number between five and 10 athletes, the committee said in a statement, and "will be treated at the Olympic Games like all the other teams."

The crumpled brown paper bag looked like trash.

But luckily for baseball card enthusiasts, a family in a rural Southern town that was sifting through its great-grandparent's possessions took a closer look.

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, found seven identical baseball cards of famed Detroit Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb dating from a printing in 1909-1911. Previously, only 15 of this particular card were known to exist.

The Department of Health and Human Services says it is expanding its Head Start program in Flint, Mich., with $3.6 million in one-time funding.

It's an effort to combat the developmental effects on kids from the city's lead-laced water.

The effects of lead exposure are lifelong and can cause "learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation," according to the World Health Organization.

Removing any doubt about whether you're allowed to puff away on an electronic cigarette while airborne, the Department of Transportation has explicitly banned vaping on commercial flights.

At first glance, the front-page headlines in China's Southern Metropolis Daily on Feb. 20 looked like normal fare: coverage of a speech by President Xi Jinping and a politician's funeral.

But read vertically, and there's a message that seems to criticize a government crackdown on the media.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn in Beijing reports that an editor at the major tabloid has been fired for allegedly sneaking in the subversive message, and walks us through what it says.

Havana will meet the Rolling Stones later this month.

The band has announced they'll play a free open-air concert in the Cuban capital on March 25.

That will make them "the most famous act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution," the Associated Press reports.

Less than four months after it started accepting Syrian refugees, Canada says it has reached its goal of bringing in 25,000 people who have fled the raging civil war.

As thousands of migrants wait to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, the U.N. warns that Europe is "on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis."

Macedonian authorities closed the Idomeni border crossing Monday, sparking clashes with the frustrated migrants who want to continue their journey north. Guards fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd, the BBC reports.

Syria's cessation of hostilities is largely holding on its third day, even as the main opposition umbrella group accuses the Syrian regime of violations.

Riad Hijab, the opposition's general coordinator, wrote a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General detailing the alleged breaches of the truce, which was brokered by the U.S. and Russia. The letter reads, in part:

Final results are beginning to trickle in from Iran's parliamentary elections, and these returns show major gains for the country's moderate camp.

It's a stunning blow to Iran's hardliners in the first election since last year's historic nuclear deal with world powers.

NPR's Peter Kenyon says reformist parliamentary candidates swept the seats in Iran's capital, Tehran. "All hardline incumbents in the capital lost their seats," Peter reports, though he says conservatives fared better in other provinces.

The Cleveland Clinic says it has performed the first uterus transplant in the United States.

This opens up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function.

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