Merrit Kennedy | Prairie Public Broadcasting

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.

Curious how much the ground shifted after the two large earthquakes last week in Southern California? NASA has just the map for that question — and it happens to look like beautiful, psychedelic art.

On July 4, a 6.4 magnitude quake hit the town of Ridgecrest, north of Los Angeles. The next evening, the area was jolted again by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Luckily, there were no serious injuries or major infrastructure damage.

About two hours after a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant closed for business on Wednesday night, a massive blast reduced it to rubble within seconds.

The explosion in the small town of Eden, N.C., which happened Thursday just after 12:30 a.m., was captured in dramatic surveillance footage from a neighboring pharmacy.

It shows a quiet building under street lights, when suddenly the frame fills with white from the blast. Smoke and flames erupt from the demolished building, and debris and sparks fall from the sky.

Chalk up another victory for machines.

In artificial intelligence, it's a milestone when a computer program can beat top players at a game like chess. But a game like poker, specifically six-player Texas Hold 'em, has been too tough for a machine to master — until now.

Researchers say they have designed a bot called Pluribus capable of taking on poker professionals in the most popular form of poker and winning.

Four-time World Poker Tour title holder Darren Elias helped test the program's skills, playing Texas Hold 'em against a whole table of the bots.

A Brazilian judge has ordered mining giant Vale S.A. to pay for all damage caused by a ruptured dam that unleashed a torrent of mine waste and killed at least 247 people in January.

The disaster in the small city of Brumadinho was one of Brazil's worst-ever industrial accidents. Twenty-three people are still missing from the rupture that engulfed many of the company's workers and nearby residents in the muddy waste.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Ross Perot, the colorful Texas billionaire businessman who ran twice for president, first as an independent and then as a third-party candidate, died early Tuesday at his home in Dallas. He was 89.

Perot, who had battled leukemia, was surrounded by family members when he died, his family said in a statement.

Residents of London's Clapham area got a shock Sunday afternoon when they discovered a body in the garden of a neighborhood home and called police.

That body is believed to have fallen from the sky.

Metropolitan Police said they suspect the person was hiding in the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight and fell as the plane was approaching Heathrow Airport.

The body, which police said is believed to be male, has not been identified.

A group of voting rights advocates and felons has filed a lawsuit after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a law that could make it more difficult for felons to vote.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

People in Guadalajara, Mexico, woke up on Sunday to a thick blanket of ice over areas of their city, after a freak hailstorm that damaged houses and left cars partially buried.

This is particularly striking because it's the middle of summer. In the past month, temperatures most days have hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit or over.

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.

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