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.

The U.S. government is juicing up its weather forecasting power.

This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it has upgraded its main weather forecasting model, called the Global Forecast System.

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has agreed to pay about $15,000 as part of a plea deal to settle allegations that she improperly spent some $100,000 in catering at the prime minister's residence.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is facing escalating challenges to his leadership after government auditors found even more evidence of large-scale corruption, ushering in days of street protests and strikes in multiple Haitian cities.

The capital Port-au-Prince has been flooded with protests, calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. Thick smoke from burning cars and tires filled the air, as protesters waved flags and faced off against security forces.

Ten state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit to try to block the merger of telecom giants T-Mobile and Sprint.

The United Nations says at least 95 people were killed in an armed attack on a village in central Mali. It's the latest in a spate of deadly attacks in the region, which has seen escalating tensions between ethnic groups.

The attack on the village of Sobanou-Kou started Sunday evening when a group of armed men poured into the village, according to a statement from the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

A helicopter crashed into the top of a Manhattan skyscraper and ignited a fire early Monday afternoon, sending New York authorities and rescuers racing to the scene in Midtown.

Officials said the crash killed one person, believed to be the helicopter's pilot.

It's not yet clear why the helicopter went down around 1:45 p.m. ET, though it's possible that rainy, windy weather in the area was a factor.

Venezuela has hit a worrying milestone. The United Nations says more than 4 million refugees and migrants have left the country, which is suffering from political chaos, food shortages and hyperinflation.

The U.N. has called this exodus the "largest in the recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean."

Your phone company may start blocking robocalls without your needing to ask for it.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission passed a ruling that allows and encourages phone companies to block robocalls by default.

"We think these actions will help consumers in the near term and the long term to get the peace and the quiet that they deserve," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

National Weather Service meteorologists noticed something puzzling on their radar screens in Southern California on Tuesday evening — a big green blob.

"It was very strange because it was a relatively clear day and we weren't really expecting any rain or thunderstorms," Casey Oswant, a NWS meteorologist in San Diego, tells NPR. "But on our radar, we were seeing something that indicated there was something out there."

Oakland passed a resolution to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants and fungi in a unanimous City Council vote on Tuesday.

That makes it the second U.S. city to do so – last month, Denver voters approved a similar ballot initiative that decriminalizes the "magic" mushrooms.

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