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.

The Justice Department's Criminal Division says it has charged 57 people to date over allegedly defrauding a federal program meant to provide relief to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Criminal Division's acting assistant attorney general, Brian Rabbitt, told reporters that those charged attempted to steal more than $175 million. They actually obtained more than $70 million, he said, and the Justice Department has been to recover or freeze over $30 million.

In Lebanon, a huge fire at Beirut's port has blackened skies and sent waves of panic through the devastated city, which is still reeling from last month's massive explosion in the same area that killed nearly 200 people and injured thousands more.

By early evening local time Thursday, the fire was said to be "under control" by caretaker Public Works Minister Michel Najjar, who is in charge of overseeing the port, according to local media.

George Washington University says associate professor Jessica A. Krug has resigned, after a blog post published under her name last week said she had invented several Black identities.

The blog post stated that Krug is actually a white, Jewish woman from the Midwest, who for years has "assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness."

For nearly 20 years, a Columbia University gynecologist in New York City sexually abused dozens of female patients, including minors, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Robert Hadden, 62, was arrested that morning in connection with sexual abuse that took place from 1993 to 2012, including acts against a young girl whom Hadden had delivered at birth, court documents say.

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described him as a "predator in a white coat"

The U.S. is planning to withdraw nearly half of the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq, according to a senior U.S. military official.

CENTCOM Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East, says that the U.S. will reduce its troop levels in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 and that the cuts will be made this month.

He said the decision reflects confidence in Iraqi security forces.

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