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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.

Chinese authorities say they are investigating a batch of medication that is suspected to be tainted with HIV.

According to local media, the batch contains more than 12,000 doses of human immunoglobulin — intravenous treatments used to boost weakened immune systems.

Gavin McInnes, the founder of the far-right, all-male group Proud Boys, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC has labeled the Proud Boys a hate group and has published a series of articles with examples of racist, misogynistic and transphobic quotes.

McInnes is perhaps best known as a co-founder of Vice Media, a position he left in 2008. He founded the Proud Boys group in 2016, describing it as a "men's club that meets about once a month to drink beer."

Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET

Australia says the last four asylum-seeking children held in its detention centers on the island nation of Nauru are to be transferred to the United States.

The country has faced years of criticism from human rights advocates over the health of asylum-seekers and the condition of detention facilities on the island. Amnesty International and other groups have described a mental health crisis where self-harm is common.

New Year's Eve parties have kicked off around the world, including the famous gathering in New York's Times Square.

Hundreds of thousands of revelers are expected to gather there to watch the ball drop and ring in 2019 — and this year, according to the organizers, it's covered in 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles.

A lion killed a 22-year-old intern at a North Carolina animal center during a routine enclosure cleaning, devastating the small facility and raising questions about how the animal escaped.

Alexandra Black had just recently started her internship at the Conservators Center, which is located in Burlington, N.C., and home to about 80 animals.

On New Year's Day, two of the greatest tennis champions ever will stride out onto a court in Perth, Australia, and play each other for the first time.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer have been on the international tennis circuit for decades — both are 37 years old — and they have won 43 Grand Slam titles between them.

"I've always thought, 'How is it to return that serve, or to go head to head with her?' " Federer said, according to Tennis.com.

The Trump administration has authorized five companies to "incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals" by using seismic air guns to search for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean.

It's a decision opposed by environmental groups, who say the blasts could harm marine animals such as humpback whales, and some coastal communities, who fear it could be a precursor to offshore drilling.

Brazil has rescinded its bid to host a major U.N. conference on climate change next year, raising questions about how the incoming far-right administration will handle environmental issues.

Brazil's foreign ministry made the announcement, saying it withdrew its offer due to "the current fiscal and budget constraints, which are expected to remain in the near future," according to a statement provided to The Associated Press.

In a Los Angeles courtroom in 2014, 74-year-old Samuel Little was adamant that he had not murdered three women.

"I didn't do it!" he screamed in court, according to the Los Angeles Times, before he was sentenced to life in prison.

It came down to a series of rapid tie-break games, but defending world chess champion Magnus Carlsen has emerged victorious once again.

Carlsen, a 27-year-old Norwegian, has held the title since 2013. He defeated Fabiano Caruana, who would have been the first U.S. citizen to win the world title since Bobby Fischer in 1972.

The two appeared evenly matched in the 12 games they played over three weeks before Wednesday's climax. Each of those 12 games resulted in a draw, making it the first time in the tournament's history that no player won a game during regular play.

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