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.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

At a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday, Russia has vetoed a resolution on Syria drafted by the United States on the latest apparent chemical weapons attack, at a time when President Trump is considering launching new military action.

Meanwhile, inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog prepare to head into the country.

The Australian government has ordered a review of its lucrative sheep export trade after some 2,400 sheep died last summer on a ship headed to Doha, Qatar.

Video of sheep gasping and dying in sweltering temperatures was captured by a whistleblower on board the Awassi Express, and aired by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday.

As the Facebook scandal over Cambridge Analytica's misuse of the personal data of millions of users continues to unfold, Facebook is suspending another data analytics firm over similar allegations.

According to reporting by CNBC, Cubeyou collected data from Facebook users through personality quizzes "for non-profit academic research" developed with Cambridge University — then sold the data to advertisers.

Updated Saturday 9:42 a.m. ET

Palestinian health officials say eight Palestinian protesters were shot dead by Israeli fire at border demonstrations Friday, including a Palestinian photojournalist wearing a protective vest marked, "Press." This caps a week of the largest demonstrations and worst violence that Gaza has seen in years.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the deaths.

Tthe total death toll from a week of protests is at least 29, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Department of Homeland Security says it has seen activity in Washington, D.C., of what appear to be rogue surveillance devices that could be used to hijack cellphones, listen to calls and read texts.

But it says it's not able to actually track down where they are, because that would require more funding.

Winter is over, and it's finally baseball season.

The fields are green and the lines are freshly drawn. Yep, it's time to head over to your local ballfield.

If a cheetah happens to saunter into your car, this video would suggest that the best idea is to stay absolutely still until it gets distracted by a passing gazelle.

That's what happened to Peter Heistein in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.

"A cheetah decided to explore our vehicle on a safari I was leading for Grand Ruaha Safaris," Heistein, a wildlife photographer, wrote on Instagram.

A man in the U.K. has contracted a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to the two main drugs used to treat it, according to British health officials.

This is the latest in a long history of gonorrhea developing resistance to antibiotics – in fact, the World Health Organization has warned that doctors are running out of ways to treat it.

The government of Ecuador has cut off the Internet connection for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside its London embassy, saying that he was jeopardizing its relationships with other countries through his posts on social media.

Assange has been living in the embassy there since 2012, when he took refuge because of allegations from Sweden of sex crimes, including rape. He has feared that if he appeared in Sweden he would face extradition to the U.S., where he could be put on trial for the WikiLeaks leak of a massive trove of documents.

Attention credit card users: Starting in April, you probably won't have to scrawl your name on a scrap of paper or an electronic monitor when you make a purchase.

The Facebook scandal over misuse of user information has reached a Canadian data analytics company. And a whistleblower says he believes the firm, which has ties to the Trump presidential campaign, may have swayed the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit vote.

Prince had an extremely high level of a powerful synthetic opioid in his body at the time of his death at his home in Minnesota in April 2016, according to a toxicology report obtained by The Associated Press.

The confidential toxicology information was reported less than a week after the Carver County Attorney Mark Metz stated that the death investigation remains active. Metz is still deciding whether to charge someone with a crime.

You can still find furniture or a roommate on Craigslist. But ads seeking romance or sexual connections are no longer going to be available, after Craigslist took down the "personals" section Friday for its U.S. site.

A 16-year-old girl has died after she was shot Tuesday at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County., Md., by another student.

Jaelynn Rose Willey was critically injured in the attack, which also injured a 14-year-old male student. The gunman, identified by the St. Mary's County sheriff as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, was pronounced dead on Tuesday after exchanging fire with the school resource officer.

A federal regulator has cited a Baltimore hospital for breaches of federal regulatory requirements, after a passerby shot a video of a confused patient in a hospital gown being taken by guards to a bus stop on a cold night in January.

The disturbing video prompted broader questions about the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus's treatment of emergency room patients.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

Two students were injured when another student opened fire at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Md., according to the local sheriff. The shooter, identified by the sheriff as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, was confirmed dead after being taken to a hospital.

Negotiators from the U.K. and the EU says they have reached a provisional agreement on how Britain will withdraw from the EU.

The agreement allows for a nearly two-year transition period, ending on Dec. 31, 2020. The U.K. is set to leave the EU in March 2019 and that transition period is designed to ease the shift.

As Venezuela reels from hyperinflation that has caused a severe shortage of cash, one city is trying to mitigate the problem by printing its own currency.

Elorza, in western Venezuela near the border with Colombia, is selling its own bills featuring the image of an independence leader from the area, according to Reuters.

A "gold rush" started among residents in eastern Siberia after dozens of gold bars fell out of a cargo plane as it was taking off, according to Russian media.

After having trouble obtaining drugs needed for lethal injections, Oklahoma is planning to change its primary method of execution to nitrogen gas inhalation.

It would be the first time a U.S. state uses this method of execution, though six states have gas inhalation in their laws as a secondary method to lethal injection, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

At least three people claimed that they had a legal right to dispose of the body of cult leader Charles Manson. Now, a court has ruled in favor of Manson's purported grandson Jason Freeman.

Manson died in November while serving a life sentence for directing a notorious killing spree in Los Angeles in 1969. Since then, his remains have been stored in California's Kern County as the legal battle played out.

Greece has suspended indefinitely its Super League after the team owner of PAOK walked onto the pitch apparently carrying a gun in a holster to protest a referee's call in a match against AEK.

Updated at 3:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday

British Prime Minister Theresa May says it is "highly likely" that Russia is behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter earlier this month in southern England.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found collapsed on a bench on March 4 in the city of Salisbury. They remain in critical condition, according to The Associated Press.

The American Civil Liberties Union says that U.S. immigration authorities have forcibly separated hundreds of migrant parents, most of them asylum seekers, from their minor children for no legitimate reason.

The ACLU requested class-action status on Friday, expanding an existing lawsuit against the Trump administration filed on behalf of an anonymous asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was allegedly detained for months — more than 2,000 miles away from her 7-year-old daughter.

Emperor penguins are known to be social and curious. But you probably didn't know that they are also reasonably good at framing a video shot.

When an expeditioner with the Australian Antarctic Division left his camera on the ice while visiting a penguin colony, the birds quickly hustled over to investigate.

It's worth noting that the penguins did not actually push the record button – it was already rolling — but did manage to produce a hilarious 38-second video.

Mississippi's Legislature has passed a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, one of the most restrictive limitations on abortion in the country.

The measure, which is poised to become law once signed by the governor, allows for exceptions only in a "medical emergency and in cases of severe fetal abnormality." It does not allow abortion in cases involving rape or incest. Fifteen weeks is calculated from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period.

Twenty-one top tech companies are banding together to try to stop wildlife traffickers from trading endangered species on their platforms.

The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, organized by Google and the World Wildlife Fund, was announced Wednesday morning. It includes companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and Microsoft, and they're pledging to "work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020."

In 1886, sailors on a German barque called Paula tossed a gin bottle with a message inside into waters hundreds of miles off the western coast of Australia.

One hundred and thirty-one years later, a Perth resident stumbled upon the bottle on Australia's Wedge Island.

"My time today as your mayor concludes," Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said Tuesday after pleading guilty to felony theft of property amounting to more than $10,000.

The resignation comes after she admitted last month to having an extramarital affair with the former head of her security detail, Sgt. Rob Forrest, that dates back to 2016.

The two well-preserved mummies from Egypt's Gebelein site – a male and a female — have been in the British Museum's collection for more than 100 years.

But thanks to new technology, archaeologists have just discovered that they have some of the world's oldest tattoos – and what they say are the earliest known to contain figures.

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