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.

An infamous criminal managed to escape from prison on the outskirts of Paris after an "armed commando" landed a helicopter in the complex's courtyard and whisked him away, France's Ministry of Justice said on Sunday.

But perhaps the most unbelievable thing about Redoine Faid's prison break is that it's the second time he's done it. He used explosives to escape from a different prison in 2013.

Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET

Nine people have been hospitalized following a stabbing attack at an apartment complex where refugee families live in Boise, Idaho, according to the Boise Police Department. Six of the victims are children.

Each World Cup, the sportswear giant Adidas designs an official ball to be used in the tournament.

Plants need carbon dioxide to live, but its effects on them are complicated.

As the level of carbon dioxide in the air continues to rise because of human activity, scientists are trying to pin down how the plants we eat are being affected.

Mounting evidence suggests that many key plants lose nutritional value at higher CO2 levels, and scientists are running experiments all over the world to try to tease out the effects.

Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica's ice sheet to date. And they found that it's melting faster than they thought.

Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

Scientists beamed down lasers on the ancient city of Jerash in Jordan, mapping the site and then comparing it with historic photos to show what remains — and what has been subsumed by the growing modern city.

Jerash is world famous, and one of the most popular tourist sites in Jordan. It has long streets and a plaza lined with Greco-Roman columns. The site also boasts two amphitheaters, a hippodrome, temples and churches.

Great white sharks have a "hidden life" that is becoming a lot less hidden thanks to a scientific expedition that has been years in the making.

Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

If you are reading this, you are likely one of the more than 14 million people who vehemently believe that this audio clip is saying either the word "yanny" or the word "laurel."

If you haven't heard it yet, take a listen:

Updated at 10:25 p.m. ET

The eruption at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano continues. The lava has now destroyed at least 35 structures and covered the equivalent of more than 75 football fields.

Scientists have been tracking this event since it started last week — but there are still big unanswered questions, the biggest of which is when it will end.

A viral video from Baltimore is drawing attention to a crisis that's unfolding in emergency rooms across the country: Surging numbers of patients with psychiatric conditions aren't receiving the care they need.

On a cold night in January, a man walking by a downtown Baltimore hospital saw something that shocked him. He started recording the incident on his phone.

Updated at 8:37 a.m. ET

Over the course of 15 years, the U.S. has contributed more than $3 billion into a trust fund that is aimed at helping Afghanistan with its reconstruction.

In total, donors from around the world have given the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which is administered by the World Bank, more than $10 billion.

But according to a watchdog appointed by Congress, those billions of dollars are at risk because the World Bank and the government of Afghanistan are not adequately monitoring where they go and how they are used.

The man suspected of killing at least 10 people on Monday by plowing a rented white van down crowded Toronto sidewalks appeared in court Tuesday morning and has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Updated at 10:52 p.m. ET

Ten people have been killed and 15 injured after a white van struck pedestrians on busy Yonge St. in Toronto today. The driver, identified by police as Alek Minassian, was located and arrested without injury.

The police had initially identified him as Alex Minassian.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

Nashville police say the man suspected of opening fire and killing four people Sunday at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tenn., has been taken into custody just miles from the restaurant.

Police said Monday afternoon that Travis Reinking, 29, was captured "moments ago."

Minutes later, the police released two photos of Reinking in the back of a police cruiser, his clothing torn and with scratches visible on his shoulder. Police said they apprehended him in a "wooded area."

A Flint activist who worked to expose the Michigan city's lead crisis is being hailed as an environmental hero. She's one of the winners of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize.

The honor, announced on Monday, recognizes grass-roots environmental activists from around the world.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

One person died after a Southwest Airlines plane experienced serious engine trouble Tuesday and was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Seven other people on Flight 1380 were injured. It is the first U.S. airline fatality since 2009.

This was years in the making: An adorable, critically endangered male lowland gorilla has been born at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Zoo staff have named him Moke [Mo-KEY], a name that means "little one."

Inspectors haven't yet been able to access the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria that prompted a U.S.-led coalition to launch airstrikes against suspected Syrian chemical sites on Friday. And the parties involved are trading blame about why.

SAG-AFTRA is calling for an end to auditions in private hotel rooms or residences, after a spate of sexual harassment allegations against powerful Hollywood figures.

"We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting," the union's president, Gabrielle Carteris, said in a statement.

Four of last season's hurricanes were deemed so destructive and deadly that the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization has decided to retire their names.

What makes a group of animals genetically similar to each other?

Traditionally, scientists have thought that animals living near each other are more likely to have things in common genetically. Another explanation is that animals living in similar environments — like high altitudes or hot temperatures — might evolve in similar ways.

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.

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