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.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has penned a scathing Facebook post in response to new U.S. sanctions, decrying what he described as the Trump administration's "total weakness" and saying that the package "ends hopes for improving our relations with the new administration."

More than a million malnourished children are living in areas of Yemen hit hardest by a cholera outbreak, according to a new analysis by Save the Children.

Former FBI Director James Comey's first book will be published next spring and feature "yet-unheard anecdotes from his long and distinguished career," according to publisher Flatiron Books.

Comey was suddenly fired by President Trump in May, setting off a political firestorm over why it happened and whether the decision was linked to the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

A federal judge in Alabama has struck down portions of a state abortion law, saying they are unconstitutional. Under the law, unique to Alabama, a minor who didn't have parental consent for an abortion could have faced a legal proceeding involving her parents, the district attorney and a person representing the fetus.

Nearly 500 people are standing trial in Turkey's capital, Ankara, for their alleged roles in a failed coup attempt last July.

"They're charged with murder, violating the constitution and attempting to kill the president," NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Turkey. "Most are military officers who were stationed at an airbase where fighter jets took off and bombed Parliament on the night of the attempted coup last summer."

Japanese scientists have genetically engineered a chrysanthemum flower that is "true blue" — a color that has long eluded flower breeders and researchers.

Blue has proved a challenge to produce in many other popular flowers, including roses, carnations and lilies.

Luxury fashion brand Michael Kors says it has reached a nearly $1.2 billion deal to acquire footwear and accessories brand Jimmy Choo.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Michael Kors is "trying to shore up declining demand for expensive handbags," NPR's Yuki Noguchi tells our Newscast unit. Here is more from Yuki:

Updated 10:05 p.m. ET

Israel has removed controversial metal detectors at the entrance to a holy site in Jerusalem, aiming to ease tension after days of protests.

But it remains to be seen whether Muslim worshippers will accept the security measures that Israel plans to implement in their place. The metal detectors were installed at the Muslim-administered site after several Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli police officers there.

The parents of terminally ill British baby Charlie Gard have ended their legal fight to transport him to the U.S. for experimental treatment, concluding a months-long saga that has raised nearly $1.75 million and elicited support from Pope Francis and President Trump.

The couple's lawyer, Grant Armstrong, told the London High Court that new medical tests have shown that the experimental treatment would not help at this point, according to The Associated Press. "It's too late for Charlie," Armstrong said. "The damage has been done."

In a surprise move, the Polish president says he will veto two controversial measures that critics say would have undermined the independence of the judiciary. Poland has seen days of protests across the country against the legislation.

President Andrzej Duda is a member of the ruling Law and Justice party, and this is the first time he has broken with his right-wing party, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports. In fact, Duda's critics have referred to him as "pen," Soraya adds, because he has signed all previous bills.

Updated at 2:00 p.m. ET

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said in a statement prior to his closed-door meeting Monday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Speaking to reporters at the White House after the appearance, he said that documents and records that he provided the committee "show that all of my actions are proper, and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign."

Exxon Mobil says it has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, after the office said the oil and gas giant must pay a $2 million penalty for allegedly violating sanctions on Russia.

The alleged violations took place in May 2014, when Exxon Mobil signed a series of deals with Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft.

A Nevada parole board has granted O.J. Simpson parole from prison after he served nearly nine years following a conviction on armed robbery and other charges.

On Thursday, the four-person panel unanimously voted to grant parole. The parole board said that Oct. 1 is the earliest the former NFL star is eligible for release.

NPR's Ina Jaffe walked us through the incident that led to his conviction:

Washington, D.C., police say six teenagers from Burundi who competed in an international robotics competition were reported missing on Wednesday.

Two of the teens — 16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi — were last seen leaving the U.S. and heading into Canada, the Metropolitan Police Department tells The Two-Way blog, adding that there is "no indication of foul play."

The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of "witch trials" in 1692.

The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. According to the city, the memorial opened on the 325th anniversary of the first of three mass executions at the site, when five women were killed: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.

On Monday morning, the employees of a Louisville, Colo., office arrived to a confusing scene.

Two glass doors of their office were smashed, suggesting a break-in — but nothing was missing.

A review of the security footage shows a goat appearing hell-bent on breaking through the Argonics Inc. office doors.

The Supreme Court has upheld parts of a lower court order that had widened the definition of which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration's travel ban are still eligible to travel to the U.S.

The order issued Wednesday leaves in place the action of a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii who broadened the definition of close family to include categories such as the grandparents and cousins of a person in the U.S.

A Thai army general and local politicians are among the dozens of people found guilty at a Bangkok court Wednesday in one of Thailand's largest human trafficking trials.

Thailand has faced international criticism for years over human trafficking in the country, and the rights group Fortify Rights called this trial an "unprecedented effort by Thai authorities to hold perpetrators of human trafficking accountable."

Chipotle saw its stock dip Tuesday after it temporarily closed a Sterling, Va., restaurant where several people reported getting sick.

"That is an especially sensitive issue for Chipotle, which struggled with recurring problems with foodborne illness two years ago that caused its stock price to plummet," NPR's Yuki Noguchi told our Newscast unit. "Investors showed signs of nervousness again today, with the stock losing, at one point, more than 7.5 percent in value."

On a summer day in August 1942, Swiss couple Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin set off on foot in the Alps. They never returned.

Now, two bodies have been discovered in a shrinking glacier by a worker from a ski lift company, according to Swiss media, and they are believed to be the couple who disappeared some 75 years ago.

Twice now, the murder and manslaughter case against a former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has ended in a mistrial over his fatal shooting of black motorist Sam DuBose.

Now, the Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says that he will not try Tensing a third time, member station WVXU reports.

"I don't like it. We believe we cannot be successful at trial," Deters said, according to The Associated Press.

The White House is showcasing products from each state as part of its "Made in America" week.

The list includes some iconic U.S. brands — for example, Gibson Guitars from Tennessee and Steinway pianos from New York. Vermont Maple syrup and California wine are on the list. American flag manufacturers are highlighted from two states (Utah and Virginia).

Some of the choices are less obvious, like wheel barrows from Pennsylvania and door hinges from Missouri.

The State Department has issued new instructions about which citizens from the six Muslim-majority countries covered by the Trump administration's travel ban are eligible for visas.

The instructions issued to U.S. embassies and consulates widen the definition of a close familial relationship to include categories such as grandparents and cousins, in accordance with a federal court ruling last week, a State Department spokesman said in a statement to The Two-Way.

From one of the coldest places on Earth comes a heartwarming love story.

A pair of polar field guides got married over the weekend at a British research station, and the British Antarctic Survey says it's the first official wedding in Antarctic territory claimed by the U.K.

U.S. and Russian diplomats are planning to meet Monday to discuss two Russian diplomatic compounds that U.S. authorities seized in December because they were allegedly being used for intelligence activities.

The Obama administration shuttered the two Russian luxury estates — one in Long Island, N.Y. and the other in Centreville, Md. – in retaliation for the country's interference in the U.S. presidential elections. It also expelled 35 Russian officials.

As recently as 10 years ago, humans were thought to be the only species with the ability to plan.

Recent studies on great apes showed the ability is not uniquely human. Now, scientists in Sweden have come to the surprising conclusion that ravens can also deliberately prepare for future events.

"It is conservative to conclude that ravens perform similarly to great apes and young children," the researchers write. However, monkeys have failed similar experiments.

Amnesty International is accusing the U.S.-led coalition of potentially committing war crimes against civilians as it fought to wrest control of the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State fighters. It says ISIS definitely committed war crimes there.

The forces aligned with Iraq's government allegedly used crude, imprecise weapons that caused an unnecessary level of civilian casualties, the U.K.-based rights group says.

Pope Francis has introduced a new pathway to Catholic sainthood, recognizing those who sacrifice their lives for others.

The new category, introduced in a official letter from the pope on Tuesday, is "one of the most significant changes in centuries to the Roman Catholic Church's saint-making procedures," Reuters reports.

Five years ago, the U.N. warned that Gaza is expected to be unlivable by 2020. A new report now says conditions are deteriorating there even faster than it forecast.

"What needed to happen has not happened, and the indicators are accelerating instead of slowing down," Robert Piper, the U.N. Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told NPR's Daniel Estrin.

Amnesty International says that Turkish authorities have detained its country director for Turkey, Idil Eser, amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

The U.K.-based rights group says Eser was taken into custody Wednesday morning with seven other human rights workers and two foreign trainers.

It happened as they took part in a "routine training event" in a hotel on an island near Istanbul, Amnesty adds.

Pages