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.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says that the government will meet deadlines imposed by a federal judge to reunite migrant families that have been separated by the U.S. government.

At the same time, he criticized the deadlines as "artificial" and said that they could prevent the government "from completing our standard — or even a truncated — vetting process."

The Trump administration's separation policy has been met with widespread outcry, marches and legal action.

A London-based nurse has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for subjecting five young Nigerian woman to mystical, violent rituals and trafficking them to Germany, where they were forced to work as prostitutes.

According to prosecutors, the case marks the first time that the U.K.'s Modern Slavery Act has been used to prosecute a U.K. national for crimes committed elsewhere.

Josephine Iyamu, who is 51, has maintained that she is innocent.

If you squint, the image above bears a pretty strong resemblance to what you might see at a July 4 fireworks display.

But it's actually, dare we say, far cooler. Or hotter: The image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is a cluster of "huge, hot" stars called NGC 3603, about 20,000 light years away in the constellation Carina.

The 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in a complex cave system in Chiang Rai have captured global attention since they disappeared and were found by British divers on Monday, nine days after they'd gone missing.

Now, attention has shifted to the next extraordinary challenge: How can they be evacuated safely from the spot where they are trapped, deep in the flooded cave?

The head of Poland's Supreme Court defiantly arrived at work on Wednesday in Warsaw, rejecting a law by the right-wing government that aims at forcing her and many other top judges into retirement.

The controversial law is at the center of the storm of Poland's broader constitutional crisis, which is straining its relationship with the European Union.

Scientists think they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tweaking the food that cows eat. A recent experiment from the University of California, Davis suggests that adding seaweed to cattle feed can dramatically decrease their emissions of the potent gas methane.

You may be just a few hours away from the Fourth of July holiday. Now, may we present to you a video of a bear that is truly channeling the spirit of a mellow summer BBQ.

This encounter happened on Friday afternoon, just as Mark Hough of Altadena, Calif., was settling into a relaxing margarita. Suddenly, a bear appeared in his backyard.

Mining and commodities trading giant Glencore saw its shares dive in trading Tuesday after the company disclosed that a subsidiary has received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice to produce documents tied to questions over potential corruption and money laundering.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

The charges against Harvey Weinstein in New York have expanded.

The former Hollywood mogul is already facing first-degree rape and other charges involving incidents with two women, in 2004 and 2013. Now, a grand jury in New York has charged Weinstein with allegedly committing a forcible sexual act against a third woman.

Four-time Tour de France title winner Chris Froome has been cleared of doping by cycling's international governing body, paving the way for him to compete in this year's race starting Saturday.

The proceedings against the U.K.'s Froome started after a sample he provided last September at the Vuelta a España was reported to contain a higher concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol than is permitted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

To cut down on waste from single-use plastic bags, some of Australia's largest retailers are banning them.

And while environmental groups and many shoppers are applauding the move, implementing the change has been tense at times.

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.

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