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.

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.

Beer, cars, baseball bats, airplanes: These are a few of the products that could face price hikes when new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum go into effect.

The move announced by the president on Thursday is intended to bolster the domestic steel and aluminum industries. Trump said that imported steel will face tariffs of 25 percent, and aluminum will face tariffs of 10 percent.

New Zealand police say they are re-examining an apparent assassination attempt against Queen Elizabeth II.

Declassified documents from New Zealand's intelligence service, newly released to an investigative journalist at the news website Stuff, indicate that there may have been a cover-up after teenager Christopher Lewis fired at the queen's motorcade in Dunedin.

Equifax has disclosed that an additional 2.4 million people were impacted by a massive cybersecurity breach last year, bringing the total to about 148 million people.

The credit reporting agency says the new consumers were identified during forensic examination of the breach. They were previously unidentified, the company says, because their Social Security numbers were not stolen.

After a major doping scandal limited Russia's participation at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the country's Olympic committee has been formally reinstated by the International Olympic Committee.

This comes after the IOC said remaining test results from Russians who competed in the games came back negative.

Seventy percent of the world's king penguin population could face threats to its habitat by the end of this century, according to a new scientific model.

The researchers say the problem is that the animals' primary source of food is moving farther away from places where the penguins can breed. They're very likely going to have to swim farther for their dinner.

The Seychelles have brokered a novel deal that will allow the island archipelago to swap millions of dollars in sovereign debt for protecting nearly one third of its ocean area.

It's hailed as the first of its kind. "Seychelles is clearly breaking new grounds and with it, it has positioned itself as a world leader in ocean governance and management," Seychelles vice president Vincent Meriton said in remarks announcing the new protections.

NPR's senior management and board members faced skepticism as they sought to rebuild trust with the network's workforce following the release of a report on the network's failure to curb inappropriate behavior by former top news executive Michael Oreskes.

On Thursday, NPR board members faced tough questions from NPR employees at an open Board of Directors meeting and then a tense all-staff meeting.

As high school students who survived the shooting in Parkland, Fla., travel to the state Capitol to demand action on guns, lawmakers offered a glimpse of the battle they face.

In Tuesday's session, which opened with prayer for the community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff were killed last week, Florida House lawmakers declined to open debate on a bill that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Pita Taufatofua, who lit the Internet on fire with his coconut-oiled, shirtless walk as Tonga's flag-bearer during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony, had two goals for his cross-country skiing event on Friday.

They were not lofty — but that makes sense for a man who has tried skiing on snow for only three months.

"First step, finish before they turn the lights off," the 34-year-old told reporters. "Don't ski into a tree, that's No. 2."

The world's largest species of orangutans is rapidly disappearing.

Borneo has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – that's more than the number of the critically endangered species remaining.

This species — the Bornean orangutan — is only found on the island, which is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It has seen dramatic deforestation, as lush jungle is converted into palm oil and paper pulp plantations.

YouTube and Instagram are being asked to take down videos and photos at the center of a controversy involving a prominent Russian billionaire and a senior Russian government official.

This follows a high-profile investigation into the men's relationship by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The head of a major Hispanic business association is stepping aside after allegations of improperly increasing his salary and sexual misconduct.

The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said president and CEO Javier Palomarez and its board of directors "have mutually agreed to undergo a leadership transition for the organization effective immediately," the organization said in a statement to NPR.

South African police say a suspected poacher was eaten by a pride of lions at a big game park in the province of Limpopo.

The animals "ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains," Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP. "It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions."

A loaded hunting rifle, found near the man's remains, appears to be the main reason police think the individual was a poacher.

More than 70 years after a bomb was dropped on London, its discovery has prompted authorities to cancel flights all day Monday at London City Airport.

The unexploded bomb is a "German 500kg fused device," according to local authorities. It was found early Sunday in the River Thames, as part of planned work at a dock near the airport, Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

As a police corruption trial in Baltimore reveals major allegations of misconduct, the city's police commissioner-designate is announcing changes.

Darryl DeSousa says the department is starting a new police corruption unit, as well as an Inspectional Services and Integrity Division that will conduct random polygraph tests for police in specialized units.

Different neurological conditions like autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder appear to have more in common than scientists thought they did. A new study finds that they have important similarities at a molecular level.

And understanding the molecular basis of those disorders could help in developing better treatments.

Twitter says it has turned a profit for the first time last quarter, sending its shares surging. As of mid-morning Thursday its shares were up nearly 23 percent.

By raining down laser pulses on some 770 square miles of dense forest in northern Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered 60,000 Maya structures that make up full sprawling cities.

And the new technology provides them with an unprecedented view into how the ancient civilization worked, revealing almost industrial agricultural infrastructure and new insights into Maya warfare.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET

The Canadian national anthem is now more gender-neutral, after a bill that changes the lyrics passed the country's Senate.

The second line of "O Canada," which has said the nation inspires patriotism "in all thy sons," will now read "in all of us."

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has admitted that she had an extramarital affair with the former head of her security detail.

"I'm embarrassed, and I am sad, and I am so sorry for all the pain that I have caused my family and his family," she said at a news conference Wednesday. "I know that God will forgive me, but that Nashville doesn't have to. ... I hope that I can earn your trust back and that you will forgive me."

Updated 10:25 a.m. ET Wednesday

Early Wednesday morning brought a lunar event that hasn't been seen since 1866.

It was at least partially visible in all 50 U.S. states, though the views were better the farther west you live.

Let's break this down. This event – called a super blue blood moon – was actually three fairly common lunar happenings all happening at the same time.

And scientists say that information gathered during the event could help them figure out where to land a rover on the moon.

As the U.S. sends thousands more troops to Afghanistan and ratchets up airstrikes, a new report from a U.S. military auditor suggests that the war is still at a stalemate, with signs of continued decline in Afghan government control.

And the amount of basic information available to the public about the war is getting smaller, making it more difficult for the U.S. taxpayer to understand how U.S.-supported forces are faring in their fight against the Taliban.

Updated Saturday at 11:47 a.m. ET

The National Gallery of Art in Washington says it has postponed two upcoming solo exhibitions following allegations of sexual misconduct against their artists, Chuck Close and Thomas Roma.

Close, a painter and photographer, is best known for his close-up portraits of faces — many of them famous, such as Brad Pitt and Kate Moss. Roma, a photographer, taught at Columbia University until recently and focuses his work on scenes in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The known population of one of the world's rarest fish has just doubled, thanks to a lucky find in the waters off Tasmania, Australia.

Meet the red handfish, a name that reflects the hand-shaped fins on the sides of its body. The striking creature doesn't really swim — it "walks" slowly along the seafloor. And until recently, researchers say they were aware of only one colony of the rare animals, with around 20 to 40 fish.

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