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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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