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.

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.

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."

A new report from the National Hurricane Center takes stock of exactly how big, damaging and deadly Hurricane Harvey really was.

"Harvey was the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in United States history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts, since reliable rainfall records began around the 1880s," the report says.

According to the report, the storm directly killed at least 68 people, all of them in Texas, and indirectly killed some 35 more.

A federal regulator has launched an investigation into a Baltimore hospital after a passerby shot a video earlier this month of a confused patient wearing just a hospital gown discharged at a bus stop on a cold night.

The video provoked outrage across the country, prompting an apology and an investigation by the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

This past year, 2017, was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The planet's global surface temperature last year was the second highest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, because of slight variations in the ways that they analyze temperatures.

Both put 2017 behind 2016's record temperatures. And "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010," NASA said in a press release.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

A Baltimore hospital has started an investigation over why a distressed and confused patient was left at a bus stop at night in cold temperatures and wearing just a hospital gown.

A passerby recorded a video Monday showing four security guards walking away from a bus stop next to University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. One is pushing an empty wheelchair. They appear to have just left the woman at the stop.

There were no fatalities on commercial passenger jets in 2017, according to two groups that track airplane crash data, making it the safest year in modern aviation history.

There were two fatal accidents in passenger airliners involving small turbo-prop planes, according to To70, a Dutch aviation consulting firm.

New Year's Eve celebrations are just hours away. And police departments around the country have been preparing for months for the celebrations. New York and Las Vegas, the sites of recent attacks, will see more security than they have in years.

It's been three months since an attacker shot dead 58 people from a hotel window in Las Vegas.

Outside Puerto Rico's capital, a three-story-high mountain of debris and waste sits smack in the middle of what was a suburban soccer field before Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Blue bleachers peek out from the edge of the trash pile, as a line of trucks rolls in to dump even more tree branches and moldy furniture. Workmen wearing yellow hard hats operate diggers to add the new waste to the growing pile in the center of the field.

NPR Chief News Editor David Sweeney has left the company following allegations of sexual harassment filed against him by at least three female journalists.

"David Sweeney is no longer on staff," Chris Turpin, acting senior vice president of news, said in an email to staff.

"This is a difficult time for our newsroom and I'm committed to supporting all of you as we move forward. I know you appreciate that there are some questions I cannot answer in keeping with our practice to not comment on personnel issues, but I will do my best to address those I can," Turpin added.

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn is going on medical leave for at least one month.

It comes less than a week after the ouster of NPR's head of news, Michael Oreskes, over sexual harassment allegations by multiple women.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

NPR's senior vice president for news, Michael Oreskes, has resigned following allegations of sexual harassment from several women.

The accounts of two women, first published by The Washington Post, describe Oreskes unexpectedly kissing them during meetings in the late 1990s, while he was Washington bureau chief for The New York Times. An NPR employee has also come forward publicly about harassment that allegedly occurred during a business meeting-turned-dinner in 2015.

Café Hacienda San Pedro, a trendy coffee shop in San Juan, is buzzing. A long line snakes through it. People are chatting; dogs sit snoozing. Everything looks normal.

But in a few months, it probably won't.

A federal judge has sentenced disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner to 21 months in prison for sending obscene messages to a 15-year-old girl last year.

The sexting case played a role in the 2016 presidential election. Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, who has filed for divorce, was a top aide to Hillary Clinton.

After the revelation that a cybersecurity breach at the international credit reporting agency Equifax exposed personal information of 143 million people, the company has confirmed an additional security incident with a payroll-related service in the months prior. It says the two are unrelated.

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.

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.

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.

The Trump administration has set into motion the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, following through on the president's earlier promise.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified congressional leaders in a letter Thursday that the president intends to launch negotiations with Canada and Mexico "as soon as practicable."

Play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins is set to become the first-ever female broadcaster to call an NFL game televised nationally.

A commentator for ESPN since 1994, she'll call the Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos game in ESPN's opening Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 11. Former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will join her.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

A nationwide manhunt for a suspect who allegedly shot an elderly man dead in Cleveland and then uploaded it to Facebook has ended with the man shooting and killing himself in Pennsylvania's Erie County.

"Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by [Pennsylvania State Police] members in Erie County," the state police said on its Twitter account. "After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself."

The top U.S. Marine vowed in a Senate hearing to hold members of the Marine Corps accountable for sharing nude photos of female Marines online. But many members of the Senate Armed Services Committee responded with tough questions Tuesday, asking why more isn't being done to protect female service members.

The so-called Islamic State's financial fortunes are bound to the amount of territory it controls.

And the group's dramatic loss of ground in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq is putting pressure on its finances, according to a new report from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.

The Obama administration has issued a sweeping final rule banning smoking in all public housing units nationwide, extending a smoke-free environment to nearly a million units.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday

A man was shot and killed Monday after he struck a group of pedestrians with a car and then got out and cut people with a butcher knife on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio, according to university officials.

Eleven people were taken to three local hospitals, Andrew Thomas, the chief medical officer for OSU's Wexner Medical Center, said at a news conference. One of those injured was in critical condition.

A $25 million settlement agreement has been reached in the civil fraud lawsuits against President-elect Donald Trump and Trump University, according to New York's state attorney general.

A day after an explosion in Manhattan injured 29 people, New York authorities said all injured people have all been released from hospitals. They say they do not have evidence the blast is linked to international terrorism.

Donald Trump has officially introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

"I've found the leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous, really prosperous society for all Americans," Trump said at a campaign event in New York Saturday. "Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice."

Trump spoke at length about his admiration for Pence's record in Indiana. "He's really got the skills of a highly talented executive," he said.

Updated at 12:46 p.m. ET

Law enforcement and judicial officials have identified 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel as the suspect who they believe plowed into a crowd in Nice, France, killing at least 84 people.

At a news conference, French anti-terror prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that Bouhlel was born in Tunisia and living in Nice. He said Bouhlel worked as a delivery driver and was married with children.

A gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history before being shot dead by police.