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.

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.

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.

Winter is over, and it's finally baseball season.

The fields are green and the lines are freshly drawn. Yep, it's time to head over to your local ballfield.

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 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.

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.

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."

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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