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.

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 4:25 p.m. ET

Nashville police say the man suspected of opening fire and killing four people Sunday at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tenn., has been taken into custody just miles from the restaurant.

Police said Monday afternoon that Travis Reinking, 29, was captured "moments ago."

Minutes later, the police released two photos of Reinking in the back of a police cruiser, his clothing torn and with scratches visible on his shoulder. Police said they apprehended him in a "wooded area."

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.

A Flint activist who worked to expose the Michigan city's lead crisis is being hailed as an environmental hero. She's one of the winners of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize.

The honor, announced on Monday, recognizes grass-roots environmental activists from around the world.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia has seen two massive bleaching events over the span of two years. And that's led to a widespread die-off of the corals, according to a new study.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

One person died after a Southwest Airlines plane experienced serious engine trouble Tuesday and was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Seven other people on Flight 1380 were injured. It is the first U.S. airline fatality since 2009.

This was years in the making: An adorable, critically endangered male lowland gorilla has been born at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Zoo staff have named him Moke [Mo-KEY], a name that means "little one."

Inspectors haven't yet been able to access the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria that prompted a U.S.-led coalition to launch airstrikes against suspected Syrian chemical sites on Friday. And the parties involved are trading blame about why.

SAG-AFTRA is calling for an end to auditions in private hotel rooms or residences, after a spate of sexual harassment allegations against powerful Hollywood figures.

"We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting," the union's president, Gabrielle Carteris, said in a statement.

Four of last season's hurricanes were deemed so destructive and deadly that the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization has decided to retire their names.

What makes a group of animals genetically similar to each other?

Traditionally, scientists have thought that animals living near each other are more likely to have things in common genetically. Another explanation is that animals living in similar environments — like high altitudes or hot temperatures — might evolve in similar ways.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

At a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday, Russia has vetoed a resolution on Syria drafted by the United States on the latest apparent chemical weapons attack, at a time when President Trump is considering launching new military action.

Meanwhile, inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog prepare to head into the country.

The Australian government has ordered a review of its lucrative sheep export trade after some 2,400 sheep died last summer on a ship headed to Doha, Qatar.

Video of sheep gasping and dying in sweltering temperatures was captured by a whistleblower on board the Awassi Express, and aired by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday.

As the Facebook scandal over Cambridge Analytica's misuse of the personal data of millions of users continues to unfold, Facebook is suspending another data analytics firm over similar allegations.

According to reporting by CNBC, Cubeyou collected data from Facebook users through personality quizzes "for non-profit academic research" developed with Cambridge University — then sold the data to advertisers.

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