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.

In Paris, authorities are taking an unusual approach to combat the scourge of public urination: Make urination even more public.

The city is experimenting with completely exposed, eco-friendly urinals.

The devices are called "Uritrottoir," which combines the words for urinal and pavement. They're not at all subtle. They're bright red and in heavily trafficked areas — for example, directly next to the Seine near the Notre Dame Cathedral.

And if there's any confusion, a large white and red sign with a red arrow and a cartoon of a man peeing probably clears it up.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

Nebraska has executed its first prisoner since 1997, after a federal three-judge panel denied a drug company's request to halt the lethal injection over concerns about whether the drugs were obtained improperly by the state.

Tuesday morning's execution of Carey Dean Moore is also the first time the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl had been used in a lethal injection in the U.S.

The Baltimore Police Department has accepted the resignation of an officer after a video surfaced in which he repeatedly punches a man in the face.

Updated at 10:05 p.m. ET

A small group of about 25 white supremacist demonstrators rallied next to the White House on Sunday, one year after the "Unite the Right" demonstration by the same organizer turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va.

The demonstrators have since left D.C. via Metro, and WAMU's Elly Yu reports that counterprotesters have headed home, too.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is "seriously considering" a request to testify in person before the U.S. Senate intelligence committee about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a statement from his lawyer.

Assange has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012, in part over fears that he could be extradited to the U.S. and potentially face trial over leaking massive troves of documents.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has explained in a series of tweets why his platform has not suspended conspiracy theorist Alex Jones or his website Infowars. Earlier this week, tech companies YouTube, Apple, Facebook and Spotify banned main content outlets in what Jones described as a "purge."

"He hasn't violated our rules. We'll enforce if he does," Dorsey tweeted. In an apparent reference to other tech companies, he added that Twitter would not "succumb and simply react to outside pressure."

It was just a normal Monday afternoon at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs when suddenly, the sky started pelting down chucks of ice the size of baseballs.

There were more than 3,000 people visiting the zoo at the time of the severe storm who had to seek shelter.

A German woman and her partner have been convicted and sentenced to years in prison for repeatedly raping the woman's young son, then selling him for sex on the darknet.

The horrific crimes have shocked the small town of Staufen in southern Germany. The perpetrators – identified only as 48-year-old Berrin T. and 39-year-old Christian L. — have admitted to the crimes, including to selling the boy for sex acts to multiple men over the course of two years.

Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo has announced that she is stepping aside as CEO after some 12 years at the helm.

Nooyi plans to stay on as chairman until early 2019. The company's board announced Monday that it elected Ramon Laguarta, president of the company since 2017, to succeed her as CEO. PepsiCo prides itself on tapping its leadership from within — every other chief executive has come from its own ranks.

For fans who have dreamed about the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard to Star Trek, actor Patrick Stewart might as well borrow his character's classic catchphrase and say, "Make it so."

It's a role that he hasn't stepped into since 2002, and fans are elated.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the National Rifle Association's federal lawsuit against him is "frivolous." The lawsuit claims that Cuomo's policies are trying to deprive the NRA of its First Amendment rights by making it more difficult for the organization to function in the state.

Cuomo described the NRA as a "group of extremists" and says he hopes that his actions against the group will expand to other states.

Japanese media is buzzing about reports that a prestigious Tokyo medical school systematically lowered women's scores on an admission test in order to admit fewer women.

Starting in about 2011, Tokyo Medical University started deducting points from female applicants' entrance exam scores, according to multiple reports.

The Catholic Church now formally considers the death penalty "inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and is pledging to work for its abolition worldwide.

It's a shift for the church, which used to consider the death penalty a "means of safeguarding the common good" in response to "certain crimes." The update to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the book of official teachings of the church, was announced Thursday.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

The Trump administration has proposed a rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards, while simultaneously taking aim at California's unique ability to set more stringent rules.

Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency called for the fuel economy standards for new vehicles to ratchet up over time. The increasingly strict standards were designed to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Award-winning actor Alan Alda has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. "I'm not angry," he said.

"It hasn't stopped my life at all. I've had a richer life than I've had up until now," Alda said as he made the announcement Tuesday on CBS This Morning.

Jarrod Ramos, the man accused of killing five Capital Gazette staff members when he allegedly brought a shotgun into their Annapolis, Md., newsroom and opened fire, has pleaded not guilty to all 23 counts against him.

Ramos is charged with the murders of John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith on June 28.

"Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees," reporter Phil Davis tweeted at the time.

It's unlikely that former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe will be making a trip to South Africa anytime soon.

A South African court has overturned a government decision to grant the wife of former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe diplomatic immunity in connection to her alleged assault of a South African model with an extension cord.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg described that decision as an "error of law," according to South Africa's News 24.

Emmy-award winning writer and television producer Dinah Kirgo, one of six women accusing CBS chairman Les Moonves of harassment, told NPR that she is not trying to destroy Moonves as much as she is trying to change a culture that allows such misconduct.

"People think that we're trying to take these guys down, and that is, at least in my case, that is so not true," Kirgo said in an interview with All Things Considered. "It's about stopping this behavior."

Seventeen-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has been released from Israeli prison after serving an eight-month sentence for slapping Israeli soldiers during a confrontation that went viral on the Internet. The teen has become a symbol of resistance for many Palestinians; for many Israelis, she's seen as a provocateur.

Tamini was greeted by jubilant crowds in her village of Nabi Saleh, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as she smiled and embraced family members.

A California man has been taken into custody on suspicion of arson, as firefighters have contained just 5 percent of the blaze that started Wednesday in the Idyllwild area in Riverside County.

The Cranston Fire has destroyed five homes and forced some 3,200 people to evacuate. The fire spread very rapidly, expanding to 4,700 acres in just a few hours.

Nearly 700 personnel are fighting to gain control of the fire. All of Idyllwild, a quaint town surrounded by pine trees in the San Jacinto Mountains, is being evacuated.

New Zealand has passed a law that provides paid leave to survivors of domestic violence, making it one of the first countries to do so.

Employers must grant 10 days of paid leave to survivors of domestic violence to give them time to cope and potentially escape the abusive situation. This is similar to, but separate from, leave for illness or bereavement. The legislation passed 63 to 57 in New Zealand's Parliament.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: You won't be able to see this Friday's epic lunar eclipse in person if you live in North America (aside from a very small portion of eastern Canada and parts of the eastern Caribbean).

But here's the good news: if you are almost anywhere else, you'll probably be able to see at least a portion of the event.

Prime viewing is in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, eastern Europe and south Asia, based on a NASA map.

Yosemite National Park's most popular destination is shuttering as of Wednesday, as a large wildfire continues to sweep through thousands of acres nearby.

The Ferguson Fire, stretching west of the park, has burned more than 38,500 acres and was just 25 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

An FBI agent is facing trial on charges linked to a deadly incident in January 2016 during the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Jury selection begins Tuesday at a federal court in Portland.

Superstar U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte is again in hot water.

Two months ago, he posted a photo on social media of himself receiving an intravenous infusion. That caught the attention of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which launched an investigation.

Now, the six-time gold medalist has been suspended for 14 months. That clock started on May 24, the day he took the IV.

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