Merrit Kennedy

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's Newsdesk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

Kennedy joined NPR in Washington, DC, 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 ousting 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 4:48 p.m. ET

The FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into last month's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, after discovering that the shooter had a list that may have indicated potential targets of violence.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a lower court was wrong to dismiss former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over an editorial linking her to a 2011 mass shooting.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court, saying her case against the newspaper "plausibly states a claim for defamation and may proceed to full discovery."

As the U.S. reels from a weekend of two mass shootings, federal authorities have released details of what they say could have been another tragedy — which didn't happen because the suspect's grandmother managed to stop it.

On Friday, federal prosecutors in Lubbock, Texas, said that they have charged a 19-year-old man with making false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer and that William Patrick Williams was allegedly plotting a mass shooting.

When visiting hours ended at a prison outside Rio de Janeiro, a young woman made her way toward the exit before guards took a second look and pulled her aside. Turns out she wasn't a woman at all – but a well-known male drug trafficker.

Clauvino da Silva was sentenced to 73 years and 10 months in prison. His escape plan, prison authorities told local media, was to have his 19-year-old daughter visit the prison known as Bangu 3, disguise himself as her and then leave her behind in his place.

French inventor Franky Zapata made history as the first person to cross the English Channel by hoverboard, taking off Sunday from Sangatte on France's northern coast and touching down near Dover, England.

The elite jet skier's daring display over the 22-mile channel between France and the U.K. took just over 20 minutes. It seems nobody else has ever tried to cross the body of water by hoverboard, which in Zapata's case was powered by a backpack full of fuel.

Police have identified the nine people who were killed after a shooter fired dozens of rounds into a busy street in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday morning.

The people who died range in age from 22 to 57, and they include four women and five men. Police say the attacker, who was killed at the scene, is 24-year-old Connor Betts. They identified one of the victims as his 22-year-old sister, Megan Betts.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland says an intruder tried to gain entry into his home in Baltimore early Saturday.

Cummings said the incident happened at about 3:40 a.m. ET. "I was notified of the intrusion by my security system, and I scared the intruder away by yelling before the person gained entry into the residential portion of the house," he said in a statement.

Before turtles are hatched — when they're just tiny embryos inside their eggs — they may be able to influence whether they will become male or female, according to a study in China. And this could help protect them from the effects of climate change.

Scientists have known that for many reptiles, sex is determined by the temperature an embryo experiences as it grows. In some turtle species, for example, slightly higher temperatures cause the embryo to become female and lower temperatures cause the embryo to become male.

The miniature toiletries in hotel rooms might be cute and convenient to toss in your bag as you're packing up, but they're also the source of a whole lot of plastic waste, and a major hotel group says it is phasing them out.

Over the last two weeks, a woman approached bank tellers at four banks across the East Coast with notes demanding money, according to the FBI. She often wore large sunglasses, yoga pants and a baseball cap. And she sometimes carried a hot pink purse, which led to her nickname – the "Pink Lady Bandit."

The suspected Pink Lady Bandit and an alleged accomplice have now been taken into custody.

More than 60 people were killed when armed men attacked a funeral procession Saturday in northeast Nigeria, according to Nigerian state media. The country's president has vowed to hunt down the perpetrators, widely suspected to be Boko Haram militants.

Updated at 4:32 p.m. ET

The Navy has apprehended 18 Marines and one sailor over their alleged involvement in human smuggling, drug offenses and other crimes, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said.

Sixteen of the Marines were arrested in highly public fashion at a major West Coast military base Thursday.

On Thursday morning, after some 800 Marines gathered in formation at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego, Marine officials working with NCIS pulled out 16 people and placed them under arrest, as NPR's Tom Bowman reported.

President Trump has vetoed a series of measures approved by bipartisan lawmakers that were aimed at blocking the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Trump said the three resolutions would "weaken America's global competitiveness and damage the important relationship we share with our allies and partners."

Lawmakers in support of the bills have criticized the Saudis' actions in the Yemen conflict where thousands of civilians have died, and the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

The U.S. government is poised to carry out the death penalty for the first time in nearly two decades, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to change the federal execution protocol to include capital punishment, the Justice Department said.

Rapper Meek Mill has been granted a new trial by a three-judge appeals court panel in Pennsylvania, for a case that dates back 12 years. The only witness who testified against Meek was a police officer who was later found to have committed theft.

"The Commonwealth concedes a new trial is required," the judges' unanimous opinion stated, in light of "after-discovered evidence" about the police officer's conduct.

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