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 the penguin habitat at an aquarium in Sydney, Australia, love is in the air.

The newest penguin couple here are named Sphen and Magic, and the two males are about to take the leap into parenthood.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

Roughly two years after Turkish authorities detained Andrew Brunson on suspicion of espionage, the U.S. pastor is a free man once more. Turkey ordered his release Friday, ending a case that heightened tensions between Turkey and the U.S.

The Washington Supreme Court has struck down the state's death penalty, saying that it is imposed arbitrarily and with racial bias.

"We are confident that the association between race and the death penalty is not attributed to random chance," the justices wrote in a majority opinion.

Indonesia is winding down its search and rescue operations, with thousands of people believed to be still missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck last month on the island of Sulawesi.

The official death toll for the disasters stands at 2,073. But the national disaster agency says that the number of those still missing could be as high as 5,000, after the strength of the quake caused the ground to liquefy and swallow up buildings and people.

Search efforts had been set to end Thursday, but were extended to Friday.

Google plans to shutter its Google+ social network for consumers, citing its limited adoption with users. The tech giant announced the decision at the same time that it disclosed that the privacy of up to a half-million Google+ accounts could have been affected by a "bug."

The company says it discovered and patched the issue in March but decided not to disclose it immediately. It said it had no evidence that any third-party developer was aware of the bug or had misused profile data.

One of France's most notorious criminals, Rédoine Faïd, has been captured three months after he made an astonishing escape by helicopter from a French prison.

The repeat offender has fascinated the country, as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, and is known there as the "jailbreak king." He's spoken about how his actions are inspired by Hollywood gangster movies like Scarface.

Faïd had been serving a 25-year-sentence for a botched armed robbery in 2010 that killed a policewoman. And, he had previously escaped from another prison in 2013, that time using explosives.

The bomb specialists suspected that an Oregon home was booby-trapped. As they entered the front door, they noticed what appeared to be a tripwire. Seconds later, a shot rang out, apparently from a booby-trapped wheelchair. And an FBI bomb special agent was hit in the leg.

The top U.N. court has dashed hopes for Bolivians longing for something they haven't had for more than a century: Access to the Pacific Ocean.

In a judgment on Monday, the International Court of Justice stated that it did not find that Bolivia's neighbor Chile has a legal obligation to enter into negotiations with Bolivia about access to the ocean. The vote on the decision was 12-3.

Three Orlando police officers shot dead an emergency room patient who they say was claiming to have a firearm. They later learned the man was unarmed.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters that officers responded to reports of an issue in the ER at Orlando Regional Medical Center at about 6 a.m. Monday.

The white male, who Mina said was approximately 35 years old, came to the hospital that morning for an unspecified medical issue.

Updated at 8:57 p.m. ET

Millions of years before the brontosaurus roamed the Earth, a massive relative was lumbering around South Africa.

Scientists think this early Jurassic dinosaur was, at the time, the largest land creature ever to have lived. And unlike the even bigger creatures that came later, they think it could pop up on its hind legs.

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