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.

Consumers across Australia have reported finding needles stuck in their strawberries, as the government launches a federal investigation and growers install metal detectors to try to stop the contamination.

Several supermarket chains in Australia and New Zealand are also pulling strawberries off the shelves, according to Australian media.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Researchers investigating the effects of air pollution conducted math and verbal tests over the course of multiple years on more than 25,000 people in 162 Chinese counties. They matched those results with pollution conditions at the time of each test, and found sobering results.

One of the largest supermarket companies in the U.S. has announced it is phasing out single-use plastic bags in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

The Kroger Co. says it plans to stop distributing single-use bags completely by 2025 across its chains.

Lions and tigers and bears are now roaming free — on the box for Barnum's Animals crackers.

For more than a century, the animal cracker packaging has shown the mighty beasts locked behind bars in a circus boxcar.

A spokeswoman for Mondelez International, Nabisco's parent company, said it was time for a change.

"To continue to make the brand relevant for years to come, we felt this was the right time for the next evolution in our design, now showing the animals in a natural habitat," said Mondelez's Kimberly Fontes.

On the High Plains in West Texas, hot winds blast through cotton fields as far as the eye can see.

In the middle of it all is a tiny vineyard.

Andis Applewhite is the owner. She's an artist whose family has worked this land for a century. They once planted crops more typical of the neighborhood, like cotton and wheat. Applewhite decided to try something different: She put in a couple of acres of cabernet franc grapes.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Each spring, barnacle geese migrate more than 1,800 miles from the Netherlands and northern Germany to their breeding grounds in parts of Russia above the Arctic Circle.

The journey north usually takes about a month, and the geese make multiple stops along the way to eat and fatten up before they lay their eggs, says Bart Nolet of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and the University of Amsterdam.

Scientists think they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tweaking the food that cows eat. A recent experiment from the University of California, Davis suggests that adding seaweed to cattle feed can dramatically decrease their emissions of the potent gas methane.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

The charges against Harvey Weinstein in New York have expanded.

The former Hollywood mogul is already facing first-degree rape and other charges involving incidents with two women, in 2004 and 2013. Now, a grand jury in New York has charged Weinstein with allegedly committing a forcible sexual act against a third woman.

To cut down on waste from single-use plastic bags, some of Australia's largest retailers are banning them.

And while environmental groups and many shoppers are applauding the move, implementing the change has been tense at times.

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.

Great white sharks have a "hidden life" that is becoming a lot less hidden thanks to a scientific expedition that has been years in the making.

Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

Updated at 10:25 p.m. ET

The eruption at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano continues. The lava has now destroyed at least 35 structures and covered the equivalent of more than 75 football fields.

Scientists have been tracking this event since it started last week — but there are still big unanswered questions, the biggest of which is when it will end.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Between California and Hawaii, there's a teeming patch of garbage that's stretched over an area more than double the size of Texas.

We already knew it was huge. There's a reason it's called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." But new research has found that there is many times more garbage in this patch than previously thought – 4 to 16 times more than past estimates, according to a paper published today in Nature Scientific Reports.

Roku devices and Samsung smart TVs have easy-to-exploit security vulnerabilities, according to testing carried out by Consumer Reports.

"We found that a relatively unsophisticated hacker could change channels, play offensive content, or crank up the volume," the magazine says. "This could be done over the web, from thousands of miles away."

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."

Updated Saturday at 11:47 a.m. ET

The National Gallery of Art in Washington says it has postponed two upcoming solo exhibitions following allegations of sexual misconduct against their artists, Chuck Close and Thomas Roma.

Close, a painter and photographer, is best known for his close-up portraits of faces — many of them famous, such as Brad Pitt and Kate Moss. Roma, a photographer, taught at Columbia University until recently and focuses his work on scenes in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Hotel California was, according to a case filed against it by legendary rock band The Eagles, living it up a little too much. The rock band sued the Mexico-based hotel, which shares a name with the band's iconic 1976 song, resulting in a settlement Thursday. The settlement's terms were not disclosed.

Over the span of three weeks in 2015, more than 200,000 saiga antelope suddenly died in central Kazakhstan.

Scientists knew that bacteria called Pasteurella multocida type B caused the mass death. Now, new research suggests that the bacteria was already present in the animals; it was triggered and became harmful because of a period of unusual weather.

Richard Kock, a professor of Wildlife Health and Emerging Diseases at The Royal Veterinary College, witnessed the "rapidly accelerating death."

The Trump administration is proposing dramatic changes to policies on offshore leasing for oil and gas, opening the door to radically expand drilling in waters that were protected by the Obama administration.

It's the "largest number of lease sales ever proposed, " Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters. The proposed plan to sell offshore drilling leases in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic over a five-year period was detailed Thursday.

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