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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pages