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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.

President Obama has declared a major disaster in West Virginia after flash flooding left at least 23 people dead and devastated communities.

Six European Union foreign ministers meeting in Berlin are pressing the U.K. to make a quick exit from the bloc. This comes a day after referendum results showed that Britain has voted to leave the EU.

Representatives from the six founding member countries – France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy – were huddled in crisis mode at the meeting to plan the bloc's future course without the U.K., as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley tells our Newscast Unit.

Two days of flash flooding across West Virginia have killed at least 23 people and seriously damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes, according to the governor.

A Baltimore court has acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson of second-degree murder and all other charges in a case related to the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died from a spinal cord injury sustained while in police custody last year.

Goodson drove the van that transported Gray after his arrest. Gray apparently sustained the fatal injury during that van ride, during which he was handcuffed, shackled and not wearing a seat belt. The incident sparked protests and riots in Baltimore and raised questions about police negligence.

A gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history before being shot dead by police.

The U.N. Refugee Agency and Italian authorities say they fear at least 700 migrants have died in three separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean since last Wednesday.

This comes amid a surge of migrants attempting to make the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy, UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler tells The Two-Way. He adds that search and rescue teams have been able to save 14,000 people making the crossing during the past week.

A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada, now extends more than 600 square miles, and officials are concerned that it could double in size on Saturday because of windy, dry weather conditions.

The Alberta government says some 500 firefighters are fighting the fire in and around Fort McMurray, in addition to 15 helicopters and 14 air tankers.

Police say a Department of Homeland Security police officer suspected of killing his wife Thursday, is also a suspect in two shootings in suburban Maryland on Friday.

At least two people were killed and two others injured Friday in separate incidents outside two shopping centers, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.

The Montgomery County Police Department said Eulalio Tordil, 62, has been taken into custody.

Belgium's federal prosecutors say Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested Friday in connection with the Paris attacks last November, has admitted that he is the man seen in surveillance footage with two suicide bombers who attacked a Brussels airport last month.

"We confronted him with the video evidence prepared by our special unit," a spokesperson for the federal prosecutors' office tells Reuters. "He had to admit it was him."

Cypriot authorities say they have arrested the hijacker of an EgyptAir plane after an hours-long standoff in Larnaca, Cyprus. All the passengers and crew had been released.

The man's motivations are still murky. Cypriot officials describe the suspected hijacker as "unstable" and tell NPR that he wanted to speak to his Cyprus-based ex-wife. He later requested political asylum, they say. Cyprus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified the man as Seif Eldin Mustafa. Earlier news reports had identified a different man.

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