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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.

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.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

Storm surges of 9 to 13 feet and rainfall up to 40 inches: Those are two of the most dire warnings about Hurricane Florence's effect on parts of North and South Carolina. Thousands have heeded evacuation orders; others are hoping to cope with the storm in their homes or at local shelters.

As scientists in the Netherlands tried to figure out how to build a super-agile flying robot, they took inspiration from one of nature's most acrobatic flyers: The humble fruit fly.

And by building this robot, they've gained new insights into how the fly carries out one of its flashiest maneuvers.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused a Saudi-led coalition of causing disproportionate civilian deaths in the Yemen conflict because of airstrikes that have hit markets, weddings and even a bus carrying children from summer camp.

Miner Henry Dole was in for a shock when he went into the Beta Hunt mine in southwestern Australia after the workers set off some explosives.

"Everything was covered in dust, and as I watered the dirt down there was just gold everywhere, as far as you could see," he told Australia's ABC News. "There was chunks of gold in the face, on the ground, truly unique I reckon. ... I nearly fell over looking at it ... we were picking it up for hours."

Updated at 1:22 p.m. ET

The Trump administration says it is closing the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., effectively shuttering the Palestinian diplomatic mission to the U.S.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday.

Venezuela is responding angrily to a report in The New York Times that details alleged secret meetings between Trump administration officials and Venezuelan military officers seeking to oust the country's authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro.

Some two million Ford F-150 pickup trucks are being recalled by the company after more than 20 reports of smoke or fire coming from the seat belts.

The recall, which was announced Thursday, applies to certain Regular Cab and SuperCrew Cab vehicles from model years 2015-18.

The two Koreas have set a date for a new summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, even as U.S. diplomacy with North Korea has stalled.

The Korean leaders will meet in Pyongyang from Sept. 18-20 in what will be their third meeting since April.

"The North's official media said today that Kim Jong Un has reaffirmed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the suspension of all future long-range missile tests," NPR's Rob Schmitz reported.

For the first time since a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, the Japanese government says a former plant worker has died as a result of radiation exposure.

The country's health and labor ministry has said the man's family should be paid compensation, according to state broadcaster NHK.

Russian officials are saying that a tiny leak at the International Space Station was likely caused by a human hand. Now, they're trying to figure out who did it, why they did it and whether it happened in space or on the ground.

The crew identified the source of the leak as a 2-millimeter hole in the upper section of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which is docked in the Russian section of the space station.

It's a long shot for most any football player to make a final NFL roster. But Efe Obada, who found out Saturday that he made the Carolina Panthers' 53-man roster, has been through more obstacles than most.

As he has recounted, the Nigerian-born defensive end was 10 when he was brought to London "by a stranger that was supposed to look after me and my sister" – then, the children were almost immediately abandoned and left to take care of themselves.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET

Fewer than 10 months after taking the job of USA Gymnastics president and CEO, Kerry Perry has resigned.

Perry has been under scrutiny from the U.S. Olympic Committee as USA Gymnastics attempts to navigate a path forward following a sexual abuse scandal by former team doctor Larry Nassar that involved hundreds of women and girls. Nassar has been sentenced to decades in prison.

According to a statement Tuesday by the USA Gymnastics board of directors, Perry's resignation is effective immediately.

The U.S. Department of Justice is throwing its support behind an anti-affirmative action group that is suing Harvard University over alleged racial discrimination in its admissions policies.

In a document filed in federal court on Thursday, the Justice Department said it is siding with Students for Fair Admissions in its request for a trial, currently scheduled to begin in mid-October.

After a scaffolding collapsed early Wednesday, two construction workers fell to their deaths at a site near the Disney World resort in central Florida.

A third person had a near-miss. The worker "almost fell but he was able to hold onto something and several workers were able to assist him and he was not injured," Orange County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Ingrid Tejada-Monforte told reporters.

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