Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott is one of the hosts of NPR's "The Two-Way" news blog.

"The Two-Way," which Memmott helped to launched when he came to NPR in 2009, focuses on breaking news, analysis, and the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Before joining NPR, Memmott worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor at USA Today. He focused on a range of coverage from politics, foreign affairs, economics, and the media. He's reported from places across the Unites States and the world, including half a dozen trips to Afghanistan in 2002-2003.

During his time at USA Today, Memmott, helped launch and lead three USAToday.com news blogs: "On Deadline," "The Oval" and "On Politics," the site's 2008 presidential campaign blog.

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8:45am

Thu December 15, 2011
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Drop To Lowest Level In More Than Three Years

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 19,000 last week, to 366,000, the Employment and Training Administration reports. And that's the lowest level since May 2008.

Bloomberg News says the decline was not expected — most economists thought we would hear they remained around 390,000.

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8:30am

Thu December 15, 2011
The Two-Way

Report: 'Marines Promoted Inflated Story For Medal Of Honor Recipient'

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 6:10 pm

President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

"Crucial parts" of the story that Marine Corps officials told about Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer's bravery in Afghanistan are "untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents" that McClatchy Newspapers has examined and reporting done by a McClatchy correspondent who survived the ambush in which Meyer performed heroically.

In a long report based on extensive research, correspondent Jonathan S. Landay writes that:

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7:50am

Thu December 15, 2011
The Two-Way

Republicans Unveil $1 Trillion Spending Bill, Possible Shutdown Still Looms

The political wrangling continues in Washington as Republicans and Democrats try to get their priorities enacted even as several key deadlines fast approach.

Overnight, as The Associated Press reports, Republicans in the House "unveiled a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package despite a plea from the White House for additional talks over a handful of provisions opposed by President Barack Obama."

The wire service adds that:

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7:25am

Thu December 15, 2011
The Two-Way

As Flag Is Put Away, America's Mission In Iraq Symbolically Ends

America's colors have been cased in Iraq — the flag was just symbolically put away at a ceremony marking the end of a war that lasted nearly nine years.

At the Baghdad airport a short time ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other officials were there to mark the occasion, NPR's Kelly McEvers reports. It was, she said on Morning Edition, a "quiet, small ceremony."

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3:35pm

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Christmas Stamps Are OK; Christmas Carols? Not At The Post Office

There's been some consternation on the Web about what happened this weekend at a post office in Silver Spring, Md., when three Christmas carolers — all decked out in shawls, bonnets and a top hat (for the guy) — popped in and started singing.

It seems that one of the USPS managers on duty jumped into action, telling the trio that they couldn't do that because they were on government property.

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12:08pm

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama To Troops: 'Welcome Home'

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 1:12 pm

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama with troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., today (Dec. 14, 2011) after his address.
Gerry Broome AP

"On behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words and I know your famlies agree:

"Welcome home."

With that, President Obama began an address today at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, where he continued to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by talking with some of the troops who served in that nearly nine-year conflict.

We updated this post with more from his address.

Update at 12:25 p.m. ET. "Because Of You":

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11:35am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Afghan Rape Victim Freed, Unclear If She Must Marry Attacker

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 11:37 am

Burqa-clad Afghan women wait to buy chickpeas from a shop in Kabul earlier this year.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Gulnaz, the young Afghan woman whose story has spread around the world because she was imprisoned after being raped by a relative, is now free, CNN and the BBC are reporting.

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10:55am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Jiminy Cricket! Just What We Need: A Cockroach That Jumps

We should have jumped on this story earlier, but it's too creepy not to mention:

Scientists have discovered a cockroach in South Africa that leaps to get around, according to Biology Letters.

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9:50am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Hezbollah's Alleged Ties To South American Cocaine Trade Detailed

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 9:55 am

Hezbollah members listen to a speech by the group's leader, Â Hassan Nasrallah, via video-link in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Nov. 11, 2011.
Anwar Amro AFP/Getty Images

There are "new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah's money," The New York Times reports this morning, that point to "the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade."

Here's the story's money quote:

"One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, 'They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.' "

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9:27am

Wed December 14, 2011

8:25am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Terrorism Not Thought To Have Been Motivation Of Attacker In Belgium

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 8:28 am

Grieving: At a bus shelter that was shattered during Tuesday's grenade and gun attack in Liege, Belgium, people gathered today to express their sorrow and pay respects.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

While it still isn't clear why a man attacked a crowded square in Liege, Belgium, on Tuesday with grenades and gunfire, killing at least three people and injuring more than 120, authorities are saying that evidence indicates terrorism was not his motivation, according to The Associated Press and other news outlets.

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7:45am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

'The Protester' Is 'Time' Magazine's Person Of The Year

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 8:04 am

Time magazine

"The protester" has been named Time magazine's person of the year, it was just announced on NBC-TV's The Today Show and on Time's website.

That covers, most notably of course, those who went to the streets in the Arab Spring movement that swept across much of North Africa and the Middle East.

But as Time writes, protesters have also had major impacts in Greece, Spain, the U.K. and — via the Occupy Wall Street movement — the United states.

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7:00am

Wed December 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Fate Of Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits Uncertain As Lawmakers Haggle

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 7:17 am

Outside the Capitol, there's goodwill. Inside, less so.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

A veto threat. Finger-pointing. The end of some jobless benefits.

We've been through all this before this year and we're going through it again as 2011 draws to a close.

As The Associated Press says:

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4:45pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Biden: Iraq Will Be A Partner; History Will Judge If War Was Worth It

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 7:49 pm

Vice President Joe Biden is interviewed by NPR's Robert Siegel in the Secretary of War Suite of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 13.
David Lienemann The White House

Saying that the U.S. is not looking for Iraq to be an ally, Vice President Biden told NPR's Robert Siegel this afternoon that the U.S. now views that country as a partner.

"We're looking for a stable, democratic government that is not beholden to anyone in the region and is able to be secure within its own borders and have its own policy ," he said during an interview in Washington's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

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3:30pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Do You Ignore Your Phone While Driving?

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:32 pm

Just put it in the cupholder.
Michael Smith Getty Images

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

That's the message from the National Transportation Safety Board, which today recommended that states "ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers."

That means put the phone down and leave it there.

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3:00pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

You're Fired, Trump Tells Himself; He Won't Be Moderating Any Debate

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 3:59 pm

Donald Trump on the FOX & Friends set last week.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

He'd hinted that this might happen.

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2:25pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Fed: Economy 'Expanding Moderately,' Policy Unchanged

Signs suggest "that the economy has been expanding moderately" in recent months, "notwithstanding some apparent slowing in global growth," Federal Reserve Policymakers just reported.

And, as expected, they announced no policy changes that would either add or subtract to the amount of help the central bank gives the economy.

In "Fed speak":

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2:15pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

The Buck Stops: Treasury Suspends Production Of Presidential Dollars

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 4:05 pm

The $1 George Washington coin.
U.S. Mint AP

Saying it can save taxpayers $50 million a year, the Treasury Department announced today that it is suspending almost all production of presidential dollar coins.

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1:40pm

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Robocalls To Cellphones? States Marshal Opposition

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 2:51 pm

"No, I don't want to renew my subscription." What if they could reach you anywhere?
Mario Tama Getty Images

A bill before Congress that would allow some types of "robocalls" to be made to cellphones if consumers have given companies their numbers doesn't have many sponsors and wouldn't seem to be the kind of legislation that would stand much of a chance of passing when an election year looms.

But it's getting an increasing amount of attention this week thanks to something that's very rare these days — bipartisan opposition.

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11:25am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

White House's 'Promise Kept' Iraq Timeline Starts On Jan. 20, 2009

"Promise Kept," it says on the landing page of the Iraq War interactive timeline posted by the White House today.
WhiteHouse.gov

A message from the White House on its Twitter page popped up a few minutes ago saying:

"After nearly 9 years of sacrifice, America's war in Iraq is coming to an end. Experience the interactive timeline: wh.gov/iraq"

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10:25am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

One Man Blamed In Grenade, Gun Attack That Kills Several In Belgium

Rescuers evacuate injured people in Liege, Belgium, today, after a grenade and gun attack that killed at least three and injured dozens.
Reuters /Landov

Authorities now say a lone attacker who had recently been in prison on weapons and drug charges appears to have been responsible for a harrowing grenade and gun attack today in Liege, Belgium.

As of now, it's being reported that the attacker killed three people and wounded more than 60 before taking his own life.

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9:40am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Buildings Design Sparks Anger Over 9/11 Similarity

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 12:48 pm

An artist's rendering provided by Dutch architectural company MVRDV of its design for two skyscrapers in Seoul.
AP

A Dutch architectural firm says its designers didn't see the resemblance.

But many, many others certainly do think the two buildings — linked by a "cloud" of skybridges — that MVRDV has proposed for a project in Seoul look very much like the haunting images of the World Trade Center's twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, after they were hit by high-jacked passenger planes.

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8:20am

Tue December 13, 2011

8:05am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Update: Progress, But No Success On Search For 'God Particle'

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:31 am

Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. Not Conclusive:

The presentation continues in Switzerland, where scientists are briefing their peers on the search for the Higgs boson — or so-called God particle — that gives matter mass. The bottomline: They've made progress, "but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs."

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7:45am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Report: Homelessness Among Children Up 38 Percent Since 2007

More than 1.6 million American children were homeless at some point in 2010, the nonprofit National Center on Family Homelessness reports today, adding that the number is about a 38 percent increase from 2007.

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7:15am

Tue December 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Sandusky's Accusers May Testify Today In Hearing About Penn State Scandal

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 9:49 am

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as he arrived this morning at the Centre County (Pa.) Courthouse.
Rob Carr Getty Images

Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who faces more than 50 charges of sexually abusing at least 10 young boys over more than a decade, this morning waived his right to a preliminary hearing about the case against him.

The decision was a surprise. Before the court proceeding, it had been widely anticipated that at least some of Sandusky's accusers would be in court today and have to testify about what he allegedly did.

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4:05pm

Mon December 12, 2011
The Two-Way

'Tebowing' Is So Hot It's Now A Word

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 6:43 am

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prayed in the end zone — tebowing — before the start Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
Julie Jacobson AP

He's the hottest topic in sports, and now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is a word, kind of.

The online Global Language Monitor, which professes to track what's hot in the world of words, announced today that is has declared "tebowing, the act of 'taking a knee' in prayerful reflection" during an athletic activity is now "an English language word."

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12:42pm

Mon December 12, 2011
The Two-Way

U.S., Iraqi Leaders Mark 'New Day'

"A war is ending, a new day is upon us," President Obama said this afternoon at a joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at which the two leaders are marking the departure of the last U.S. troops after nearly nine years in Iraq.

For his part, Maliki said the two nations' relations "will not end with the departure of the last American soldier ... it has only started."

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11:30am

Mon December 12, 2011
The Two-Way

Lowe's Ignites Controversy By Pulling Ads From 'All-American Muslim'

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 11:33 am

A Lowe's store in Saugus, Mass.
Michael Dwyer AP

By deciding to stop advertising during the TLC network's All-American Muslim reality TV show after hearing that some conservatives object to the program, Lowe's Home Improvement is now hearing complaints from others who accuse it of religious bigotry.

California State Sen. Ted Lieu (D), The Associated Press says, may call for a boycott of the home improvement chain.

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10:40am

Mon December 12, 2011
The Two-Way

What A Sour Note: Thieves Target Tubas In Southern California

Originally published on Mon December 12, 2011 10:43 am

Who knew the big horn could be so valuable?
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

The high prices they command on the black market and "Southern California's banda music craze" have combined to make tubas a hot property, the Los Angeles Times writes today.

Hot, that is, in the sense that there's been a recent "rash of unsolved tuba thefts at high schools in southeast Los Angeles County."

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