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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10:55am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

As Much As $60 Billion Of 'Waste And Fraud' In War-Related Contracts

"At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," the independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported this morning.

That's out of the $206 billion that's expected to have been spent on contracts and grants in those two countries by the end of September, the commission says.

In its report, the commission adds that:

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10:00am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Mucho Congratos To 'ElBloombito'

twitter.com/ElBloombito

One guy on The Two-Way's masthead speaks Spanish, and it isn't this blogger.

So I can't really poke fun at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) for his efforts to hablar espanol during the news conferences he held before, during and after Hurricane Irene.

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9:10am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

'9/11 Commission' Leaders: Nation's Security Isn't What It Should Be

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 9:13 am

National Security Preparedness Group

While they believe "our country is undoubtedly safer and more secure than it was a decade ago," the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission warn today that some of their panel's most important recommendations remain unfilled.

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8:15am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Layoffs Slowed In August, But Were Still Far Above Year Ago

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 8:44 am

Government agencies and private employers said this month that they plan to lay off 51,114 workers, the outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported this morning.

And while that's down 23 percent from the 66,414 layoffs announced in July, the August total was still "up 47 percent from a year ago," the firm said.

What's more, it added:

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7:55am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Today's Headlines: Irene's Aftermath; Sept. 11 Panel's Report

Good morning.

States from North Carolina north to New England continue to cope with the aftereffects of Hurricane Irene, as we reported earlier. The Associated Press says 2.5 million customers still don't have power and that the death toll now stands at 44 people in 13 states. Flood waters continue to be huge problems in New Jersey and states to the north.

Meanwhile, other stories making headlines include:

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7:30am

Wed August 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Rebuilding After Irene Is Not Going To Boost The Economy

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 8:40 am

While Hurricane Irene may, according to The New York Times, "prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation's history," the recovery efforts as work gets going to repair the estimated $7 billion to $10 billion in damages are not going to give the overall U.S. economy a much-needed lift, our Planet Money colleague Adam Davidson says.

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3:45pm

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

When It's Your Time, Would You Like To Be Liquefied?

We had to read on after spotting this line atop a BBC News story today:

"A Glasgow-based company has installed its first commercial 'alkaline hydrolysis' unit at a Florida funeral home."

And just what does that involve? As the St. Petersburg Times explained last October:

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1:35pm

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

$100 Million, Six-Year Deal For Michael Vick

Michael Vick, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, earlier this month.
Jim McIsaac Getty Images

The six-year deal announced Monday night that will keep Michael Vick with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles could be worth up to $100 million for the quarterback who just a little more than two years was finishing up an 18-month prison term after being convicted on charges related to dog fighting.

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12:25pm

Tue August 30, 2011
It's All Politics

On Perry's Turf, Romney Aims Jab At 'Career Politicians'

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 10:49 am

Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting in Keene, N.H., on Aug. 24.
Jim Cole AP

Deep in the heart of Texas, home to one of his toughest rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declared today that:

"I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy. Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don't know how to get us out."

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11:00am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Cheney: Iraq War Did Not Hurt Reputation Of U.S.; Was Sound Policy

"Critics here at home" argue that the war in Iraq has hurt the reputation of the United States around the world, former Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged this morning. But he doesn't believe that's true.

"In fact I think it was sound policy that dealt with a very serious problem" — then-Iraqi leader Sadaam Hussein — Cheney said on NBC-TV's The Today Show.

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10:15am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Consumer Confidence 'Plummeted In August'

Blunt words from The Conference Board in its just-released report on how consumers are feeling:

"The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved slightly in July, plummeted in August."

The widely watched index now stands at 44.5, its lowest point in more than two years, vs. 59.2 in July. In good times, the index often stays well above 100.

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9:50am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

White House Counsels Officials On How To Commemorate Sept. 11 Attacks

The towers of the World Trade Center. Sept. 11, 2001.
Robert Giroux Getty Images

Guidelines sent by the White House to U.S. government officials around the world about how to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks on their 10th anniversary focus on honoring the victims, stressing the need to be prepared for another attack and recognizing that other nations have also been targeted by terrorists, The New York Times reports this morning.

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9:15am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Home Prices Rose Modestly In Second Quarter, But Still Below Year Ago

One widely watched measure of U.S. home prices rose 3.6 percent in the second quarter from first-quarter 2011.

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8:45am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Top Stories: Irene Aftermath; Hunt For Gadhafi; New Leader In Japan

Good morning.

The death toll from Hurricane Irene and its aftermath continues to rise, as we reported earlier. There are now 40 confirmed deaths.

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8:35am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

In Libya: 'Biggest Fear' Is Gadhafi Disappearing, Continuing To Fight

The news that ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's wife and three of his children have fled to Algeria underscores "the biggest fear" for many Libyans, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Tripoli — that Gadhafi will elude capture and that his forces will continue to battle for weeks, months or perhaps years.

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8:00am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Irene's Deadly Toll Rises; 40 Confirmed Deaths

The death toll from Hurricane Irene and the storm's aftermath continues to grow. As the day begins, The Associated Press says there are now 40 confirmed fatalities — up from 35 as of Monday afternoon. And, the AP adds, towns in New England continued to battle "epic floods and millions faced the dispiriting prospect of several days without electricity."

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7:30am

Tue August 30, 2011
The Two-Way

Muslim Americans 'Overwhelmingly' Satisfied With Their Lives, Poll Finds

In New York City last September, Aliza Fatima of Queens took part in the American Muslim Day Parade.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

"As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years," the Pew Research Center reports today.

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3:15pm

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Irene's Toll: At Least 35 Deaths In 10 States

A somber update from The Associated Press:

"Hurricane Irene has led to the deaths of at least 35 people in 10 states."

The wire service says:

-- Two deaths have been reported in Connecticut. An 89-year-old woman died in a fire started by downed power lines, and a 46-year-old man drowned when his canoe capsized on a flooded street.

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1:35pm

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Some Of Gadhafi's Family In Algeria

Algeria's state news agency is reporting that the government there says members of Moammar Gadhafi's family are now in that country, The Associated Press and other news outlets say.

It's thought that they include the ousted Libyan leader's wife, two sons and a daughter. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, who is in Tripoli, says it's also being reported that some of Gadhafi's grandchildren may also be in the group.

Sky News says on its Twitter page that:

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1:20pm

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama's New Economist Favors Tax Credits For Companies That Hire

Alan Krueger, who President Obama today nominated to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisers, favors "the idea of having a new jobs tax credit" as one way to get the labor market moving again, he told Bloomberg radio last month.

"If companies increase their payroll by an employee, they could get a $5,000 tax cut to offset their additional hiring costs," Krueger said.

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12:40pm

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Through Irene, Old Guard Stood Watch At Tomb Of The Unknowns

On guard during Irene at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
3rd U.S. INF Regiment The Old Guard

As they did during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the Washington-area blizzards in 2009-10 and other extreme weather events, soldiers of The Old Guard continued to march at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns as Hurricane Irene blew through the area

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12:00pm

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Before And After Irene, Ron Paul's No Fan Of FEMA

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), at the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on June 17, 2011.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said before Hurricane Irene rolled over the mid-Atlantic and up through New England that the Federal Emergency Management Agency does more harm than good because "all they do is come in and tell you what to do and [what you] can't do" and add billions of dollars to the federal deficit.

Plus, he added, the agency did not perform well after Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans' levees six years ago — devastating that city.

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10:30am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Firefighters Save Couple From Flooded SUV In Vermont

Among the many photos and videos taken by people up and down the East during and after Hurricane Irene passed through are three clips taken Sunday in Mount Holly, Vt., as local firefighters rescued a couple from their vehicle.

WPTZ-TV of Plattsburgh, N.Y., has them posted here. It says they were taken by "u local contributor Melody Bothers Katrobos."

"Part III" shows the successful conclusion.

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9:50am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Happy Feet, The Lost Penguin, Is Headed Home

Safe journey, little guy: Happy Feet in his container aboard the research vessel Tangaroa earlier today.
Hagen Hopkins Getty Images

Two months after he showed up 2,000 miles from home, Happy Feet the three-year-old Emperor Penguin is on a ship that will give him a big head start on his way from New Zealand to Antarctica.

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9:05am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Consumer Spending Rebounds; Obama Chooses New Economic Adviser

Consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in July from June, the Bureau of Economic Analysis just reported. The increase came as personal income rose 0.3 percent.

Spending had dipped 0.1 percent in June from May. That had raised concerns about whether consumers — who buy about 70 percent of all goods and services — might pull an already weak economy down further.

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8:55am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

What's Got Folks Talking? Beyonce's Baby Bump

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 9:26 am

Beyonce during her performace Sunday.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Our pal Linda Holmes over at Monkey See knows much more about these types of things than we do, but we do want to take a quick break from natural disasters and other heavy news to note that megastar Beyonce Knowles apparently stole the show at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards by cleverly revealing to the world that she and Jay-Z are expecting a child.

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8:15am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Powell: Cheney's Taking 'Cheap Shots'

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 8:55 am

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell during his appearance Sunday on CBS News' Face the Nation.
Chris Usher CBS News via Getty Images

Colin Powell isn't a fan of Dick Cheney's new memoir.

On CBS News' Face the Nation this weekend, former Bush administration secretary of state Powell said that Bush-era vice president Cheney takes some "cheap shots" and "overshot the runway" in the book that goes on sale this week.

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8:15am

Mon August 29, 2011
It's All Politics

Powell Isn't Sure He'll Support Obama In 2012 Race

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 8:19 am

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell during his appearance Sunday on CBS News' Face the Nation.
Chris Usher CBS News via Getty Images

It was a big story when former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

So it's news that this weekend on CBS-TV's Face the Nation, Powell said he hasn't decided if he will vote for the president in 2012.

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7:45am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

New Leader Set In Japan; Gadhafi Still On Run

Good morning.

Residents from North Carolina up through New England are beginning the long process of recovering from Hurricane Irene, which we followed through the weekend and earlier today.

We'll keep an eye out for more stories about the storm and its aftermath. Meanwhile, other major news of the day includes:

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7:15am

Mon August 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Irene: Not A Monster, But Lots Of Damage

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 7:27 am

Flooding Sunday in Waitsfield, Vt.
Sandy Macys AP

Hurricane Irene is gone, but she won't be forgotten anytime soon.

As NPR's Larry Abramson said today on Morning Edition, "Irene did not turn out to be the storm of the century" and many beach towns "were stunned by how lucky they were."

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