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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The Two-Way
9:25 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Detained Americans On Their Way Out Of Egypt

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 10:28 am

  • Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on 'Morning Edition'

Seven American democracy advocates who had been prevented for weeks from leaving Egypt and were accused of being there illegally are now on their way out of the country, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Cairo.

"They are walking through security in the VIP terminal at the Cairo Airport," she just said in an email to our Newscast desk.

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The Two-Way
7:40 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart, Controversial Web Provocateur, Has Died

Andrew Breitbart last June.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Andrew Breitbart, who cultivated controversy with his BigGovernment website and was a conservative thorn in the sides of many liberals, has died, his newssite's editor-in-chief, Joel Pollak, just said he can confirm. He emailed that word to The Two-Way moments ago.

In a post on BigGovernment, it's reported that "Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles." He would turn 43 this year.

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The Two-Way
7:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Anti-Assad Fighters Said To Be Retreating From Beseiged Syrian District

Syrian mourners on Wednesday carried the body of a man who was killed in fighting near Homs.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

There are reports from several news outlets that fighters who have been battling the Syrian Army in the beseiged Baba Amr district of Homs are retreating from that area.

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The Two-Way
6:38 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Jobless Claims Ticked Down Again, Consumer Spending Edged Up

There were 2,000 fewer first-time claims for unemployment last week than in the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

It says there were 351,000 such filings.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Death Toll From Midwest, Southern Storms Put At 13

Vehicles and other possessions lie scattered in Harrisburg, Ill.
Scott Olson Getty Images

A fourth death in Tennessee appears to have brought the toll from severe storms that swept through parts of the Midwest and South on Wednesday to at least 13.

Chrissy Keuper of WUOT-FM in at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has told our Newscast Desk about the fourth fatality in the Volunteer State.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Two More Americans Killed In Afghanistan

Feb. 23: Afghan demonstrators burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
AFP/Getty Images
  • NPR's Tom Bowman, on 'Morning Edition'

Two more American military personnel were killed in Southern Afghanistan today when, officials believe, an Afghan civilian grabbed a weapon from an Afghan soldier and opened fire, NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul. At least one other attacker may also have been involved.

Quil adds that "we don't know yet whether this attack is linked to the Quran burnings, which set off so much violence — including the killing of four U.S. servicemen in the week that followed."

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Priest Was Wrong To Deny Communion To Lesbian, Archdiocese Says

Saeed Khan AFP/Getty Images

There's been lots of talk on the Web and the news channels today about The Washington Post's front page account of what happened when Barbara Johnson went to Communion on Saturday during the funeral mass for her mother in Gaithersburg, Md.

The priest, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said he would not give her the sacrament because she is a sinner.

Johnson is a lesbian.

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The Two-Way
3:00 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

VIDEO: Amazingly Close Up View Of A Woodpecker

YouTube.com

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 3:04 pm

Maybe you won't agree, but we think this video is fascinating. It's a very close encounter with a woodpecker at a bird feeder in Dryden, N.Y.

(Hint: don't give up before the 15-second mark.)

(H/T to this blogger's old hometown friend, Jim Pearson.)

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The Two-Way
11:36 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Davy Jones Of The Monkees Has Died

Davy Jones back in the day (September 1968).
Keystone Features Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 1:08 pm

Davy Jones, who thrilled many a young girl's heart back in the '60s as a member of the Monkees, has died.

TMZ broke the news. It reports being told by the medical examiner's office in Martin County, Fla., of the 66-year-old singer's death. The English-born Jones apparently lived in that part of Florida.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Reports: Egypt To Let Pro-Democracy Americans Leave Country

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 6:34 pm

Reuters and The Associated Press are reporting that Egyptian authorities have decided that seven Americans who it has accused of engaging in illegal "political activity" may now leave the country.

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The Two-Way
10:40 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Syrian Officials Claim They Will Soon Have Baba Amr 'Cleaned'

In Qusayr, Syria, on Tuesday, a Free Syria Army member was on guard at the funeral of a man who activists say was killed by government forces.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

An ominous excerpt from the latest BBC News report on what's happening in Syria:

"The Syrian army is advancing on opposition positions in Homs, which has been under artillery bombardment for nearly a month, reports say. Security officials said the city's besieged district of Baba Amr would be 'cleaned' within the next few hours."

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The Two-Way
9:54 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Franklin Graham Apologizes For Seeming To Question Obama's Faith

Rev. Franklin Graham in 2007.
Davis Turner Getty Images

One week after saying "you'll have to ask President Obama" when asked if he believes the president is a Christian, Rev. Franklin Graham has issued an apology for "any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama."

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The Two-Way
4:20 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Leap Day: Any Plans?

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 4:26 pm

Something that only comes around once every four years and doesn't involve either politics or Olympic competition deserves its own mention:

Wednesday is Feb. 29.

Leap day, that is.

Our friend Linton Weeks has put together a handy list of 24 things you could do with the extra 24 hours. (And yes, we know that some of you have already started your day; but, hey, we're an East Coast-based blog.)

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Join Us For Live Blogging Of Today's Republican Primaries

Another Tuesday, another critical day for the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

This time the locations are Michigan, where most polls close at 8 p.m. ET, and Arizona, where voting ends at 9 p.m. ET. The story political junkies are watching closest: Will former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Michigan native, hold off a strong challenge there from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum?

Also on the ballots, of course: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

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The Two-Way
3:25 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Gay Marine's Kiss Was 'Four Years Of Pent-Up Emotion And Secret Love'

The kiss. That's Sgt. Brandon Morgan on the right. Dalan Wells on the left.
Gay Marines on Facebook

When he returned from Afghanistan and saw his partner waiting to welcome him home, "four years of pent-up emotion and secret love" just seemed to naturally lead to "what felt like an eternity kiss," Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan told NPR this afternoon.

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The Two-Way
2:06 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Dow Does It: Closes Above 13,000

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 2:47 pm

For the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial average has closed above the 13,000 mark.

It didn't do it by much — about 5 points.

We'll have more in a moment.

Update at 4:15 p.m. ET:

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Virginia Senate OKs Abortion Measure Requiring Ultrasounds

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 1:57 pm

Virginia's state Senate this afternoon passed legislation that would "force women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion," the Richmond Times Dispatch reports. The vote was 21-19.

Senators made two changes to the controversial measure that had already been OK'd by the state House:

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The Two-Way
10:20 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Gay Marine's Homecoming Kiss Is Lighting Up The Web

The kiss. That's Sgt. Brandon Morgan on the right. Dalan Wells on the left.
Gay Marines on Facebook

Since the Gay Marines Facebook page posted it on Saturday, a photo of Sgt. Brandon Morgan and his partner Dalan Wells sharing a welcome home kiss in Hawaii has been getting quite a bit of attention:

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The Two-Way
9:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Chechens Allegedly Planned To Attack Putin's Motorcade With Mines

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Alexey Nikolsky AFP/Getty Images

Chechens who allegedly were hoping to kill Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin planned to hide landmines along a route his motorcade often uses in Moscow, according to Russian TV, the BBC reports.

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The Two-Way
7:20 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Developing: Shooting At High School In Chardon, Ohio

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 12:14 pm

The latest on today's shooting at a high school in Chardon, Ohio, where five students were shot; at least one fatally:

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. Student Who Died Identified:

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The Two-Way
6:50 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Santorum Defends Saying JFK Speech On Religion Makes Him Sick

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, center, and supporters as they prayed earlier this month in McKinney, Texas.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

There was no shift over the weekend by Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum when he was asked about his comment last year that then-presidential candidate John Kennedy's famous 1960 speech about religion and the separation of church and state makes him want to throw up.

The Boston Globe writes that on Sunday:

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

WikiLeaks Starts Posting Millions Of Security Firm Stratfor's Emails

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is driven away in a taxi after leaving his hearing at the Supreme Court in London, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.
Matt Dunham AP

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 6:46 am

"The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks began publishing on Monday more than five million emails from a U.S.-based global security analysis company that has been likened to a shadow CIA," Reuters writes.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Will Killings Over Quran Burnings Lead To Faster Pullout From Afghanistan?

In Herat, Afghanistan, on Friday: Demonstrators shouted anti-American slogans.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 5:43 am

  • NPR's Quil Lawrence on 'Morning Edition'

The news from Afghanistan remains grim as protests and attacks continue over the recent burning of some Qurans and other Islamic materials at an airbase controlled by international forces. The violence and unrest has also, The Washington Post writes, "exposed a crippling weakness in the American strategy to wind down the war."

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Fri February 24, 2012

New Home Sales Dipped In January

A sign of the times at a new housing development in Danville, Calif., last year.
David Paul Morris Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 8:18 am

There was a 0.9 percent drop in sales of new homes in January vs. December, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development just reported.

The annual sales rate, 321,000, was still 3.5 percent above the pace of January 2011, however.

And The Associated Press notes that the dip in January from December may have partly been due to the fact that "the government said the final quarter of 2011 was stronger than first estimated."

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The Two-Way
7:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

NPR Promotes Two Executives To Key Posts

Kinsey Wilson, NPR's executive vice president and chief content officer.
Stephen Voss NPR

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 12:03 pm

Slightly more than one year after a series of controversial events led to top leaders' depatures, NPR this morning announced "a new executive structure" and named two current managers to key posts.

NPR President and CEO Gary Knell said that:

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

U.S., Other 'Friends Of Syria,' To Call On Syria's Assad To Step Aside

As Syrian security forces continue to pound the city of Homs and surrounding areas, "the United States, Europe and Arab countries were set Friday to back a proposal for Syria's president to step aside and allow in humanitarian assistance to end a brutal crackdown against opponents," The Associated Press writes.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Obama's Tax Plan Is 'Step Forward,' But Not Enough, Key Republican Says

  • NPR's Steve Inskeep talks with Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

President Obama's proposal to cut the top corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to 28 percent (and in some cases, to 25 percent) is "a good step forward and I welcome looking at the details," the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said today on Morning Edition.

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The Two-Way
5:05 am
Fri February 24, 2012

From Palin's Emails: 'Are You Flipping Kidding???'

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a Tea Party event in Iowa last September.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Once again, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is in the news and the story is one of this morning's "talkers."

Another big batch of emails she wrote while in office has been released, and as The Associated Press writes:

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