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
10:28 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Makeup Artist Who Created Yoda Dies; Stuart Freeborn Was 98

One of makeup artist Stuart Freeborn's best-known characters, Yoda.
Tim Whitby Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:28 pm

The makeup artist who gave Star Wars' Yoda and Chewbacca their out-of-this-world looks, and helped bring to life other memorable characters such as the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died.

Stuart Freeborn was 98. According to The Associated Press, his granddaughter Michelle Freeborn "said he died Tuesday in London from a combination of ailments due to his age."

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The Two-Way
8:02 am
Thu February 7, 2013

At Prayer Breakfast, Obama Urges 'Humility'

President Obama speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at his fifth National Prayer Breakfast since taking office, President Obama said Thursday morning that the annual gatherings are always "wonderful." But he worries, Obama told the lawmakers and clergy gathered in Washington, D.C., that "as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about the whole time at the prayer breakfast is forgotten ... on the same day as the prayer breakfast."

"It's like we didn't pray," he added.

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The Two-Way
7:32 am
Thu February 7, 2013

'Massive Manhunt' In Los Angeles For Ex-Cop Suspected In Killings

Christopher Jordan Dorner. He's the suspect in two murders and the shooting of three police officers, one of whom has died. A manhunt is under way in and around Los Angeles.
Irving Calif. Police Department

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 5:03 pm

A former Los Angeles police officer is the focus of a "massive manhunt" under way in that city because he's a suspect in a double murder last weekend and the shooting of three police officers early Thursday.

One of those officers has died.

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The Two-Way
6:57 am
Thu February 7, 2013

366,000 New Claims For Jobless Benefits, Down Only Slightly

There were 366,000 first-time clams for unemployment insurance last week, down just 5,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

Of note: that number from the previous week — 371,000 — is an upward revision. A week ago, the agency estimated there had been 368,000 claims over that period.

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The Two-Way
6:42 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Minnesota's Moose Mystery: What's Killing Them?

On an April 2010 canoe trip to Knife Lake, Minn., Steve Piragis of Ely, Minn. was greeted by this bull moose. (Indentations on the moose's head indicated that he had shed his antlers.)
Sam Cook Courtesy of Duluth News Tribune

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 3:22 pm

In northeastern Minnesota, moose are dying at an alarming rate and state officials are having difficulty determining why.

And though hunters are not part of the problem, the state announced Wednesday that there will be no moose hunting season this coming fall.

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The Two-Way
5:27 am
Thu February 7, 2013

'Real Nightmare' Headed For New England; Blizzard On Track For Friday

The National Weather Service's latest forecast of the snow totals across New England. Most places can expect 18-24 inches of new snow. It will start falling Friday and the storm is expected to last through Saturday.
Weather.gov

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 2:29 pm

4:30 p.m. ET — Latest from the National Weather Service:

"A major winter storm is expected to impact the Northeast and New England Friday into Saturday. As much as one to two feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible. This, in addition to wind gusts as high as 60-75 mph will create significant impacts to transportation and power. Coastal flooding is also possible from Boston northward."

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The Two-Way
1:21 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Mothra? No, It's Just A Robot Exoskeleton Controlled By A Moth

That's a moth controlling that robot. But don't worry.
Institute of Physics

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 7:24 pm

What could go wrong?

"Researchers at the University of Tokyo have strapped a moth into a robotic exoskeleton, with the moth successfully controlling the robot to reach a specific location inside a wind tunnel," writes ExtremeTech.

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The Two-Way
11:04 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Oh, Mama! World's 'Oldest' Bird Has Another Chick

Wisdom (left) and her mate on their nest last November at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Pete Leary USFWS

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:12 pm

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary is proud to announce that Wisdom the Laysan albatross, who at age 62 (or so) is the "oldest known wild bird" in the world, has hatched another chick.

Wisdom's latest offspring "was observed pecking its way into the world" on Sunday at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean, the agency says.

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The Two-Way
10:07 am
Wed February 6, 2013

REI Executive Tapped For Interior; Geithner Joins Council On Foreign Relations

Sally Jewell, president and CEO of REI, who is in line to be the next secretary of interior.
Ron Sachs EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 12:29 pm

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. It's Official:

Praising Sally Jewell as an executive who turned outdoors equipment retailer REI into one of the nation's most successful and environmentally conscious companies, President Obama just said he is nominating her to be his next interior secretary.

Noting that Jewell, who in a previous job worked as an engineer for Mobil, has also climbed mountains in Antarctica, the president joked about that being "just not something I think of doing."

Our original post:

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The Two-Way
7:43 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Two Days After Rescue From Bunker, Ethan Turns 6

Birthday cards for Ethan have been arriving at the town hall in Napier Field, Ala., where he lives.
Joe Songer AL.COM /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 9:24 am

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The Two-Way
7:11 am
Wed February 6, 2013

The Iron Is Out, A Cat Is In As 'Monopoly' Changes Game Pieces

The newest Monopoly token: Cat.
Courtesy of Hasbro

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 1:33 pm

Scottie the dog is not going to like this news:

Monopoly fans have voted to add a cat to the classic game's cast of eight playing pieces. Getting the boot: Well, it wasn't the boot. It's the iron that got flattened.

The results of Hasbro's Facebook vote were revealed on NBC-TV's Today Show.

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The Two-Way
6:53 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Reports: Postal Service Will Move To Halt Saturday Mail

Letter carrier Raymond Hou delivering mail on his route in San Francisco (March 2010 file photo).
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 1:57 pm

(We updated the top of this post at 10:37 a.m. ET.)

Calling it "absolutely necessary" if the U.S. Postal Service is going to stop losing billions of dollars a year and reach anything close to financial stability, Postmaster Gen. Patrick Donahoe confirmed Wednesday morning that USPS is moving to eliminate Saturday delivery of first-class mail.

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The Two-Way
5:27 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Boy Scouts Delay Decision About Gays; Pentagon May Extend Some Benefits

A statue outside the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 8:48 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': Kathy Lohr on the Boy Scouts' debate

(We updated the top of this post at 10:45 a.m. ET.)

The Boy Scouts of America now intends to vote in May about whether its troops should be allowed to accept gay members and leaders, a spokesman says.

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Economy To Slow This Year As The Government Tightens, CBO Says

While the economy will benefit from continued improvement in "underlying" conditions, the federal government's push to tighten its spending will slow overall growth in 2013, the Congressional Budget Office projects.

In an updated "Budget and Economic Outlook" reported released Tuesday afternoon, the agency forecasts:

-- 1.4 percent growth in gross domestic product this year, vs. 2.3 percent in 2012.

-- 2.6 percent growth in 2014.

-- 4.1 percent growth in 2015.

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The Two-Way
10:58 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Reg Presley, Who Sang 'Wild Thing' With The Troggs, Dies

Reg Presley of The Troggs in 1967.
PA Photos /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 12:07 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: A little 'Wild Thing' and Neda Ulaby's report on Reg Presley

Grab a guitar, hit those three chords (A, D, E) and take three minutes to pay your respects:

Reg Presley, who sang Wild Thing with The Troggs in 1966, is dead. He was 71 and had suffered a series of strokes recently.

The band's website says Presley "died peacefully" on Monday, "surrounded by all of his family."

NPR's Neda Ulaby tells our Newscast Desk that:

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The Two-Way
9:42 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Where In The U.S. Should You Leave 3 Hours Early For A 30-Minute Drive?

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 11:16 am

This news got our attention, and not just because The Two-Way's home office is in the nation's capital:

Washington, D.C., and its surrounding suburbs are the worst place in the nation to be if you absolutely, positively have to get to an important appointment on time.

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The Two-Way
9:05 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Obama Calls For Small Package Of Cuts, Tax Changes To Head Off 'Sequester'

President Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 5:02 am

(We updated the top of this post at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Looking to head off deep, automatic spending cuts set to kick in on March 1, President Obama on Tuesday afternoon said that to avoid the negative economic effects that come with "political disfunction," Congress should move quickly to pass "a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms" that won't hurt the economy.

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The Two-Way
7:41 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Dell Seals $24.2 Billion Buyout Deal; Founder Among Buyers

Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:56 am

"Slumping personal computer maker Dell is selling itself for $24.4 billion to its founder and a group of investors that includes Microsoft," The Associated Press writes, in "the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up financing for risky maneuvers like this."

The wire service adds that "the complex agreement announced Tuesday will end Dell Inc.'s nearly 25-year history as a publicly traded company. Shareholders are receiving $13.65 per share for their stock. ... Founder Michael Dell will remain the company's CEO and largest shareholder."

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The Two-Way
6:35 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Broader Justification Emerges Of When U.S. Can Kill Americans Who Join Al-Qaida

October 2011: Men stand on the rubble of a building destroyed by a U.S. drone strike in southeastern Yemen. Among those killed was U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — who himself was killed by a drone strike the month before.
Khaled Abdullah Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:57 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': Carrie Johnson talks with Steve Inskeep

American citizens who become leaders in al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations overseas and pose "an imminent threat" to Americans may be killed with drone strikes even when there's no evidence that they have specific plans to attack Americans or U.S. interests, according to a Justice Department memo that surfaced Monday.

NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast Desk that:

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The Two-Way
5:41 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Dramatic End To Alabama Hostage Standoff Took Careful Planning

Law enforcement officials, including some from the FBI, near the scene of the hostage situation in Midland City, Ala., on Friday.
Philip Sears Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 7:29 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: Dan Carsen reports

(We updated the top of this post with new material at 9:50 a.m. ET.)

As more becomes known about how authorities on Monday rescued an almost-6-year-old boy named Ethan from his nearly week-long captivity in an Alabama bunker with a gunman, some fascinating details are emerging.

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The Two-Way
1:02 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Royal Recovery: Remains ID'd As Those Of King Richard III

An enlarged image of the skull identified as that of King Richard III. Jo Appleby, a lecturer in human bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester, is pointing to a detail.
Rui Vieira PA Photos /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 4:10 pm

Remains found under what's now a parking lot in the English city of Leicester have been confirmed to be those of King Richard III, researchers at the University of Leicester announced Monday.

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The Two-Way
10:53 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Canada Bids Its Penny Goodbye; Should The U.S.?

Canadian pennies. They're not going to be put into circulation anymore.
Fred Greenslade Reuters /Landov

Canada is changing its change.

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The Two-Way
9:16 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Reports: 'American Sniper' Chris Kyle Died While Trying To Help Fellow Veteran

Chris Kyle, retired Navy SEAL and bestselling author of the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, in April 2012. He was killed Saturday.
Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram MCT /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 10:56 am

More is being learned today about former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and the man accused of killing the decorated Iraq War veteran.

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The Two-Way
7:09 am
Mon February 4, 2013

VIDEO: 'Today You Can See That I'm Alive,' Says Malala, Girl Shot By Taliban

Malala Yousafzai in a video released Monday.
Storyful

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 7:52 am

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The Two-Way
6:35 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Lights Out, It Was A Memorable Super Bowl

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs waits on the field after the half the lights went out in the third quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.
Mike Segar Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 9:45 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Mike Pesca on the Super Bowl

There was a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

A last-minute drive that could have won the game for San Francisco.

An MVP performance by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

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The Two-Way
9:58 am
Sun February 3, 2013

Coming Monday: A Daily Dose Of 'Book News'

NPR

For some months now, many of us at NPR have been enjoying a daily email from our friends here who report about books and the publishing industry. It's a tip sheet with news, and a bit of attitude.

Eyder and several others started saying "hey, we ought to publish this."

So, The Two-Way will.

Annalisa Quinn, who's been writing the notes, sends along this mission statement and a little bit about herself:

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The Two-Way
12:28 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

3 Things To Say At A Super Bowl Party

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Joe Skipper Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 10:02 pm

If you're invited to a Super Bowl party and aren't quite up to speed about Sunday's big game, join the club. This blogger's a Buffalo Bills fan and tries to kind of tune out around this time of the season because, after all, it brings back some painful memories.

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The Two-Way
9:56 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Obama Administration Issues Proposal On Birth Control Coverage

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 11:40 am

(The top of this post and our headline was updated at 1:35 p.m. ET.)

"The Obama administration on Friday proposed a work-around for religious nonprofits that object to providing health insurance that covers birth control," The Associated Press reports.

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The Two-Way
6:29 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Coming Up: January Jobs Report

Job seekers came to the ThistleDown Racino and Horseshoe Casino in Warrensvile Hts., Ohio, last month.
Chuck Crow The Plain Dealer /Landov

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 8:47 am

(We updated the top of this post at 10:15 a.m. ET.)

The U.S. economy produced several hundred thousand more jobs than previously thought in 2011 and 2012 even as the nation's jobless rate remained stuck at a relatively high level, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

While BLS said the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in January from 7.8 percent the month before, it also reported that:

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