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
11:33 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Message To Syria: You Can't Use Chemical Weapons On Foreigners, Either

Headlines today about one of the latest statements from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad have tended to focus on the news that a spokesman says the government would never use chemical or biological weapons against its own people.

The stories take two angles: One, that this confirms Syria has such weapons; two, that it's good the regime says it won't use them on civilians.

Of course, the regime has also pledged to abide by a ceasefire brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and in the ensuing weeks the bloodshed in Syria has continued.

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The Two-Way
8:27 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Stocks Are Sliding On Fears About Europe, Other Worries

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:16 pm

Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street this morning as traders reacted to word that Europe's debt crisis may be deepening and that China's economy may slow, Bloomberg News says.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 200 points, or a little less than 2 percent, after an hour of trading. Other indices were also off.

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The Two-Way
7:44 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Penn State Fined $60M, Banned From Bowls, Wins From 1998 On Vacated

Before its removal from outside the school's football stadium on Sunday, a statue of former football coach Joe Paterno was covered. An independent report concluded he was among top university officials who failed to act when they learned that Jerry Sandusky might be sexually abusing young boys.
John Beale AP

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 3:19 pm

Saying that the punishment is "warranted by the conspiracy of silence" among Penn State University's top leadership that turned a blind eye to former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys, the NCAA just announced sanctions on the school that include:

-- A $60 million fine. The money will go into an endowment fund to support programs around the nation that assist victims of sexual abuse, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

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The Two-Way
6:52 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Top Stories: Attacks In Iraq; Aurora Suspect Due In Court; Penn State Penalty

Good morning.

The nature of the news today has made the subjects of our early posts unfortunately grim:

-- Dozens Dead After Iraq's Bloodiest Day This Year.

-- 13 Reported Dead, 10 Injured After Pickup Crashes In Texas.

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The Two-Way
6:31 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Dozens Dead After Iraq's Bloodiest Day This Year

In Baghdad's Sadr City district, the view through a vehicle that was destroyed in one of today's attacks.
Karim Kadim AP

The death toll keeps rising and is now said to be around 100 after a series of bombings and shootings today in Iraq. More than 200 people were wounded in what appear to have been coordinated attacks in at least 13 cities. According to The Associated Press, it has been that nation's "deadliest day so far this year."

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The Two-Way
6:02 am
Mon July 23, 2012

13 Reported Dead, 10 Injured After Pickup Crashes In Texas

A pickup truck overloaded with 23 men, women and children who authorities suspect were in the country illegally crashed Sunday in south Texas. There are reports now, from KSAT-TV in San Antonio and other local news outlets, that 13 people are dead and 10 injured.

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The Two-Way
5:28 am
Mon July 23, 2012

If Not For Jammed Gun, Officers' Sharp Eyes, More Might Have Died In Aurora

James Holmes, in an Arapahoe County, Colo., court on Monday.
KUSA-TV

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 12:43 pm

  • Steve Inskeep speaks with Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee

A dazed-looking James Holmes, his hair dyed a reddish orange, made his first court appearance this morning as the state of Colorado began its case against the man arrested at the scene of Friday's massacre in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed and an additional 58 were wounded.

It was a short hearing in an Arapahoe County, Colo., courtroom, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. He'll be formally charged next Monday, the judge announced.

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The Two-Way
9:04 am
Sat July 21, 2012

Other Top Stories: Ferry Accident In Tanzania; More Fighting In Syria

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 10:22 am

While the shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., is dominating the news today, there are other headlines:

-- "146 Presumed Dead In Tanzania Ferry Accident." (The Associated Press)

-- "Syrian Forces Battle Rebels In Aleppo." (Reuters)

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The Two-Way
7:23 am
Sat July 21, 2012

Aurora Rampage Joins Grim List Of Worst Mass Shootings

A memorial outside the movie theater in Aurora, Co., where 12 people died and about 58 were wounded by a gunman early Friday.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

When tragedies happen, comparisons are always made to past events. It's become part of the news coverage of the Aurora, Colo., theater rampage to refer to it as "one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history," as The Associated Press says.

The wire service has a list — "Some of the world's worst mass shootings" — that includes many that happened in the U.S.:

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The Two-Way
6:18 am
Sat July 21, 2012

Aurora Suspect: A 'Smart And Quiet Man' Who Allegedly Hid A 'Deadly Plan'

A photo of James Holmes released by the University of Colorado Denver.
University of Colorado Denver

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 11:35 am

The Denver Post continues to dig into the life of James Eagan Holmes, the 24-year-old suspect in the shooting rampage Friday in Aurora, Colo., that left at least 12 people dead and about 58 wounded.

Friday, as Eyder wrote, an image emerged of Holmes as something of a recluse.

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The Two-Way
5:23 am
Sat July 21, 2012

Tragedy In Colorado: The Latest

An Aurora police officer assists a woman carrying her belongings from her home near the apartment of alleged gunman James Holmes. Bomb technicians are working to defuse his booby-trapped apartment.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 4:55 pm

The shocking shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., early Friday continues to dominate the news. We followed it throughout the day (it's now 5 p.m. ET) and will pick it up again early Sunday. NPR.org, the NPR Newscast Desk, Weekend All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday are on the story too. All of NPR's coverage is being collected here.

Here's what happened today, starting with a quick summary:

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The Two-Way
4:55 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Real-Life Horror: Many Killed, Dozens Wounded At Colorado Movie Theater

Two women mourn near the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 11:17 pm

  • Witness talks to 'The Today Show'
  • Steve Inskeep speaks with witness Chayyiel Jackson

A midnight screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises turned into a horribly real scene of death and destruction in Aurora, Colo., early Friday when a gunman opened fire on the audience killing 12.

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Ford Recalls Some 2013 Escapes, Tells Owners Not To Drive Them

Ford's Escape was redesigned for the 2013 model year. Last month, this one rolled of the assembly line in Louisville, Ky.
Brian Bohannon AP

Warning that a fuel line could leak, "potentially resulting in an underhood fire," Ford Motor Co. today told owners of about 11,500 model year 2013 Escapes "to stop driving their vehicles and to immediately contact their dealers."

The company said that "dealers will deliver a loaner vehicle to customers and will then transport their 2013 Escape to the dealership until the repair has been completed."

There have been no injuries reported in connection with the problem, the company said.

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The Two-Way
10:36 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Italy's 'Armani Of Mozzarella' Accused Of Having Mafia Links

Giuseppe Mandara (in white shirt, with cigar), and officers from the Anti-Mafia unit of the Italian police on Tuesday.
Italian Police AFP/Getty Images

This story's been out there for a day or two, but it's too tasty to ignore. So here's a slice:

"Italy's biggest buffalo mozzarella maker, Giuseppe Mandara, has been arrested on charges he had close ties to the mafia. Mandara, 56 — who once dubbed himself the 'Armani of Mozzarella' — was arrested with three associates near Naples, reports said." (Global Post)

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The Two-Way
8:17 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Mixed Signals: Sales Of Existing Homes Dipped, But Prices Rose

While sales of existing homes fell 5.4 percent in June from May, their median price was up 7.9 percent from a year earlier.

In addition, the National Association of Realtors reports, the supply of existing homes available for sale continued to shrink — including the number of "distressed" homes on the market because of foreclosures.

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Tennessee Mosque Can Open; Imam Says America Is Better For That

The mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., last month when it was still under construction.
Erik Schelzig AP

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 11:08 am

Now that a federal judge has ruled that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tenn., can open, the mosque's imam says muslims elsewhere should take notice.

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The Two-Way
7:07 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Emmy Nominations Are Out: 'Mad Men' Will Go For Record

The cast of Mad Men.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:21 am

AMC's Mad Men, as expected, has again been nominated for an Emmy as "outstanding drama series" — meaning that the show about Madison Avenue in the '60s has a chance to win a record fifth such honor.

Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The West Wing share that title with four best drama Emmys each.

Mad Men's competition for the award:

-- Boardwalk Empire, (HBO).

-- Breaking Bad, (AMC).

-- Downton Abbey, (PBS).

-- Game of Thrones, (HBO).

-- Homeland, (Showtime).

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The Two-Way
6:48 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Jobless Claims Rose By 34,000 Last Week

There was a 34,000-increase in the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, the Employment and Training Administration reports.

It says 386,000 people filed claims, up from 352,000 the week before. "The 4-week moving average was 375,500, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 377,000."

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The Two-Way
6:38 am
Thu July 19, 2012

VIDEO: 'God's Plan' Led To Deadly Encounter With Trayvon, Zimmerman Says

George Zimmerman during his interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.
FoxNews.com

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:23 am

While he is sorry that Trayvon Martin ended up dead, George Zimmerman says he doesn't regret anything he did the evening of Feb. 26 and that it was "God's plan" that he would end up killing the unarmed 17-year-old.

"For me to second guess it or judge it" would be wrong, Zimmerman told Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity in a pre-recorded and edited interview broadcast Wednesday night.

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The Two-Way
6:07 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Video May Show Suicide Bomber Who Attacked Bus In Bulgaria

A screen grab from the surveillance video showing the man who it's suspected set off a bomb aboard a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria.
BGNES.com

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 7:43 am

  • Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reporting on 'Morning Edition'

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The Two-Way
5:31 am
Thu July 19, 2012

As Fighting Rages In Damascus, Survival Of Assad's Regime Is In Doubt

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday shows smoke billowing from burning tires and trash containers in Damascus.
AFP/Getty Images
  • From 'Morning Edition,' Liz Sly of The Washington Post and Renee Montagne

One day after three members of his inner circle were killed in an explosion, opposition fighters in Syria are continuing to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad as clashes with government forces draw near to the his palace in Damascus, residents tell Reuters.

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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Netanyahu Points At Iran After Explosion In Bulgaria Kills Israelis

One bus was largely destroyed and others nearby were damaged by today's explosion in Bulgaria.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 7:42 am

Reports vary on the number of deaths in Bulgaria today from an explosion that tore apart a bus carrying Israeli tourists, most of them reportedly young people in the Black Sea city of Burgas on vacation.

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The Two-Way
11:23 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Drought Disasters Declared In More Counties; 1,297 Affected So Far

A corn plant that was struggling to survive this week in a drought-stricken farm field near Shawneetown, Ill.
Scott Olson Getty Images

With the addition of 29 counties in eight states today, there are now 1,297 counties across the nation so stricken by drought and heat that they've been declared natural disaster areas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack just announced. That's about one-third of all U.S. counties, he said.

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The Two-Way
10:28 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Reports That Gov. Christie Will Give Keynote Tamp Down Veep Talk

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

News that first broke in the New York Post would seem to signal that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to be the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee.

The Post reports that "the word is going out quietly to Republican activists across New Jersey. ... Gov. Chris Christie is going to be giving the keynote speech" at the GOP convention in Tampa next month.

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The Two-Way
8:46 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Heir To Billions Charged With Preventing Wife's Burial, Not Murder

Hans Kristian Rausing as he arrived at court earlier today.
Facundo Arrizabalaga EPA /Landov

Though he had been arrested on suspicion of murder, the son of a Swedish billionaire has only been charged with "preventing the lawful and decent burial of the body of his wife," The Guardian reports.

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The Two-Way
7:26 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Housing Starts Hit Four-Year High; Bernanke Heads Back To Capitol Hill

In Phoenix earlier this month, workers were framing this new home.
Matt York AP

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 7:57 am

There's more evidence that the housing sector is on the mend and may be the sector of the economy that's got the most going for it these days.

According to the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development there was a 6.9 percent increase in "housing starts" last month. At an annual rate of 760,000, ground-breaking for construction of single-family homes, apartments and condominiums the pace hit a four-year high, The Associated Press says.

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The Two-Way
6:40 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Iceberg Twice The Size Of Manhattan Breaks Off Glacier In Greenland

A view of the glacier taken Tuesday. Inside the square: the iceberg that broke off.
NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:30 am

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Syrian Defense Minister Killed In Explosion, State TV Says

Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajha last September.
Syrian Arab News Agency AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:49 am

The uprising in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad took a dramatic turn today when an explosion at a government building in Damascus killed the country's defense minister and a brother-in-law of the president.

Syrian state TV, which is reporting the deaths, has blamed a suicide bomber. There have been at least two claims of responsiblity from groups opposed to the Assad regime. There are also reports that the bomber was a member of the Assad inner circle's security team.

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The Two-Way
1:53 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Pot Growers May Be Killing Rare Creatures With Poison, Researchers Say

A fisher. It now has another challenge.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Already among the animals that may be added to the list of those protected by the Endangered Species Act, the weasel-like fisher now faces this deadly threat:

Rat poison that illegal marijuana growers put out to protect their crops in California.

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The Two-Way
9:13 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Boy Scouts Reaffirm Ban On Open Gays; Call It 'Absolutely The Best Policy'

In Mississippi last month, scouts took part in a flag retirement ceremony.
Philip Hall / Enterprise-Journal AP

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 9:56 am

"After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America has emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays," The Associated Press reports.

According to the wire service, Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said the 11-member committee decided that is "absolutely the best policy" for the organization.

The Boy Scouts' policy states that:

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