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
6:59 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Sales Of Existing Homes Hit 7-Year High In 2013

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 8:35 am

We updated the top of this post at 10:30 a.m. ET.

The evidence that the housing sector has bounced back from the deep slump it sank into starting in 2007 was reinforced Thursday morning with word from the National Association of Realtors that:

"Existing-home sales edged up in December, sales for all of 2013 were the highest since 2006, and median prices maintained strong growth. ...

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The Two-Way
6:08 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Many Missing After Massive Fire At Seniors' Home In Quebec

A firefighter walks past the Residence du Havre after the fire in L'Isle Verte, Quebec. At least three people died in the blaze at the seniors' home. Early reports were that another 30 people were missing.
Mathieu Belanger Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 11:39 am

"Three people are dead and 30 people are unaccounted for after an overnight fire broke out at a seniors' residence in L'Isle-Verte, Quebec," the CBC reports.

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The Two-Way
5:47 am
Thu January 23, 2014

In Ukraine, Protesters Warn They'll Go 'On The Attack'

A protester walks pass burning tires in central Kiev, Ukraine, on Thursday.
Sergei Grits AP

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 6:24 pm

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has less than 24 hours to agree to hold early elections and lift anti-protest laws or the tens of thousands of demonstrators who have been in the streets of Kiev for days will go "on the attack," a leader of the opposition says.

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The Two-Way
12:37 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Warren Buffett's $1 Billion Basketball Bet Is A Very Long Shot

Warren Buffett with Harlem Globetrotter Chris "Handles" Franklin at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in May 2013.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 2:13 pm

Talk about March Madness:

Billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans have teamed up on a "Billion $ Bracket Challenge."

Basically, Quicken is offering a $1 billion grand prize — yes, that's billion, with a B — if someone correctly picks the outcome of all 63 games in the men's Division I college basketball tournament this spring.

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The Two-Way
10:49 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Think You Know Richard Sherman After His 'Rant'? Maybe Not

Richard Sherman off the football field.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:37 am

Post-game interviews of NFL players are almost always predictable and boring. They go something like this:

Reporter: "Congratulations. How did you guys turn the game around?"

Player: "One play at a time. The team stuck together. We worked hard. The good Lord was with us. The fans were great. Hi, Mom!"

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The Two-Way
7:17 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Antarctic Travelers Who Got Stuck In Ice Finally Get Home

Back home: Passengers disembark from the icebreaker Aurora Australis on Wednesday at a harbor in Hobart, Australia. The ship brought 52 scientists and adventure tourists back to Australia from Antarctica, where the ship they had been on got stuck in ice.
Rob Blakers EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 12:36 pm

The 52 scientists and paying passengers who spent more than a week aboard a ship that was trapped in ice off the coast of Antarctica over the holidays are now safely back home in Australia.

From Sydney, correspondent Stuart Cohen tells our Newscast Desk that
"three weeks after being rescued from their stranded research vessel," the members of the exhibition are in the city of Hobart.

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The Two-Way
6:37 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Almost No Poor Nations By 2035? That's What Bill Gates Says

Bill Gates at an event held by his foundation in Berlin last November.
Maurizio Gambarini EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:26 am

It is a myth that "poor countries are doomed to stay poor," and by the year 2035, "there will be almost no poor countries left in the world," Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates writes in his latest annual letter about the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conditions in the nations where the foundation works.

Gates sees a world where once-impoverished countries have already made tremendous progress and where more will follow their lead.

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The Two-Way
5:43 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Winter's Wicked Wallop In 5 Headlines

The path was snow-covered Tuesday night in Brooklyn as two people walked through a park.
Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 9:42 am

That "bombogenesis" we warned about on Tuesday (a big word for harsh winter weather) did what it was expected to do across much of the eastern U.S.

Here's how The Associated Press describes what happened:

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The Two-Way
5:05 am
Wed January 22, 2014

'Accusations And Acrimony' At Start Of Talks On Syria

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem (left) at the peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
Gary Cameron Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:24 am

Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. No Peace As Long As Assad Remains, Kerry Says:

After what appeared to be a difficult start to talks aimed at eventually ending the civil war in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the U.S. position that President Bashar Assad must give up his post.

"You can't have peace and stability, you cannot restore Syria or save Syria as long as Bashar al-Assad remains in power," Kerry said, according to NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Japanese Government Defends Dolphin Hunt As Killing Goes On

Fishermen in wetsuits trap dolphins in a cove off Taiji, western Japan, on Monday.
Adrian Mylne Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 1:09 pm

His nation's annual dolphin hunt "is a form of traditional fishing in our country," Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says in response to criticism of the practice from Caroline Kennedy, the new U.S. ambassador in Tokyo.

"We will explain Japan's position to the American side," the chief Cabinet secretary adds, according to The Associated Press.

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The Two-Way
10:18 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Sen. Vitter Will Run For Governor In Louisiana

Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Kevin Dietsch UPI /Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:25 am

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who easily won re-election in 2010 after seeing his career put in jeopardy by a prostitution scandal just three years before, confirmed Tuesday that he will run for governor in his state in 2015.

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The Two-Way
9:28 am
Tue January 21, 2014

'Gut-Wrenching' Chicago Clergy Abuse Documents Go Online

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 7:09 pm

Thousands of pages of what were once secret church documents related to the way the Archdiocese of Chicago dealt with 30 priests who it believes abused children in the '70s, '80s and '90s are now online.

They give "an unprecedented and gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests," writes the Chicago Tribune.

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The Two-Way
8:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

In 'Epic' Rematch, Djokovic Is Bounced Out In Australia

Novak Djokovic of Serbia wipes the sweat from his face during his quarterfinal loss to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne.
Aaron Favila AP

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:01 am

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia is out Down Under after losing in five sets at the Australian Open to Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka.

Tuesday night's set-by-set score in Melbourne: 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 9-7.

"Epic" seems to be the word headline writers have settled on to describe the match. Or rematch, if you prefer.

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The Two-Way
6:02 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Hunt Is On For At Least One 'Black Widow' In Sochi

Police in Sochi have distributed leaflets as they search for Ruzanna Ibragimova, an alleged "black widow" who may be intending to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics.
Natalya Vasilyeva AP

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 9:22 am

Is there already one or more "black widow" in or near Sochi, Russia, who might be determined to set off a suicide bomb at the site of next month's Winter Olympics?

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow that Russian security forces are said to be looking for "Ruzanna Ibragimova, the 22-year-old widow of an Islamist militant who was killed by security forces."

He tells our Newscast Desk that according to Russian news outlets:

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The Two-Way
5:20 am
Tue January 21, 2014

What Is This Bombogenesis And Why Is It Dumping Snow On Us?

People walk in a park along the Hudson River across from New York City as snow begins to fall in Hoboken.
Gary Hershorn Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 6:54 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: 'Bombogenesis'

Just as we're getting used to hearing about the polar vortex, there's another cool-sounding weather term being thrown around that we've had to look up:

Bombogenesis

This post by Philadelphia meteorologist John Bolaris caught our eye: "Old Man Winter to drop bombogenesis."

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The Two-Way
11:23 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Water's Back On For Just About Everyone In West Virginia

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 11:38 am

The do-not-use advisory has been lifted for nearly all water users in the nine counties of West Virginia where a chemical spill last week left about 300,000 people unable to use what was coming out of their taps.

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The Two-Way
9:29 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Calls For Limits On NSA's Collection Of Phone Data

President Obama speaks about the National Security Agency and intelligence agencies surveillance techniques during a speech Friday at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:20 pm

  • LISTEN: President Obama's national security address

(This post was most recently updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Saying that "critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives," President Obama said Friday that he wants the National Security Agency to stop holding on to massive amounts of "metadata" about the phone calls and electronic communications of millions of people around the world.

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The Two-Way
8:12 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down

Before the voter ID law was put on hold, this Penndot Drivers License Center in Butler, Pa., displayed signs promoting the requirement for voters to show an acceptable photo ID at the polls.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 3:17 pm

Ruling that "voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election" and that Pennsylvania's "Voter ID Law does not further this goal," a state judge on Friday struck down that controversial statute.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley's ruling is posted here.

The Associated Press writes that:

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The Two-Way
8:12 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Fair Or Foul? Baseball Expands Use Of Instant Replay

Upon further review ... Boston Red Sox baserunner Jonny Gomes, right, would still be safe at home during last fall's World Series.
Rhona Wise EPA/Landov

After balking for years, Major League Baseball is dramatically expanding its use of instant replay in the hope that blown calls will be corrected by umpires in a New York City studio who will be able to review them from multiple angles.

MLB.com writes that:

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The Two-Way
6:28 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Japanese Soldier Who Fought On For 29 Years After WWII Dies

Hiroo Onoda, who wouldn't surrender for nearly three decades and continued to battle with villagers in the Philippines, in March 1974 after he was convinced to give up.
Kyodo /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:14 am

Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer who for 29 years after the end of World War II continued to hide, fight and kill in the jungles of the Philippines because he did not believe the war was over, has died.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun says Onoda died Thursday in a Tokyo hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia. He was 91. The newspaper sums up the story of Onoda's post-war years this way:

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The Two-Way
6:00 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Expected To Say NSA Should Not Hold 'Metadata'

Nicolas Armer DPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:51 am

President Obama is expected to announce Friday morning that he is "ordering a transition that will significantly change the handling of what is known as the telephone 'metadata' " that the National Security Agency collects, officials are telling Reuters and NPR.

The wire service, which broke the story, writes that:

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The Two-Way
12:28 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

New Drug Combination Takes 24 Minutes To Execute Ohio Killer

Dennis McGuire was executed Thursday.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction AP

The state of Ohio on Thursday conducted its first execution since running out of the lethal injection drug pentobarbital.

Reporter Alan Johnson from The Columbus Dispatch was among those who watched as convicted killer and rapist Dennis McGuire was put to death. Here is some of Johnson's description of what happened:

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Obama's NSA Speech: Just What Eisenhower Warned About?

President Eisenhower during his farewell address to the nation on Jan. 17, 1961.
AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 12:19 pm

On Jan. 17, 1961, President Eisenhower used his farewell address to warn Americans that:

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

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The Two-Way
9:16 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Photos May Show Marines Burning Iraqis' Bodies

TMZ.com

The U.S. Marine Corps "is attempting to determine the authenticity of photos published by TMZ.com that the entertainment website says show Marines appearing to burn bodies of dead Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah in 2004," The Associated Press reports.

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The Two-Way
7:25 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Weekly Jobless Claims Hold Steady At Pre-Recession Level

The scene at a job fair in Marietta, Ga., last November.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 8:28 am

There were 326,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits filed last week, the Employment and Training Administration said Thursday.

While down only 2,000 from the previous week, claims did hold steady around the level where they were typically running before December 2007, when the economy slipped into its latest recession.

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Oscar Nominees For Best Picture Include 'Captain Phillips,' 'Gravity'

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips.
Hopper Stone, SMPSP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 9:22 am

Let the arguments begin over who and which film should have been nominated but weren't.

This year's nominees for Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were just announced and they include:

Best Picture

-- American Hustle

-- Captain Phillips

-- Dallas Buyers Club

-- Gravity

-- Her

-- Nebraska

-- Philomena

-- 12 Years a Slave

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The Two-Way
6:24 am
Thu January 16, 2014

J.C. Penney Cutting 2,000 Jobs, Closing 33 Stores

J. Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 1:12 pm

The post-holidays hard news continues for employees of some major retailers.

One week after discount retailer Loehmann's started liquidating its inventory and Macy's announced it is eliminating 2,500 jobs, there's word that J.C. Penney is cutting 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores.

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The Two-Way
5:53 am
Thu January 16, 2014

34 Officers At Nuclear Site May Have Cheated On Exams

An intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.
Airman John Parie U.S. Air Force

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 8:35 am

Already reeling from reports about alleged drug use by some officers in its nuclear missile corps and the alleged "drunken and inappropriate behavior" of that command's top general, the Air Force now has another scandal on its hands.

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The Two-Way
5:02 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Hal Faulkner, Marine Whose Last Wish Was An Honorable Discharge, Dies

Earlier this month, Hal Faulkner (left), 79, received his new papers from two Marines after having his military status changed to "honorable discharge." Faulkner died Tuesday.
Courtesy of Phil Latzman

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 8:52 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Quil Lawrence on the death of Hal Faulkner

Hal Faulkner, a gay man whose last wish came true earlier this month when his discharge from the U.S. Marines was changed from "undesirable" to "honorable," has died.

NPR's Quil Lawrence, who told Morning Edition listeners about Faulkner last week, says that the 79-year-old Faulkner died Tuesday in Florida.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

5 Years Ago Sully Landed On The Hudson And Twitter Took Off

Jan. 15, 2009: As the U.S. Airways jet they had been on sinks into the Hudson River, passengers are rowed away. This isn't the iconic (and now copyrighted) photo that helped transform Twitter. But it does give a sense of what it was like that day, 5 years ago.
Bebeto Matthews AP

This day shouldn't pass without a mention of the "miracle on the Hudson."

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