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
6:19 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Health Care Rules Relaxed Again, 'Backlash' Follows

HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 8:06 am

  • From the NPR Newscast: Julie Rovner on the latest changes to the health care program (with an introduction from Jean Cochran)

Word from the Obama administration that Americans who recently had their health insurance canceled will be allowed to buy "catastrophic policies" mostly intended for young adults has upset the insurance industry, NPR's Julie Rovner tells our Newscast desk.

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The Two-Way
5:10 am
Fri December 20, 2013

'Huge Win For Victims Of Sexual Assault' In Defense Budget

Tim Shaffer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 6:11 am

"The women of the Senate who led the fight to change how the military deals with sexual assault in its ranks are hailing passage of a comprehensive defense bill that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature," The Associated Press writes this morning.

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The Two-Way
4:33 am
Fri December 20, 2013

When Obama Takes Questions Today, What Should He Be Asked?

President Obama's most recent news conference at the White House was on Nov. 14.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 8:05 am

Update at 10:02 a.m. ET. News Conference Set For 2 P.M. ET:

The White House just announced that the president will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET.

So, we've changed our original headline from "If Obama Takes Questions ..." to "When."

Note: The president's sessions with reporters often get started a little late.

Our original post picks up the story:

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The Two-Way
11:40 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Jurors Hear Kate Middleton's Voicemails; Some From William

The Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton).
Facundo Arrizabalaga EPA/LANDOV

The hacking scandal in the U.K. has now gone really royal.

"Voicemails left for Kate Middleton by [then-boyfriend] Prince William were hacked by the News of the World, the phone-hacking trial has heard," the BBC writes. "In one message William used the pet name 'babykins.' "

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The Two-Way
10:44 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Methodist Minister Who Officiated At Gay Wedding Is Defrocked

Accompanied by his wife Brigitte, right, Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., departs Thursday after meeting with officials at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church in Norristown, Pa.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 12:02 pm

Leaders of the United Methodist Church have defrocked a Pennsylvania minister who officiated at the wedding of his son to another man, NPR's John Burnett tells our Newscast Desk.

John reports that:

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The Two-Way
9:56 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Michigan Man Will Stand Trial For Porch Shooting

Theodore Wafer, who will be tried for second-degree murder.
Paul Sancya AP

A case that put race relations in the spotlight once again — the shooting death of a 19-year-old African-American girl from Detroit on the porch of a white man's home in suburban Dearborn Heights — will be going to court.

The Detroit News writes that:

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The Two-Way
7:54 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Neighboring Crises In South Sudan, Central African Republic

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:39 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Michele Kelemen reports from the Central African Republic

There's disturbing news this morning from neighboring nations in Africa:

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The Two-Way
6:58 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Existing Home Sales Dip, But Prices Rise

A "sale pending" sign in front of a home in San Anselmo, Calif., earlier this year.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 8:33 am

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET: The day's second major economic indicator is another good news/bad news report.

The good news is that prices of existing homes continue to rise, the National Association of Realtors says.

"The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $196,300 in November, up 9.4 percent from November 2012," according to NAR.

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The Two-Way
6:28 am
Thu December 19, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' Dad Doubles Down; Palin Defends Him

Four of the stars of Duck Dynasty, from left to right: Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson (Phil's son), Si Robertson (Phil's brother) and Willie Robertson (Phil's son).
Zach Dilgard AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 2:36 pm

Saying that his mission "is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson isn't backing away from the comments he's made about gays that have led A&E to suspend him from the popular show indefinitely.

Robertson, in a statement to Fox News' FOX411, goes on to say:

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The Two-Way
4:47 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Breach At Target Stores May Affect 40 Million Card Accounts

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:04 am

Target Corp. acknowledged early Thursday that there was a massive security breach of its customers' credit and debit card accounts starting the day before Thanksgiving and extending at least to Dec. 15 — the heart of the holiday shopping season.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Ex-BP Engineer Found Guilty Of Obstructing Justice

Former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix, who has been convicted of obstructing justice.
Jonathan Bachman AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:01 am

The first of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill has been found guilty of obstructing justice because he deleted text messages from his cellphone that contained information about the worst offshore spill in the nation's history.

NPR's Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast Desk that a federal jury in New Orleans convicted 52-year-old Kurt Mix on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
9:29 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Gays In U.S. Olympic Delegation Will Send Message To Russia

Sept. 25: Police detain a gay rights activist in Moscow. The poster, adorned with Olympic rings, reads "Homophobia is the shame of Russia!"
Alexander Nemenov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:58 pm

Tennis great Billie Jean King and ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow are certainly qualified to be members of the U.S. delegation at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

One is a winner of 39 "grand slam" tennis titles and has been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. The other is a two-time Olympic medal winner with Team USA.

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The Two-Way
8:17 am
Wed December 18, 2013

'Great Train Robber' Ronnie Biggs Dies; Was Famed Fugitive

Ronnie Biggs, showing off his notoriety in 1994 while he was living in Brazil.
AFP/Getty Images

He was "a petty criminal" who joined a gang responsible for one of the 20th Century's most notable heists.

Ronnie Biggs, who went to jail for his role in the U.K.'s "great train robbery" of 1963 — but was more famous for his flamboyant life during 36 years as a fugitive following his escape from prison in 1965 — died Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
7:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Already Down 50 Percent, Will Bitcoin Bite The Dust?

How low will they go?
Jens Kalaene DPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:00 am

Talk about a fall:

"Prices of virtual currency bitcoin fell 20% Wednesday and are now down more than 50% from their record high hit two weeks ago amid worries that China is moving to block the purchase and use of the currency by its citizens," The Wall Street Journal writes.

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The Two-Way
5:47 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Student Is Charged In Harvard Bomb Scare

University police, FBI agents and Cambridge, Mass., officers all responded on Monday when Harvard received messages claiming that bombs had been planted in four buildings. None were found and a student has been charged in the hoax. he allegedly wanted to avoid taking a test.
Josh Reynolds AP

The initial suspicion of many — that Monday's bomb scare at Harvard University was the work of a student who wanted to avoid taking a test — may have been correct.

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The Two-Way
4:59 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Ga. Woman Claims 1 Of 2 Winning Mega Millions Tickets

Holding a dream: Customers lined up Tuesday at a shop in Tallapoosa, Ga., to buy Mega Millions tickets.
Erik S. Lesser EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 8:19 am

Updated 5:40 p.m. ET: Georgia Woman To Get $123 Million

A Georgia woman will split the $363 million jackpot in the Mega Millions drawing with an as yet unidentified winner in California.

Georgia lottery officials on Wednesday announced that Ira Curry of Stone Mountain, Ga., purchased one of two winning tickets in Tuesday's drawing, among the largest U.S. lottery jackpots ever.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Tue December 17, 2013

'Rapture' Prophet Harold Camping Dies

Harold Camping speaks during a taping of his show Open Forum in Oakland, Calif., on May 23, 2011.

Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 12:13 pm

Harold Camping, the radio preacher who generated headlines around the world in 2011 with his ultimately wrong predictions that the world was about to end, has died.

According to The Associated Press, Family Radio Network marketing manager Nina Romero says Camping died Sunday at his home in Alameda, Calif. He was 92.

A quick run through some of our headlines (with links) from 2011 may help refresh your memory about Camping's brush with fame:

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Costs Of Shutdown And Health Website Highlight 'Wastebook'

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., issues his Wastebook each year.
Coburn.Senate.gov

Older Two-Way readers will remember the monthly Golden Fleece Awards from former Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., who spotlighted ways the federal government was wasting money.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has picked up that mantle in recent years with his annual Wastebook.

On Tuesday, Coburn released his 2013 edition, where he points to:

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The Two-Way
8:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Many Steps, Many Countries To Get Chemicals Out Of Syria

Norwegian marines patrol the waters around the Norwegian frigate HNOMS Helge Ingstad, which was docked in Cyprus over the weekend. The frigate, and the Danish warship HDMS Esbern Snare, will escort Danish and Norwegian cargo ships transporting Syria's most dangerous chemical weapons.
Pavlos Vrionides AP
  • On 'Morning Edition': Tom Goldman explains how chemicals will be removed from Syria

With the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expected to on Tuesday unveil its final plan for how to rid Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of its chemical weapons, NPR's Tom Bowman has looked at how the deadly ingredients will be removed even as Syria's civil war continues to rage.

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The Two-Way
7:56 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Six U.S. Soldiers Reported Killed In Afghan Crash

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:11 am

The crash of a military aircraft Tuesday in Afghanistan killed six members of the International Security Assistance Force who were on board, military officials say, and NPR's Tom Bowman has been told by military sources in a position to know that all six were Americans.

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt And KISS Are In The Rock Hall

Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain in 1993. He took his own life in 1994.
Frank Micelotta Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 6:23 am

We can stop wagging our tongues about KISS not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The hall says its 2014 inductees are:

-- Cat Stevens

-- Peter Gabriel

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The Two-Way
5:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Bipartisan Budget Deal Passes Key Test In Senate

It may seem to some like a holiday miracle, but the Senate moved ahead on a bipartisan budget plan Tuesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:09 pm

Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET: Moving Ahead:

The Senate voted 67 to 33 on Tuesday to move forward on the two-year, bipartisan budget plan that restores some of the automatic spending cuts of recent years, trims spending in other areas and appears to have put on hold until 2015 the bitter battles that led to this year's partial government shutdown.

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The Two-Way
11:35 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Trains To Roll Through Devastated Quebec Town Again

Scene of the disaster: On July 6, smoke rose from the tank cars that derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec. The explosions and fires killed 47 people.
Paul Chiasson AP

For the first time since a July 6 derailment that caused massive explosions and fires that killed 47 people, freight trains are due to roll again through Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, starting on Wednesday.

According to Toronto's Globe and Mail:

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The Two-Way
9:48 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Mandela Interpreter Says He Was In Group That Killed Two Men

Thamsanqa Jantjie.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi AP

As we continue to follow the story of the apparently bogus sign language interpreter who stood beside President Obama and other world leaders at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela last week in Johannesburg, South Africa, there's word that:

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The Two-Way
8:11 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Harvard Issues 'All Clear' After Unconfirmed Reports Of Explosives

SWAT team officers on the scene Monday at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Four buildings on campus were evacuated after an unconfirmed report that explosives may have been placed inside.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:58 pm

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET. Authorities Issue 'All Clear' For All Four Campus Sites:

Harvard's Emergency website issued has cleared the university's Science Center, the last of four sites that were searched for possible explosives.

After nearly 6 hours of searching by bomb squads and other experts, authorities at Harvard University on Monday had issued "all clear" notices for the four buildings apparently cited in "unconfirmed reports" about explosives on campus.

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The Two-Way
7:01 am
Mon December 16, 2013

'Billy Jack' Creator Tom Laughlin Dies

"Billy Jack" — actor Tom Laughlin, who died last week.
TC Laughlin Public Relations

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:54 am

  • A bit of 'One Tin Soldier'

Tom Laughlin, who invented and played the movie character "Billy Jack" — a half-white, half Native American Vietnam veteran who used martial arts skills to battle racists — died last week.

Late Sunday, The Associated Press reported that Laughlin's daughter said "he died Thursday at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Laughlin was 82 and Teresa Laughlin, who acted in the Billy Jack movies, said the cause of death was complications from pneumonia."

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The Two-Way
4:59 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Joan Fontaine, 'Coolly Beautiful' Oscar Winner, Dies

Actress Joan Fontaine in 1944.
Dan Grossi AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:50 am

She was a "patrician blond ... who rose to stardom as a haunted second wife" in Hitchcock's Rebecca and "the coolly beautiful 1940s actress who won an Academy Award for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion."

Joan Fontaine died Sunday at the age of 96.

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The Two-Way
11:32 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Steubenville Officials Plead Not Guilty In Rape Case

Four adults, including the city's schools superintendent, pleaded not guilty on Friday to several charges stemming from the aftermath of the notorious rape 2012 rape of a teenage girl by high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio.

Steubenville's WTOV-TV reports that:

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The Two-Way
8:39 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Report: Mandela Interpreter Was Once Charged With Murder

Thamsanqa Jantjie, whose appearance at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela angered many in South Africa's deaf community and has led to an apology from the government. His sign language interpretation was just meaningless gestures, say those who understand that language.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:16 am

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. Previously Charged With Murder?

"The South African government said Friday it is aware of reports that the bogus sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial once faced a murder charge, and said he is being investigated," The Associated Press reports from Johannesburg.

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The Two-Way
7:22 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Was North Korea's No. 2 Killed For Not Clapping Hard Enough?

Jang Song Thaek, who was North Korea's second-most powerful official, was put to death this week.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 12:36 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Frank Langfitt talks about a high-profile execution in North Korea

As outsiders try to figure out why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle executed this week, they're focusing on a couple things. According to NPR's Frank Langfitt:

-- There seems have been "a lot of genuine personal dislike" between Kim and Jang Song Thaek, the uncle and until this week North Korea's second most powerful man.

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