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
6:30 am
Thu February 27, 2014

California Rejoices In Rain, But Prepares For Mudslides

Raindrops on a windshield blurred the view of a woman Wednesday in San Francisco. California, which is suffering through a drought, is getting some much-needed precipitation this week.
Ben Margot AP

"Rain Visits Bay Area, Snow Falls in Sierra — and We Quietly Rejoice."

That headline by our friends at KQED nicely sums up the mood in Northern California as much-needed precipitation descends.

But from another far-too-dry part of the drought-stricken state, Southern California Public Radio reports that:

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The Two-Way
5:43 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Once Again, North Korea Fires Missiles To Send Message

In Pyongyang, North Korea, last July, this short-range missile was among the military hardware on parade.
Kyodo/Landov

"North Korea fired four projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles off its southeast coast Thursday," South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports, citing a "South Korean defense ministry official" as its source.

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The Two-Way
5:10 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: New Government Takes Shape As Crimea Simmers

Flags fly outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol on Thursday during a rally by pro-Russian protesters. Gunmen seized government buildings in the city.
David Mdzinarishvili Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:58 am

  • On the NPR Newscast: Peter Kenyon reports from Kiev
We're adding updates throughout this post as the day continues.

Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine, where months of public protests led last week to the downfall of President Viktor Yanukovych's government. His opponents are now installing pro-Western ministers to replace the pro-Russian leaders who worked for Yanukovych. The interim government is expected to be in charge at least until new elections can be held, perhaps in late May.

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Killers Sentenced In Hacking Death Of British Soldier

The victim: Fusilier Lee Rigby.
U.K. Ministry of Defense

One of the two men who hacked to death a British soldier on a London street in May 2013 was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison. The other was given a minimum term of 45 years.

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The Two-Way
10:16 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Killers Were Tiny, Victims Were Huge At Chile's Whale Graveyard

The fossilized remains of a whale that washed up on a shore in what's now Chile more than 5 million years ago.
Vince Rossi Smithsonian Institution

Since construction workers discovered dozens of fossils along a highway in Chile in 2011, one question has preoccupied researchers:

What killed the whales, seals and other creatures that ended up there more than 5 million years ago?

Writing in Proceedings of The Royal Society B, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and universities in the U.S. and Chile say the culprits were among the smallest possible killers: "Algal toxins."

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The Two-Way
7:54 am
Wed February 26, 2014

North Korea's Still In The Dark, As Photos From Space Show

This image was taken Jan. 30 by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. North Korea is the large dark patch in the middle. The only significant light is from its capital, Pyongyang. The next photo adds reference points.
NASA.gov

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:55 am

Pictures really do tell the story about how far behind economically North Korea is compared with its neighbors.

In 2002, as Eyder has said, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used a satellite photo to illustrate how in-the-dark the communist nation was.

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The Two-Way
7:02 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Benedict Dismisses Renewed Rumors About Why He Left The Papacy

Pope Francis, left, and former Pope Benedict XVI at a Vatican ceremony on Saturday. It was their first public appearance together in the year since Benedict resigned.
L'Osservatore Romano AP

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 8:40 am

Almost one year to the day since Benedict XVI stepped down as spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the former pope has issued his first public comment on recurring rumors in the Italian media that he didn't resign of his own will.

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The Two-Way
5:58 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Putin Flexes Moscow's Muscles; Kerry Says This Isn't 'Rocky IV'

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ria Novosti Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:25 am

We retopped this post at 12:25 p.m. ET.

Responding to the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his army on alert in what seems to be a bid to influence events in Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. is "not looking for [a] confrontation" with Moscow.

And, in a reference to the Cold War days of the past when the rivalry between two superpowers would find its way into popular culture, Kerry tried to cool things down.

"This is not Rocky IV," he said, during an MSNBC interview.

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The Two-Way
5:07 am
Wed February 26, 2014

What A Rush! California Couple Finds Gold Coins Worth $10M

Thar's gold in them thar cans: One of the eight cans discovered by a California couple. They were stuffed with gold coins minted in the 1800s. The cache's estimated value: $10 million.
Kagin's Inc. AP

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:53 am

If you've ever dreamed about finding buried treasure, this story's for you:

A California couple who say they had walked by the same spot on their Sierra Nevada property many times over many years are an estimated $10 million or so richer after digging up eight rusty old cans containing 1,427 very valuable gold coins. It's thought to be the most valuable discovery of such coins in U.S. history.

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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Obama: U.S. May Leave Afghanistan, But Door's Open To Staying

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 12:16 pm

President Obama told Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday that he has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans to have all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.

But at the same time, Obama opened the door to the U.S. staying in the Central Asian nation even if Karzai hasn't signed a newly negotiated "Bilateral Security Agreement" before the end of April — the month of scheduled presidential elections in Afghanistan and what had been something of a deadline set by U.S. officials.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Brit Released From Guantanamo In '05 Is Arrested In U.K.

Moazzam Begg in front of the U.S. Embassy in London in 2006.
Alastair Grant AP
  • On 'Morning Edition' in 2006: Part I of an interview with Moazzam Begg
  • On 'Morning Edition' in 2006: Part II of an interview with Moazzam Begg

Nine years after his release from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a British-born man named Moazzam Begg is once again in custody and being questioned about alleged ties to terrorists.

Begg was one of four people arrested Tuesday in Birmingham, England, British authorities tell Reuters and other news outlets.

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The Two-Way
7:59 am
Tue February 25, 2014

After 'Best Year Since 2005,' Housing Sector Likely To Slow

A home for sale earlier this month in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 8:07 am

Home prices across 20 of the nation's major metropolitan areas rose 13.4 percent in 2013 from the year before, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index report.

Overall, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices economist David Blitzer, the index "ended its best year since 2005" — well before the burst of the housing bubble in 2007-08.

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The Two-Way
7:41 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Crisis In Ukraine: Formation Of New Government Is Delayed

Praying For Those Who Died: Mourners were in Kiev's Independence Square again on Tuesday. It was the site of protests in recent months, and was where more than 80 people died last week in violence blamed on security forces.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 11:51 am

The search for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych continues in Ukraine, where months of protests over his turn toward Russia and away from the European Union, along with public anger over corruption, led to his removal from office on Saturday.

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The Two-Way
6:28 am
Tue February 25, 2014

More Than Two Dozen Boys Killed In Attack On Nigerian School

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 6:47 am

Suspicion is immediately focusing on the Islamist group Boko Haram as word emerges about another horrific attack on school children in Nigeria.

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The Two-Way
5:44 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Missing Mango Mystery Solved, Here Are The Juicy Details

The Big Mango in Bowen, Australia, seen here in 2011.
Jack Zalium/NPR

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 7:25 am

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The Two-Way
5:06 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Goes Dark After Theft Report

Kolin Burges, a self-styled cryptocurrency trader and former software engineer, was among a small number of protesters outside the Tokyo offices of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox on Tuesday.
Toru Hanai Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 2:10 pm

"The website of major bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was offline Tuesday amid reports it suffered a debilitating theft, a new setback for efforts to gain legitimacy for the virtual currency," The Associated Press reports.

Also Tuesday, all the posts had been erased from the Mt. Gox Twitter account.

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis, 'Ghostbuster' Actor And 'Groundhog Day' Director, Dies

Harold Ramis in 2009. He died Monday.
Jim Prisching AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 3:10 pm

Harold Ramis, who was in the director's chair for the comedies Groundhog Day and Caddyshack and was one of the stars of the Ghostbuster movies, has died. He was 69.

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The Two-Way
9:59 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Oldest-Known Holocaust Survivor Dies; Pianist Was 110

Alice Herz-Sommer in July 2010.
'The Lady in Number 6' AP

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 9:46 am

  • From the documentary 'The Lady in Number 6': Alice Herz-Sommer says whether life is good or not 'depends on me.'

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The Two-Way
8:21 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Rep. John Dingell, Who Has Served A Record 58 Years, Is Retiring

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 11:23 am

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who was first elected to Congress in 1955 to fill a seat his father had held, says he will not seek re-election later this year.

He'll leave office having served in Congress longer than anyone else in history. Last June, Dingell passed the previous record holder, the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

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The Two-Way
8:04 am
Mon February 24, 2014

VIDEO: Warm Reception As NBA's Jason Collins Makes History

Jason Collins of the Brooklyn Nets during Sunday's game against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Jeff Gross Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 10:01 am

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The Two-Way
6:30 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Pentagon Budget-Cutting Plans Sure To Draw Flak

Mark Wilson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 3:37 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Bowman talks with host David Greene about the Pentagon's budget problems

Click here to jump to Monday afternoon's highlights of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement. We've rewritten the top of this post since Hagel announced his budget plan.

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The Two-Way
5:29 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Resignations In Egypt May Be Prelude To General's Presidential Run

Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in April 2013.
Jim Watson AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 8:42 am

In something of a surprise, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced Monday that his entire Cabinet is stepping down.

From Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel says the prime minister gave no reason for the mass resignation.

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The Two-Way
4:56 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Ukraine's Yanukovych On Run From Mass Murder Charge

In Kiev's Independence Square, flowers have been left in memory of protesters killed there in recent days.
Jeff J Mitchell Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 6:10 am

Viktor Yanukovych, ousted Saturday from his post as president of Ukraine, is now wanted by authorities in his country on charges of mass murder, the acting interior minister says.

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The Two-Way
11:47 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Tymoshenko May Soon Be Free

In Kiev last month, this anti-government protester in protective gear stood in front of a poster featuring an image of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Her jailing on what supporters believe were bogus charges was among the complaints protesters raised.
Darko Bandic AP

There's another big breaking story from Ukraine, where earlier today an agreement was reached to hopefully end what in recent days had been a deadly series of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces:

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been in jail since 2011 on what her supporters say were trumped-up charges aimed at silencing one of President Viktor Yanukovych critics, may soon be free again.

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The Edge
10:40 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Skiing Gold

She's a winner: Team USA's Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after taking gold in the women's slalom at the Sochi Games.
Olivier Morin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 4:06 am

Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin has lived up to her reputation as the pre-race favorite by winning the gold medal in women's slalom at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

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The Two-Way
10:18 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Garrick Utley, 'Quintessential Foreign Correspondent,' Dies

Garrick Utley in 2012.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 10:14 am

If reporting from foreign lands is important to you, then Garrick Utley is someone you most likely admired over the past four or five decades.

So it's with some sadness that we pass along word that the veteran newsman, who in the mid-'60s was NBC News' first bureau chief in Saigon and later went on to a career that took him around the world and to the moderator's chair on Meet the Press, has died.

He was 74.

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The Two-Way
9:01 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Photos: Kiev's Independence Square Before And After

Kiev's Independence Square on Thursday (Feb. 20, 2014).
Vasily Fedosenko Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 9:04 am

Hopes are high that the worst is over in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where dozens of people died this week as security forces responded to anti-government protests. As we reported earlier, President Viktor Yanukovych and key opposition leaders have signed an agreement about forming a unity government, holding new elections and restoring the nation's 2004 constitution.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Good Work On Those 'Feeli The Finnish Reindeer' Lyrics

His antlers are so bright.
Reindeer Herders' Association (of Finland)

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:45 am

We asked and Two-Way readers came through.

The challenge:

Set the story of "Feeli the Finnish Reindeer" and his shiny antlers to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

The responses in our comments thread:

Feeli the Finnish reindeer
Had antlers that didn't glow.
And drivers didn't see them
As right over them they'd mow.

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The Two-Way
5:02 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Breakthrough? Ukrainian President, Opposition Leaders Reach Deal

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (right) and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko shake hands Friday after signing an agreement that diplomats hope will end the bloodshed in Kiev.
Tim Brakemeier EPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 4:52 pm

We're updating this post as the day continues.

In what could be a major move toward ending the violence in the streets of his capital, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the anti-government opposition reached agreement Friday on a deal to hold new elections, form a unity government and restore a constitution drafted in 2004.

Some details have yet to be spelled out. But the BBC sums up the news this way:

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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Thu February 20, 2014

These Reindeer Really Do Shine, And It's For Their Own Good

His antlers are so bright.
Reindeer Herders' Association (of Finland)

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 8:23 am

Feeli the Finnish reindeer,

Had some very shiny horns ...

OK, we'll stop there.

Here's the news:

"Herders in Lapland are spraying their reindeer with reflective paint to help drivers see them in the dark," the BBC writes.

Read more

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