Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott joined NPR News in the spring of 2009 to launch a new blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Frank James.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and where it engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Memmott came to NPR from USA Today, where for over 20 years he worked as a reporter and editor on subjects ranging from politics and, foreign affairs to economics and the media.

In recent years he helped launch and then led three different news blogs at USATODAY.com, including the website's 2008 presidential campaign blog, On Politics.

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7:55am

Fri February 3, 2012
The Two-Way

Freddie Mac's Regulator 'Completely Puzzled' By Allegations Of Conflict

Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco during testimony before Congress in December.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
  • Steve Inskeep speaks with Edward DeMarco

Saying he is "completely puzzled by the notion that there was something immoral that went on here," the man at the top of the agency that regulates Freddie Mac has explained why he believes the taxpayer-owned mortgage company did nothing wrong when one of its arms, as NPR and ProPublica have reported, "placed multibillion-dollar bets against American homeowners being able to refinance to cheaper mortgages."

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7:15am

Fri February 3, 2012
The Two-Way

Iran Defiant Amid Talk Of Israeli Attack On Its Nuclear Sites

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2009.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

"We have our own threats to impose at the right time" and "I have no fear of saying that we will back and help any nation or group that wants to confront and fight against the Zionist regime (Israel)," Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today after reports surfaced that Israel could soon mount air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

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9:15am

Thu February 2, 2012

8:45am

Thu February 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Fell By 12,000 Last Week

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 last week, to 367,000 from 379,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

The agency also said that "the 4-week moving average was 375,750, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 377,750."

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8:20am

Thu February 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Easily Clears Key Hurdle In Washington State

Sen. Ed Murray, D,, left, and his partner Michael Shiosaka wave at spectators in the upper gallery after the Washington state Senate voted for a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage.
Elaine Thompson AP

"In the end, it wasn't even close," The Seattle Times writes this morning.

By a 28-21 vote early Wednesday evening, the Washington State Senate approved a bill legalizing gay marriage in the state.

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7:50am

Thu February 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Anger, Blame And Protests In Egypt After Deadly Soccer Riot

Fans rushed on to the field Wednesday after the soccer match in Port Said, Egypt.
AFP/Getty Images

The tragic riot following a soccer game Wednesday in Port Said, Egypt, which left more than 70 people dead and at least 1,000 wounded, "highlights the problems with security in this country," NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson said earlier today in a conversation with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

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7:10am

Thu February 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Punxsutawney Phil Sees Six More Weeks Of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil and his buddies earlier today.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Breaking "news" at 7:27 a.m. ET: Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter. He saw "many shadows."

Our original post:

It's that time again.

Time for Americans to pause and watch as a Pennsylvania groundhog supposedly tells us whether we will or won't have six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil is due to emerge from his "burrow" at 7:20 a.m ET.

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7:00am

Thu February 2, 2012
The Two-Way

Ferry Sinks Off Papua New Guinea: 200+ Rescued, But 100+ Missing

Originally published on Thu February 2, 2012 7:17 am

Two life rafts from the MV Rabaul Queen, seen from a helicopter, float in the open waters off Papua New Guinea's east coast, earlier today (Feb. 2, 2012).
AP

"Rescuers have plucked 238 survivors from waters off Papua New Guinea after a ferry carrying up to 350 people sank," officials tell The Australian. The newspaper adds that officials say it's too early to declare whether the vessel was overloaded and what caused the disaster.

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5:30pm

Wed February 1, 2012
The Two-Way

Status Updated: Facebook Files Papers For IPO

Let the clever social media-related headlines and ledes begin:

"Facebook made a much-anticipated status update Wednesday: The Internet social network is going public eight years after its computer-hacking CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the service at Harvard University." (The Associated Press)

The wire service adds that:

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4:20pm

Wed February 1, 2012
The Two-Way

Panetta Sees End Of U.S. 'Combat Role' In Afghanistan Next Year

The U.S. and NATO are aiming to end their combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters today as he flew to Brussels for NATO meetings.

According to The Washington Post, "Panetta's remarks were the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular U.S. and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year."

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3:05pm

Wed February 1, 2012
The Two-Way

American Airlines Plans To Cut 12,000 To 14,000 Jobs

American Airlines jets at Los Angeles International Airport.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

After it filed for bankruptcy protection last November, you knew something like this was probably coming from American Airlines:

The company said today it is looking to cut 12,000 to 14,000 jobs — as much as 16 percent of its current 88,000-strong workforce.

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6:00pm

Mon January 30, 2012
The Two-Way

?yllaeR 'Alyssa Talks Backwards' lariV seoG

Originally published on Mon January 30, 2012 6:18 pm

Alyssa the backwards talker.
YouTube

"Talent, odd it is," Yoda might say.

In one of those quirks we've come to like about the Web, a video called "Alyssa talking backwards. Poteau Oklahoma" that was posted last July is just now beginning to get some viral-style attention. She seems to be quite good at quickly saying — backwards — any word she's given.

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4:55pm

Mon January 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Japanese Auto Parts Companies To Pay $548M In Fines For Price-Fixing

Originally published on Mon January 30, 2012 5:21 pm

One of the biggest antitrust investigations in the nation's history has led to fines of $470 million against one Japanese auto parts manufacturer and $78 million against another, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.

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2:35pm

Mon January 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Republicans, Democrats Aren't That Far Apart, Study Says

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, listening last week as President Obama (a Democrat) gave his State of the Union address.
Saul Loeb/pool Getty Images

If creatures from another planet are listening in on what our politicians and pundits have to say, they might think Democrats and Republicans are about as far apart politically as possible.

But there's new research that supports what many people already suspect: Most "real" Republicans and Democrats (that is, average Americans who have busy lives and aren't running for office or talking on TV), aren't that different when it comes to politics.

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1:25pm

Mon January 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Secretary Clinton Heading To U.N. For Session Condemning Syrian Regime

Originally published on Mon January 30, 2012 2:56 pm

As reports come in about an escalation in fighting around Damascus and the deploying of army troops in the city's suburbs, the State Department just announced that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will go to the United Nations on Tuesday to join other nations in condemning the Assad regime's use of violence.

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5:30pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

'Welcome Home Heroes' Parade For Iraq Vets Set For Saturday In St. Louis

Veterans of the war in Iraq will be honored Saturday morning in St. Louis in what organizers say is the first major welcome home parade in the nation.

Local KSDK-TV reports that "75 floats, two marching bands and the Budweiser Clydesdales" will be involved.

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4:30pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

Multiple Views Add Perspective To Colten Moore's Extreme Crash At X Games

Colten Moore lost his hold on his snowmobile in mid-air.
X Games

The cable news networks have been replaying a pretty spectacular crash from Thursday's snowmobile freestyle event at the X Games in Aspen, Colo.

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3:45pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

In Egypt: Charges, Trial Could Be Next, Says Sam LaHood

While he says it is "patently false" for anyone to say that the International Republican Institute offices he directs are in any way behind the anti-government protests in Egypt, American Sam LaHood told All Things Considered host Melissa Block this afternoon that he's been warned by the organization's attorney that he and others may soon be charged and brought to trial by authorities there.

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3:15pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

Facebook's IPO Filing Could Come Next Week, 'Wall Street Journal' Says

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 3:17 pm

We've been hearing it would happen for quite a while, so keep that in mind when you read this scoop. The Wall Street Journal says:

"Facebook Inc. could file papers for an initial public offering as early as next week and is currently looking at a deal that would value the social network between $75 billion to $100 billion, said people familiar with the matter."

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2:50pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

'Barefoot Bandit' Gets 6 1/2 Years On Federal Charges

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 2:55 pm

Colton Harris-Moore, the "Barefoot Bandit."
Ted S. Warren AP

Colton Harris-Moore, who gained international fame for being the so-called Barefoot Bandit, was just sentenced by a federal judge to 6 1/2 years in prison.

But since the time is to be served while he finishes out the 7 years in prison that he was sentenced to by a state court last December, it looks like Harris-Moore won't actually be spending any additional time behind bars.

The Associated Press reminds us that in 2010:

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1:55pm

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

Why Could Romney's Father Run For President If He Was Born In Mexico?

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 2:29 pm

George Romney, center, with his wife, Lenore, and teenage son Mitt, in 1962.
AP

One of the more dramatic moments in Thursday night's Republican presidential debate was when Mitt Romney said it was "repulsive" of Newt Gingrich to suggest that Romney was the most "anti-immigrant" candidate among the GOP contenders.

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11:25am

Fri January 27, 2012
The Two-Way

Spokesman Rejects Report That Ron Paul 'Signed Off' On Racist Newsletters

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 1:11 pm

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, during Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in Jacksonville, Fla.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

For more than a decade, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has had to deal with questions about why a newsletter he published in the 1980s and '90s included some racist writings. He's said more than once that, while he takes responsibility for what was in the newsletters, he didn't pay enough attention to what was printed, wasn't aware of the racist messages at the time and rejects them.

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6:50pm

Thu January 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Later Tonight: Live Blogging The Latest GOP Debate

With just four full days to go before Tuesday's crucial Florida primary, the four remaining major Republican presidential candidates gather tonight for another debate.

This time the setting is the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The host network is CNN. The network's Wolf Blitzer will moderate. The other sponsors are the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network, a center-right advocacy group.

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5:10pm

Thu January 26, 2012
The Two-Way

McCain Says History Will Judge Obama Harshly On Policy Toward Iran

Sen. John McCain, right, as he endorsed Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency earlier this month.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

President Obama has made the case that his administration spoke out forcefully when Iran's government used deadly force to suppress protests in the spring of 2009.

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3:45pm

Thu January 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Americans Barred From Leaving Egypt Include Secretary LaHood's Son

Egyptian authorities' efforts to prevent organizations that promote democracy from freely working inside their country have now ensnared the son of a U.S. cabinet secretary.

Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and at least five other Americans have been barred from leaving Egypt.

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2:05pm

Thu January 26, 2012
The Two-Way

At Penn State: Memorial Service Under Way For Joe Paterno

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 7:32 pm

Sue Paterno, widow of Joe Paterno, consoles one of her grandsons following the memorial service.
Patrick Smith Getty Images

An estimated 10,000 people are a memorial service for former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, on the school's campus in the Bryce Jordan Center this afternoon.

The Big Ten Digital Network is among several outlets that will be webcasting the service.

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4:55pm

Wed January 25, 2012
The Two-Way

Treasury Secretary Geithner Doesn't Expect To Be Part Of A Second Term

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 5:26 pm

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Bloomberg Television today that he's "pretty confident" he won't be asked to stay in his job if President Obama is re-elected for a second term.

"He's not going to ask me to stay on, I'm pretty confident," Geithner said. "I'm confident he'll be president. But I'm also confident he's going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the treasury."

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4:05pm

Wed January 25, 2012
The Two-Way

Alaska Airlines To Stop Handing Out Prayer Cards

An Alaska Airlines jet. On that airline, prayer cards are no longer going to be part of the flying experience.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

"After more than 30 years of handing prayer cards to customers aboard its planes, Alaska Airlines has decided the practice is outdated and will stop doing it on Feb. 1," The Seattle Times reports.

A few things struck us about this news.

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1:20pm

Wed January 25, 2012
The Two-Way

'Blue Marble 2012': NASA's 'Most Amazing' High Def Image Of Earth So Far

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 5:41 pm

"Blue Marble 2012." Want to see a really big version of this photo? Click here.
NASA

The "Blue Marble" image of Earth snapped by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 is one of the most famous photos ever taken. When it appeared, we all suddenly saw the world in a much different way.

In the years since, NASA has added other "Blue Marble" photos to its collection, and has used technology to enhance and sharpen the images.

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12:45pm

Wed January 25, 2012
The Two-Way

Fed: Economy Is 'Expanding Moderately,' But No Change In Rates

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 3:24 pm

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during his news conference this afternoon.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The economy "has been expanding moderately, notwithstanding some slowing in global growth" in recent weeks, the Federal Reserve just reported.

In a statement timed for release at the end of their most recent meetings, Fed policymakers also said they expect economic growth in coming quarters "to be modest," that the jobless rate will "decline only gradually" and that inflation will run "at ... or below" levels the central bank wants to see.

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