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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7:30am

Wed September 7, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Obama To Propose $300 Billion Package Aimed At Boosting Jobs

President Obama on Labor Day in Detroit.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

President Obama will propose "$300 billion in federal spending and tax cuts" when he addresses the nation Thursday night during a joint session of Congress, The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting.

The AP says that:

"According to people familiar with the White House deliberations, two of the biggest measures in the president's proposals for 2012 are expected to be a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and an extension of expiring jobless benefits. Together those two would total about $170 billion. ...

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3:45pm

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Newly Revealed Video Shows Smoke Rising From Flight 93

When passengers aboard United Flight 93 fought back on Sept. 11, 2001, they prevented what could have been a devastating strike on Washington by the four terrorists who had hijacked the jet.

Now, a newly released video shows — from a distance — the smoke rising above the hills of Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 came down. Thirty three passengers, five flight attendants and two pilots died.

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3:00pm

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Shootings Leave Several Dead In West Virginia And Nevada

As details come in about a shooting this morning in Carson City, Nev., that authorities are now saying left at least three people dead and at least six others wounded, there's word from West Virginia that as many as five people were shot and killed in Morgantown on Monday.

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12:35pm

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Tracks, Equipment Left By Apollo Missions Visible In New Moon Photos

The Apollo 17 landing site: To the far right, the Lunar Roving Vehicle; Toward the center, the descent stage of the Challenger lunar module. The lines are tracks and cables.
NASA

Tracks and equipment left on the moon by astronauts from three of the Apollo missions can be seen in new photos just released by NASA.

Though not close-ups by any stretch of the imagination, the images do offer more detail than other photos taken two years ago by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is now circling the moon.

As it flew over landing sites of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 missions, the orbiter snapped pictures that show, among other things:

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10:45am

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Service Sector Still Growing, Though Slowly, Survey Shows

The service sector of the economy, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the jobs on private payrolls, "grew in August for the 21st consecutive month," according to data collected by the private Institute for Supply Management.

The institute's "non-manufacturing" index expanded by 0.6 percentage points, to 53.3. A reading above 50 signals that the service sector is expanding.

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10:10am

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

We Can All Track 'Happy Feet' On His Swim Home

The pause before the plunge: Happy Feet hesitated, and needed a little nudge from a handler, before sliding down into the sea on Sunday.
New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Getty Images

It took a little nudge, but Happy Feet the wayward penguin was indeed sent on his way home (hopefully) over the weekend.

The Associated Press has video of the moment when the little guy who ended up on a beach in New Zealand — thousands of miles from his home in Antarctica — slid into the Pacific Ocean.

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9:35am

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Remembering Sept. 11: 'We Didn't Want The Bad Guys To Win'

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks draws closer, we're pointing to some of the stories being told about that day and the days since.

This morning, The Wall Street Journal offers "A Battered Firm's Long Road Back." It's a look at the investment-banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which lost more than a third of its 171 New York employees when the south tower of the World Trade Center fell.

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7:45am

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Top Stories: Wildfires; Obama's Ratings; Postal Service's Losses

Good morning.

Wildfires continue to blaze in parts of central and northeast Texas, as we reported earlier. There are so many and they're moving so fast, in fact, that NPR's Wade Goodwyn says there just aren't enough firefighters and aircraft to battle them all effectively.

We'll keep an eye on developments there this week.

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7:30am

Tue September 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Texas Wildfires: 'Move So Fast, They Kill'

Raging wildfires continue to burn across central Texas and so far have destroyed about 500 homes, Austin's American-Statesman writes this morning.

The newspaper adds that "the scope of the disaster — perhaps the worst of its kind in the region's history — was not fully known by late Monday as officials struggled to provide a complete count of the number of lost structures."

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2:25pm

Fri September 2, 2011
It's All Politics

Cheney: I'd Still Like To Know Why Palin Quit As Governor

Sarah Palin in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009, the day she delivered her farewell speech as Alaska governor.
Eric Engman Getty Images

"I've never gotten around the question of her having left the governorship of Alaska in mid-term," former Vice President Dick Cheney said today when asked about fellow Republican Sarah Palin and her suitability for national office.

"I've never heard that adequately explained. ... I'd like to know more about that," Cheney added.

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1:05pm

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Gulf Coast Soaking Starts, Other States Still Recovering From Irene

A tropical storm that's expected to drench parts of Louisiana with as much as 20 inches of rain this weekend and could cause flooding along the Gulf coast has begun to soak southern Louisiana. Local authorities are beginning to declare states of emergency, as The Times-Picayune reports.

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11:15am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama Withdraws Proposed Regulation On Smog

Saying that "reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover" prompted his administration to rethink, President Obama just announced that he's withdrawing proposed regulations that would have tightened government smog standards in a bid to protect the ozone.

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10:50am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Shark Or Surfer? Photo Taken Near San Diego Gets Attention

KFMB-TV

Along the Pacific coast near San Diego in recent days, lots of nature lovers have been gathering to watch for sharks — including great whites. Several sightings have experts saying that great white population in the waters off southern California may be on the rise, the Los Angeles Times says.

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10:05am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

GOP's Gun Raffle In Giffords' District Sparks Hot Debate

A Glock .40-caliber handgun.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

The Pima County (Arizona) Republican Party's decision to raffle off a Glock 23 .40-caliber handgun has generated some sharp criticism because not only is Pima County part of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' district, but also because the gun used in January to kill six people and wound 13 others, including Giffords, was a Glock.

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8:32am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Job Growth Halts; Unemployment Rate Stays At 9.1 Percent

Originally published on Fri September 2, 2011 10:18 am

The economy officially slipped into recession in December 2007 and officially came out in mid-2009. Here's a look at the number of jobs from January 2007 through August of this year.
Bureau of Labor Statistics

There was no net growth in jobs in August and the nation's unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

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8:00am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Top Stories: Feds To Sue Banks; Gulf Coast To Get Drenched

In Graford, Texas, on Thursday: Longhorn cattle stood by as a wildfire burned in the distance.
Tom Pennington Getty Images

Good morning.

The most anticipated story of the day, which we reported about earlier, is the 8:30 a.m. ET release of the August employment report.

We've also already posted about a strong earthquake that was detected in the last hour off the Aleutian Islands.

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7:20am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Felt Off Alaska; Local Tsunami Warning Issued

Where the quake occurred.
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

This just happened:

A strong earthquake (preliminary magnitude of 7.1 later revised to 6.8) has been detected in a remote area of the Aleutian Islands off Alaska, about 1,000 miles west southwest of Anchorage, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

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7:00am

Fri September 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Stocks Down In Anticipation Of Weak Jobs News

Originally published on Fri September 2, 2011 7:05 am

The August employment report, due for release at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show that the jobless rate stayed at 9.1 percent, or ticked higher, and that fewer jobs were added to payrolls than in July, both Reuters and Bloomberg News are reporting.

Each news service is basing their forecasts on surveys of economist.

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3:30pm

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Powell: 10 Years Later, Americans Must Still Guard Against Fear

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, during an address in Washington, D.C., on March 1, 2010.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

"Terrorists can't change who we are," former Secretary of State Colin Powell told NPR's Steve Inskeep earlier today.

Americans, he said, will only lose touch with the freedom-loving, open society we enjoy if we "take such counsel of our fears that we change who we are."

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3:30pm

Thu September 1, 2011
It's All Politics

Don't Read Too Much Into His Comment About 2012 Race, Powell Says

President Obama and former Secretary of State Colin Powell at the White House on Dec. 1, 2010.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Though he said this week that he hasn't decided who he'll vote for in the 2012 presidential race, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said today that shouldn't be seen as some sort of message about his opinion of President Obama — the Democrat who Republican Powell famously endorsed in 2008.

"I'm always undecided in every election" until he knows who the candidates are, Powell told NPR's Steve Inskeep.

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1:15pm

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Ron Paul's Wrong About FEMA, Vermont Governor Says

"I would urge Ron Paul and any critics of FEMA to come to Vermont," the state's governor said earlier today on The Takeaway.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), has "an A-team" on the ground in his state, which was crushed by Hurricane Irene-related flooding this week.

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12:25pm

Thu September 1, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama's Speech Will Need To Be Early (Or Short?) To Avoid NFL

If the president's speaking between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET, he'll still be up against Kid Rock and the other performers on the NFL's big pregame show.
Scott Legato Getty Images

"Football fans take comfort," CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller says on his Twitter page. "WH official says Pres Obama's speech next Thursday won't conflict with NFL opening game."

We've looked at the schedule.

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11:05am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

No Cash For Kid Who Made $50,000 Hockey Shot

A quick follow-up to the story of the Minnesota family that looked like it had won $50,000 — until dad came forward to say that the boy who had made a lucky hockey shot wasn't the son who was supposed to have taken it:

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10:40am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Gadhafi Asks Followers To Fight On

As word comes that leaders of the opposition that has taken control of much of Libya have extended the deadline by which they want fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to surrender, the ousted leader has been heard urging his supporters to fight on, Al-Arabiya and other news outlets are reporting.

Gadhafi's whereabouts aren't known. Nor is just when the recorded message was recorded.

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10:00am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Solar Company's Shutdown Becomes Political Issue

May 26, 2010: President Obama tours the Solyndra solar panel company with Executive VP of Engineering Ben Bierman.
Pool Getty Images

Just a little more than a year ago, President Obama was in Fremont, Calif., to tout the jobs created by a solar cell manufacturing company called Solyndra.

As NPR's Scott Horsley reported:

"The federal government guaranteed a $500 million loan for the company that, White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said, is allowing Solyndra to build a new solar cell factory employing 3,000 construction workers and creating 1,000 permanent jobs."

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9:25am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Soda Or Pop? Which Do You Drink?

Blue is for "pop." Red is for "coke." Other colors show where "soda" is supposedly preferred.
popvssoda.com

Having grown up in "pop" country, gone to college in a "soda" city and lived for nearly 30 years in a place where the two cultures mix, this blogger is well aware that folks can get excited when they start debating about what to call carbonated beverages.

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9:00am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Condoleezza Rice Resents Cheney's 'Attack On My Integrity'

When they were on the same team: Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Top officials from President George W. Bush's administration continue to fire back at former Vice President Dick Cheney for things he says in his new memoir.

First it was former Secretary of State Colin Powell who accused Cheney of taking "cheap shots" with some of his criticisms of former colleagues.

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8:40am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Dipped Last Week

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell by 12,000 last week from the week before, to 409,000, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

It adds that "the 4-week moving average was 410,250, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average of 408,500."

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8:15am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

How Bad Was The Disaster? Check The 'Waffle House Index'

One staple of economics and business reporting is the "odd indicator" story.

Having done a few in our time, we know a good one when we see it.

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7:30am

Thu September 1, 2011
The Two-Way

New Details About Secret Flights To 'Black Sites' Revealed In Court Case

Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

A business dispute that's now in court has brought to light some more details about the secret flights that took terrorism suspects and U.S. officials to CIA-operated "black sites" and prisons around the world in recent years.

As The Associated Press reports:

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