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.

Pages

7:40am

Thu June 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Muggles Take Notice: 'Pottermore' Is Coming

Pottermore.com

There's great excitement today among Harry Potter fans.

Author J.K. Rowling has gone on the Web to say that in October a website called Pottermore.com is launching — and that it will be a "safe, unique online reading experience built around the Potter books." It will be the place to buy, for the first time, e-book versions of the Potter series.

Read more

7:20am

Thu June 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Gangster 'Whitey' Bulger, Who Used To 'Own' Boston, Captured

James "Whitey" Bulger. From his page on the website of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
FBI.gov

A man who is about as notorious in Boston as al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden was captured Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif.

James "Whitey" Bulger, a gangster wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders who turned his FBI handlers into informants and is accused of using information he got from them to kill his enemies, had been on the run for 16 years.

Read more

6:46am

Thu June 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Troops Hope Most 'Trigger-Pullers' Stay As Withdrawal Begins

Good morning.

Reactions are coming in to President Obama's announcement last night that the U.S. will bring about 33,000 military personnel home from Afghanistan by the fall of 2012.

Read more

7:39pm

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Live-Blog: The President Lays Out His Plan For Afghanistan

Darryl St. George, a Navy Corpsman with Weapons Co. 2/8 Marines, during a foot patrol this month in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
David Gilkey NPR

President Obama is telling the nation tonight how fast and how soon the U.S. will start drawing down the number of troops it has in Afghanistan. He's going to talk specifically about the 33,000 or so military personnel who were added to the campaign there in the "surge" he announced in December 2009, and in broader terms about the length and size of the U.S. mission.

Read more

1:05pm

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Pulitzer-Winning Reporter: I Am An Undocumented Immigrant

Originally published on Wed June 22, 2011 5:01 pm

Watch in coming days to see how this story plays out in the always hot immigration debate:

Jose Antonio Vargas, a reporter who shared a Pulitzer Prize when he was with The Washington Post, reveals today that he is an "undocumented immigrant" and that he has over the years obtained (with help) a series of false documents to conceal that fact from employers.

Read more

12:40pm

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Economic Recovery Continues, But Is Slower Than Expected, Fed Says

"The economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly" than they had expected, policymakers at the Federal Reserve just reported.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of their latest meetings, the central bankers said that data collected since April indicate that growth has been hurt by:

-- "Higher food and energy prices" that are cutting into consumer spending.

-- "Supply chain disruptions associated with the tragic events in Japan."

Read more

11:34am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

'Ulster Volunteer Force' Blamed For Starting Belfast Violence

Two nights in a row of riots in Belfast, Northern Ireland, — the most intense such violence in several years — are largely being blamed by authorities on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, The Guardian and other news outlets report.

Read more

10:45am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Ai Weiwei Released On Bail, Chinese State News Agency Says

Ai Weiwei in October 2009.
Miguel Villagran Getty Images

"The Beijing police department said Wednesday that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from," China's state-controlled Xinhua news agency reports.

That officially sanctioned story also says that:

Read more

10:16am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Rig Owner Blames BP For Gulf Oil Disaster

Originally published on Wed June 22, 2011 10:44 am

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned on April 21, 2010.
U.S. Coast Guard Getty Images

Saying that "as operator of the Macondo well, BP directed all aspects of its development," the owner of the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 today made its case that the blame for the worst oil spill in U.S. history should be placed on the shoulders of the British company.

Transocean has posted the results of its internal investigation online here. It says that:

Read more

9:15am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Crowdsourcing Solves Mystery About Nazi Photographer

It took less than day, according to The New York Times' Lens blog, for readers to help identify the Nazi photographer who took 214 pictures in a recently discovered album that includes never-before-seen images of Adolf Hitler.

Read more

8:35am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

California Lawmakers Won't Get Paid Until Budget Is Balanced

California State Controller John Chiang is being hailed as a hero by many in his state because he's ruled that legislators there won't be paid until they produce a budget plan that he determines is balanced.

Read more

8:03am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Flooding Continues In Heartland; Fires Coming Under Control In Arizona

Good morning.

The day's big story, at least at this hour, is President Obama's address to the nation tonight in which he'll lay out his plan for drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Our latest preview is posted here.

Other stories making headlines include:

-- Flooding In The Heartland:

Read more

7:28am

Wed June 22, 2011
The Two-Way

Cost Of Afghan War Hangs Over Obama's Decision On Troop Withdrawals

U.S. Marines on patrol earlier this month in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
David Gilkey NPR

As we wait to hear from President Obama tonight about the pace and size of troop reductions in Afghanistan, here are some of the latest stories about what he's expected to say and the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan:

Read more

3:25pm

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Foul! Gladiator Died Due To Ref's Treachery, Tombstone Says

Perhaps if a movie is made about Diodorus' demise, Russell Crowe could be a gladiator again?
Dreamworks Pictures

We're a few days — actually, more like 1,800 years — behind on this story.

But it's too interesting not to pass along:

Read more

12:52pm

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Roger Ebert's 'Jackass' Tweet: Right On Or Too Far?

Since he posted this message on his Twitter page Monday afternoon ...

"Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive"

... Chicago Sun-Times film critic Robert Ebert has been the center of some controversy.

Read more

12:46pm

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama's Afghanistan Address Set For 8 P.M. ET Wednesday

Just in from the White House:

"At 8 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 22nd, the President will address the nation from the White House to lay out his plan for implementing his strategy — first unveiled in December 2009 — to draw down American troops from Afghanistan."

This refers to, as we wrote earlier, to the announcement about the pace and scope of the troop withdrawal.

Read more

11:49am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Astronaut Mark Kelly, Rep. Giffords' Husband, Retires From Navy And NASA

"Today, I am humbled to announce that after 25 years of service to our country, I am retiring from the United States Navy and leaving NASA, effective Oct. 1," Navy Capt. Mark Kelly just wrote on his Facebook page.

Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), adds that:

Read more

10:50am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Sales Of Existing Homes Fall; Pace Is Weakest Of Year So Far

There was a 3.8 percent drop in sales of previously owned homes in May from April, the National Association of Realtors reports.

Also, the "seasonally adjusted annual rate" of 4.81 million was down 15.3 percent from May 2010, "when sales were surging to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit," NAR says.

Read more

10:39am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Decisions On Afghan Strategy Won't End With Obama's Announcement

Marines pause during an operation earlier this month in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
David Gilkey NPR

All the usual cliches are being used in the run-up to Wednesday's expected announcement from President Obama about how fast and how soon the 30,000-or-so additional troops who went into Afghanistan during the "surge" will be coming home.

Milestone. Turning point. Critical.

Pick your word.

But this is worth bearing in mind:

Read more

9:45am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Huntsman 'About To Announce'

Only in the social media age can this sort of thing happen:

"About to announce my candidacy for president of the United States. Watch live at www.Jon2012.com and please RT #Jon2012," former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman just tweeted.

And his jon2012.com website is now up and running.

So, the Republican has announced that he's about to announce something that we all knew he was going to announce.

Read more

9:27am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Man Says He Tried To Rob Bank Of $1 To Get Health Care In Prison

James Verone, who says he tried to rob a bank of $1 because he needs health care and thought he could get it in prison.
WCNC-TV

The part of this story that's getting attention across the nation is that James Verone of Gaston County, N.C., decided that the only way he could get adequate health care and a solid roof over his head would be to get himself arrested for trying to rob a bank of $1.

Verone, 59, says he has several medical problems, including a growth on this chest and two ruptured disks. He also says he's out of work and has no insurance.

Read more

8:54am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Confidence Vote Today In Greece; Huntsman To Join Race For White House

Good morning.

There's word from Pakistan, as we just reported, that an army brigadier has been arrested on suspicion of having ties to a "banned organization" — Islamic militants. It's the first prominent report since the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden of a high-ranking Pakistani officer being accused of such a link.

Read more

8:30am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Developing: Pakistani Brigadier Suspected Of Ties To 'Banned' Group

The BBC's Urdu-language service is reporting, and Agence France Presse says it has confirmed, that a senior officer in the Pakistani army has been taken into custody and is suspected of having ties to "a banned organization."

Read more

8:12am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Ash Cloud From Chile Makes Second Circle; Flights Canceled In Australia

Monday (June 20, 2011): A cloud of ash billows from the Puyehue volcano in Chile.
Martin Bernetti AFP/Getty Images

Incredible as this sounds, ash from a volcano in Chile that starting erupting more than two weeks ago is now disrupting air travel to Australia and New Zealand for the second time.

Particles spewed into the air on June 4 and subsequent days have made their way around the world twice. There's concern that they could damage jet engines.

Read more

7:20am

Tue June 21, 2011
The Two-Way

Obama Due To Detail Pace, Size Of Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan

With President Obama expected to announce on Wednesday some details about how fast and how soon the 30,000-or-so "surge" troops will be removed from Afghanistan, here are some of the things being reported about his plan:

Read more

3:52pm

Mon June 20, 2011
The Two-Way

Mummies: 'Visitors From The Past' Who Can Help Solve Mysteries Today

The Detmold Child: A mummy found in Peru. About 10 months old, the child died more than 3,000 years before Egypt's King Tut was born.
American Exhibitions Inc.

What is it about mummies that fascinate so many people?

"Mummies seem to have an intrigue," says James Delay. They are "visitors from the past if you will. ... They carry a mystery."

He should know. Delay, who spoke with All Things Considered host Michele Norris earlier today, is director of exhibition development with American Exhibitions Inc. — the organizers of the Mummies of the World exhibit that just opened at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute.

Read more

1:45pm

Mon June 20, 2011
The Two-Way

Albert Pujols Out Four To Six Weeks With Wrist Fracture

This is not news they want to hear in baseball-crazy St. Louis:

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has a small fracture near his left wrist and will be "out of the lineup for four to six weeks," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

He was hurt Sunday in a collision on the basepath.

Read more

12:14pm

Mon June 20, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: 'Jackass' Actor Ryan Dunn Killed In Car Accident

March 7, 2011, in Los Angeles: Ryan Dunn at the Blu-ray and DVD release of Paramount Home Entertainment's Jackass 3.
Michael Buckner Getty Images

Jackass actor Ryan Dunn "was killed early Monday morning when his Porsche flew over a guardrail in West Goshen, Pa., slammed into a tree and burst into flames, according to local police," NBC Philadelphia reports. "Dunn's passenger — who hasn't been identified — was also killed."

Read more

11:55am

Mon June 20, 2011
The Two-Way

'All Nuclear Plants' Need Safety Reviews, U.N. Expert Says

The disaster at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant underscores that "we need to systematically and regularly review the safety of all nuclear power plants" around the world, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said today.

Read more

11:21am

Mon June 20, 2011
The Two-Way

NBC: Cutting 'Under God' From Pledge Was Mistake

If you haven't seen or heard about it, when NBC Sports began its coverage of the U.S. Open on Sunday it opened with one of those video montages that are meant to stir emotions.

It sure did.

By twice editing out the words "under God" from the audio of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the network sparked a firestorm of complaints on Twitter and caused enough of a protest that before the broadcast was over, the network's Dan Hicks was on the air apologizing.

Read more

Pages