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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10:55am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Two-Way

Yes You Were Wielding A Weasel, Cops Tell Suspect

Heard the one about the guy who assaulted his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend while wielding what he insisted was a marten — NOT a weasel?

It's become a hot story across the nation because the victim supposedly asked "why are you carrying a weasel?" To which the suspect replied, "it's not a weasel, it's a marten," and then allegedly punched the guy in the nose (with his hand, not the weasel ... err, mink).

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9:50am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Two-Way

M.F. Husain, The 'Picasso Of India,' Died In Exile

M.F Husain in London in 2007. One of his paintings, which depicts Mother Teresa taking care of children, is in the background.
Chris Jackson Getty Images

The Times of India is asking today, "did [the] political class let down Husain?"

That question is one sign of the self-reflection underway in India after word of artist M.F. Husain's death Thursday in London.

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8:53am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Two-Way

Gates Warns Of NATO's 'Dim' Future

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offering his blunt assessment of NATO earlier today (June 10, 2011) in Brussels.
Getty Images

Saying that NATO faces a "dim, if not dismal future," outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates told U.S. allies in Europe today that the alliance now has two tiers:

"Those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters billets, but don't want to share the risks and the costs."

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7:58am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Two-Way

Crews Make Some Progress At Containing Arizona Wildfire

Smoke from the Wallow fire near Springerville, Ariz., on Thursday (June 9, 2011).
Eric Thayer Getty Images

There's some good news to pass along about the huge wildfire in eastern Arizona.

The main headline on The Arizona Republic's webpage this hour is "Fire Crews Slowly Containing Raging Wallow."

And the newspaper adds that "progress was finally made Thursday, as officials put containment at 5 percent, the first time they have been able to declare any of the fire under control."

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7:33am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Two-Way

Will The Mavs Beat The Heat? Dallas Takes 3-2 Lead In NBA Finals

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks is defended by Joel Anthony of the Miami Heat during Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas on Thursday (June 9, 2011).
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

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4:31pm

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Newt Gingrich Says He'll Keep Going; Top Campaign Aides Quit

Even though "the entire top echelon of New Gingrich's presidential campaign resigned on Thursday," the former House speaker is saying he's still in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination:

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3:58pm

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Killing Camels Could Cut Australia's Greenhouse Gases, Study Says

A wild camel in Australia's Simpson Desert (October 2007 file photo).
Ezra Shaw Getty Images

As scientists and environmentalists in Australia search for ways to reduce that nation's greenhouse gas emissions, some have suggested killing many of the estimated 1.2 million wild camels that now roam there.

We have to confess to not knowing that: a) there are 1.2 million feral camels in Australia and that the population is expected to reach 2 million by 2020; and b) that they are major contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases.

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11:30am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Have You Strummed Google's Les Paul Tribute Yet Today?

Rock on.
Google

We bet there's been a fair amount of time spent today fooling around with Google's tribute to the dearly departed Les Paul on what would have been the electronic guitar pioneer's 96th birthday.

The Atlantic calls it the "coolest Doodle ever."

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10:28am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Time Is 'Close' For First Post-Shooting Photo Of Rep. Giffords, Aide Says

"I think that we're getting close to the time when Gabby will feel comfortable releasing a photo," Pia Carusone, chief of staff to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) tells The Arizona Republic.

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9:59am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Panetta: Al-Qaida 'In Disarray;' Momentum 'Has Shifted' In Afghanistan

"The death of Osama bin Laden is a significant victory in our campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida ... [though it] does not mean we can rest," CIA Director Leon Panetta, who has been nominated to be the next secretary of defense, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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9:34am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Gadhafi Regime May Be Using Rape As A Weapon, Prosecutor Says

The government of Moammar Gadhafi may have ordered the rape of hundreds of Libyan women as part of its campaign against opponents of the regime, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says.

And Luis Moreno-Ocampo "said [Wednesday that] he was also looking at possible evidence that pro-Gadhafi security forces had been given medication such as Viagra to enhance their sex drive," the BBC reports.

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9:07am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

'Trouble' Has Died; Leona Helmsley's Pampered Pooch Inherited Millions

She was certainly among the world's richest canines.

Now, Trouble has passed away at the age of 12 (or, 84 if you're counting in dog years).

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8:37am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Stayed High Last Week

There were 427,000 first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

That's almost unchanged from the 428,000 of the week before and still well above the level — 375,000 or below — that we would typically see if job growth was strong.

Our friends at Planet Money explain the economic ups and downs over here.

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8:27am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Arizona Wildfire Still Blazing; More Evacuations Ordered

Good morning.

We've already posted about:

-- A New York Times report that the U.S. is ramping up a "secret campaign" of airstrikes aimed at al-Qaida in Yemen.

-- Word from Citigroup that hackers gained access to some credit card customers' data.

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8:10am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

U.S. Ramping Up 'Secret Campaign' Of Airstrikes In Yemen, 'NYT' Says

One of the attention-getting stories of the day, from this morning's New York Times:

"The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials."

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7:50am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Hackers Access Citigroup Credit Card Customers' Data

"Citigroup has acknowledged that a computer breach may have given hackers access to the data of hundreds of thousands of bank card customers," The Financial Times reports. It adds that "the U.S. bank on Wednesday revealed details of the breach, which it said it discovered in early May through routine monitoring, after being questioned by the Financial Times."

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7:32am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Two-Way

Meme Of The Morning: Weiner Pressed To Resign

The drumbeat started Wednesday afternoon, as our colleague Frank James reported over at It's All Politics: "Congressional Democrats are starting to come forward with public calls for Rep. Anthony Weiner to give up his House seat."

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3:00pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Critical Day For Arizona Fire Crews; Power Lines To Other States In Danger

Wind gusts of 35 mph or more and timber that has less moisture than what you'd get if you bought kiln-dried lumber at your local hardware store are combining to make this a critical day for the several thousand firefighters battling the huge wildfire in northeast Arizona.

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2:15pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Fed: 'Some Deceleration' By Economy In Recent Weeks

"Economic activity generally continued to expand" in most parts of the country over the past six to seven weeks, "though a few districts indicated some deceleration," the Federal Reserve just reported in its latest Beige Book review of conditions around the nation.

According to the central bank:

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2:09pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

'Gay Girl In Damascus': Missing Or Mythical?

We've been holding off on reporting about the mystery surrounding the blogger known as "Gay Girl in Damascus" and the reports that she was arrested by Syrian authorities.

There are a growing number of questions about who she may or may not be and even whether such a person is actually in the hands of the authorities.

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1:00pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Some Flights To Argentina Resume; Ash Still Disrupts Domestic Travel

A cloud of ashes billowed from the Puyehue volcano between clouds on Tuesday (June 7, 2011).
Claudio Santana AFP/Getty Images

"Chilean flagship carrier LAN Airlines SA has resumed all of its international flights to and from Argentina," Dow Jones Newswires reports, "although several domestic Argentine flights are still canceled because of the presence of volcanic ash, the company said Wednesday."

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12:44pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Video Justice: Soldiers Hit With $200 Baggage Fees To Be Reimbursed

Staff Sgt. Fred Hilliker.
YouTube

On their way home Tuesday from Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgts. Fred Hilliker and Robert O'Hair were not happy that they and some other soldiers had been charged $200 each because they each had four bags. The airline ended up collecting $2,800, according to the soldiers, meaning slightly less than half the 34 soldiers traveling in the group were charged.

They thought the Army's contract with Delta Air Lines allowed for four free bags. Delta said it's contract allows for three free bags for soldiers flying in coach; four for those in first or business classes.

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10:50am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

'Most Embarrassing Dad Ever?'

Dale Price, perhaps the most embarrassing dad ever, on the last day of his costumed goodbyes to his son.
WaveAtTheBus

You're a high school sophomore.

A guy.

And that's your dad in the Little Mermaid costume waving to you as the school bus pulls away.

And it's dad dressed as a pirate, a Star Wars storm trooper or the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.

For 170 straight school days. A different costume each day.

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10:32am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Update: Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix Off Again

It looks like Bahrain will not be hosting a Formula One Grand Prix in October, as was announced last week.

The BBC reports that:

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10:08am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

'Texas Bodies' Non-Story Is Reminder To News Media: Slow Down

We've made the same mistake — reporting something we've been told by someone who should know when we really should have waited for more information to come in.

So we won't get all sanctimonious.

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8:36am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Billions In Afghan Aid May Not Do Long-Term Good, Senate Report Warns

The nearly $19 billion that the U.S. has already spent on foreign aid to Afghanistan and the billions more to come in the next few years could end up doing little if any long-term good unless more focused planning is done, according to a report today from the Democratic majority in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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8:06am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Tanks Mass At Syrian Town; Talks Reported In Yemen

Good morning.

The wildfires in northeast Arizona have now scorched an area twice the size of the city of Chicago and, as we reported earlier, it doesn't look like the flames will be under control anytime soon.

As for other stories making headlines this morning, they include:

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7:32am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Two-Way

'No End In Sight' For Arizona Fires; 389,000 Acres Scorched So Far

This satellite image from NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team shows the fires in red, along the Arizona border with New Mexico (the line just to the right of the red marks that pinpoint the flames), and the smoke billowing to the northeast. It was taken Monday.
Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

The wildfire blazing in northeast Arizona is now the second-largest in state history and there's no end in sight, The Arizona Republic reports this morning.

According to the Republic, the Wallow Fire is "growing by the hour, leapt farther north Tuesday and has now consumed about 389,000 acres."

Ominously, the newspaper adds that it is "at zero percent containment." Its headline says there is "no end in sight."

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2:56pm

Tue June 7, 2011
The Two-Way

No Tiger Woods At The U.S. Open

Since he withdrew from The Players Championship on May 12 after playing just nine holes, this news won't be a huge surprise to golf fans:

"Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he will miss the 2011 U.S. Open." (TigerWoods.com)

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2:45pm

Tue June 7, 2011
The Two-Way

Building Literacy Is Key To Building Afghan Army, U.S. General Says

The U.S. and its allies are increasingly finding that one of the keys to building the Afghan Army is teaching its soldiers and officers to read and write, says the American general in charge of that training.

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