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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1:11pm

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Qatar Sends Iman Al-Obeidi Back To Libya; She Raised Rape Allegations

Iman al-Obeidi, the Libyan woman who to many has become a symbol of the cruelty of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime, has been deported from Qatar back to Libya.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is in Tripoli, tells our Newscast desk that U.N. officials confirm the deportation and believe Obeidi was sent to the rebel-held eastern Libyan city of Benghazi today. It isn't clear how long Obeidi had been in Qatar or exactly why she was sent to Libya.

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12:49pm

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller To Be NBC News' Chief Digital Officer

Vivian Schiller.
Stephen Voss

Vivian Schiller, NPR's CEO until controversies led to her departure in March, is joining NBC News to be its chief digital officer, the network just confirmed.

In a statement, NBC said she "will lead the digital strategy for both NBC News and MSNBC."

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11:33am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

From Blowing Air To Singing In His Ear; Responses To A Rude Recliner

First tip: Be polite.
iStockphoto.com

Wednesday's post about the brouhaha this week aboard a Ghana-bound flight that began when one passenger reclined his seat and the person behind responded with a smack (and not the kissing kind), generated many comments with tips about how to handle that sort of situation.

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10:59am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Jill Abramson To Be Executive Editor Of 'The New York Times'

"Jill Abramson, a former investigative reporter and Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, will become the paper's executive editor, succeeding Bill Keller, who is stepping down to become a full-time writer for the paper," the Times announced this morning.

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10:14am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Drug Tests For Welfare Recipients, State Workers Ignites Debate In Florida

They'll need to be filled. (2004 file photo.)
Ron Wurzer Getty Images

The legal challenges have begun to new rules in Florida that mandate drug tests for welfare recipients and new state government hires, and random testing of current state employees.

The Miami Herald writes that:

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9:33am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Consider The Source: North Korea Says It's No. 2 In Happiness

Everybody's happy. (Korean Central News Agency photo released on Jan. 18, 2009, showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il posing with soldiers.)
AFP/Getty Images

Coming from a country where the leader has been referred to as "the son of God" and where the official news agency has reported about a "mysterious natural wonder" involving a halo at Kim Jong Il's birthplace, this probably shouldn't be too much of a shock:

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8:41am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Jobless Claims Dip; Retail Sales Soft

There was a slight decline in the number of Americans who filed first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

It said that 422,000 claims were filed, vs. 428,000 the week before.

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8:26am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

In Tripoli: A 'Sense Of Abandonment'

After arriving in Tripoli this week, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson says she's been struck by the "sense of abandoment" in the Libyan capital.

Weeks of NATO air strikes and other allied actions aimed at stopping Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime from attacking rebels have taken a visible toll, Soraya told Morning Edition host Renee Montagne earlier today.

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7:58am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

After Sharp Drop Wednesday, Futures Hint At Better Day On Wall Street

Good morning.

There's a new study, as we just reported, that concludes the "global war on drugs has failed." It comes from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The commission's members include former Secretary of State George Shultz, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and others who have held top policy posts around the world.

Other stories making headlines this hour include:

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7:26am

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

'Global War On Drugs Has Failed,' Former World Leaders Say

Mexican police at the scene of a drug-related shootout in Juarez on March 21, 2010.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," a high-powered commission whose members include former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warns today.

The report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy goes on to recommend:

-- An end to "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others."

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4:18pm

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Everyone Now Accounted For In Joplin, Officials Say

Joplin, Mo.; May 26: The ruins of Saint Mary's Catholic Church.
Mario Tama Getty Images

There are now no names left in the "unaccounted for" column of the official list of those who were initially missing after the devastating tornado that swept through Joplin, Mo., on May 22.

And that report from the Missouri Department of Public Safety says the official "confirmed deceased" toll stands at 124.

Officials say this is the "final" such report they'll be issuing.

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3:03pm

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Gates Sees Taliban Engaged In Talks By Year's End

"By the end of this year," Defense Secretary Robert Gates says, the Taliban should be to the point where it's willing to take part in formal talks aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan.

But, he said during a conversation set to air on today's All Things Considered, the Taliban must "put down their weapons ... abandon [any ties] to al-Qaida" and agree to live "under the Afghan constitution."

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2:51pm

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Rep. Weiner Not Certain Photo Isn't Of Him; Says He Didn't Send It

MSNBC reports that:

"Rep. Anthony Weiner [D-NY] said Wednesday that he can't say 'with certitude' whether or not a lewd below-the-belt photo depicted his body, but he insisted that he did not tweet the picture to a 21-year old college student in Seattle, Wash."

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2:03pm

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

In El Salvador: Gang Leaders Who Say They're Social Workers

Gang graffiti in San Salvador's La Victoria neighborhood.
Jason Beaubien NPR

While reporting for his three-part series on drug trafficking in Central America, NPR's Jason Beaubien spoke at length with "Blue" (a pseudonym) the second in command of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in El Salvador.

In today's report, Jason says that:

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11:02am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Crack Cocaine 'Fair Sentencing Act' Should Be Retroactive, Holder Says

Saying that the Fair Sentencing Act that narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and power cocaine offenses has been "a historic step forward," Attorney Gen. Eric Holder pushed today for retroactively applying the lighter crack penalties to some offenders now serving time.

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10:30am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

One Reclined Seat Leads To Jet Turning Around, Fighters Being Scrambled

Tight quarters: Aboard a United Airlines Embraer-145, 50-passenger jet. (June 1, 2008 file photo taken at Dulles International Airport.)
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

If you fly a lot you've had this happen.

Seconds after the jet's in the air, the @#$%^&* in front of you reclines his seat, crunching your knees and raising some questions:

-- 1. Do you recline your seat as well and spread the pain to the person behind you?

-- 2. Do you grin and bear it like the stoic person you think you are?

-- 3. Do you ask the offender to give you a break and put the seat up at least a little?

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9:28am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

In Bahrain: 'We Can Still Get You'

While the government of Bahrain today officially lifted the state of emergency that it declared in March when the "Arab spring" spread there and protests erupted, NPR's Kelly McEvers reports that activists say they've been warned against doing anything that authorities don't like.

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9:04am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

'Employment Growth Slowed Sharply In May,' Report Signals

There was only a 38,000-increase in employment in May from April, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report — a widely watched indicator of labor market strength and something of a prelude to Friday's May jobs report from the Labor Department.

The small gain "suggests that employment growth slowed sharply in May," the researchers at ADP say. Other findings:

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8:45am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

For Many In Pakistan, An 'Acute Feeling Of Despair'

Syed Saleem Shahzad (July 2008 file photo).
Cristiano Camera AFP/Getty Images

The world is anxiously watching events in Pakistan, an already dangerous nation that has gotten even more violent in the wake of the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos who raided his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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8:02am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Question Of The Day: Will You Change Your Cellphone Habits?

A street scene in New York City on Tuesday (May 31, 2011).
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The frontpage news this week about the World Health Organization saying that cellphones could possibly cause brain cancer, which our friends at the Shots blog have been covering, has generated a lot of discussion about how it might be smart to use headphones and Bluetooth devices rather than putting your cellphone up to your ear.

The idea is that doing so would keep any radiation away from your brain.

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7:29am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Endeavour Lands; Obama To Meet With GOP; More Deaths In Yemen

Good morning.

The space shuttle Endeavour landed safely in Florida early today, bringing to a close its final mission in space. NASA has posted video of the predawn landing.

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2:58pm

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Rebels Use Libyan Army's Radio To Vow We Are 'Your Master'

When a group of Libyan rebels got hold of a radio belonging to the Libyan military, they had some fun at their enemy's expense and sent a very pointed message to the forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

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1:12pm

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Brave Teacher In Mexico Has Kindergartners Sing During Shootout

The kindergarten kids got down on the floor as the shots were fired. Their teacher kept them singing.
YouTube

This is one of those videos that will restore your faith in people even as it also shows how remarkably cruel the world can be.

The cruel part is that there was a gunfight Friday outside a school in northern Mexico. Five people were killed at a taxi stand. No surprise: Drugs were involved.

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12:42pm

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

'Virginity Checks' Done On Some Female Protesters, Egyptian General Says

After more than a month of denials, an Egyptian Army general has told CNN that some female protesters were forced after a March 9 confrontation with soldiers to undergo "virginity checks."

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11:39am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Retired Electric Co. CEO To Be Commerce Secretary

John Bryson, the retired former CEO of Edison International, has been chosen by President Obama to be the next secretary of commerce, The Associated Press, CNN, Politico and several other news outlets are reporting.

The president is expected to make the announcement early this afternoon.

Bryson would succeed Secretary Gary Locke, who has been tapped to be the next ambassador to China.

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10:53am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Egyptian Banker Accused Of Abusing Maid To Be Arraigned

A second high-powered international banker now faces charges of sexually assaulting a maid at a Manhattan hotel.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, of Egypt, was arrested on Monday after an incident at The Pierre, a hotel on the Upper East Side.

According to The Associated Press:

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10:15am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Consumer Confidence Slips

Anxiety about the job market, inflation and the general economic outlook combined to push down consumer confidence in May, the private Conference Board business research group just reported.

It's Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 60.8 from 66 in April.

Lynn Franco, director of the group's Consumer Research Center, says in a statement released with the report that:

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10:04am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Pakistani Journalist Is Missing; He Wrote Of Alleged Ties To Terrorism

There are conflicting reports at this hour about the fate of Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan bureau chief for Asia Times Online, who has been missing since Sunday evening.

Pakistan's Daily Times says that Human Rights Watch has been told by "credible sources" that Shahzad "is in custody of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)" — Pakistan's intelligence agency.

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9:09am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Home Prices At 'New Recession Low'

There was a 4.2 percent drop in home prices during the first quarter according to the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report, which was just released.

And after the 3.6 percent decline in fourth-quarter 2010, prices have "hit a new recession low" and are down 5.1 percent from first-quarter 2010.

"Nationally, home prices are back to their mid-2002 levels," the report adds.

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8:53am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Rep. Weiner Seeks Advice About Legal Action Over Lewd Twitpic

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Oct. 2, 2010, file photo.
Amy Sussman Getty Images/The New Yorker

"New York Rep. Anthony Weiner [D] has retained an attorney to advise him 'what civil or criminal actions should be taken' after a lewd picture was sent from his Twitter account," Politico reports.

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