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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4:08pm

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

After Six Weeks, Four Journalists Released In Libya

"Four foreign journalists held by the Libyan government for six weeks were released Wednesday and moved to a Tripoli hotel," The Associated Press reports. "Clare Morgana Gillis, an American, said she and her colleagues — American James Foley, Spaniard Manuel Varela and Briton Nigel Chandler — were in good health."

From Benghazi, NPR's Martin Kaste says that the journalists "were all delivered to a hotel that houses the foreign press corps in Tripoli."

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2:54pm

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Gates: No Proof, But 'Somebody' In Pakistan 'Had To Know' About Bin Laden

The discussion over who in Pakistan knew what about the fact that Osama bin Laden was living in a city north of Islamabad continues.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had this to say to reporters earlier today:

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1:27pm

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Syria's Assad, Six Others, Hit With Sanctions By U.S. Treasury

President Obama today signed an executive order "imposing sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior officials of the government of Syria, the Treasury Department just announced.

It said the move is "an effort to increase pressure on the government of Syria to end its use of violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people."

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12:42pm

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

No Guinness For Her, Please, She's The Queen

Oh, the heavy burden that comes to those who wear the crown.

You can't even enjoy a perfectly poured pint.

During a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin today, "master brewer Fergal Murray expertly prepared a pint" of the famous stout for Queen Elizabeth, The Associated Press reports.

She declined to take a sip. Perhaps because it was before noon?

Prince Philip, the AP adds, "gazed at the brew with obvious longing but also walked away without a taste."

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11:42am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Air Force One Has To 'Go Around' During Landing Attempt In Connecituct

Cloud cover that limited visibility forced Air Force One to do a "go around" as its pilots attempted to land in New London, Conn., this morning.

President Obama was among the passengers. White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says the president and those aboard didn't even know anything had happened. The jet circled and came back in for a routine landing soon after.

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11:03am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

'Go The [Expletive] To Sleep' Rules Amazon's Bestsellers List

The amazing story of an puckishly profane storybook has gone on for more than a week.

We can't ignore Go the [famous four-letter expletive] to Sleep any longer.

As the Los Angeles Times writes this morning:

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9:24am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

'Nice To Live In A Free Country,' Gingrich Says After Getting 'Glittered'

Saying that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich needs to "feel the rainbow ... stop the hate, stop anti-gay politics!" a protester showered the former House speaker and his wife with glitter Tuesday at a book-signing in Minneapolis.

Gingrich took it in stride, saying "it's nice to live in a free country" as he swept away some of the glitter.

The protester was quickly removed from the room.

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8:58am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Ex-Egyptian Special Forces Colonel Is Al-Qaida's Interim Leader, CNN Reports

"An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been chosen 'caretaker' leader of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death," CNN's Peter Bergen is reporting.

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8:38am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Grand Jury To Hear From IMF Chief's Accuser Today

As Dominique Strauss-Kahn "sits in a solitary cell at Rikers Island, N.Y., isolated for his own protection and under a routine suicide watch," the woman who says the managing director of the International Monetary Fund sexually assaulted her in New York City over the weekend is set to appear before a grand jury today, her lawyer confirmed on NBC-TV's The Today Show.

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8:05am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Journalist Dorothy Parvaz Is Free; Had Been Held In Syria

Dorothy Parvaz in December 2010.
Ben Piven

Dorothy Parvaz, the al-Jazeera English correspondent who disappeared on April 29 after arriving in Syria to report on the protests there, is now free after an ordeal that included a period when she was held in Iran.

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7:50am

Wed May 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Reports: Rep. Giffords Having Previously Planned Skull Surgery Today

"Doctors will replace a piece of Gabrielle Giffords' skull with a plastic implant on Wednesday, another encouraging step in the Arizona congresswoman's recovery from a gunshot to the head more than four months ago," The Associated Press reports.

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8:58am

Tue May 17, 2011
The Two-Way

News About Child Brings Schwarzenegger's Political Career Full Circle

Happier times: Nov. 17, 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as governor of California. His wife, Maria Shriver, was by his side.
Bryan Patrick Getty Images

Word from the Los Angeles Times that "former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, separated after she learned he had fathered a child more than a decade ago — before his first run for office — with a longtime member of their household staff," reminds us about what it was like in 2003 when the Hollywood star got into politics.

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8:13am

Tue May 17, 2011
The Two-Way

One View: Corrupt As It Is, Pakistan Does Not Want To Keep Crisis Going

Pakistani military and police officials cordoned off a street in Abbottabad near the compound where Osama Bin Laden was found and killed. (May 8, 2011, file photo.)
Asif Hassan AFP/Getty Images

The New Yorker's Lawrence Wright makes the case that Pakistan's military has become addicted over the years to the billions of dollars it gets from the United States. And he says one reason that country's military and intelligence services didn't discover that Osama bin Laden was living just an hour or two from Islamabad is because they didn't want to know.

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4:01pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

What Panetta Told McCain About Bin Laden And 'Enhanced Interrogation'

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who speaks from experience because he was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has long opposed "enhanced interrogation" techniques such as water-boarding.

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3:05pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Presence Of His Family Likely Helped Bring Down Bin Laden

As they question the three wives of Osama bin Laden who were reportedly living with him at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, when he was killed, U.S. and Pakistani officials likely won't learn much from them about the al-Qaida leader's plans and how the terrorist organization works, author and terrorism expert Peter Bergen says.

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2:32pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Amazing Shots Of Shuttle Endeavour Thanks To @NASATweetup

Entering the clouds.
Trey Ratcliff @TreyRatcliff

Not long after the space shuttle Endeavour blasted into space this morning, shuttle enthusiasts were using the #NASATweetup hashtag on Twitter to share photos.

Texas-based photographer Trey Ratcliff's shot of the shuttle as it entered the clouds above the Kennedy Space Center is striking.

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1:17pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

IMF Chief Ordered Held Without Bail In Sex-Assault Case

A judge has ordered that Dominque Strauss-Kahn, the Chief of the International Monetary Fund, be held without bail "at least until his next court hearing for attempted rape and other charges," The Associated Press reports from New York City.

As we reported earlier, Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in Manhattan over the weekend.

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12:59pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Trump Says He Won't Be Running For White House

The Donald is not going to make a bid for the White House.

Developer/reality TV host Donald Trump says in a statement, posted by ABC News and being reported about by The Associated Press and other news outlets, that:

"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency."

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12:13pm

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Stephen Hawking: Heaven Is 'A Fairy Story'

Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Last September, physicist Stephen Hawking was in the news for making the case that no God was needed to create the universe.

Now, he's told The Guardian that:

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11:32am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Rep. Giffords' Reaction To Shuttle Launch: 'Good Stuff'

Flowers and cards left for his wife and daughters by Endeavour commander Mark Kelley.
Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

"Good stuff. Good stuff."

Aides say those were the first words from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) after she watched this morning as her husband, commander Mark Kelly, and five other astronauts successfully launched into space aboard the shuttle Endeavour.

Her staff is briefing reporters now at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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10:58am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Will The Machine Ask If We Want Fries With That?

In Paris, the Arc de Triomphe looms over one McDonald's.
AFP/Getty Images

Saying that it thinks the move might make its fast-food restaurants just a little bit ... well, faster ... McDonald's is going to put touchscreen terminals in some of its 7,000 restaurants in Europe, The Financial Times reports.

And, it is increasing the use of debit cards in the region — meaning customers might not have to dig through the seats of their Fiats for change.

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10:18am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Debt Limit Reached; Treasury To Stop Investing In Pension Plans

iStockphoto.com

It's official.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today told congressional leaders that, as expected, the federal government has hit its $14.3 trillion "debt ceiling."

And to keep the government running until Aug. 2, Treasury says he:

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9:57am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Report: U.S., Pakistan Agree To Work Together Against 'High Value Targets'

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have been more strained than ever since a team of American commandos swept into Abbottabad, Pakistan, two weeks ago and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. had not informed Pakistani authorities about the raid.

Now, The Associated Press reports from Islamabad that:

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8:32am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Olympic Marathon Champion Sammy Wanjiru Dies In Fall From Balcony

"Kenyan Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru died in a fall from a balcony after a domestic dispute involving his wife and another woman, [Kenyan] police said Monday," The Associated Press reports.

From Nairobi, the AP adds that "one police official said Wanjiru committed suicide, while another said he jumped to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with another woman."

Wanjiru, 24, won the marathon at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, finishing in an Olympic record 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

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8:03am

Mon May 16, 2011
The Two-Way

LIVE: Endeavour Set To Launch

A Gopher turtle crossed nearby on Sunday as Endeavour sat ready on the launchpad.
Bruce Weaver AFP/Getty Images

Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of six astronauts is on schedule to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:56 a.m. ET.

As NPR.org writes, "with wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on hand to watch ... Endeavour is poised to give the work week a roaring and historic start Monday morning, overcoming wiring problems that grounded it last month." It is set to be the shuttle's final mission.

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2:20pm

Fri May 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Chicago Fire Department Ordered To Hire Blacks Who Alleged Discrimination

The Chicago Fire Department was told by a federal appeals court today that it must hire 111 African-Americans who successfully argued that they were discriminated against in 1995.

And, the Chicago Sun-Times writes, the court ordered that "tens of millions of dollars" in damages be paid to 6,000 other blacks.

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1:54pm

Fri May 13, 2011
The Two-Way

World Has Simplistic View Of Events In Syria, Says Reporter Who Sneaked In

One of the few Western journalists who has been able to get in to Syria to see the protests there and the crackdown by the regime of President Bashar Assad says he was "surprised at how much support President Assad himself still has."

Martin Fletcher, associate editor at The Times of London, spoke with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel earlier today.

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1:07pm

Fri May 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Pornography Found At Bin Laden's Compound, Sources Tell Reuters

A Reuters exclusive:

"A stash of pornography was found in the hideout of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. commandos who killed him, current and former U.S. officials said on Friday."

The wire service says it was told that the pornography "consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive" and that the sources "said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials."

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12:33pm

Fri May 13, 2011
The Two-Way

Social Security And Medicare Trust Funds' Lives Shortened By Bad Economy

"The government says that a bad economy has shortened the lives of the trust funds that support the nation's two biggest benefit programs," The Associated Press writes.

The wire service says that the fund's trustees are reporting today that "the Medicare hospital insurance fund will now be exhausted in 2024, five years earlier than last year's estimate. ... [And] the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than before."

As Reuters adds:

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12:07pm

Fri May 13, 2011
The Two-Way

George Mitchell Resigning As Middle East Envoy

A U.S. official with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to NPR's Michele Kelemen that former Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME) is resigning from his post as the Obama administration's special Middle East envoy.

Word of Mitchell's decision was first reported a short time ago by The Associated Press.

NPR's Scott Horsley tells us that the White House expects to release a statement from President Obama later today.

As the AP writes:

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