Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott is one of the hosts of NPR's "The Two-Way" news blog.

"The Two-Way," which Memmott helped to launched when he came to NPR in 2009, focuses on breaking news, analysis, and the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Before joining NPR, Memmott worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor at USA Today. He focused on a range of coverage from politics, foreign affairs, economics, and the media. He's reported from places across the Unites States and the world, including half a dozen trips to Afghanistan in 2002-2003.

During his time at USA Today, Memmott, helped launch and lead three USAToday.com news blogs: "On Deadline," "The Oval" and "On Politics," the site's 2008 presidential campaign blog.

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The Two-Way
8:30 am
Wed October 12, 2011

BlackBerry Outages Continue, Reports Say They've Spread To North America

Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 5:14 pm

The focus remains on "Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India," where millions of BlackBerry users are without text services for a third straight day, Reuters reports, but there's word now that the problems are also affecting folks in North America.

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The Two-Way
7:59 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Top Stories: Terror Plot, Baghdad Bombings, Republican Debate

Good morning.

Our early headline today was a follow to the news about an alleged plan by two Iranians to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S.:

Alleged Terror Plot: 'Brazen And Bizarre'

As for other stories making headlines (and we'll have more about some of them later), they include:

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The Two-Way
7:30 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Alleged Terror Plot: 'Brazen And Bizarre'

This courtroom drawing shows Manssor Arbabsiar (front, right), appearing before U.S. Southern District Court Judge Michael H. Dolinger on Tuesday.

Shirley Shepard AFP/Getty Images

Two words — brazen and bizarre — come to mind about the alleged plot by two Iranians to hire members of a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and possibly bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, NPR's Tom Gjelten said earlier today on Morning Edition.

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The Two-Way
1:59 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Reports: Terrorist Plot Tied To Iran Disrupted

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (right) and FBI Director Robert Mueller announce a plot had been foiled involving men allegedly linked to the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and bomb the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Israel in Washington at a news conference October 11, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee Getty Images
We're following this breaking news as it comes in. Scroll down for updates.

An Iranian-directed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and possibly attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington has been disrupted, Justice Department officials announced this afternoon.

Saying that the alleged "deadly plot ... [was] directed by factions of the Iranian government" and involved an attempt to hire killers from a Mexican drug cartel, Attorney General Eric Holder also said Iran will be held to account.

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The Two-Way
1:35 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

For Those Who Aren't Fans Of The '99 Percent,' There's The '53 Percent'

Erick Erickson with his photo that started the "53 percent" countermeme.

the53.tumblr.com

The Occupy Wall Street movement, as we noted last week, has latched on to the idea that its supporters are the "99 percent" of Americans who aren't superrich and have been falling behind in recent years.

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The Two-Way
11:30 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Smarter Deer? Smarter Drivers? Both? Fewer Being Killed On Roads

The news from State Farm Insurance that "for the third consecutive year, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. has dropped," is getting noticed in states where Buck vs. Buick encounters are common and usually don't end up well for either party.

But it was this passage in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story that really caught our eye:

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The Two-Way
10:11 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Seattle Superhero Phoenix Jones Arrested, Accused Of Assault

Self-proclaimed Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones has had a run-in of his own with the law.

The 23-year-old Jones (real name Benjamin John Francis Fodor) was arrested "on suspicion of fourth-degree assault" by Seattle police early Sunday, "after he allegedly doused a group of people with pepper spray," The Seattle Times reports.

Jones posted a $3,800 bail and is due back in court on Thursday.

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The Two-Way
9:32 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Rain Reports For Duty: South Korean Pop Star Starts Military Service

Even this blogger isn't old enough (just barely, though) to have been around when Elvis Presley went into the Army in March, 1958.

But it's well known that was a huge deal.

Now there's this close comparison from Asia:

South Korean pop star Rain today reported for his mandatory 21-month tour of duty with his nation's army.

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The Two-Way
8:56 am
Tue October 11, 2011

In Afghanistan: Opium Production Up; Prisoners Reportedly Tortured

June, 2011: U.S. Marines patrol with Afghan forces through a harvested poppy field in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

David Gilkey NPR

The seemingly intractable nature of the problems plaguing Afghanistan are being underscored yet again with two new reports from the United Nations:

-- Torture. Interviews of 273 detainees who were held at Afghan-government facilities in recent years show that at least 125 were tortured by authorities during interrogations, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says.

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The Two-Way
8:29 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Top Stories: Jobs Bill; Egyptian Violence; Liberian Election

Good morning.

The top story of the day so far, as we reported earlier, seems to be that "Obama's Jobs Bill Is Expected To Hit Roadblock Today In Senate."

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The Two-Way
8:08 am
Tue October 11, 2011

NBA Games Canceled: Anybody Care?

The NBA will rebound (pardon his pun) from any bad feelings generated among fans by the news that the first two weeks of the professional basketball league's season have been canceled because owners and players can't agree on a new labor deal, our colleague Mike Pesca says.

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The Two-Way
7:30 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Obama's Jobs Bill Expected To Hit Roadblock Today In Senate

Job seekers waited in line to meet with recruiters at a job fair in Park Ridge, Ill., last month.

Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 11, 2011 7:34 am

The political debate over what to do about the nation's stubbornly high unemployment rate and weak employment growth ratchets up again today when the Senate's expected to say no to President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill.

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The Two-Way
11:20 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today, President Bush Announced Strikes On Afghanistan

Oct. 7, 2001: President George W. Bush poses for a photo in the Treaty Room of the White House after announcing airstrikes on on Afghanistan.

Hillery Smith Garrison AP

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 11:25 am

At 1 p.m. ET on Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced to the nation that "on my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan."

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Values Voter Summit Underway; GOP Contenders To Speak

The annual Values Voter Summit is happening now in Washington, and if you want to hear what most of the Republican presidential contenders are telling the conservative activists, it's all online for the watching.

Organizers are streaming the event here. It's also on C-SPAN.org.

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Coming Up: September Jobs Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is due to release figures on the September unemployment rate and the number of jobs on payrolls at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Economists are expecting to hear that the jobless rate stayed around 9.1 percent and that there was net job growth of only about 55,000 positions.

We'll update this post with highlights from the report shortly after its release. So check back or hit your "refresh" button to see our updates.

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The Two-Way
7:49 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Are You Among The '99 Percent?'

The scene at an Occupy Los Angeles demonstration earlier this month.

Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 3:05 pm

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to spread, one of its rallying cries is generating a fair amount of debate.

The protesters say they represent the "99 percent" — that is, everyone except the richest 1 percent of Americans or those who have been benefiting from the way things are going.

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The Two-Way
6:45 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Today's Top Stories: Nobel Peace Prize, September Jobs Report

Good morning.

We've already posted about the top story so far today:

Nobel Peace Prize Goes To Women Striving For Peace In Liberia And Yemen

And we're getting ready for what's expected to be the other major news of the morning — the 8:30 a.m. ET announcement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the September unemployment rate and how many jobs were or were not added to payrolls last month.

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The Two-Way
4:45 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Nobel Peace Prize About To Be Announced

Left to right: Nobel Peace Prize laureates President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Liberian "peace warrior" Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

AP

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 11:54 am

Three women who have worked for peace and women's rights in Liberia and Yemen have been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, it was just announced at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Roberta Gbowee and Yemeni protest leader Tawakkul Karman are being honored.

This year's Nobels come with about $1.5 million. That amount will be divided between the three laureates.

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Rooney's Dad Arrested In Betting Probe, But English Star Is Ready To Play

English soccer star Wayne Rooney during a training session today in Podgorica, Montenegro.

Hrvoje Polan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 2:10 pm

After it was announced today that the father of English soccer star Wayne Rooney has been arrested as part of an investigation into betting at a Scottish Premier League match, news outlets in the U.K. got right to the bottom of what they must think is the really important part of the story:

Will Rooney still play in Friday's match between England's national team and Montenegro?

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The Two-Way
1:05 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Read And Watch: Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement Address

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 1:33 am

The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has renewed interest in the commencement address he gave at Stanford University in 2005, which drew considerable attention for its content and because Jobs so rarely spoke in public about himself.

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The Two-Way
11:00 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Live Blog: Obama News Conference

President Obama is this hour holding a news conference at the White House. We're live-blogging, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions. If you'd like to hear the news conference, click "LISTEN LIVE" in the box above.

Update at 11:12 a.m. ET. On Tax Cuts:

Republican lawmakers make the case that the president's $447 billion jobs bill relies too much on tax increases and not enough on spending cuts.

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The Two-Way
10:55 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Hank Williams Jr. And 'Monday Night Football' Part Ways

Hank Williams Jr., here seen promoting Monday Night Football.

John Raoux AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 11:23 am

The controversy over his comment that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler has cost singer Hank Williams Jr. his spot on Monday Night Football.

ESPN says it made the call:

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The Two-Way
10:24 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Average Rate On 30-Year Mortgages Falls Below 4 Percent For First Time

Mortgage rates are in uncharted territory.

"The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent this week, the lowest rate ever," The Associated Press reports. "Freddie Mac says the average rate ... dropped from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low."

And, "the average rate on a 15-year fixed loan dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record."

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The Two-Way
9:55 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Wozniak Thankful For 'An Unbelievably Fortunate Partnership' With Jobs

April 24, 1984, from left to right: Steve Jobs, John Sculley and Steve Wozniak unveil the new Apple IIc computer in San Francisco.

Sal Veder AP

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 9:56 am

"My role was [to be] the key technologist, the scientist, the engineer that was building all these devices. ... Steve was spotting them and seeing ways to sell them and talking about where they could go. And talking about enhancements and improvements that would take it to the next level. He was always trying to move to the next level."

It was "an unbelievably fortunate partnership."

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The Two-Way
8:40 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Jobless Claims Edged Up Last Week

There were 401,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up from 395,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

According to Reuters the gain was "less than expected." Economists polled by the wire service had been anticipating the agency would say there had been 410,000 claims.

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The Two-Way
8:25 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Top Stories: Steve Jobs' Death; Swedish Poet Wins Literature Nobel

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 8:29 am

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The Two-Way
8:08 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Obama To Hold News Conference This Morning

President Obama will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. ET today in the East Room of the White House, his press office just announced.

Among the topics sure to come up: His jobs bill.

We're planning to live-blog as it happens, so check back as the time gets closer if you'd like to follow along.

Obama's most recent solo news conference was on July 15.

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Thu October 6, 2011

The Word For Steve Jobs: Visionary

Apple's website this morning.

apple.com

Look at front pages, listen to news broadcasts or search the Web today and the one word that comes up over and over again in reports about the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is: visionary.

President Obama said of Jobs' passing that "the world has lost a visionary."

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The Two-Way
7:05 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Literature Nobel Goes To Swedish Poet Tomas Transtromer

The Nobel Prize medal.

NobelPrize.org

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is the 2011 Nobel laureate in literature, it was just announced.

In its statement, the Nobel committee said his work "gives us fresh access to reality."

Our friends over at Monkey See have more, including Neda Ulaby's pre-announcement look at the "Nobel shortlist."

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Ron Paul Asks: Will The Government Assassinate Journalists Next?

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at the National Press Club in Washington today.

Patrick Smith Getty Images

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was quick last Friday to condemn the killing of American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

"If the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it's sad," Paul said.

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