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
7:40 am
Thu February 28, 2013

U.S. To Give Syrian Opposition $60 Million More In Non-Lethal Aid, Kerry Says

Secretary of State John Kerry during a news conference Thursday in Rome.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration will ask Congress for an additional $60 million in aid to help the Syrian opposition council provide basic goods and services in areas under rebel control, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday in Rome.

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The Two-Way
7:13 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Benedict's Time Is Over; He's No Longer The Pope

A final blessing: Pope Benedict XVI as he blessed those gathered outside his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Thursday. He's not expected to make any more public appearances.
Tony Gentile Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 2:11 pm

  • Sylvia Poggioli on 'Morning Editon'

(We last updated the top of this post at 2 p.m. ET.)

Precisely on time, under dark skies but with the lights of cameras from news outlets around the world illuminating the scene, Swiss Guards on Thursday closed the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome — marking the official end of Pope Benedict XVI's time as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

For the first time in about 600 years, a pope has voluntarily stepped down. His final moment as leader of the church came at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Rosa Parks 'Helped Change America,' Obama Says At Statue Dedication

President Obama reached out to touch the statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks during Wednesday's dedication ceremony in the U.S. Capitol. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was behind the president.
Jason Reed Reuters /Landov

With words of high praise from Republicans and Democrats, the nation's leaders on Wednesday dedicated a statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks — a statue that now stands in the U.S. Capitol "where many fought to prevent a day like this," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

President Obama said of Parks that she was "a seamstress slight in stature but mighty in courage" who lived a life "of dignity and grace."

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The Two-Way
10:53 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Picking A Pope? Try The 'Sweet Sistine' Bracket Challenge

The "sweet sistine" brackets.
Religion News Service

Next month brings "March madness" for fans of college basketball.

It's also going to bring Roman Catholic cardinals together to choose a new pope.

Which means, according to Religion News Service, it's time to "make your picks in the Vatican's Sweet Sistine brackets!"

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Hagel Sworn In As Defense Secretary

New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, as he was sworn in Wednesday morning at the Pentagon. His wife, Lilibet, held the Bible. Michael L. Rhodes, the Pentagon's director of administration and management, administered the oath.
MC1 Chad J. McNeeley Office of the Secretary of Defense

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 11:18 am

After a somewhat stormy debate in the Senate over his confirmation, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was sworn in Wednesday morning at the Pentagon and took over as secretary of defense.

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The Two-Way
9:34 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Come Aboard! Here's What The 'Titanic II' Will Look Like, Inside And Out

An artist's image of the Titanic II.
Blue Star Line UPI /Landov

Declaring it will be the safest cruise ship in the world and will have more than enough lifeboats just in case something goes wrong, the designer of what's supposed to be a replica of the Titanic has unveiled images of what the Titanic II will look like, inside and out.

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The Two-Way
8:04 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Reports: U.S. Eyeing 'Direct' Aid To Syrian Rebels, Though Not Weapons

Rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria, in January.
Thomas Rassloff DPA /LANDOV

"The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria's opposition political coalition," The Washington Post reports. It cites as its sources "U.S. and European officials."

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The Two-Way
6:58 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Sometimes 'The Lord Seemed To Sleep,' Pope Says In Farewell

Pope Benedict XVI as he arrived on the altar in St. Peter's Square Wednesday for his last general audience.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 11:37 am

Bidding an emotional farewell to a huge crowd gathered in The Vatican's St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI indirectly acknowledged Wednesday that his nearly 8 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church have not always been easy.

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The Two-Way
3:33 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Liberal SuperPAC Under Fire For Tweets About McConnell's 'Chinese' Wife

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife Elaine Chao at last summer's Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Mike Thelier UPI /Landov

From NPR member station WFPL:

"A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's wife.

"For months, the liberal superPAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home.

"Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.

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The Two-Way
12:13 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Iran Doctors Photo To Cover Michelle Obama's Shoulders

And how Iran's Fars news agency covered her up.
FarsNews.com

Digitally doctoring photos, it appears, is a practice that bridges some very deep religious and political divides.

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The Two-Way
10:49 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Donations Pour In For Homeless Man Who Returned Ring He Got By Mistake

Billy Ray Harris.
GiveForward.com/billyray

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 11:48 am

Nearly $152,000 has been donated online to help Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man in Kansas City who returned an engagement ring to the woman who accidentally left it in a cup he uses to collect change.

Here's his good news story:

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The Two-Way
10:27 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Home Sales, Consumer Confidence And Bernanke All On Positive Side

Today's economic indicators all point up:

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The Two-Way
9:28 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Winter Weary Central Plains States Getting Walloped Again

While severe winter weather has caused problems for many in the Great Plains, it has also provided some opportunities for fun. On Monday, Simon Mourning (front) and Chance Cain went sliding in Wichita, Kansas.
Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle MCT /Landov

"Another blizzard bore down on the nation's midsection early Tuesday after lashing the Texas Panhandle with hurricane-force winds, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas," The Associated Press writes. It adds that "at least two people were killed in the storm, and Midwesterners still digging out from last week's deep snowpack braced for more."

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The Two-Way
8:57 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Today's 3 'Should-Read' Stories About The Sequester

The U.S. Capitol, as seen from the nearby Russell Senate Office Building.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters /Landov

As Friday's deadline approaches, we're pointing to stories that should help everyone get ready for "the sequester" — the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts in federal spending that would begin to kick in that day if lawmakers don't strike some sort of deal before then. (We won't call them "must-reads" because we'd never want to tell anyone that they "must" read anything about this subject. Let's refer to them as "should-reads.")

First, consider this:

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Tue February 26, 2013

'The Worm' Turns Up In North Korea: Dennis Rodman Is On Visit

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, in the departure hall of Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, before his flight to North Korea.
Andy Wong AP

This comes from The Associated Press, not The Onion:

"PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills Tuesday and flamboyant style — neon-bleached hair, tattoos, nose studs and all — to the isolated communist country with possibly the world's drabbest dress code: North Korea.

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The Two-Way
7:17 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Tourist Tragedy In Egypt: Hot Air Balloon Catches Fire; Many Aboard Killed

The wreckage of a hot air balloon and its gondola lay in a field near Luxor, Egypt, on Tuesday. A fire and subsequent crash killed many of those who were aboard the tourist flight.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 2:08 pm

The final death toll has not yet been determined, but the number is high. A hot air balloon carrying tourists on a flight over historic sites around the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor caught fire Tuesday. It then plunged to the ground.

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The Two-Way
2:51 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

101-Year-Old 'Turbaned Tornado' Retires From Running

Fauja Singh, the 101-year-old "turbaned tornado," with other runners Sunday in Hong Kong.
Jayne Russell Getty Images

Fauja Singh has decided, at the age of 101, to put his feet up and rest.

Or, at least, to stop participating in long-distance races.

The Indian-born British citizen known as the "turbaned tornado" was among the competitors Sunday at a 10-kilometer race in Hong Kong. According to Sports Illustrated, he completed the 6.2-mile course in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds.

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The Two-Way
1:16 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

At Nuclear Talks: West Will Float 'Sanctions Relief;' Iran Will Take 'Hard Line'

Talks between the U.S., its allies and Iran about the Persian giant's nuclear ambitions are due to begin Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan. As the time draws near, we're seeing stories about how each side will approach the discussions.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

'The Onion' Apologizes For Offensive Tweet About 9-Year-Old Quvenzhane Wallis

Actress Quvenzhane Wallis.
Imeh Akpanudosen Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 2:10 pm

This isn't a joke.

Steve Hannah, CEO of The Onion has issued a personal apology on behalf of the satirical news outlet for a tweet that someone on its staff sent out late Sunday night during the Oscars awards.

The subject was 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild. The tweet read:

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The Two-Way
11:11 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Seth MacFarlane: Crude Or Classy? Delightful Or A Dolt? You Be The Critic

Host Seth MacFarlane backstage during the Oscars ceremony Sunday night in Hollywood.
Christopher Polk Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 1:04 pm

The reviews of Seth MacFarlane's performance as host of the Oscars are in and they're all over the place.

NPR's Linda Holmes thinks the bad boy behind Family Guy was "predictably juvenile" and offensive. She concludes it was "one of the worst hosting performances in Oscar history."

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