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
1:14 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

Cain's 9-9-9 Plan: Just Like SimCity?

A framegrab from the Cain campaign's video about its 9-9-9 tax plan.

YouTube.com

One rival said he thought it was "the price of a pizza" (Jon Huntsman's quip). Another said you need to turn it upside down because "the devil's in the details" (Rep. Michele Bachmann's 6-6-6 reference).

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The Two-Way
10:59 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Plot Was 'Directed By Individuals In The Iranian Government,' Obama Says

"What we know is that an individual of Iranian-American descent was involved in a plot to assassinate the ambassador to the United States from Saudi Arabia, and we also know that he had direct links, was paid by and directed by individuals in the Iranian government," President Obama just said.

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The Two-Way
10:10 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Dennis Ritchie, C Programmer And Unix Co-Creator, Has Died

Dennis Ritchie at the 1999 ceremony when he received the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton.

Bell Labs.

Dennis Ritchie is being remembered today as a pioneering computer scientist, the "father of [the] C programming language," co-creator of the Unix operating system and "a 'titan' of the [computer] industry whose influence was largely unknown."

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The Two-Way
9:31 am
Thu October 13, 2011

11-Year Sentence For Hedge Fund Boss Rajaratnam

Raj Rajaratnam, billionaire co-founder of Galleon Group, entering Manhattan federal court in May.

Louis Lanzano AP

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 11:10 am

Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge-fund billionaire convicted of insider trading, has just been given what's said to be the longest-ever prison sentence in the U.S. for that crime.

He's due to spend 11 years behind bars, The New York Times' DealBook blog and other news outlets are reporting. And he's been fined $10 million.

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The Two-Way
9:17 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Slovak Parliament OKs Eurozone Bailout Fund

As expected, "Slovakia's Parliament has approved expanding the powers of the European Union bailout fund," The Associated Press reports from Bratislava.

The wire service adds that:

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The Two-Way
8:41 am
Thu October 13, 2011

French Prosecutors Drop Strauss-Kahn Sex Assault Inquiry

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 9:22 am

"French prosecutors have suspended the investigation into sexual assault claims against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn," France 24 reports. "French journalist Tristane Banon has accused Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her in 2003."

The Associated Press writes that "the prosecutor's office said Thursday that Strauss-Kahn admitted to sexual aggression against writer Tristane Banon but that it is too late to prosecute for that charge, because the incident in question happened in 2003."

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The Two-Way
7:55 am
Thu October 13, 2011

VIDEO: In Bhutan, Land That Measures Happiness, A Royal Wedding

Just for the beautiful colors and relative simplicity of the ceremony, it's worth noting and taking a look at today's wedding in Bhutan of King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck to "commoner bride" Jetsun Pema.

The Associated Press has video.

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The Two-Way
6:54 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Top Stories: BlackBerry, Cain, Iran, Trade Deals, Listeria

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 7:03 am

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The Two-Way
6:35 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Jobless Claims Nearly Unchanged

Originally published on Thu October 13, 2011 6:38 am

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits last week was basically the same as the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.

It says 404,000 such claims were submitted, vs. 405,000 the week before (a number that was revised up slightly from the previous estimate of 401,000).

As we wrote last week:

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The Two-Way
6:03 am
Thu October 13, 2011

GOP Presidential Contender Herman Cain Takes Lead In Second Poll

"Fueled by Tea Party supporters, conservatives and high-interest GOP primary voters, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain now leads the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll," NBC News deputy political director Mark Murry reports.

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The Two-Way
5:30 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Alleged Iran Plot Is More 'Caper Novel' Than Spy Novel

The suspect: Manssor Arbabsiar (front, right) appearing in court Tuesday.

Shirley Shepard AFP/Getty Images

Here's another way to look at what U.S. law enforcement officials say was a plot by two Iranians — with assistance from "factions" of Iran's government — to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.:

Yesterday, we posted about how "brazen and bizarre" the alleged scheme appears.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

National Book Awards Finalists Announced

National Book Awards finalist medal.

NationalBook.org

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 12:59 pm

Our colleagues at Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud hosted today's announcement of the 20 finalists for this year's National Book Awards.

They report that the nominees are:

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Clinton's Condemns 'Dangerous Escalation,' Iran Slams 'Baseless Claims'

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 11:22 am

The alleged plot by two Iranians to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, which U.S. investigators say had the support of some "factions" within Iran's government, marks a "dangerous escalation" in that nation's support for terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said this morning.

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The Two-Way
10:57 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Harrisburg Lawmakers Spar As City Moves Toward Bankruptcy

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 12:06 pm

After a 4-3 vote by the Harrisburg, Pa., city council Tuesday night to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy protection, a council member delivered the necessary documents to court today.

But now, The Associated Press reports, Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson (D) is making the case that the council doesn't have the authority to seek bankruptcy.

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Family Lost In Corn Maze Dials 911 For Help

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The family got lost in this corn maze on Connors Farm in Danvers, Mass., but were eventually found close to the exit. The maze was shaped in the theme of the "Headless Horseman."

Courtesy of Connors Farm

Maybe they'd recently read or watched Children of the Corn:

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The Two-Way
9:03 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Rep. Issa Sends 'Fast And Furious' Subpoenas To Holder, Other Officials

Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 12:53 pm

Saying "it's time we know the whole truth" about the so-called Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today followed through on his promise to issue subpoenas to Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-ranking Justice Department officials.

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The Two-Way
8:23 am
Wed October 12, 2011

'Underwear Bomber' Pleads Guilty

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is this hour pleading guilty to attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger jet on Christmas Day 2009.

The Detroit Free Press, which is live-blogging the court action, reports that attorney Anthony Chambers surprised the courtroom earlier by announcing that "his client plans to plead guilty." And it adds that:

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The Two-Way
8:09 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Israel, Hamas Prisoner-Swap Deal: The Ripple Effects

What does the deal reached by Israel and Hamas to exchange long-held Sgt. Gilad Schalit for about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners mean for the seemingly never-ending Mideast peace process and politics in the region?

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The Two-Way
6:30 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 3:14 pm

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The Two-Way
5:59 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
5:30 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
11:59 am
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
11:35 am
Tue October 11, 2011

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

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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
9:30 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
8:11 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
7:32 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
6:56 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
6:29 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
6:08 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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