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
5:00 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Russian Lawmakers Welcome Separatist Steps By Crimea

Vladimir Konstantinov (in purple tie) is the speaker of Crimea's parliament. He was welcomed with flowers Friday during his meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament. She is at the far right of this photo.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 9:22 am

One day after President Obama condemned steps taken by Crimea's parliament to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, Russian lawmakers are welcoming such a move by Crimean separatists.

"Russia's parliament gave its defiant support Friday to Crimean lawmakers who want to see their region split from Ukraine and join Russia," CNN reports from Moscow.

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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

VIDEO: Dalai Lama Prays Senators Will 'Act With A Pure Mind'

The Dalai Lama delivers the opening prayer Thursday at the U.S. Senate.
C-SPAN.org

The U.S. Senate's opening prayer on Thursday was delivered by the Dalai Lama — in his words, "a simple Buddhist monk."

The Tibetan spiritual leader has been in the U.S. for several weeks and his itinerary has included a White House meeting with President Obama, over the strong objections of China. As The Associated Press puts it:

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Obama Condemns Russian 'Intervention' In Ukraine

In a news conference about the situation in Ukraine, President Obama said Thursday that the world is "well beyond the days when borders can be withdrawn over the heads of democratic leaders."
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 4:06 am

Referring to Russia's actions in Crimea as an "intervention" and saying the U.S. will continue to "mobilize the international community to condemn this violation of international law," President Obama just delivered some of his most extensive remarks to date about the crisis in Ukraine.

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The Two-Way
10:04 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Claims And Counterclaims Fly As CIA And Senate Exchange Fire

The seal of the CIA at the agency's headquarters in Virginia.
Greg E. Mathieson Sr. MAI/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 11:59 am

The Central Intelligence Agency and one of the congressional panels that oversees its work, the Senate Intelligence Committee, are in what looks to be an increasingly bitter battle over just who's been behaving improperly.

McClatchyDC and The New York Times have been rolling out stories this week about claims that the CIA may have been monitoring the work of the committee's staffers in recent years and that some of those congressional aides may have left CIA headquarters with classified documents that shouldn't leave that secure facility.

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The Two-Way
7:02 am
Thu March 6, 2014

UPDATE: Massachusetts Bans 'Upskirt' Photos

The groping of women and snapping of upskirt photos is a problem on mass transit systems around the world. East Japan Railway is among those systems that have created women-only cars to deal with the problem.
Yuriko Nakao Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 12:29 pm

Update at 11:50 a.m. ET, March 7: Governor Signs New Ban:

"Two days after the state's highest court sparked outrage when it ruled that state law allows people to take such photos, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill today to ban the practice, known as 'upskirting,' " the Boston Globe writes.

So the controversy we first posted about Thursday has led to quick action.

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The Two-Way
5:45 am
Thu March 6, 2014

'We Are Ready To Protect Our Country,' Ukrainian Leader Says

Demonstrators carried a Russian flag during a rally this week in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoria.
Genya Savilov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 11:25 am

We're updating this post as the day continues.

While conceding that his nation can't come close to the military power of Russia, the interim prime minister of Ukraine said Thursday that "we are ready to protect our country" if Russia does not stop its "military aggression" in Crimea.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, that the presence of Russian forces in that autonomous region of his nation "is unacceptable in the 21st century."

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The Two-Way
11:13 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Putin Reportedly Joins List Of Nobel Peace Prize Nominees

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Alexey Nikolsky AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is among the 278 nominees for a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, according to Peace Research Institute Oslo, an institution that closely tracks the Nobel committee's work.

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The Two-Way
9:44 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Ex-IRS Official Invokes 5th Amendment Again, Then Things Get Hot

Former IRS official Lois Lerner raises her hand as she's sworn in Wednesday at the start of a House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing. She declined to answer questions posed by Chairman Darrell Issa, invoking her Fifth Amendment right.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 10:34 am

As she's done before, the woman at the center of the political storm over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of some conservative groups from 2010 into 2012 invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions during a brief appearance before a congressional committee on Wednesday.

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The Two-Way
7:47 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Don't Worry, They Say, 100-Foot Asteroid Will Miss Us Today

A NASA artist's illustration depicts an asteroid belt around a star that the space agency says is "the same age and size as our Sun."
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:56 am

Don't say you weren't warned.

But also don't worry, the experts say.

As we wrote last month when an asteroid measuring about 900 feet long passed near enough to Earth to generate headlines about a "close encounter," more rocks are always headed our way.

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The Two-Way
6:58 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Job Growth Was Weak Again In February, ADP Survey Shows

The scene at a job fair last year in Emeryville, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Private employers added only 139,000 jobs to their payrolls in February and job growth in January was even less than previously thought, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

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The Two-Way
5:58 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Overruled: Gov. Says Kentucky Will Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Order

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear
Bill Greenblatt UPI/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 7:54 am

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says his state will hire outside counsel to appeal a federal judge's order to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

The governor's announcement follows word from the state's attorney general, Jack Conway, that his office will not pursue such an appeal.

Both men are Democrats.

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The Two-Way
5:47 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Time For Tense Negotiations In Ukraine, Kerry Says

Armed men in unmarked military uniforms — who witnesses believe are Russian troops, but who Russian leaders say are "local self-defense" forces — stand outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the Crimean village of Perevalnoye.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:15 am

This post was updated at 5:10 p.m. ET.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said all sides agree that the crisis on the Crimean Peninsula must be resolved through dialogue, but he acknowledged there has yet to be one-on-one discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart.

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The Two-Way
12:18 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

'12 Years A Slave' Leads To Correction Of 161-Year-Old Story

In Twelve Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Jaap Buitendijk Fox Searchlight Pictures

Here's something of another victory for new media over old media.

The New York Times on Tuesday corrected a 161-year-old report about the enslavement of Solomon Northup, after a Twitter user pointed out that the story had twice misspelled Northup's name — including in the headline.

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The Two-Way
10:54 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Obama's $3.9 Trillion Budget Would Produce $564 Billion Deficit

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2015, after they were delivered to the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 11:53 am

As expected, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $3.9 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2015 that his number crunchers say would produce a $564 billion deficit.

The gap between spending and revenue, while large, would be down from more than $744 billion this fiscal year and a record $1.4 trillion in 2009 — a fiscal year that began when President George W. Bush was still in office. Since then, deficits during the Obama years have topped $1 trillion three times.

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The Two-Way
9:20 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Kentucky Won't Appeal Order To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, pictured in January 2013, said that appealing the judge's order "would be defending discrimination."
Roger Alford AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:40 am

"Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway will not appeal a federal judge's order that the state must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages," NPR member station WFPL reports from Louisville.

"From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right," Conway said in announcing his decision on Tuesday, the station adds.

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The Two-Way
8:49 am
Tue March 4, 2014

$2 Million Settlement Closes Ohio's 'Caged Kids' Case

Down this road is the home in northern Ohio where 11 children endured abuses such as being forced to sleep in cages. They were rescued in 2005.
Jamie-Andrea Yanak AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 9:26 am

A notorious story that became known as the "caged kids" case after 11 young children were rescued from an Ohio home nearly a decade ago has gotten to its final chapter.

The 11 victims have reached a $2 million settlement with Ohio's Stark County where three of them had lived before being placed in the home of Michael and Sharen Gravelle, where the adoptive parents forced the children to sleep in cages.

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The Two-Way
7:59 am
Tue March 4, 2014

For Those Itching To Etch, Great Wall Now Has A Graffiti Zone

Two of the names carved into the Great Wall, in this case near Badaling, China. Authorities hope to cut down on graffiti by giving tourists a designated spot to leave their marks.
David Guttenfelder AP

Chinese authorities are trying to contain a growing problem — graffiti written on and carved into the stones of the Great Wall of China — by giving tourists a designated section on which they can leave their marks.

China News Service reports that "Mutianyu, a famous section of the Great Wall of China, has established a specified area for graffiti to better protect the ancient heritage item, the governing authority said on Sunday."

Most of the graffiti, the news service says, is in English.

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The Two-Way
6:10 am
Tue March 4, 2014

At Last, No News Is Good News When It Comes To The Weather

For one day at least, an "all clear" has been issued.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 7:37 am

We wouldn't normally post a map that basically says there's nothing happening.

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The Two-Way
5:29 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Putin Says Those Aren't Russian Forces In Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin during his news conference Tuesday.
Alexei Nikolsky AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:50 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's David Greene speaks with 'New York Times' Moscow correspondent Steven Lee Myers

(We updated this post at 11:55 a.m. ET.)

Russian soldiers have not occupied government buildings and surrounded Ukrainian military bases on the Crimean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Tuesday during a news conference near Moscow at which he gave an account of recent events that contradicts reports from the ground.

Instead, he told reporters that the heavily armed men are "local self-defense forces."

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The Two-Way
10:36 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

Armed men in military uniform, believed to be Russian soldiers, were outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in Bakhchisaray, on the Crimean Peninsula, on Monday.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 2:21 pm

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:

Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.

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The Two-Way
9:15 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Boy Scouts' Ban On Gay Leaders Leads Disney To End Grants

Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 11:06 am

This news that broke locally in Florida last week is starting to grab headlines and attention across the nation:

"Disney Ends Funding To Boy Scouts Over Gay Policy." (The Associated Press)

Here's how The Orlando Sentinel, one of the first outlets to report the news, frames the story:

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The Two-Way
7:13 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Here's Ellen's Star-Stuffed Oscar Selfie That Broke Twitter

So many stars, it's hard to fit them all in.
TheEllenShow

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 11:07 am

A group selfie that host Ellen DeGeneres organized at the start of Sunday's Oscars show is now in the record books.

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The Two-Way
6:20 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Pistorius Pleads Not Guilty, Witness Tells Of Hearing Screams

Accused South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in court on Monday in Pretoria. He's accused of premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend on Feb. 14, 2013.
Herman Verwey EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 7:59 am

"The first witness at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial told the court on Monday she heard 'bloodcurdling screams' from a woman followed by shots," Reuters writes.

It was, the wire service adds, "a dramatic opening to a case that could see one of global sports' most admired role models jailed for life."

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reminds our Newscast Desk that:

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The Two-Way
5:22 am
Mon March 3, 2014

What A Blast: As Snow Ends, Wicked Cold Moves In

On the road again: This plow was at work on Sunday in Lawrence, Kan. The storm that hit there has spread east.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 4:24 pm

Update at 6:11 p.m. ET. Now The Cold:

Most of the snow is now off shore. What comes next is bitter — perhaps historic — cold for parts of the Midwest and East that's more reminiscent of January, than the beginning of meteorological spring. Here's how Accuweather sums it up:

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The Two-Way
4:21 am
Mon March 3, 2014

After Entering Crimea, Where Will Russia Stop?

A soldier in an unmarked uniform, but believed to be from the Russian army, stands outside one of the Ukrainian military bases in Crimea that have been surrounded by Russian forces. Ukrainian guards look on from inside the base.
David Mdzinarishvili Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 11:34 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Crimea

Update at 1 p.m. ET. Our Latest Head And Link, Part II:

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

The top of that post:

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The Two-Way
9:02 am
Fri February 28, 2014

California's Getting Drenched, But Drought Is Far From Over

Before the deluge: Sandbags and barriers lined a road in Glendora, Calif., on Thursday. Authorities expect flooding as heavy rains spread across the area.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 12:18 pm

The heavy rains forecast for much of drought-stricken California have indeed descended on the state.

Here's Friday's headline from Southern California Public Radio: "LA Rain: 2nd Storm Hits Overnight With Heavy Rain, Flooded Freeways."

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The Two-Way
7:23 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Ousted President Is 'Ready To Fight For The Future Of Ukraine'

Viktor Yanukovych, who says he's still the president of Ukraine, at his news conference Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
Yuri Kochetkov EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 11:31 am

(We've been updating this post.)

Appearing in public for the first time since he left his nation's capital earlier this week, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told reporters in Russia on Friday that he is "eager and ready to fight for the future of Ukraine."

At a news conference in the Russian border city of Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych did not speak about using force to reclaim the post that he says is still legally his. "I am not going to ask for military support," he said.

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The Two-Way
6:53 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Economy Grew Less Than Thought As 2013 Came To A Close

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 8:32 am

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2013, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Friday, as it significantly cut its estimate of how much gross domestic product grew during the last three months of the year.

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The Two-Way
5:53 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Mt. Gox Files For Bankruptcy; Nearly $500M Of Bitcoins Lost

A bow and an apology: Mark Karpeles, CEO of Mt. Gox, was contrite at the start of a news conference in Tokyo on Friday in which it was announced that the firm has filed for bankruptcy.
Kyodo Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 2:07 pm

The scope of the collapse of what once was the world's largest bitcoin exchange took shape Friday when Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan, saying it had lost track of nearly $480 million worth of the virtual currency.

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