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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12:30pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Tears From Kim Jong Un As His Father's Funeral Nears

The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is set for Wednesday in Pyongyang, and it's something of a cliche to say — as basically every story today does — that details about what will happen are largely a mystery.

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10:00am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Mom 'Mortified,' Obama Amused When Baby Grabbed President's Mouth

She says now that she "was mortified ... I was so embarrassed."

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9:25am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Consumer Confidence Rose This Month

American consumers felt better this month about how things are going for the U.S. economy and their own financial situations, the private research group The Conference Board just reported.

Its consumer confidence index rose to 64.5 from 55.2 in November and is back at a level not seen since last April.

But in a statement, the director of the board's consumer research center advises viewing the again with caution.

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9:05am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Sears, Kmart Closings Will Shutter 3 Percent Of Company's Stores

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 9:09 am

Mark Lennihan AP

As you know, numbers can often be looked at several ways.

There's the headline that "dozens of Kmart, Sears stores to close" and the topline news that "between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores" are going to be shut down as the retailer looks to trim costs and move ahead after it endured a pretty poor holiday shopping season.

That's a lot of stores, obviously.

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8:35am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Home Prices Fell Again In October

Renzo Salazar, from Real Signs of Ace Post Holding Inc., placed a bank owned sign on top of a for sale sign outside a foreclosed home in Miami last month.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Home prices dropped from September to October in 19 of the 20 cities where it tracks the real estate markets, according to the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report.

According to a statement from David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices:

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8:05am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Top Stories: Yemeni Leader May Be Treated In U.S.; Syria Moves Tanks

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 8:08 am

Good morning.

If you're just getting into the swing of things after a long Christmas weekend, welcome back. If you're still on vacation, we're jealous.

Our early headlines:

-- Activists Condemn Syrian Army's 'Show,' Say Tanks Didn't Move Far.

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7:15am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Activists Condemn Syrian Army's 'Show,' Say Tanks Didn't Move Far

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 7:49 am

A Syrian tank driving through the city of Homs on Monday (Dec. 26, 2011).
AFP/Getty Images

"Syria's army suspended days of punishing attacks on the restive city of Homs," The Associated Press writes, "and began withdrawing its tanks Tuesday just as Arab League monitors visited the area and met with local leaders, activists and officials said."

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6:45am

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Lost Money: $41 Billion In Gift Cards Haven't Been Redeemed Since 2005

You may have given one — or two, or three. You may have gotten one — or two, or three.

Gift cards.

The presents that show up in Christmas stockings all across America. The go-to gifts for aunts and uncles trying to please those finicky teenaged nieces and nephews. The tokens of affection that may say "I got this on the way over here."

And, also, the gifts that sometimes never get used.

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12:10pm

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Dozens Killed In Syria: Regime Blames Terrorists, Opposition Blames Regime

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 3:59 pm

A crater left by an explosion at the site of a suicide attack today in Damascus.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

"Twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district Friday, targeting security and intelligence buildings and killing at least 40 people" according to authorities, The Associated Press writes.

NPR's Deborah Amos says it's the "first such attack since the beginning of a 10-month revolt" against President Bashar Assad's regime.

Now there's the question of who is responsible.

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10:10am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Cue The Scary Music: 'Space Ball' Crashes In Namibia

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 11:43 am

The space ball. What is it?
Namibia's National Forensic Science Institute AFP/Getty Images

It's said to be made of a "metal alloy known to man," according to Agence France Presse. (We enjoyed that Spock-like line.)

But there's much that isn't known about what's being called a "space ball" that came down in Namibia last month: Such as where or what it came from.

Officials from NASA and the European Space Agency have been contacted.

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9:20am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Revisiting Istalif, Famed For Pottery And Picnics

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 9:24 am

A man in Istalif last year.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Hearing Renee Montagne's Morning Edition report today about the village of Istalif, Afghanistan, brought back memories for this blogger.

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8:20am

Fri December 23, 2011

7:55am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Vaclav Havel, Hero Of The 'Velvet Revolution,' Laid To Rest

A picture of former Czech President Vaclav Havel lay among candles and floral tributes as people gathered in Prague on Thursday to honor him.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

7:00am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Arlington Cemetery: Possible Problems With 64,230 Graves Or Records

A review of 259,978 gravesites and more than 510,000 records at Arlington National Cemetery has identified 64,230 cases of potential problems that range from minor mistakes in files to errors on gravestones, according to a U.S. Army report delivered to Congress on Thursday.

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6:15am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Payroll Tax Cut's Last Hurdle Cleared: House Gives 'Unanimous Consent'

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 12:35 pm

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 22, 2011).
Evan Vucci AP
(This post was retopped with the latest news at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Marking the end of the latest pitched political battle in Washington, President Obama said this afternoon that Congressional approval of measures to extend for another two months a payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed is "good news just in the nick of time for the holidays."

"I said it was critical for Congress not to go home without preventing a tax increase" and the expiration of the long-term jobless benefits, Obama said, "and I'm pleased to say they've got it done."

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