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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10:10am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Violent Crime Drops Again, FBI Reports

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 10:12 am

From the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report.
FBI.gov

The number of violent crimes reported by 12,500 U.S. law enforcement agencies fell 6.4 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same time in 2010, the FBI reports.

And in its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report the bureau also says that property crimes were down 3.7 percent.

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9:45am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Boehner: House Will Reject Deal On Tax Cut, Benefits; Senate Should Stay On Job

Saying again that it's wrong to enact two-month extensions of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) just told reporters that he expects the House will this evening reject the deal to do just that, which passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority on Saturday.

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9:15am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Who Is Kim Jong Un? Who Really Knows?

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency distributed this photo of Kim Jong Un on Sept. 23.
hand-out AFP/Getty Images

It's been two years since Kim Jong Un effectively became North Korea's "Great Successor" and heir to the seat of power in the communist nation run by a family dynasty — a dynasty that began with his grandfather, Kim Il Sung (the "Great Leader") and continued with his father, Kim Jong Il (the "Dear Leader").

But in that time about the only new thing we know is that he's two years older and now thought to be in his late 20s. And, that he appears about to become at least the titular head of an impoverished nation that threatens its richer neighbor to the south with nuclear weapons

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8:00am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

More Than 30 Percent Of Americans Arrested By Age 23, Study Says

The arrest of an Occupy DC protester earlier this month in Washington — one type of arrest that would show up in the researchers' numbers.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

There's been a sharp increase in recent decades in the number of young Americans who report they've been arrested at least once, researchers report in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While in the mid-1960s about 22 percent of Americans reported having been arrested by the time they turned 23, researchers estimate that the "prevalence rate" for arrests by that age now lies "between 30.2 percent and 41.4 percent."

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7:15am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

Top Stories: Kim Jong Il's Death, Philippines Disaster, Payroll Tax Impasse

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 7:20 am

Good morning.

The major story of the past 12 hours or so, as we've been reporting, is the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

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6:55am

Mon December 19, 2011
The Two-Way

For 'The Economist,' Kim Jong Il's Death Means 'Farewell, Earthlings'

The Economist

Known for its sometimes irreverent way of illustrating world events, The Economist magazine has over the years been quite creative when it's cover subject was North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (who died Saturday at the age of 69).

He was "Rocket man" in 2006. The image showed him blasting off into space.

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10:52am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

'Layaway Santas' Are Spreading Cheer This Year At Kmarts

We need a heart-warming story and this fits the bill:

"At Kmart stores across the country," The Associated Press writes, "Santa is getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents."

We're seeing stories about this happening in:

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10:04am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

SEC Files Civil Fraud Suit Against Former Fannie And Freddie Execs

Six former top executives of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) "knew and approved of misleading statements claiming the companies had minimal holdings of higher-risk mortgage loans, including subprime loans" and have now been accused of securities fraud in a civil suit, the Securities and Exchange Commission just announced.

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9:30am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

At Bradley Manning Hearing, His Attorney Challenges Judge

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 10:20 am

An "astonishing" scene has already played out at the just-opened military court hearing about the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, The Guardian reports.

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8:30am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

McQueary Repeats Allegation About Sandusky

(Note: There is graphic testimony about the alleged sexual abuse of a young boy in this post.)

Mike McQueary, a key witness in the case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky — who stands accused of sexually abusing at least 10 young boys over more than a decade — is testifying this morning at a court hearing about the scandal that has rocked the university.

NPR's Jeff Brady is covering the Pennsylvania court proceeding and is posting updates on his Twitter page.

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8:05am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Occupy? Humble Brag? What's Your 'Word Of The Year?'

"Humble brag" is linguist Ben Zimmer's personal favorite for 2011 Â word of the year.
Twitter.com/Humblebrag

Merriam-Webster may think that "pragmatic" was 2011's word of the year, as we reported Thursday, but there's certainly lots of room to debate that choice.

And the American Dialect Society has put out its annual call for help in deciding what word it should bestow with the honor.

Last year, the society decided "app" was 2010's top word.

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7:15am

Fri December 16, 2011

6:40am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Christopher Hitchens: 'Atheist Intellectual,' 'Noble Contrarian'

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 8:08 am

Christopher Hitchens.
Brendan Banaszak NPR

The life of often controversial writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens, who died Thursday after a long battle against cancer of the esophagus, as told in some of today's headlines:

-- "Christopher Hitchens, Author and Contrarian, Dies at 62." (The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog)

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6:05am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Congress Averts Government Shutdown, But Still Divided On Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 12:59 pm

Update at 1:50 p.m. ET. Government Will Not Shutdown:

The House of Representatives just passed a $1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government running through the fall. Congress, however, is still deadlocked on two major pieces of legislation. The extension of the payroll tax cut, which is a priority for the Obama administration and an extension of jobless benefits to to the long-term unemployed.

Our Original Post Continues:

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5:30am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

Japanese Officials Declare 'Cold Shutdown' Of Crippled Reactors

Workers in protective suits and masks wait to enter the emergency operation center at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station on Nov. 12, 2011.
David Guttenfelder AFP/Getty Images

Nuclear reactors crippled in Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami are now in a "cold shutdown," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced today.

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