Ongoing Coverage:

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
8:05 am
Tue December 27, 2011

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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The Two-Way
7:15 am
Tue December 27, 2011

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

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

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

"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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The Two-Way
6:45 am
Tue December 27, 2011

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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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

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

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

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

"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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The Two-Way
10:10 am
Fri December 23, 2011

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

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

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

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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The Two-Way
9:20 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Revisiting Istalif, Famed For Pottery And Picnics

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

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

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

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The Two-Way
7:55 am
Fri December 23, 2011

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

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The Two-Way
7:00 am
Fri December 23, 2011

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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The Two-Way
6:15 am
Fri December 23, 2011

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

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Capitol Hill Thursday (Dec. 22, 2011).
Evan Vucci AP

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

(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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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

NORAD's Santa Tracker Switches On Saturday

They'll see him when he's flying.
NORAD

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The Two-Way
1:05 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Because Of Somali Pirates, Ocean Racers Are In A 'Stealth Zone'

The Groupama Sailing Team (shown here on Dec. 10 near Cape Town, South Africa) is somewhere out ahead in the "stealth zone."
Volvo Ocean Race Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 1:08 pm

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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Obama Puts More Pressure On House GOP Over Payroll Tax Cut

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 12:21 pm

The political maneuvering continues in Washington as lawmakers debate how to extend about-to-expire payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

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The Two-Way
11:20 am
Thu December 22, 2011

'Mind The Gap' Indeed: Woman's Fall Beneath Train Captured On Video

A "mind the gap" reminder at the Acton Town Underground Station in London
carmen_seaby via Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 12:38 pm

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The Two-Way
9:00 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Swept Away By '04 Tsunami, Indonesian Girl Reportedly Finds Way Home

Jan. 4, 2005: Indonesians search for names of relatives on notice boards in Banda Aceh, one of the places devastated by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami.
Dimas Ardian Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 22, 2011 9:49 am

Seven years ago, an estimated 230,000 people died after an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated South Asian coasts from Indonesia to Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.

Wednesday, one of those who was thought to be dead apparently "found her way back to her home," according to the Indonesian state news agency Antara.

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