Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott joined NPR News in the spring of 2009 to launch a new blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Frank James.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and where it engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Memmott came to NPR from USA Today, where for over 20 years he worked as a reporter and editor on subjects ranging from politics and, foreign affairs to economics and the media.

In recent years he helped launch and then led three different news blogs at USATODAY.com, including the website's 2008 presidential campaign blog, On Politics.

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9:11pm

Sun December 18, 2011
The Two-Way

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Has Died, State Media Say

Originally published on Sun December 18, 2011 9:04 pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a visit to Siberia in August.
Dmitry Astakhov AFP/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is dead, according to state media in that communist nation. He was 69.

South Korea's Yonhap News says that:

"Kim, who took over North Korea after his father and national founder Kim Il-sung died in 1994, 'passed away from a great mental and physical strain' during a train ride at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency said in an urgent dispatch.

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9:52am

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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9:04am

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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8:30am

Fri December 16, 2011
The Two-Way

At Bradley Manning Hearing, His Attorney Challenges Judge

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 9:20 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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7:30am

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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