Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

As the NPR Ethics Handbook states, the Standards & Practices editor is "charged with cultivating an ethical culture throughout our news operation. This means he or she coordinates regular training and discussion on how we apply our principles and monitors our decision-making practices to ensure we're living up to our standards."

Before becoming Standards & Practices editor, Memmott was one of the hosts of NPR's "The Two-Way" news blog, which he helped to launch when he came to NPR in 2009. It focuses on breaking news, analysis, and the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Prior to 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 reported from places across the United 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.

Plug the name "Jon Huntsman," the state "New Hampshire" and the word "lonely" into a search field and you'll get lots of hits.

"In New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman Walks A Lonely Path," a Los Angeles Times headline reads.

(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."

With the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican caucuses set to kick off the "real" battle for the party's presidential nomination, there's word that:

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November from 9 percent in October as payrolls went up by 120,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

(New material based on NPR reporting added to the top of this post at 12:30 p.m. ET.)

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is reassessing his campaign but still plans to move ahead at this time, his Iowa campaign director tells The Associated Press and NPR.

American Airlines, one of the giants of the U.S. airline industry, just announced it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The U.S.-NATO mission in Libya was a "recipe for success in the future," President Obama said Tuesday on NBC-TV's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

During a sober discussion that lasted several minutes, the president told Leno that he doesn't agree with critics who say the U.S. led from behind.

From Alabama and Georgia north to the border with Canada, there are reports from all over the continental U.S. today about a fantastic show last night:

An intense geomagnetic storm that produced some of the best "Northern Lights" in recent memory, reports SpaceWeather.com.

Many folks are posting photos and videos. Here's one that the poster says was taken in Michigan.

Saying that it "reorders the way they do business in Washington by reinventing the tax code and restoring our nation to fiscal health through balanced budgets and entitlement reform," Texas Gov. Rick Perry is this hour unveiling his "cut, balance and grow plan" on taxes.

Michele Norris, an All Things Considered co-host since December 2002, is stepping away from that post until after the 2012 presidential campaign because her husband has taken a senior position with President Obama's re-election effort.

She is not leaving NPR's airwaves, however. While she will not be involved in coverage of the 2012 election, Norris will continue to report and produce projects for the organization.

In a message just sent to NPR staff, Norris says:

Update at 5:42 p.m. ET. As expected, President Obama announced that his administration was easing the terms of a federal program that would open the doors for homeowners to refinancing their homes no matter how far underwater their mortgage is.

The AP reports that the Federal Housing Finance Administration "estimated an additional 1 million people would qualify. Moody's Analytics say the figure could be as high as 1.6 million."

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