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 news blogs: "On Deadline," "The Oval" and "On Politics," the site's 2008 presidential campaign blog.

"Syria's most powerful ally, Russia, said for the first time Thursday that President Bashar Assad is losing control of his country and the rebels might win the civil war, dramatically shifting the diplomatic landscape at a time of enormous momentum for the opposition," The Associated Press writes.

Here's what Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, according to the AP:

Last year, smugglers tried using a catapult to get pot into the U.S.

Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents say they recently discovered 30 large cans of marijuana in a field near Yuma, Ariz., — and that the barrels apparently landed there after being fired from a pneumatic-powered cannon 500 feet away in Mexico.

Saying it is concerned that the economy won't be strong enough in coming months to keep adding jobs to the labor market, the Federal Reserve announced this afternoon that is increasing its efforts to give the economy a boost.

And in an unusually specific statement from the central bank, its policymakers said they expect to keep a key short-term interest rate at or near zero percent "as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent."

The trends continue:

"The U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060, according to projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau."

Based on data from the 2010 census, the bureau projects that:

Last year, lots of folks certainly seemed to be excited about 11/11/11.

So we feel obliged to point out the obvious: Today is 12/12/12.

And, yes, once again there's much fuss being made about a date:

-- "Other-dimensional energy abounds" on double-digit dates, numerologist Scott Petullo tells ABC News.

Update at 3 p.m. ET. On His Way To Miami:

John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer who's wanted for questioning in Belize about the murder of a neighbor, tells Bloomberg TV that he has been released from a detention center in Guatemala and is flying to Miami.

He also says he has apologized to Guatemala's president for "putting him into a very slippery position."

1:30 p.m. ET. Gunman Identified:

The man who killed two people and seriously wounded a third person at a suburban Portland, Ore., shopping mall on Tuesday has been identified by police as Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, of Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting tells us.

"The global chorus of condemnation has been loud and clear," after North Korea's successful launch of a long-range rocket that carried a satellite into space, NPR's Louisa Lim said today on Morning Edition.

After all our whining, we have to pass along word that Rush has made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

And, yes, we know that some of this year's other inductees, announced today, may be more "important":

-- Heart.

Twitter's out with its take on what the tweets of 2012 supposedly tell us about ourselves. The "Golden Tweets" (most retweeted) were the "four more years" photo of President Obama and the first lady hugging, and the "RIP Avalanna.

The four NFL players who were fined and given multi-game suspensions for their alleged parts in the New Orleans Saints' "bountygate" scheme that paid bonuses for injuring opposing players have had their punishments vacated, the league says.

Looking to grab more of "the lucrative New York-to-London market," Delta Air Lines said today that it plans to spend $360 million for a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic.

As USA Today writes:

On Sunday, Weekend All Things Considered aired an interview with Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman. He talked about the $94,000 that a buyer recently paid at auction for one bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55 Year Old whisky.

As we've said now several times, "the White House and congressional leaders continue to talk about taxes, spending cuts and how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that arrives at midnight Dec. 31 — when Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts are set to go into effect."

As NPR and others cover the story, we're pointing to interesting reports and analyses. Here are some of the latest.

If Syrian President Bashar Assad gets desperate enough he will use chemical weapons against his own people, the former chief of staff for that country's chemical weapons tells NPR's Deborah Amos.

Maj. Gen. Adnan Sillu, who defected in July and is now in Turkey, is convinced that if rebel forces close in on Damascus, Assad will order the use of mustard gas, sarin or other chemicals in a "last desperate act," Deb reported today on Morning Edition.

Cats were everywhere. Fifty or so of them. In the house. On the lawn. Sunning themselves on the wall surrounding the property.

Most were six-toed — making them polydactyls. That's different. The cats you usually see have five toes on each paw in the front. Four on each in the back.

The member of Navy SEAL Team 6 killed during this weekend's rescue in Afghanistan of an American doctor was Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa.

Developers of smartphone and tablet apps aimed at children have done little in the past year to give parents "the information they need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it," the Federal Trade Commission reports.

Giving the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union has been controversial.

As The Associated Press reports:

Three previous Peace Prize laureates "South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina, have demanded that the prize money of $1.2 million not be paid this year. They say the bloc contradicts the values associated with the prize because it relies on military force to ensure security."

The family of nurse Jacintha Saldanha is "devastated" and "simply cannot understand or cope with what's happening," a British member of parliament tells the BBC as all those involved try to come to grips with the London nurse's apparent suicide.

The news that no survivors have been found in the wreckage of a small plane in which Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera and six others were traveling before it crashed Sunday in northern Mexico means "the world has lost one very beautiful voice," as E! Online writes.

According to The Associated Press:

The face-to-face meeting at the White House Sunday between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner has led to analyses such as these this morning:

Oh those wacky Australians.

Wednesday, it was two disc jockeys impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles to trick a nurse into telling them how the Duchess of Cambridge was coping with her morning sickness.

One of the most consistently conservative voices in Congress and a favorite of Tea Party activists across the nation is leaving the Senate.

South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint is resigning to take over as president of the Heritage Foundation.

Wanted for questioning in Belize about the murder of a neighbor, anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee is sitting in a Guatemalan jail — and blogging about the experience.

How can you get young folks to press their elders to solve the debt and deficit crises?

Have 81-year-old former Sen. Alan Simpson go "Gangnam style," of course.

Sorry, royal fans, we're not planning to follow every bit of news about the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy.

But we do want to note that Kate, "holding a bouquet of flowers, left King Edward VII hospital in central London on Thursday morning with her husband, Prince William," the BBC says. "Less than 12 weeks pregnant, she was admitted with acute morning sickness — hyperemesis gravidarum — on Monday."

In one of the sharpest warnings so far to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today "the whole world is watching" and that if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, "there will be consequences."

Without saying specifically that the U.S. and its allies would take military action, Panetta said it is "fair enough to say that their use of those weapons would cross a red line."

Update at 4:00 p.m. ET. Morsi Calls For National Dialogue:

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi called for national dialogue in a televised address today.

Morsi spoke amid escalating violence over a draft constitution and a presidential decree that granted him near-absolute power.

"I call for a full, productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures to meet this Saturday," Morsi said according to Al Arabiya.