Mark Memmott, NPR

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.

Update at 8:20 p.m. ET. Amazon, UPS, Offer Refunds:

The Washington Post reports:

"Amazon and UPS said Thursday they would offer refunds to customers who did not receive their Christmas orders on time, after a surge in last-minute online shopping caught the shipping giant off guard."

Spacewalking astronauts have successfully replaced a failed coolant pump on the International Space Station.

NPR's Joe Palca reports that American spacewalkers Michael Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio had to bolt the massive pump in place (on the ground, it weighs 780 pounds), connect four ammonia lines and plug in five electrical cables. The ammonia is a refrigerant used in the station's two-part cooling system, which is necessary to dissipate heat from the onboard electrical equipment.

Some critics — perhaps others would say Grinches? — don't like the North American Aerospace Defense Command's annual online "Santa Tracker."

At WBUR, author Ethan Gilsdorf writes that "real-time digital imagery of Santa and his route, or calculations of the loot he's delivered, take the imagination out of Christmas."

The remaining members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been released from prison in Russia, a few months short of serving their full two-year sentences for "hooliganism" — a charge that the band's supporters say was just a trumped-up effort to quash free speech.

Target Corp. acknowledged early Thursday that there was a massive security breach of its customers' credit and debit card accounts starting the day before Thanksgiving and extending at least to Dec. 15 — the heart of the holiday shopping season.

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET. Authorities Issue 'All Clear' For All Four Campus Sites:

Harvard's Emergency website issued has cleared the university's Science Center, the last of four sites that were searched for possible explosives.

After nearly 6 hours of searching by bomb squads and other experts, authorities at Harvard University on Monday had issued "all clear" notices for the four buildings apparently cited in "unconfirmed reports" about explosives on campus.

The news that Amazon is hoping to one day use semi-autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers has many asking a familiar question:

What could go wrong?

Check this tweet:

"An Amazon drone!? What could go wrong?! 'They're autonomous' - this is how the Terminator started FYI..."

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

Making a relatively rare appearance on national TV, former President George W. Bush told Tonight Show host Jay Leno on Tuesday's show that "I relied upon my faith, my family helped a lot and I had a good team around me" while in the White House.

President Obama announced Thursday that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.

Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.

The woman whose smiling face adorned the HealthCare.gov website in the first days after its launch has stepped forward to tearfully address those who she says cyberbullied her as they took potshots at the Obama administration's troubled online health exchange.

Voters in Houston on Tuesday rejected a bond referendum that would have allowed Harris County, Texas, to borrow $217 million that it could then spend on turning the Astrodome into one very large convention and exhibition hall.

The vote was 53 percent against the referendum, to 47 percent in favor.

Sports talk shows and news outlets have been all over the story of a Texas parent who filed a complaint about bullying after his son's high school football team lost a game last week by the score of 91-0.

If you haven't heard about what happened during that game, here's how Fort Worth's Star-Telegram sums up the story:

(Click here to jump to our latest updates — including a Democrat accusing Republicans of holding a "monkey court.")

Republicans in the House have framed the central question they want answered about the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act this way, NPR's Ailsa Chang said Thursday on Morning Edition:

In what would be the largest such settlement in U.S. history, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has reportedly reached a tentative deal with the Justice Department that would see the bank pay $13 billion to settle civil charges related to wrongdoing by some of its units just before and during the housing crisis.

The deal, sources tell news outlets including NPR, would not absolve JPMorgan from possible criminal liability.

Word of the tentative agreement emerged around 3 p.m. ET. Saturday. We posted when the news broke and followed with background and more details.

High-flying billionaire Elon Musk's Tesla Motors has seen its shares skid the past couple days because they've been downgraded by analysts and because of a YouTube clip showing one of the all-electric luxury cars engulfed in flames earlier this week.

Just before noon ET, a share of Tesla was trading around $169.50 — down about 6.5 percent for the day and $25 (13 percent) below its 52-week high of $194.50.

(We most recently updated this post at 8:31 p.m. ET.)

We said it Tuesday: "No end in sight."

The story's the same a day later.

Pardon us for being repetitive, but there's no end in sight to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Update at 8:18 p.m. ET. Impasse:

As first day of a federal government shutdown came to a close, Congress was not any closer to a resolution.

Case in point: Republicans in the House proposed three bills that would have reopened national parks, the Department of Veteran's Affairs and kept the D.C. government afloat. But all three bills didn't even make it out of the House.

Former President George H.W. Bush's presence as a witness and guest at the marriage of two women in Maine last weekend is being treated by some as his quiet endorsement of same-sex marriage.

(We're constantly updating the top of this post and adding to it below as well.)

The nation's capital went on high alert Monday after a shooting attack at the city's U.S. Navy Yard left at least 12 victims and one gunman dead and injured 8 others.

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