James Doubek | WAMC

James Doubek

James Doubek is an associate producer and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.

In the fall of that year, Doubek was selected for NPR's internal enrichment rotation to work as an audio producer for Weekend Edition. He spent two months pitching, producing, and editing interviews and pieces for broadcast.

As an associate producer for NPR's digital content team, Doubek edits online stories and manages NPR's website and social media presence.

He got his start at NPR as an intern at the Washington Desk, where he made frequent trips to the Supreme Court and reported on political campaigns.

Merriam-Webster raised the hackles of stodgy grammarians last week when it affirmed the lexical veracity of "irregardless."

The word's definition, when reading it, would seem to be: without without regard.

"Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795," the dictionary's staff wrote in a "Words of the Week" roundup on Friday. "We do not make the English language, we merely record it."

Arizona is one of just five states that has seen new coronavirus cases climb by the thousands each day in the past couple of weeks.

The state's governor, Republican Doug Ducey, in May lifted a stay-at-home order he put in place in March so the economy could begin reopening. But a week ago, Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down again for 30 days as daily caseloads topped 3,000.

A challenge has been growing more popular in the past few months for the truly masochistic bicyclists out there: Everesting.

It's riding an elevation of the height of Mount Everest on a bicycle. Pick one hill, and go up and down, over and over again, until you've climbed 29,029 vertical feet.

"It's pretty brutal," says pro cyclist Lachlan Morton.

Morton just broke the record for the amount of time it takes to complete the feat — he finished in seven hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds. He did it on Saturday on a hill in Rist Canyon, near Fort Collins, Colo.

One common recommendation for reducing police brutality against people of color is to have police departments mirror a given area's racial makeup.

President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that law enforcement "reflect the demographics of the community"; the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said diversity on police forces can help build trust with communities.

Bubba Wallace has yet to win a race in NASCAR's premier Cup series, but he's been thrust into the spotlight as the lone African American driver in a sport steeped in white Southern heritage.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser gained attention last week after she had a section of 16th Street near the White House painted with the words "Black Lives Matter" in bright yellow and renamed a section of the street Black Lives Matter Plaza on Friday.

Activists across the country are calling for radical reforms to policing in the U.S., including abolishing the police entirely.

Camden, N.J., took its own big step in 2013. The city was in a public safety crisis, with murder rates 18 times the national average and scores of excessive-force complaints, when the mayor and City Council dissolved the existing police department and created a countywide force in its place.

The best thing about being 17, according to Shawn Richardson, is freedom.

"I'm able to go out more with my friends," he says. "I can do things solo."

Shawn is a rising high school senior in Minneapolis. School is fine, but what he really loves is track. His friend timed him running the 100-meter dash in 10.71 seconds.

The track season was canceled because of COVID-19. But if he can run that time officially, he will have the school record. Distance running isn't his thing. Shawn is a sprinter.

"It's like gathering energy and then just letting it go," he says.

Looting, fires, vandalism and the National Guard on the streets — for many, the unrest of 2020 evokes memories of the destructive riots of 1992 in Los Angeles.

Both times the protests began in anger over police violence against black men — in 1992, when four police officers were acquitted of the brutal beating of Rodney King; now, when George Floyd died in Minnesota after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been going up in Alabama even as the state's governor relaxes restrictions.

Last week's number of new cases was up from the week before. Of the more than 15,000 confirmed cases across the state, about one-third have been confirmed within the last 14 days.

"I wasn't afraid of fighting," Ilhan Omar writes about her childhood in Somalia in her new memoir. "I felt like I was bigger and stronger than everyone else — even if I knew that wasn't really the case."

In This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman, Omar chronicles her childhood in a middle-class family compound in Mogadishu, followed by civil war, four years in a refugee camp, a journey to the United States and ultimately her election to Congress as a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th district.

Much is still unknown about the coronavirus, including a full picture of perhaps its most important impact: who it has killed.

Of the 4,624 people who have already died of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, at least two-thirds of them were associated with nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Last week Pennsylvania's health department said it's "executing a robust universal testing strategy" for the more than 80,000 residents and 10,000 staffers at 1,900-plus facilities.

Ford is getting back to work. On Monday, the company brought 71,000 workers back at its North American operations: roughly 59,300 in the U.S., 5,300 in Canada and 6,775 in Mexico.

In the U.S., Ford plants are reopening in several states, but the biggest reopening is in four regions: southeast Michigan, the Louisville, Ky., area, the Kansas City, Mo., area and the Chicago area.

Kevin Harvick took his second career win at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, in the first NASCAR race to take place since early March — and now, without fans.

After pulling himself out of the car, Harvick admitted to thinking racing wouldn't be too different without cheering crowds in the stands.

But "it's dead silent out here," he said. "We miss the fans."

Sales are booming at many bike shops around the country, as people stuck at home try something new for exercise and essential workers adapt to scaled-down public transit.

It's an especially opportune time for those who might otherwise be nervous about sharing the streets with cars — mayors across the country have closed streets to encourage cyclists and joggers to exercise.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that horse racing at tracks across the state and auto racing at Watkins Glen International will be allowed to resume June 1, but without spectators.

The governor said his office was "looking for economic activities that you can start without crowds and without gatherings."

"We can do that in this state with horse racing tracks," Cuomo said. "That is also true with Watkins Glen. That can operate. And there's a big viewership for Watkins Glen."

Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's reopening of many businesses on April 24 came earlier than many public health experts had recommended and were against White House guidelines.

States around the country are gradually reopening their economies, even as most of them fail to meet voluntary guidelines set by the White House for doing it safely.

At least 31 states are partially reopening as of Monday.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican of Louisiana and also a medical doctor, is thinking a lot about what it will take for schools to reopen.

Cassidy sits on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will hear from public health officials this week about how to safely reopen U.S. businesses and schools.

Primary schools in France are reopening next week.

There will, of course, be social distancing measures in place. Class sizes will be limited to 15 and no games at recess. It's a gradual three-week process beginning with preschoolers.

The government says the reopening is voluntary and students won't be forced to return.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night — nor coronavirus — stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

The mail is still coming. And one 11-year-old girl in Sioux Falls, S.D., wanted to show her appreciation.

How else, but by writing a letter.

Several states and local governments are allowing businesses to reopen with certain restrictions and conditions regarding social distancing and cleaning measures.

But what happens when an employee gets COVID-19 on the job and says the employer should have done more to stop it?

Alabamians are now being encouraged — but no longer ordered — to stay at home, according to new guidelines Gov. Kay Ivey issued last week.

Ivey's new "safer at home" order opens retail stores to 50% occupancy and beaches to groups under 10 people with social distancing. Elective surgeries and dental procedures are allowed under certain conditions. But restaurants are still limited to take-out and movie theaters are still closed.

Disney World has been closed since the middle of March, but that didn't stop a man from camping on an abandoned island at the park.

A 42-year-old Alabama man was arrested on Thursday at Disney World's Discovery Island, telling deputies he was unaware he was trespassing. He called the island a "tropical paradise," according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies noted there were numerous "no trespassing" signs posted.

Authorities charged him with one count of trespassing, a misdemeanor. He was also banned from all Disney properties.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare joint statement on Saturday, declined an offer from the White House to make rapid COVID-19 tests available for Congress.

Floridians have been under orders to stay at home since early April, but Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says now is the time to start a gradual reopening.

Retail stores and restaurants in most of the state will be allowed to open on Monday at 25% capacity and with social distancing measures. Schools, bars, gyms, movie theaters, beauty salons and barber shops will remain closed.

For 33 years, Muffet McGraw coached the women's basketball team at Notre Dame, winning two national championships and leading the Fighting Irish to 848 victories.

She retired this week.

Last year, she made waves by vowing not to hire male coaches for her staff.

"We don't have enough female role models. We don't have enough visible women leaders. We don't have enough women in power," she told reporters in April 2019.

Suzanne Clark, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says the business group welcomes the Senate vote Tuesday to approve a new coronavirus aid package and she hopes for more help for businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

The Senate approved the new $484 billion measure, which includes $322 billion in funds for a small business loan program that ran out of money last week.

Members of the Trump administration say there is sufficient coronavirus testing for states to move to the first phase of the White House's reopening plan.

But many state and local officials and health care providers say testing is still far short of where it needs to be to consider lifting some social distancing restrictions.

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