Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

Record-breaking cold and snowfall is numbing many parts of the U.S. from the Great Plains to the East Coast and north through New England. By Wednesday the cold snap is expected to spread farther south to the upper Texas coast in what is being described as an "arctic outbreak" by the National Weather Service.

The dead-of-winter temperatures come with roughly five weeks of fall remaining on the calendar.

Rep. Elijah Cummings' widow is resigning her post as chair of Maryland's Democratic Party to run for her late husband's congressional seat.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings formally announced her candidacy Tuesday morning in Baltimore.

Like seriously, if you post something to the 'gram and not one of your followers hits "like," is it even worth sharing?

Beginning next week, some U.S. users of Instagram will be able to test this theory as the social media platform will begin hiding the "likes" counter that appears underneath a posted photo or video.

"Right now, we're testing making like counts private, so you'll be able to see how many people liked a given photo of yours or a video of yours, but no one else will," Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram announced Friday.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam vows it's "a new day and a new landscape" in Virginia. He says when Democrats take over the state legislature for the first time in a generation at the start of the new year, passing gun violence prevention laws will be a top priority.

He adds guns "shouldn't be a partisan issue," even though he says he's prepared to pass new "common sense" gun laws without Republican support.

Pete Buttigieg says he understands "the daunting nature" of the presidency. He touts his executive experience as a twice-elected mayor of South Bend, Ind., giving him an advantage over other Democratic presidential candidates, particularly those who serve in Congress.

And three years into the current administration, Buttigieg proclaims that of the candidates running for the White House in 2020, President Trump is the "least qualified of all."

Updated Nov. 7 at 10:40 a.m. ET

Election Night 2019 is in the books. And while much of the focus is on the winning candidates in Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia and what that might mean for the 2020 presidential election, millions of voters also decided on a range of ballot measures. Here's a short list of results from around the U.S.

Tucson, Ariz.

Proposition 205: Making Tucson a Sanctuary City fails

Updated 5:37 p.m. ET

A Russian court has sentenced a man to six years in prison. His crime? Being a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

Sergei Klimov was sentenced Tuesday in the Siberian college town of Tomsk. He is one of a number of Jehovah's Witnesses to be convicted in the two years since Russia's Supreme Court banned the religious group as an extremist organization.

Politics is often described as a rough and tumble business. But President Donald Trump is expected to witness an actual blood sport when he takes in a much-hyped mixed martial arts event on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This will be Trump's second sporting event in the span of a week. On Sunday, he attended Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park in Washington, where he was met with boos and chants of "lock him up."

Deadspin, the brash and rebellious sports website, has had its entire writing and editing personnel resign just days after new management issued a mandate to staff to "stick to sports."

On Friday, the website's most well-known writer, Dave McKenna, was said to be stepping down, according to a post by former Deadspin Senior Editor Diana Moskovitz.

Nestlé, the maker of cereals, coffee, ice cream and delicious treats, announced some not-to-sweet news: The company is recalling some of its signature ready-to-bake Toll House Cookie Dough products "due to the potential presence of food-grade rubber pieces," according to a company press release.

Nestlé USA says the recall is voluntary and only impacts products distributed throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Islamic State on Thursday confirmed the death of its founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and announced a successor. The propaganda arm of ISIS also confirmed the death of another top ISIS official, its former spokesman.

In an audio message released through its central media operation, the group's new spokesman announced that Baghdadi's successor is a man named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi. He is a figure largely unknown outside of ISIS circles and is hailed in the message as "emir of the believers" and "caliph" of the group's alleged caliphate.

George Papadopoulos was a minor figure in Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. He later became a major player in the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia and pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators. He served time in federal prison and wrote a book.

So, what could Papadopoulos possibly do next? Of course: He'll run for a U.S. congressional seat.

Dennis Muilenburg, the president and CEO of Boeing, appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday where he was peppered with questions regarding a pair of crashes of 737 Max jets and was asked if the company purposefully hid sensitive information about flaws in its onboard flight system from regulators.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

If there were any doubts about the indelible legacy the late civil rights advocate and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings left in his nearly 40 years of public service, look no further than the political luminaries who delivered tributes at his funeral in Baltimore on Friday.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke, telling stories about a man who went from humble beginnings to occupy a place of power in the U.S. government.

The remains of Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco have been exhumed, nearly four and a half decades after he was laid to rest in a colossal mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen — the Valle de los Caídos — northwest of Madrid.

The removal of Franco, who rose to power in 80 years ago, got underway Thursday morning. After being extracted from the mausoleum, his remains were flown by helicopter to a more humble location — a family cemetery just north of Madrid where he was reburied next to his wife.

Within a span of a few hours, former vice president and current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden both condemned President Trump's use of the word "lynching" to describe the impeachment inquiry — and apologized for doing virtually the same thing more than 20 years ago.

The leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed Tuesday after more than five hours of talks on how to jointly patrol parts of Syria that until recently were controlled by Kurdish forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey signed a 10-point memorandum at the Black Sea resort of Sochi that is set to go into effect at midday Wednesday local time.

Tech entrepreneur, author and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says the impeachment inquiry being conducted by House Democrats "is the right way to go."

But he also cautions that those who support impeachment should be realistic about the chances of a GOP-controlled Senate voting to remove President Trump from office.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Michael McKinley, a seasoned diplomat — and up until last week, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — has testified before House committees that are leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

His soaring rhetoric has drawn comparisons to former President Barack Obama. He prides himself as the only Democratic presidential hopeful to live in an inner-city neighborhood. Reforming a criminal justice system plagued by racial disparities is central to his campaign.

Yet New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of two top-tier African American candidates in a crowded Democratic field, continues to struggle making inroads with black voters — something he addressed on Saturday in a wide-ranging interview with two voters that was moderated by NPR's Ari Shapiro.

New Jersey Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker says he is unequivocal in his support on whether the impeachment inquiry of President Trump should proceed, regardless of polls showing that a majority of Americans want the president's fate decided by next year's election.

Updated at 12:22 a.m. ET on Sunday

Three people have died after a quick-moving wildfire churned through the foothills of Southern California. As firefighters worked to tamp down largely contained blazes, evacuation orders were lifted in all of Los Angeles County and in parts of Riverside County, where a second fire raged.

The Los Angeles blaze, which officials have named the Saddleridge Fire, ignited late Thursday, destroying more than 30 structures. It began in the northernmost Los Angeles County neighborhood of Sylmar, in the San Fernando Valley.

After several days of controversy, the NBA will complete its exhibition series in China with Saturday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. But the league says basketball players, including two of the game's biggest stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, will not address the media in news conferences after.

Michael Drejka, a white Florida man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for his role in last year's fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a dispute over a handicapped-accessible parking spot.

A jury convicted Drejka of manslaughter in August in the death of Markeis McGlockton.

Updated at 11:14 p.m. ET

Power is gradually being restored to tens of thousands of Californians after a second day of outages designed to mitigate the risks of wind-fueled wildfires.

The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, restored power Thursday evening to about 228,000 customers, or about 30% of the estimated 738,000 customers who lost power. That still leaves about 510,000 customers without electricity.

Updated 6:34 p.m. ET

Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting off power to nearly 800,000 customers across large swaths of Northern and Central California on Wednesday morning, in a planned outage that it says is necessary to avoid the risk of fire.

PG&E gave residents in 34 counties advance warnings about the power cut, which it says would "proactively" reduce the dangerous effects of a potential "widespread, severe wind event" forecast for Wednesday.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is affirming the league will not censor players or front-office personnel, saying "freedom of expression" is paramount for the league, which has been criticized for its response to an employee's tweet about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Silver says the NBA is not apologizing for a now-deleted tweet from Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that thrust the NBA into tumult over its business dealings in China in recent days.

Legendary actress, singer and style icon Diahann Carroll died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles after a long bout with cancer. She was 84 years old.

Carroll's longtime manager, Ronni Lynn Hart, confirmed her death to NPR.

In her illustrious career, Carroll won a Tony Award and was nominated for an Oscar. But she is perhaps best known for making television history when she starred as the titular character on the NBC sitcom Julia, which debuted in 1968.

Four Paris police employees were killed when a man armed with a knife went on a stabbing rampage Thursday at police headquarters, across from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Authorities said at a news conference that three men who were police officers and a woman who was an administrative worker died in the attack around noon local time. The assailant was shot and killed. It was not clear how many people might have been wounded.

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