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.

New York state had it deadliest day yet stemming from the coronavirus, with more than 500 fatalities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The death toll has gone up from 2,373 to 2,935 in the last 24 hours, Cuomo told reporters during a late morning press conference. He described it as the "highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started."

A Seattle-area nursing home connected to more than two dozen coronavirus deaths is facing more than $600,000 in fines and the possibility of losing federal funding after officials documented a series of flaws in the facility's handling of the outbreak.

The federal government set a September deadline for the Life Care Centers of Kirkland to comply with federal regulations.

Plácido Domingo has been hospitalized because of COVID-19-related complications, according to multiple reports.

He is in stable condition in an Acapulco, Mexico, hospital and will receive medical attention for "as long as the doctors find it necessary until a hoped-for full recovery," a spokesperson for Domingo told Opera News over the weekend.

Two U.S. officials tell NPR that the Pentagon is expected to send 1,500 troops to the nation's borders with Canada and Mexico to assist Customs and Border Protection operations as the coronavirus death toll tops 1,100 in the United States.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Monday that schools in Virginia will be closed for the foreseeable future as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

"Today I'm directing all schools in Virginia to remain closed at least through the end of this academic year," Northam said during an afternoon press conference.

Northam added that he is issuing an executive order effective at midnight Tuesday, placing additional restrictions on businesses that serve the public.

As odd as it may seem, it became reality Friday: Tom Brady is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The man who quarterbacked the New England Patriots for the past 20 seasons and brought the franchise six Super Bowl championships posted to his Instagram on Friday: "I'm starting a new football journey."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the state's first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 60s, and also confirmed a 5-year-old girl has COVID-19, making her the youngest known person in the state to contract the disease.

Hogan said there are a total of 107 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, adding it was an "88% increase in the last 48 hours."

"Unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis," Hogan said at a press conference outside the state capitol in Annapolis.

When San Francisco announced its "shelter in place" order this week, it said only "essential businesses" could remain open to support the public's needs, such as grocery stores and gas stations. Missing from that list were marijuana dispensaries.

But a day after residents were told to stay home, the city revised its position and deemed cannabis "an essential medicine," allowing stores to open.

Updated 4:45 p.m. ET

Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer and President Charles Scharf told lawmakers Tuesday that the scandal-plagued bank he now leads "had a flawed business model" and a structure and culture that "were problematic."

He said that while he is confident that reform plans he's implementing will work, such efforts will likely continue until at least 2021.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, his campaign thought to be on life support less than a week ago, emerged from Super Tuesday contests a reinvigorated candidate after racking up victories in 10 states, including delegate-rich Texas.

Biden's narrow win in the Lone Star State capped off his sweep of the South that also included wins in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET

Tornadoes gashed through central Tennessee early Tuesday, with the worst damage concentrated in and around Nashville. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says at least 24 people were killed across four counties, and there are fears the death toll could climb as first responders continue to search for victims.

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET

At least five people were killed at the Molson Coors Beverage Co. in Milwaukee in a shooting rampage Wednesday afternoon that authorities say was carried out by an employee of the brewery.

Authorities believe the gunman, who was identified only as a 51-year-old Milwaukee man, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Updated 12:34 p.m. ET

Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1-ranked women's tennis player in the world, has called it quits.

The 32-year-old made the announcement not at a press conference, but in an essay she wrote for Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her choice of venue shouldn't exactly come as a surprise. Off the court, Sharapova has built a successful career in business and modeling.

Updated 5:17 p.m. ET

Some 20,000 mourners packed the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday for the public memorial honoring legendary former NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed along with seven other people in a helicopter crash last month.

The star-studded ceremony opened with a powerful performance by Beyoncé singing her song "XO" which she said was one of Bryant's favorite songs and includes the lyrics: "In the darkest hour / I'll search through the crowd / Your face is all I can see / I'll give you everything."

It could be called, the one that is finally friggin' happening.

All six original cast members of the megahit sitcom Friends will come together for a reunion debuting in May, WarnerMedia announced Friday.

"It's official, Friends fans! After 15 years, nine months, and innumerable fan requests from around the globe, we now have the 'brand-new information' you've been waiting for," a statement read.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Fourteen U.S. passengers evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan and flown to military bases in California and Texas have tested positive for the new coronavirus, U.S. officials confirm.

Earlier, on Sunday, U.S. officials announced that 44 people from the Diamond Princess ship had tested positive for coronavirus. Those who were sick were to remain in Japan to be treated.

Native American tribes in North Dakota secured a major victory this week when they settled a pair of lawsuits challenging the state's restrictive voter identification requirements.

The lawsuits were brought by the Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and several individual voters contesting the state law mandating voters present identification that includes their residential street address.

In two separate speeches on Thursday, President Trump, buoyed by his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial a day earlier, continued to lash out at the lone Republican who voted to convict and remove him from office — Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

But the president's ire against the former GOP presidential nominee began just after midnight when he tweeted his displeasure with Romney, while needling him for coming up short during his White House bid in 2012.

U.S. authorities have seized the domain name of a website that allegedly sold access to billions of usernames, email addresses, passwords and other sensitive information stolen in data breaches.

Now, visitors to the not-so-subtle website – weleakinfo.com — are greeted with a homepage that reads, "This Domain Has Been Seized."

Weeks after a powerful earthquake and dozens of aftershocks rocked Puerto Rico, citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the quakes will be granted access to some financial relief, officials announced on Thursday.

President Trump "declared that a major disaster exists" in the southern regions of Puerto Rico and "ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts," the White House said in a statement.

The Transportation Security Administration is reminding airport travelers that it's fine to stuff carry-on bags with clothes and toiletries. Just don't pack any heat.

TSA announced that its officers seized 4,432 guns at checkpoints last year — the most in the agency's 18-year history. It also says that 87% of those guns (some 3,855) were loaded.

Smoke from massive wildfires in Australia hangs like a blanket over the city of Melbourne. The smog there is so thick that some of the world's top athletes have raised alarms about player safety at the Australian Open tennis tournament, slated to kick off next week.

The air quality in Melbourne on Wednesday was forecast to be "very poor to hazardous," according to the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria state.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his "deepest condolences" to those mourning the 176 people — including 63 Canadians — who died in a plane crash Wednesday morning in Iran.

The FBI says it is offering help to authorities in Mexico investigating a shooting attack on an American family that killed a 13-year-old child and wounded others, including a 10-year-old relative, over the weekend.

The attack, according to The Associated Press, took place on a seldom-used road in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, south of Texas on Saturday.

The AP reports that Tamaulipas Attorney General's office said the child was a U.S. citizen and that the parents were permanent U.S. residents.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

President Trump and his top deputies offered a full-throated defense on Tuesday of the American strike against Iran's top foreign legion commander, stressing what they called the urgent danger of an attack he had been plotting.

The killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani last week has ratcheted up tensions between Tehran and Washington, prompting vows of retaliatory strikes.

For millions of Americans, time is running out to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace healthcare.gov.

For those who will not receive health coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020 through an employer or other programs like Medicaid, Medicare or the Children's Health Insurance Program — commonly referred to as CHIP — the deadline to purchase health insurance is Sunday, Dec. 15.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor's mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.

Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.

Updated at 5:39 p.m. ET

At least five people are dead and eight others remain unaccounted for after an eruption on a volcanic island off the coast of New Zealand on Monday, local officials have confirmed.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead investigator in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, says the House Intelligence Committee's report "shows abundant evidence" that Trump used the power of his office to "condition official acts" in exchange for political favors.

In other words, the California Democrat says Trump met a threshold set forth in the Constitution that says a president can be impeached and removed from office for committing treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

About 100 pages of newly released State Department documents show Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani had at least two phone conversations in the weeks before a U.S. ambassador in Ukraine was removed from her post.

Additionally, the files show a White House aide played a role in connecting Giuliani's team with officials at the State Department so that Giuliani could get on Pompeo's official call schedule in late March.

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