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.

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.

China's Sun Yang, one of the world's premier swimmers, has been banned from competition for eight years for violating anti-doping rules, the international Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled. The ban means the 28-year-old athlete will miss the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo — and it could very well end his career.

The Switzerland-based sports body said Friday that the three-time Olympic champion was guilty of a doping offense when he failed to cooperate with officials who tried to collect his blood for testing in 2018.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday.

It was just months ago that she pleaded guilty to federal fraud, tax and conspiracy charges over a scheme involving sales of her self-published Healthy Holly children's books.

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.

Federal aviation regulators issued a new round of safety fixes for Boeing's beleaguered 737 Max jetliners, mandating repairs to sections of the planes that could make them vulnerable to lightning strikes and other activity which might result in engine malfunction.

The proposed fix issued by the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday said certain panels on the planes, including the metallic layer that serves as part of the shielding for aircraft wiring, is susceptible to potential "electromagnetic effects of lightning strikes or high intensity radiated fields."

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."

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

Virginia's Democratic governor seemed poised to make broad changes to his state's gun control laws, but was dealt a stinging blow by his own party Monday when a state Senate committee blocked a bill that would have, among other things, banned sales of assault weapons.

Four Democrats on Virginia's Senate Judiciary Committee broke ranks with their party handing the Republican minority a victory in tabling the bill for the remainder of the year. It also sent the measure to the state's Crime Commission for further review.

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.

Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department's budget to build the border wall.

This is in addition to more than $11 billion that's already been identified to construct more than 500 miles of new barriers along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. That includes money that Congress has appropriated and funding that was previously diverted from military construction and counternarcotic operations.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This report includes descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Two Ohio State University football players were arrested on rape and kidnapping charges Wednesday after what local police describe as a violent sexual encounter with a woman last week. The men are scheduled to be arraigned on first-degree felony charges Thursday.

Police charged 21-year-olds Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint, both of whom played on the Buckeyes' Big Ten Championship team this past season.

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."

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.

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