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 at 9:28 p.m. ET

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis, an environmental disaster that contaminated the majority Black city's drinking water with lead nearly seven years ago.

Bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey, whose novels depicted romance, erotica and suspense from the Black perspective, including Milk in My Coffee, Sleeping with Strangers and Friends and Lovers, has died. He was 59.

He died in Los Angeles on Jan. 3 after a long illness, his longtime publicist confirmed Tuesday.

His publisher, Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, referred to the popular writer as "an iconic author and friend" on social media.

The head of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech expressed confidence that his company's vaccine would be effective against a coronavirus variant rapidly infecting people across London and southern England.

U.K. officials have warned the new variant is likely to be more contagious than the various strains already circulating, though there is no evidence suggesting it is more deadly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's senior official for infectious diseases, predicts the United States could begin to achieve early stages of herd immunity against the deadly coronavirus by late spring or summer. And if that happens, Fauci anticipates, "we could really turn this thing around" toward the end of 2021.

One of the top African American executives in Hollywood, Channing Dungey, was named chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group on Monday.

She will replace Peter Roth, who is stepping down early next year after running the television group for more than two decades.

Dungey previously served in executive roles at ABC and most recently Netflix where she was the streaming giant's Vice President Original Content and Head of Drama.

Uncle Ben's will now be known as Ben's Original.

Food giant Mars, Incorporated said Wednesday that it is changing the rice brand's name, which has faced criticism for racial stereotyping. It said the change signals "the brand's ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world's best rice."

Mars also said it will remove the image of the elderly Black man in a bow tie from its packaging.

The mother of Breonna Taylor says that if the police reforms announced this week by officials in Louisville were in place six months ago, her daughter might still be alive.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency room technician, was fatally shot by Louisville police during a botched narcotics raid at her home during the early morning hours of March 13.

A decision on whether to bring charges against the three officers who carried out the raid is expected in the coming days.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The NFL franchise in Washington, D.C., says it is officially retiring the moniker it has had for the past 87 years, which is widely viewed as a slur against Native Americans.

"Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review," the team said in a statement Monday.

David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, was a beloved fixture in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., remembered as a pillar of the community and known to give out his food free of charge, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has come as a shock to those who knew him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed early Monday morning at his barbecue business when Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathered after the city's 9 p.m. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, have agreed to plead guilty in connection to the college admissions bribery scandal that federal investigators dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Massachusetts made the announcement Thursday, saying Loughlin will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

Restaurants across Tennessee are able to welcome dine-in customers Monday for the first time in nearly a month as the state eases restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The step toward some semblance of normalcy comes a day after the state reported its highest single-day jump in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 478, which officials say represents a 5.2% increase from the previous day.

The continued spread of the coronavirus claimed yet another big event on the 2020 entertainment calendar this Friday, when the San Diego Comic-Con announced the annual entertainment and comic book convention would be postponed until 2021.

In a statement on its website, organizers said it is "with deep regret that there will be no Comic-Con in 2020," marking the first time in the event's 50-year history it would not be held.

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.

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the daily routines of millions of Americans as many settle into their new self-isolation realities.

Some are finding ways to pass the time by streaming television shows, movies and classic sports (and, of course, listening to NPR).

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect nearly every facet of life, including some governors moving to temporarily shutter movie theaters, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a potentially industry-altering change: It will allow customers to view new films at home through video on demand the same day as their theatrical release.

Trolls World Tour, slated to open in the U.S. on April 10, will be the first to kick off the new initiative.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.

The Trump administration says a deal between California and four carmakers to improve fuel efficiency may be illegal. The Justice Department has also launched a probe to see whether it violates antitrust laws. Together, the moves raise the stakes in a months-long standoff over efforts to weaken a key Obama-era climate rule.

Updated 2:25 a.m. ET Friday

The scope of the calamity that Hurricane Dorian brought to the Bahamas is becoming clear, as rescue workers reach devastated sections of the island chain. The official death toll now stands at 30, but that number is expected to rise sharply in the coming days.

Dorian is now a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, lashing the southeastern coastline of the United States. It remains dangerous, despite being downgraded from the Category 5 rank it carried into the Bahamas.

Loved ones of Jessi Combs, a well-known racer and a host of the popular science-themed television show Mythbusters, are speaking out days after she died attempting to break her own land speed record. She was 39 years old.

"I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman," Terry Madden, a member of Combs' team said in an Instagram post. "She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know."

The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to introduce black Americans to guns and also instruct them on how to use them.

Some see the group as an alternative to the National Rifle Association for black gun owners, but it has some notable differences. Organizers say it is a civil rights organization that aims to build community and promote self-protection.

Since its creation in 2015, the group has seen rapid growth with roughly 30,000 members and 75 chapters nationwide. Leaders expect another 25 chapters by next year.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing social media giant Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act.

HUD says Facebook does so by "encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination" when it allows companies that use their platform to improperly shield who can see certain housing ads.

With the partial government shutdown on the verge of becoming the longest in U.S. history, many housing advocates fear thousands of low-income Americans are at risk of being evicted. More than 1,000 government-backed housing contracts have already expired and potentially more will do so in the coming weeks.

Since the shutdown began last month, approximately 1,150 federal rental assistance contracts have not been renewed due to funding lapses at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Trump administration Wednesday unveiled a multi-agency plan to reduce the number of children exposed to lead in drinking water, consumer products and dust generated from old lead-based paint in homes, schools and soil.

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