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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.

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

New Zealand police say a number of people were injured and have been taken to an area hospital, but it remains too dangerous for emergency services to access the island and search for those missing.

Authorities believe fewer than 50 New Zealanders and international tourists were on or near White Island – about 30 miles off the coast of New Zealand's North Island – but the exact number of people unaccounted for is unclear.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that he is suspending a policy that permitted correctional staff to perform a strip search on an 8-year-old girl last month as she was trying to visit her father.

The incident took place days before the Thanksgiving holiday at Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, about a 75-minute drive west of Richmond.

Updated 4:55 p.m. ET

Members of the United Auto Workers executive board Thursday approved Rory Gamble as president of the union through June 2022.

He was elevated from his acting role and will serve the rest of the term vacated by former president Gary Jones, who resigned last month after being implicated in a years-long federal investigation looking into embezzlement and bribery at the union.

Former President Jimmy Carter has been released from a Georgia hospital after being admitted over the weekend to receive treatment for a urinary tract infection.

The Carter Center announced Wednesday the 39th president "looks forward to further rest and recovery at home."

"Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was discharged from Phoebe Sumter Medical Center this afternoon," Carter Center spokesperson Deanna Congileo said in a statement.

Updated 12:30 p.m. ET

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday formally named businesswoman and political novice Kelly Loeffler as his pick to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of this month.

Loeffler's is slated to take office on Jan. 1, the day after Isakson steps down. In August, Isakson cited health concerns as the reason for leaving office with three years left in his term.

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.

Former President Jimmy Carter was admitted to a Georgia hospital over the weekend to receive treatment for a urinary tract infection, according to the Carter Center, which says the 39th president "looks forward to returning home soon."

Spokesperson Deanna Congileo said in a statement that Carter "was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Ga., this past weekend for treatment for a urinary tract infection."

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Alabama's Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the city of Birmingham broke state law when it ordered plywood screens be placed around the base of a Confederate monument in 2017.

The 9-0 ruling by Alabama's high court reversed a ruling by a lower court that was favorable to the city.

The Jefferson Circuit Court ruled in January that Alabama's law protecting historical monuments was ambiguous and that it also violated the city of Birmingham's right to free speech.

There were two sure bets heading into Tuesday night's basketball matchup between perennial powerhouse Duke University and Stephen F. Austin State University. One: Duke would dominate. Two: Few people outside of Nacogdoches, Texas, could confidently say where the smaller school's campus is located.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he thinks the U.S. should investigate a conspiracy theory — debunked by American intelligence services — that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee's computer server in 2016.

"Anytime there is information that indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right, but a duty, to make sure we chase that down," Pompeo said at a news conference Tuesday when asked whether the U.S. and Ukraine should launch a probe into the matter.

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.

A former CIA officer was sentenced to nearly two decades in a federal prison Friday for conspiracy to spy for China.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Hawaii, was sentenced to 19 years for conspiracy to deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government.

A career diplomat who overheard a U.S. ambassador's phone chat with President Trump this summer in which Trump allegedly referred to "investigations" to be carried out by Ukrainian officials is set to testify in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry Thursday.

David Holmes, a senior staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, is expected to expound on testimony he gave to lawmakers last week behind closed doors.

After nearly three years away from the game, Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who became a lightning rod for taking a knee to protest social injustice during the national anthem, is one step closer to being back in the NFL.

Kapernick, a once-electrifying player who has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume, got notice from the NFL on Tuesday that a private workout has been arranged for him on Saturday in Atlanta.

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.

Germany's largest airline Lufthansa has grounded 1,300 flights as the carrier attempts to weather internal turbulence caused by thousands its flight attendants on strike. The walkout, expected to last two days, is impacting travel hubs throughout Europe.

The airlines apologized to passengers for the inconvenience, while the flight attendants' union, UFO, says the strike was unavoidable because labor negotiations with Lufthansa are at a stalemate.

As NPR's Rob Schmitz reports, the walkout affects some 180,000 passengers.

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 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.

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