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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.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is defending his decision to secure half a million coronavirus test kits from South Korea instead of waiting for assistance from the federal government.

The decision to lean on a foreign government has drawn a rebuke from President Trump, who said of Hogan, "I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful."

For days, Hogan, a Republican, has expressed frustration with the Trump administration over his state's struggle to obtain more testing equipment.

The coronavirus crisis could be igniting a revolution of sorts in the legal cannabis industry.

Thirty-three states across the U.S. allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana. And of those, more than 20 states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the coronavirus outbreak.

While advocates are applauding many of the interim marijuana laws, they also say those laws exposes dangerous disparities among states.

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.

The racehorse M C Hamster was injured during a three-furlong workout along the dirt track at Santa Anita Park this week, fracturing a front left ankle. She was later euthanized.

In a vacuum, this would be a sad event.

But given the Arcadia, Calif., racetrack's recent history, the four-year-old filly's death becomes all the more appalling.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a nationwide state of emergency, expanding the one put in place less than two weeks ago that covered Tokyo and six other prefectures as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread.

The prime minister also announced plans to give stimulus funds of 100,000 yen, the equivalent of about $930, to each of Japan's 120 million citizens to lessen the economic hardship of the faltering Japanese economy.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said he sees a "light at the end of this tunnel" in an interview Tuesday. At the same time, he said he still believes the nation will suffer high numbers of coronavirus-related deaths this week.

There are "good signs" in New York's battle against the coronavirus as the state's death toll is "effectively flat for two days," the governor announced Monday, while also noting the state's health care system is "at maximum capacity."

The governor also reiterated his desire to have the USNS Comfort hospital ship join the Javits Center as a frontline facility to help New York City fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

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."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department now says that gun shops are essential business and can remain open during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a reversal of an effort to shutter firearms and accessories stores during the "Safer at Home" order enacted by county and state officials.

It also comes days after the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines labeling those that work in the firearms industry as essential critical infrastructure workers.

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.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that she had talked with President Trump about a "fix" to the relatively small amount of funding the city is slated to receive from the the landmark $2 trillion economic relief package.

The scale of the crisis in the city was underscored by the death of a member of Bowser's own administration Friday from COVID-19.

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."

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).

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.

Former Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has been sentenced to 11 months in federal prison for corruption charges stemming from the illegal misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.

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.

A scheduled joint European-Russia launch of a planetary rover to Mars this summer has been scrubbed, for now. The European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos space agency said the ExoMars mission, planned for July, won't happen now until at least the latter part of 2022.

Updated 6:18 p.m. ET

A federal court on Thursday ordered Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who has jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, must be released.

Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in court documents it was discharging the grand jury.

Updated at 12:09 a.m. ET

The U.S. Soccer Federation apologized Wednesday after a backlash against statements in court documents this week that players on the men's national team possess greater skill and have more demanding jobs than their female counterparts.

The soccer federation made the claims in hopes of convincing a federal court in California to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by members of the 2019 World Cup championship team.

Beverage giant PepsiCo, Inc. has agreed to purchase energy drink maker Rockstar Energy Beverages for $3.85 billion dollars, the company announced Wednesday. It's a move PepsiCo said will help it become "more consumer-centric and capitalize on rising demand."

Energy drinks have been a relatively weak area for PepsiCo and its rival Coca-Cola, but both companies have trying to bolster their presence in the fast-expanding beverage category.

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.

Ethiopian investigators said a flawed flight control system triggered by faulty sensor data, is at least partly to blame for last year's crash of a 737 Max airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines. All 157 people on board were killed.

Authorities in Ethiopia also said training on the Max planes provided by Boeing "was found to be inadequate" adding that the flight control system, known as MCAS, was activated four times as pilots struggled mightily to regain control of the plane before the crash.

Two Wells Fargo board members have resigned, including chairwoman Elizabeth Duke, the bank announced Monday. The departures come days after a House committee report found the bank has been too slow to reform itself in the wake of a series of scandals — including widespread fraud in the consumer banking business tied to overly aggressive sales goals.

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 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."

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