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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.

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.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

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.

Some in Puerto Rico are beginning to fear the ground will never stop shaking.

The island has been pummeled by hundreds of earthquakes in recent weeks, including Saturday's 5.9 magnitude temblor, where there were reports of landslides in the town of Peñuelas along the southern coast, rattling residents already on edge from last Tuesday's massive 6.4 magnitude quake.

Jet parts maker Spirit AeroSystems announced Friday it was laying off thousands of employees, the latest impact of the halt in production of Boeing's troubled 737 Max planes.

The Wichita-based company said the staff cuts will affect roughly 2,800 employees. It said it came to the decision because it is unclear when Boeing will resume making the once in-demand aircraft.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of people in Puerto Rico still don't have permanent shelter three days after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake walloped the Caribbean island, killing one man and injuring nine people. Millions still don't have electricity.

The quake has displaced an estimated 2,000 people, according to the humanitarian organization Direct Relief.

Updated at 6:33 p.m. ET

National security adviser Robert O'Brien is defending a closed-door briefing held for lawmakers on Wednesday in which Trump administration officials laid out the justification for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's top military commander.

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.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Dennis Muilenburg, the embattled CEO of Boeing, is resigning from his post, the aerospace giant announced Monday. The company says its board of directors has named David L. Calhoun, the current chairman, as successor.

At least two people began shooting at a house party in Chicago in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to police, who say that 13 people were shot and being treated at area hospitals.

The Associated Press reports a 37-year-old man has been charged in connection with the shooting.

No one was killed, but several victims were in critical condition, according to police.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point announced Friday it has wrapped up an investigation into whether cadets flashed a "white power" hand signal during ESPN's pregame broadcast of the Army-Navy football game earlier this month.

Its conclusion: "The cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the 'circle game' and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values," according to a statement from the academy where U.S. Army officers are trained.

Former Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin drew widespread condemnation last week when reports highlighted that he had pardoned more than 400 convicted criminals in his final days in office. Bevin justified his actions by telling The Washington Post, "I'm a believer in second chances."

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

Southwest Airlines — which operates more Boeing 737 Max planes than any other domestic carrier — will suspend the troubled jetliner type from its flight rotation for a longer period than it originally planned.

The low-cost airline announced Tuesday it is "proactively" nixing the Max from its schedule until April 13. Southwest had earlier projected it would reintroduce the jetliners by early March.

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.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a bankruptcy restructuring plan by the state's largest utility, saying it "falls woefully short" of safety standards mandated under state law.

The governor's criticisms come a week after Pacific Gas and Electric announced a multibillion-dollar settlement proposal to pay victims of several wildfires linked to the utility's faulty equipment.

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.

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday formally recognizing the mass killings of more than 1 million Armenians in Turkey that took place a century ago.

The measure, approved without objection, is seen as a stinging rebuke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It also comes over numerous objections from the Trump administration, which has been working to defuse tensions with the Turkish leader in recent months.

Turkey has condemned the move and said it has put the relationship between the two nations at risk.

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 10:35 p.m. ET

The U.S. Navy has identified the three sailors killed by a shooter in an attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola Friday as Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, from Coffee Ala.; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, from St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, from Richmond Hill, Ga. All three were students at Naval Aviation Schools Command.

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.

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