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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.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. EST

Flanked by Democratic and Republican lawmakers, President Trump Thursday signed into the law the 2018 farm bill touting it as a "bipartisan success," even though it lacked the administration's much-sought-after changes to the food stamp program.

"We're here to celebrate a really tremendous victory for the American farmer," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "We've been working long and hard on this one."

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

Baltimore may soon have its fifth police commissioner in four years.

Mayor Catherine Pugh has nominated Joel Fitzgerald of the Fort Worth Police Department in Texas to be Baltimore's next top cop. The nomination starts the clock on what is roughly a two-month public interview process, and then Fitzgerald must be approved by the Baltimore City Council.

Fitzgerald has said he intends to "develop the type of rapport and relations necessary" to move Baltimore in a new direction. Pugh has said he is the person "best suited to lead the way forward."

House and Senate negotiators are reportedly close to finalizing a framework on a farm bill compromise in hopes it will pass both chambers of Congress and be on the president's desk by the end of the year.

According to a spokesperson for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., House and Senate committee staff worked through the weekend and again on Monday "exchanging offers daily" as last details are being ironed out.

It's a political puzzle that frustrates Democrats — in two states where Donald Trump is deeply unpopular, two incumbent GOP governors have remained consistently popular.

Maryland and Massachusetts are places where Trump has his lowest approval ratings in the country — 35 percent. Yet, the Republican governors in those states have approval ratings near 70 percent.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

President Trump traveled to Pittsburgh Tuesday, to pay tribute to the victims of a weekend massacre that claimed the lives of 11 worshipers at a synagogue. It also came on the same day mourners began to bury loved ones and demonstrators took to the streets to protest Trump's presence.

With a deadline looming and pressure on lawmakers escalating, a large bipartisan, bicameral conference committee gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first formal negotiations of the Farm Bill.

Many on the committee — which includes a whopping 56 conferees — reiterated that it is imperative that work on the new Farm Bill be completed this month — before the current one expires on Sept. 30.

But the biggest sticking point between the competing House and Senate bills has to do with changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often called food stamps.

For the first time in what historians say could be centuries, hemp has been grown and harvested at Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic estate.

In the 1760s, Washington predicted that hemp could be a more profitable crop than tobacco and grew it across his farm. At the time, hemp was abundant in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is accusing tech behemoth Facebook of engaging in housing discrimination, according to a complaint filed on Friday.

In it, HUD says the social media giant allows landlords and home sellers access to advertising tools that limit which prospective buyers or tenants can view certain online ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, proposed on Monday new changes to an Obama-era rule aimed at combating segregation in housing policy.

Carson wants the rule to focus more on reducing the regulatory burdens of local jurisdictions and on giving them more control, while encouraging actions that bolster housing choice and increase housing supply.

Top Maryland lawmakers announced Friday they were informed by the FBI about links between a Russian oligarch and the software company that services parts of the state's voter registration systems.

Officials said there is no evidence of a breach in the system, but wanted to keep the public informed. State officials said the connections were alarming enough to ask the state's attorney general to review the contract Maryland has with the company.

When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was crafting his rent reform proposal for Americans living on housing assistance earlier this year, he spoke to leaders at the Charlotte Housing Authority in North Carolina about their work requirements.

The "Making Affordable Housing Work Act" would allow housing authorities more flexibility to impose work requirements on tenants, which Carson said helps promote self-sufficiency.

By a razor-thin margin, the House of Representatives passed its version of the farm bill Thursday as Republican leadership was able to round up just enough support from members of its conservative wing to clear passage.

The GOP-backed measure, which covers farm and food policy legislation, passed 213-211.

The $867 billion package renews the safety net for farmers across the country, but also includes tougher work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Three months ago the students from South Florida established themselves as a potent force in the gun debate with the March For Our Lives rally. This summer they're hitting the road with a new mission: turn the wave of young activism they helped spark into an energized voting bloc for the November mid-term elections.

At the annual end-of-year peace march in Chicago, organized by St. Sabina Catholic Church, Grammy-winners Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson, along with former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, joined the Parkland survivors to launch a bus tour called Road to Change.

Comedian Dave Chappelle was the star attraction at a campaign event in suburban Washington on Friday, where he took part in a rally for longtime friend and Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous.

"So you know, I'm out of my element," the stand-up comic told an enthusiastic crowd at Olde Towne Inn in Largo, Md., a short drive from Washington, D.C. "You know politics has never been my thing."

The Trump administration's school safety commission held its first public listening session Wednesday, a day after the panel's chair, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the commission wouldn't focus on guns.

Alessia Modjarrad, a graduating high school senior from Montgomery County, Md., spoke at the day-long event at the Education Department in D.C. She said the few solutions being offered by the administration were "misguided and insufficient."

High school seniors who survived the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, just two weeks ago, graduated Friday.

On Sunday, the 2018 class at a Parkland, Fla. high school, where a gunman killed 17 people, will also receive their diplomas.

It was in the days after that Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that survivors-turned-advocates became a national force in calling for tighter gun regulation in the U.S.

And for students, it's also been a lesson in patience.

The United States does not stack up favorably when compared to other nations with advanced economies when it comes to childhood poverty worldwide, according to a new report, which considered factors such as the lack of access to quality food, high adolescent birth rates and a child dropping out of school.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned Tuesday, days after federal prosecutors charged him with failing to file three years of federal tax returns.

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that she has accepted De Sousa's resignation and launched a national search to find a replacement. She also told residents that De Sousa's departure, just a few months after he started in that position, will not deter the city from fighting crime.

Thousands of low-wage workers, faith leaders and civil rights advocates are expected to descend on more than 30 state capitals and Washington, D.C. today to relaunch a fight against poverty, war and income inequality that first took root half a century ago.

The original 1968 Poor People's Campaign was a multicultural, multi-faith coalition planned by Martin Luther King. It brought thousands of Americans living in poverty to the national mall to demand better living conditions and higher wages.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.

Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Editor's note: This story contains language some may find offensive.

After the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder in Memphis 50 years ago this week, protests and civil unrest erupted in some 125 cities across the nation. Baltimore though was eerily calm in the first two days following the civil rights leader's assassination, before mournful tranquility gave way to anger and resentment.

For more than a week, hundreds of homes and businesses were torched and more than 5,000 National Guard troops were deployed to restore order.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Some Washington, D.C.-area residents have created a free home-share network to provide lodging for hundreds of students traveling to the nation's capital on Saturday to demand action to end gun violence.

The "March for Our Lives" rally was spearheaded by student survivors in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month in Parkland, Fla, where 17 people were killed.

Newly released footage captured by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School security cameras show a Broward sheriff's deputy go toward a building at the time a gunman was shooting inside, but the officer stayed outside with his handgun drawn.

The video, released Thursday by the Broward Sheriff's office, sheds more light on the actions of former deputy Scot Peterson, during the Feb. 14 rampage in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and school staff dead, and another 17 people injured.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Now to Florida. This afternoon in Tallahassee, Governor Rick Scott met with loved ones of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. Scott also signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Florida lawmakers have approved a package of gun control measures designed to prevent another mass shooting like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.

The state House voted 67-50 to approve changes such as raising the legal age for buying rifles and imposing a three-day waiting period for all gun sales. The measure also allows for the arming of some school personnel.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Wednesday requesting "all documents and communications" related to the redecorating of his office and HUD's handling of a whistleblower.

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