Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He has spent most of the 2016 presidential cycle covering the race for the GOP nomination.

When he's not on the campaign trail, Booker produces pieces from the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal agencies for NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He previously served as the network's lead producer from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Booker served in a similar capacity during the 2012 presidential campaign producing pieces 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 the politics grind to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and is was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not working he enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and playing golf.

Macedonia's forces are reportedly allowing some migrants gathered just outside the southern border with Greece to enter the country, a day after the tiny Balkan nation declared a state of emergency in an effort to keep them out.

Macedonian police clashed Friday with the migrants and fired stun grenades and tear gas as the crowd, which included men, women and children, attempted to push past the police line and enter the country.

Following four days of jury deliberations, a North Carolina judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of a white police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick faced up to 11 years in prison for his role in the death of Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player two years ago.

Mansur Ball-Bey, the black 18-year-old killed by white St. Louis officers earlier this week, died from a single gunshot in the back, according to an autopsy report.

The autopsy's findings were first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There were two officers involved in the shooting; one fired three times and another fired just once, police told the paper.

The investigation of the shooting is ongoing.

Alarmed at the flow of migrants coming in through Greece, the tiny European nation of Macedonia declared a state of emergency Thursday. It has begun deploying riot police in armored vehicles and calling in the military.

The Associated Press reports Macedonian officials have blocked thousands of migrants from entering and left them stranded in an open field being described as a "no-man's land" near the Greek border.

The first two women to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger School said Thursday they were motivated to prove naysayers wrong and also break open the hatch for future generations of women.

Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, a military police platoon leader, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, spoke for the first time since completing their training at Fort Benning, Ga., a day before they graduate and receive their Ranger tabs.

If you are dead set on living in a house from one of the creepiest films ever made, there's a killer deal waiting for you in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio, who was the state's first black congressman and who represented Cleveland and some of its neighboring suburbs for 30 years, has died. He was 90.

His death Tuesday was confirmed by a family statement and comes a month after Stokes revealed that he had been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. The family statement read, in part:

Yvonne Craig, best known for her role as Batgirl in the iconic 1960s television series Batman, died Monday. She was 78.

The Obama administration unveiled plans Tuesday that would curb the methane that leaks from facilities related to oil and natural gas production. Methane is one of the greenhouse gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

Police officers fired more than 600 rounds during an hourlong chase of three armed suspects in a bank robbery last year in Stockton, Calif. — which an independent review has concluded was "excessive and unnecessary."

Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state's current death penalty law is unconstitutional.

The decision spares the lives of 11 inmates already on the state's death row who were subject to execution even though state lawmakers passed legislation repealing capital punishment in 2012. That law applied to all future cases, not capital crimes committed before the legislation was enacted.

The court effectively closed that loophole with a 4-3 vote.

The biggest news to come out of Wednesday's high-profile federal court hearing on the "deflategate" saga had nothing to do with the NFL or Tom Brady's pending four-game suspension.

Veteran courtroom sketch artist Jane Rosenberg is grabbing most of the attention for her depiction of the New England Patriots quarterback. And of course the interwebs responded in kind, unleashing countless memes of the now-infamous sketch.

Outside the Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, Rosenberg defended her work.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says samples of waters that flow through three Western states, contaminated by waste from an abandoned Colorado mine last week, are showing improvement. Experts say the heavy metals and other materials are still there, though, in the riverbeds.

Speaking to reporters today from Durango, Colo., EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy promised more details later but did provide what she called "very good news."

Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL appeared in a Manhattan court today to update a federal judge on whether both sides are any closer to resolving a dispute over the quarterback's pending four-game "deflategate" suspension.

The public portion of the hearing lasted approximately 80 minutes before U.S. Judge Richard Berman met separately with Brady and league officials in private.

A federal court says outlawing "ballot selfies," photos of people displaying their marked ballots, violates free speech rights.

The ruling clears the way for New Hampshire voters to post their ballot selfies during the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries early next year.

New Hampshire's ban went into effect September 2014 and made it illegal for anyone to post a photo of a marked ballot and share it on social media. The violation was punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will miss a lot of playing time after being "sucker-punched" by a teammate Tuesday. The fracas left him with two fractures in his jaw.

IK Enemkpali, a reserve linebacker who threw the punch, was promptly released by the team. Head coach Todd Bowles told reporters the altercation "had nothing to do with football."

Federal authorities have charged nine people in connection with an elaborate trading scheme involving hackers from Ukraine and securities traders in the U.S. that generated more than $30 million in illegal profits.

The federal indictments, unsealed today in New York and New Jersey, allege that hackers broke into three news wire companies to get early access to more than 150,000 confidential press releases — such as merger-and-acquisition announcements. This allowed the schemers to make trades on them before the deals became public.

An international team of astronomers says new data show energy output measured across more than 200,000 galaxies is only about half as strong as it was 2 billion years ago. Scientists point to this latest study as further evidence that the universe is slowly dying.

The Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project presented the data at an international astronomical gathering in Hawaii.

James Holmes will get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jurors who convicted him of murdering a dozen people and trying to kill 70 more at a midnight movie three years ago could not agree on a death sentence.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for less than seven hours over two days.

District Attorney George Brauchler, who had sought to have Holmes executed, said, "I still think death is justice for what that guy did ... but I respect the outcome." He also said the jury did "a hell of a job."

Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles will begin recalling specialty license plates depicting the Confederate battle flag following a federal judge's decision last week to dissolve an injunction that barred officials from blocking such plates.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean in the largest bust of such a vessel in the agency's history.

The cocaine seized was worth more than $181 million. The Northern California-based Coast Guard crew also apprehended four suspected smugglers after a Navy aircraft detected the 40-foot, self-propelled vessel traveling approximately 200 miles south of Mexico last month.

A federal appeals court Wednesday struck down a voter ID law in Texas, saying it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A 5th Circuit three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the law does not equate to a "poll tax" but does discriminate against minority voters.

The 2011 law, considered one of the toughest in the country, was in effect during the midterm elections last year. It was one of a handful of voter ID laws enacted in Republican-governed states. The Texas law required voters to provide certain forms of identification before they could cast a ballot.

This post was updated at 2:46 p.m. ET

President Obama delivered a foreign policy speech today aimed at bolstering public support for the Iran nuclear deal. He also attempted to discredit criticism from those who claim the agreement was a mistake.

"I've had to make a lot of tough calls as president. But whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls," Obama said during his remarks at American University, located about 10 miles from Capitol Hill.

The Metropolitan Opera is poised to make a big change.

When the fall production of Verdi's Otello opens next month, its lead character will not be wearing the traditional blackface-style makeup.

The Met tells NPR by email that its upcoming production of Otello will be the first without dark makeup since the company first produced the opera in 1891.

The relatives of 16 victims of the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., reached a proposed $1.5 million settlement Monday against the estate of the shooter's mother.

According to the Hartford Courant, each family will receive $93,750 apiece from a homeowners insurance policy that Nancy Lanza had on a Newtown home she shared with her son Adam.

The lawsuits were filed by the families of 14 victims who died in the school shooting and two who survived.

Zimbabwean wildlife officials have accused a second American of killing a lion during an illegal hunt, this one in April. It comes a week after the international furor set off by the killing of Africa's iconic lion Cecil by a Minnesota dentist in early July.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This post was updated at 10 a.m. ET

The field of major Republican presidential candidates is growing larger. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina jumped into the race Monday. And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to jump into the race this week.

Earlier this week, members of Congress and their staffs were greeted by a makeshift golf expo set up in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The event included golf shot simulators, certified golf instructors and a putting challenge between Democrats and Republicans. It was all part of National Golf Day, an annual event organized by the industry that promotes the economic and health benefits of the sport.

The Republican National Committee held its third annual RNC Black Republican Trailblazers awards on Wednesday. The theme of this year's event was paying homage to the achievements of black Republicans past and present.

The program was held at The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., and marked the historic elections of Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, Utah's Rep. Mia Love, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Together, they make up the largest class of black Republicans in Congress since Reconstruction.

Pages