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.

The U.S. airstrike this weekend that hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 22 civilians, was requested by Afghan forces, according to the top U.S. general in Afghanistan.

Gen. John Campbell, addressing reporters Monday at the Pentagon, said Afghan forces advised they were taking fire from Taliban insurgents and asked for U.S. air support. Campbell said he wanted to correct initial reports suggesting U.S forces were under threat and that the strike was carried out on their behalf.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Tesla unveiled its much-anticipated Model X on Tuesday night after nearly two years of delays.

CEO Elon Musk took the wraps off the all-electric SUV at an event near the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. As an added bonus, he gave keys to a handful of lucky customers who can now call themselves owners of one of the most sought-after vehicles.

Let's go over some of the vitals.

Hundreds of Taliban militants stormed the Afghan city of Kunduz early Monday, reportedly taking control of a hospital, freeing hundreds of prisoners and advancing towards the city's airport.

A former prison worker who helped two convicted murders escape from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York was sentenced Monday to up to seven years behind bars.

Under the terms of a plea deal, Joyce Mitchell, 51, faces a minimum sentence of 2 years and 4 months in prison. She pleaded guilty to charges stemming from her role in providing convicted killers Richard Matt and David Sweat with tools such as hacksaws, drill bits and lighted eyeglasses ahead of their June 6 prison break.

German prosecutors announced Monday that they have begun a criminal investigation of Martin Winterkorn, the former Volkswagen CEO who stepped down last week amid a widening scandal involving the automaker's use of technology that cheats emissions tests.

The investigation will focus on whether fraud was committed through the sale of diesel-powered vehicles that claimed to be eco-friendly by highlighting manipulated emissions data. It also aims to find out who had knowledge of and was responsible for the emissions-rigging.

Senate Democrats today blocked a Republican plan to keep the federal government open beyond next week. Their objection was that it also denied federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

With only days left before an Oct. 1 shutdown, the short-term measure that would fund the government through mid-December fell well short of the 60 votes needed advance, 47 to 52.

President Obama is set to have a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It's not clear exactly when the two leaders would meet, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the encounter would happen Monday when Putin is scheduled to deliver remarks at the U.N.

The White House confirmed the meeting would take place, but did not specify when.

According to a senior administration official:

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is once again being accused of hampering the processing of marriage forms, according to new court filings.

The court documents, filed by the American Civil Liberty Union attorneys who are representing couples who sued Davis, state that she is not complying with a court order that prohibits her from interfering with deputy clerks when they issue licenses to eligible couples. Davis' actions "render their validity questionable at best," the documents say.

European Union officials will forge ahead with a controversial plan to begin labeling products produced in Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

The publication, citing an Army Radio interview with an unnamed European Union official, said the EU has set the start date for the beginning of October.

A new survey shows a majority of Americans, regardless of race, agree that race relations have worsened nationally in the past year — but on questions of equality, opinions were split between white and African-American respondents.

According to a PBS Newshour/Marist Poll, a racial divide still persists on how Americans view a variety of issues, including whether blacks and whites have equal opportunities of getting hired for a job, receiving a quality education and earning equal pay for equal work.

A friend of the white man accused of killing nine black churchgoers in June was arrested by the FBI Thursday, according to the Columbia, S.C., newspaper The State.

Joey Meek has stated he was a friend of Dylann Roof, the man who allegedly shot a small group of people gathered for Bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17. The State reports:

Crews continue to search for two people who have been missing since Monday when two separate flash floods swept through parts of southern Utah and killed more than a dozen people.

The two missing include an adult hiker and a 6-year-old boy.

Searchers recovered two bodies in Zion National Park on Wednesday and continued to search for a missing hiker there.

In nearby Hildale, Utah, Mayor Phillip Barlow named the missing six-year-old as Tyson Lewis Black.

Much of America's political focus has understandably been on the 2016 presidential race. There is, however, a more immediate problem on the horizon.

Congress has two weeks to pass a measure to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30. If no agreement is reached, federal agencies could be shuttered again — the second time in three years.


Taco Bell wants to change its reputation — and the key is booze.

On Tuesday, Taco Bell announced it is launching a new concept that "redefines fast food experience." The first of these "experiences" will open in Chicago next week, and another one will follow later this month in San Francisco.

Firefighters in Northern California continue to battle a pair of massive wildfires that together have charred more than 135,000 acres and destroyed more than 750 homes. At least one person, a 72-year-old woman, is known to have died.

Cooler temperatures and moist weather were helping fire crews Tuesday as they tried to gain the upper hand on the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, about an hour's drive from Sacramento. Officials say that fire was about 37 percent contained.

The suspect in the shooting deaths of two people in Mississippi has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a police chase late Monday, according to authorities.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Paul Boger reports that police in Greenville, Miss., confirmed the death of the suspect, 45-year-old Shannon Lamb. Boger adds:

The world's most famous plumber reached a milestone over the weekend as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release Sunday.

The celebration came a day before the video game company named executive Tatsumi Kimishima as its new president.

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

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

NBA legend Moses Malone, a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player and voted one of the NBA's greatest 50 players of all time has died. He was 60 years old.

The 6-foot-10 Malone earned the moniker "Chairman of the Boards" for his rebounding prowess. He was a 13-time all-star who was part of the Philadelphia 76ers that defeated the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1983 NBA championship.

President Obama is planning to "scale up" the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. and is informing his administration to make preparations to allow in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over the next fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The announcement came Thursday from White House spokesperson Josh Earnest during the daily press briefing. Earnest said the U.S. is on track to allow 1,500 Syrians by the end of current the fiscal year.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among the speakers at a Tea Party rally Wednesday to denounce the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump, who leads the Republican presidential field in virtually all national polls, had his trademark bluntness on full display. He told the crowd of hundreds on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol that he has experience with negotiating, and that the United States got a bad deal with Iran.

The giant semiconductor manufacturer Intel will be severing ties with a long- running science and mathematics competition that has awarded millions of dollars in prize money to America's top high school students.

Intel has been a corporate sponsor of the Science Talent Search since 1998, according to the Society For Science, the group that administers the contest.

Senate Democrats are on the verge of delivering a big win to President Obama on the nuclear agreement between the U.S., Iran and five other world powers.

With three more Democrats announcing Tuesday they were backing the accord, it gave supporters enough votes to prevent the passage of a disapproval resolution. Any such resolution would sink the White House-backed nuclear deal that lifts sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

The American dentist who caused an international uproar by killing an iconic lion during a big-game hunting expedition in Zimbabwe over the summer returned to work at his Minnesota practice Tuesday.

Walter Palmer had been out of the public eye since being linked to the July killing of Cecil, a lion who was a tourist favorite and the subject of academic research.

Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig met his self-imposed goal of crowdfunding $1 million by Labor Day, and Sunday on ABC announced he's running for the Democratic nomination for president.

Lessig, an activist with a grass-roots following among some progressives, says he's running on a singular platform — the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. It would expand voting access, ban gerrymandering and institute campaign finance reform.

It was supposed to be a routine photo op.

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced Wednesday that she will support the Iran nuclear agreement, giving the White House the final vote needed to protect the accord from a Republican-led effort to defeat the measure.

Updated on Sept. 1 at 10:18 a.m. ET

President Obama called to offered condolences to the wife of the slain Harris County Sheriff Deputy, Darren Goforth who was killed last week at a Houston-area gas station.

Though they were not victorious in Sunday's Little League World Series title game, the Red Land Little League Team received a hero's welcome from fans in Lewisberry, Pa., Sunday night.

They lined the streets, cheered and waved signs for a team that still owns the bragging rights to the title "United States champions," which they won on Saturday. But the next day, Red Land came up short in a tension-filled Little League World Series title game — jumping out to an eight-run lead but ultimately losing 18-11 to Japan.

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