Ari Shapiro

Ari Shapiro is an NPR international correspondent based in London. An award-winning journalist, his reporting covers a wide range of topics and can be heard on all of NPR's national news programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Prior to his current post, Shapiro reported from the NPR Washington Desk as White House Correspondent during President Barack Obama's first and second terms, as Justice Correspondent during the George W. Bush administration and as a regular guest host on NPR's newsmagazines. He is also a frequent analyst on CNN, PBS, NBC and other television news outlets.

Shapiro's reporting has consistently won national accolades. The Columbia Journalism Review recognized him with a laurel for his investigation into disability benefits for injured American veterans. The American Bar Association awarded him the Silver Gavel for exposing the failures of Louisiana's detention system after Hurricane Katrina. He was the first recipient of the American Judges' Association American gavel Award, recognizing a body of work on U.S. courts and the American justice system. And at age 25, Shapiro won the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for an investigation of methamphetamine use and HIV transmission.

An occasional singer, Shapiro makes guest appearances with the "little orchestra" Pink Martini, whose recent albums feature several of his contributions. Since his debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2009, Shapiro has performed live at many of the world's most storied venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, L'Olympia in Paris, and Mount Lycabettus in Athens.

Shapiro graduated from Yale University magna cum laude and began his journalism career in the office of NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg.

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Parallels
5:11 am
Sat March 21, 2015

On Libel And The Law, U.S. And U.K. Go Separate Ways

A statue of the scales of justice stands above the Old Bailey, the courthouse where many high-profile libel cases are tried, in London. The U.K. is a popular place for libel cases to be filed because of laws that make it difficult for journalists or the media to prevail.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 2:49 pm

This Sunday, HBO is airing the documentary Going Clear, about the Church of Scientology, to strong reviews. The nonfiction book on which the film is based was short-listed for the National Book Award.

Yet there have been serious challenges to releasing the film and the book in the U.K. That's because Britain does not have the same free speech protections as the United States.

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Parallels
3:09 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Why Russia's Economic Slump Has Been Good For London

The view west from London's newest skyscraper looks over the River Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral. Russians have flocked to the English property and banking sectors as the economy crumbles back home.
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 1:29 am

One year ago, the U.S. and Europe started imposing sanctions against Russia to punish it for seizing part of Ukraine. At the time, many British analysts feared the sanctions would hurt London, because of England's close economic ties to Russia.

A year later, with Russia's economy in recession, London is thriving. And this may not be despite the crisis in Russia; London may be doing well partly because of Moscow's economic turmoil.

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The Salt
3:24 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Fate Of The World's Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England

Rows of potted cocoa plants from around the world. Before a cocoa variety from one country can be planted in another, it first makes a pit stop here, at a quarantine center in rural England.
Courtesy of Dr. Andrew J. Daymond

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 11:49 am

Walk into a row of greenhouses in rural Britain, and a late English-winter day transforms to a swampy, humid tropical afternoon. You could be in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, which is exactly how cocoa plants like it.

"It's all right this time of year. It gets a bit hot later on in the summer," says greenhouse technician Heather Lake as she fiddles with a tray of seedlings — a platter of delicate, spindly, baby cocoa plants.

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World
2:54 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

British Military Spending Cutbacks Spark Global Concern

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:00 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Parallels
10:55 am
Wed March 4, 2015

The British Group With A Very Different Take On 'Jihadi John'

Mohammed Emwazi is a Kuwaiti-born Londoner believed to be "Jihadi John," the central figure in the beheading videos released by the self-declared Islamic State. A British group, Cage, was in contact with Emwazi several years ago and claims that his treatment by British security officials contributed to his radicalization.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 6:29 pm

Every day new details emerge about Mohammed Emwazi, believed to be the masked man with a British accent known as "Jihadi John" who appears in execution videos by the self-declared Islamic State. At the center of Emwazi's story is a divisive London-based organization called Cage.

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Religion
1:47 am
Tue March 3, 2015

In English Town, Muslims Lead Effort To Create Interfaith Haven

A Lego model of All Souls Church rests on the altar, which was retained when the Bolton, England, church was renovated into an interfaith community center. The model was built by children taking part in an after-school program there.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:49 pm

Inayat Omarji vividly remembers the worried reaction when he first looked into renovating the abandoned church in his neighborhood: "There's a bearded young Muslim chap involved in a church! Whoops! He's gonna turn it into a mosque!"

At the time, Omarji was head of the local council of mosques, but there already were three or four in his neighborhood in Bolton, England.

"What it needed is a place where people could meet, people can come to, people can socialize," he says.

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Parallels
8:19 am
Fri February 27, 2015

After 6,000 Years, Time For A Renovation At Iraq's Citadel

Construction workers at the Erbil Citadel, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 8:40 am

A map of the northern Iraqi city of Erbil looks like a dart board: circles, radiating outward from a central core. The bull's-eye sits high on a hill, crowned by ancient walls.

The Erbil Citadel has stood here for at least 6,000 years. It's one of the oldest — and possibly the oldest — continuously inhabited sites on Earth.

The stories coming from this region these days are primarily ones of destruction and war. But here, in the Citadel, there's a different narrative, that of a plan to rebuild, restore and revitalize this ancient site.

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Parallels
2:23 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Brutal ISIS Tactics Create New Levels Of Trauma Among Iraqis

An Iraqi child who fled fighting between the so-called Islamic State and Kurdish peshmerga is among the some 3,000 people living at the Baharka camp, near Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, on Jan. 16.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 1:47 pm

At a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq, you pass rows of tents to reach the clinic run by the International Medical Corps. They have medicines to treat all kinds of problems: diabetes shots, vaccines, heart pills.

But it's harder to cure what's afflicting one woman in particular.

"The pain inside of me is so deep," she says. "I just cry every day."

Militants from the group that calls itself the Islamic State kidnapped the woman's adult son in June, and she doesn't know his fate.

Her husband expresses the loss in more destructive ways.

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The Salt
2:27 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Lamb Dumplings, Lentils And A Bittersweet Taste Of Home

Traditional desserts, like these served in 2010 at the original Naranj restaurant in Damascus, offer sweet, familiar flavors at the restaurant's various locations in the Middle East. A platter like this shows up at the end of every meal at Naranj, and all the pastries are made in-house.
Jan Smith Flickr

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 5:22 pm

For people living in a new country, a taste of home can be a powerful emotional experience.

All the more so when you've left your country because of war.

Iraq has taken in about a quarter-million people fleeing Syria's civil war. In the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, one of Syria's most famous restaurants is re-creating the tastes of Damascus.

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Parallels
6:01 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Iraqi Kurds: We're Ready To Fight For Mosul

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take positions on the outskirts of Mosul on Jan. 26. The U.S. military says an offensive to drive the Islamic State out of Mosul is expected around April or May.
Azad Lashkari Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 1:44 pm

American military officials announced that they are planning an operation in April or May to free Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, from the group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS. The extremist group has controlled the city since June, and the Pentagon says up to 25,000 Iraqi troops will take part in an offensive to reclaim the city.

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Parallels
10:56 am
Fri February 20, 2015

From A Mountain, Kurds Keep Watch On ISIS In Mosul

Training at a new camp near the front line, a mix of Arabs and Kurds prepare for an assault on Mosul in upcoming months. The men will wear balaclavas to conceal their identities while they fight, because they have family in Mosul and don't want to put their relatives at risk.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 8:43 pm

Imagine standing on top of a mountain, looking down at your home in the valley below, and being unable to go there — even for a visit.

That's the situation for some Iraqi Kurds from the city of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. The group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS, controls Mosul, flying its flags over the outskirts of the strategic northern Iraqi town.

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Iraq
2:00 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Just 55 Miles From ISIS Control, American Expats Carry On Life As Usual

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 11:15 am

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

Transcript

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Parallels
2:17 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing

Alfafar, a suburb of Valencia, Spain, is suffering from a poor economy and high unemployment. A quarter of homes are abandoned. Here, a cafe is still open on the ground floor of an abandoned municipal building in Alfafar's Orba neighborhood, but upper floors used to house shops. A pair of Spanish architects hopes to revitalize the high-density housing in this working-class area.
Lauren Frayer NPR

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 3:03 pm

This is the latest story from the NPR Cities Project.

In an abandoned building near Spain's Mediterranean coast, someone softly strums a guitar. Chord progressions echo through empty halls.

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Parallels
5:32 am
Sun February 15, 2015

ISIS May Be Gone, But Life Has Yet To Return To Normal In Northern Iraq

Before ISIS attacked it, the northern Iraqi town of Snuny had a population of nearly 150,000 — a mix of Kurdish Muslims and Yazidis, who belong to a religious ethnic minority in this region. Only about 10,000 have returned after Kurdish fighters reclaimed the city.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 10:49 am

The graffiti in Snuny — an Iraqi city at the base of Mount Sinjar that Kurdish peshmerga fighters recently regained control of — provides a kind of shorthand for its recent history.

There's black graffiti on some buildings, proclaiming "This is the Islamic State." It's been scribbled out.

Over it, there's green or red graffiti, which proclaims "This is now the property of the Kurdish peshmerga."

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Parallels
1:43 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Outmanned And Outgunned, Fighters Defend Yazidi Shrine Against ISIS

The temple of Sharfadin in Northern Iraq is 800 years old, and followers of the Yazidi religion consider it one of the most sacred sites in the world. Though ISIS tried to destroy it, a small group of Yazidi fighters kept the shrine standing.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 7:08 pm

In Kurdistan today, every fighter knows the name Qasim Shesho. He's been fighting with the Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq since the 1970s.

Shesho is a Yazidi — an ethnic and religious minority in Iraq — and the protagonist in a tale that could have come from literature, or Hollywood, or the Bible. It is a universal story, about a vastly outnumbered group of men defending sacred ground against an onslaught.

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Parallels
2:20 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

In A Somber Homecoming, Yazidis Grieve And Watch Over Their Dead

An Iraqi man inspects the remains of what are believed to be members of the Yazidi minority, in the northern village of Sinuni on Feb. 3.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 10:18 am

As you drive through northern Iraq near the border with Syria, you pass checkpoints every few miles or so. Manning these roadblocks are Kurdish fighters, wearing camouflage and body armor, carrying big guns.

Sometimes there are piles of dirt in the road to slow down traffic.

These Kurdish peshmerga fighters are beginning to reclaim some land from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, and people are beginning to return to their homes.

But the homecoming has proved harrowing for many.

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Parallels
3:47 am
Sun February 8, 2015

Not Too Much, Not Too Little: Sweden, In A Font

Courtesy of Soderhavet

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 4:57 pm

Nearly every country has a national flag, a national anthem, a national bird. Not many countries have a national typeface.

Sweden recently commissioned a team of designers to come up with a font to represent the country on its websites, press releases, tourism brochures and more.

The offices of Soderhavet look exactly the way you would expect a Scandinavian design firm to look: clean, sleek and warm, with tasteful bursts of color sprinkled among the minimalistic furniture.

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Parallels
3:52 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Sweden's Immigrant Influx Unleashes A Backlash

Two policemen stand outside a mosque in Uppsala, Sweden, last month. The mosque was firebombed on Jan. 1 in one of three arson attacks targeting the Muslim community in Sweden since Christmas Day.
Anders Wiklund AP

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 9:34 am

In the 1990s, the face of immigration to Sweden was someone like Robert Acker. His family emigrated from Bosnia when he was 6 years old.

"I got along with the Swedes early on," he says in American-accented English from his years playing basketball in Kentucky and New York. "But now, I believe it's a totally different thing."

Acker lives in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, an industrial center that has become the power base for the far-right Sweden Democrats.

"They want us out," says Acker. "They just want Swedes here."

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Europe
2:51 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Remote-Controlled Airport A Reality In Sweden

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 5:33 pm

Sweden is the first country in the world to get a remote-controlled airport. That means flights are guided by operators sitting miles away.

This piece originally aired on Morning Edition on Feb. 1, 2015.

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Parallels
2:29 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Cash Is Definitely Not King For Card-Carrying Swedes

Nina Galata displays her smartphone equipped with a card reader to accept donations and payment for Situation Stockholm, a magazine sold by Stockholm's homeless.
Jonas Ekstromer TT/AFP/Getty

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 1:22 pm

Peter Fredell carries an unusual wallet. It feels a bit like leather, but the material is pale and thin. He pulls it out on a street corner in Stockholm.

"I actually made it myself," he says. "It's an eel that I fished up. And I used the skin and stitched it together."

This eelskin wallet carries personal significance — but it does not carry cash.

Around the world, cash is fading. Electronic transactions are becoming a bigger part of the economy every year. And one of the leaders in this trend is Sweden, where more than 95 percent of transactions are digital.

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Parallels
5:38 am
Sun February 1, 2015

In Sweden, Remote-Control Airport Is A Reality

The tiny town of Sundsvall, Sweden, is home to the world's first airport to land passenger planes by remote control. The cameras used to help the air traffic controllers guide airplanes render details as small as cars pulling into the parking lot from miles away.
Rich Preston NPR

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 11:56 am

As our plane touches down in Sundsvall, Sweden, the horizon is all snow and ice. A small air traffic control tower sticks out above the white horizon.

But this airport actually has two air traffic control centers. The second one is just a short walk from the airport runway.

Inside a ground-floor, windowless room, there's a display that looks exactly like what you'd see out of an air traffic control tower. You can see the snowy runway, you can see the trees, you can even see a car pulling into the airport parking lot.

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The Salt
3:52 pm
Sat January 31, 2015

Surströmming Revisited: Eating Sweden's Famously Stinky Fish

Surströmming, a fermented herring considered to be a famous delicacy in Sweden, is also known as one of the most pungent foods in the world.
Pauline Conradsson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 5:39 pm

More than a decade ago, NPR's Ari Shapiro attempted to eat a fermented Swedish herring called surströmming, one of the most pungent foods in the world. It did not go well. Twelve years later, on a reporting trip to Sweden, Ari decided it was time to face his fears and try the fish again.

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Europe
5:37 am
Sat January 31, 2015

An Arctic Institution, Sweden's Ice Hotel Turns 25

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 11:08 am

This year marks 25 years of the original Ice Hotel, carved from snow and ice bricks in far northern Sweden. This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Jan. 29, 2015.

Parallels
4:10 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

The Arctic Circle's Coolest Accommodations Turn 25 Years Old

Icehotel is located 120 miles above the Arctic Circle. The temperature outside is well below zero, but inside the hotel — while still, of course, below freezing — it's much warmer, hovering in the low 20s.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:07 am

On a recent winter's day in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, it's 22 degrees below zero — or -30 Celsius. Whatever you call it, it's way below freezing.

Sculptor Jens Thoms Ivarsson stands over a block of ice with a razor-sharp chisel, turning a bare room into an ornate Spanish mosque made entirely of ice.

Here, 120 miles above the Arctic Circle, sits a frozen institution: Icehotel, the original.

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Parallels
1:21 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Group Urges Swedes To Evade Subway Fares, And Even Insures Against Fines

Christian Tengblad (right) and his fellow fare dodger are part of the group Planka.nu.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 12:06 pm

Every city that has public transportation struggles with fare jumpers — people who sneak onto the subway or the bus without buying a ticket. In Sweden, fare-dodging is a brazen movement in which the group's members don't try to hide what they're doing.

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Parallels
1:37 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Russian Threats Expose Europe's Military Cutbacks

A soldier from the Swedish army participates in a military exercise at Hagshult Airbase in Sweden in November.
Jonathan Nackstrand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 9:27 am

An international cat-and-mouse game played out in the waters of Stockholm a few months ago.

The "mouse" was a foreign submarine — Russia is the main suspect — that got away.

And as Russia's military becomes more aggressive, European leaders fear they do not have the military power to deal with this new threat.

Take Sweden, for instance. Its days of military might are long gone.

The numbers tell the story, says Karlis Neretnieks, who used to run Sweden's National Defense College and has had a long career in the military.

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Parallels
1:57 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Carrying The Torch For London's Last Gas Lamps

Garry Usher oversees the five lamplighters employed by British Gas. Each night, members of his crew wind up, by hand, the clocks that control when the lamps, like this one at St. John's church in Smith Square, turn on and off.
Rich Preston NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 4:33 pm

In the United Kingdom, British Gas employs 30,000 workers. Five of them could be said to carry a torch that has been burning for two centuries. They are the lamplighters, tending to gas lamps that still line the streets in some of London's oldest neighborhoods and parks.

As these lamplighters set out on their nightly rounds, they don't actually carry torches and don't wear top hats and waistcoats. In their blue and gray jackets with the British Gas logo, they look like 21st-century utility workers.

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Parallels
1:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

The Theater Company Is 1927; The Technology Is Cutting Edge

The British theater company 1927 performs its latest play, Golem, based on the character from ancient Jewish folklore. The troupe's trademark is vintage style combined with distinctive animation.
Bernhard Mueller

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:40 pm

Lots of theater companies use animation and video projection. None uses it quite like the British troupe called 1927. The company has combined vintage style with sophisticated technology to carve out a unique niche in the theater.

1927's newest play, Golem, has just opened in London to rave reviews.

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Business
3:02 am
Fri January 2, 2015

High-Tech Tools Help Irish Dairy Farmers Produce More Milk

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 5:57 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Europe
3:06 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Europe's Largest Zinc Mine Lies Deep Under Ireland's Countryside

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 7:11 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now let's go overseas. Here is one more reason for Ireland's economic growth. It's a giant mine beneath the rolling countryside. It's the largest zinc mine in Europe. That's big business. NPR's Ari Shapiro went down to have a look.

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