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
11:08 am
Tue May 19, 2015

An English 'Family Business,' Dedicated To A 2,000-Year-Old Roman Fort

Teams of volunteer archaeologists travel to Vindolanda during each excavation season. They painstakingly scrape and brush away at the soil to see what they can find.
Rich Preston NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 5:06 pm

The world is full of family-run businesses that get passed down through generations. A family business in northern England, near the border with Scotland, will carry you back in time 2,000 years.

For the last couple of millennia, Vindolanda was hidden underground. This ancient Roman fort was buried beneath trees, then fields where oblivious farmers planted crops and grazed their sheep for centuries. Under the farmer's plow, the ruined city sat undisturbed β€” mostly.

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Parallels
1:25 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Conservative, Catholic Ireland Votes On Same-Sex Marriage

A campaign poster in Dublin encourages voters to say no to same-sex marriage ahead of a referendum in Dublin on Friday.
Paul Faith AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 3:17 pm

Ireland could make history this week. Same-sex marriage is legal in about 17 countries around the world. In all of those countries, the decision was made by the legislature or the courts. Ireland appears poised to become the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a national popular vote set for Friday.

In Dublin, it is impossible to miss the debate. Nearly every lamppost carries a big poster, or several.

"YES: Equality for everybody," reads one showing a diverse group of smiling people.

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Politics
4:22 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Polls Close In Tight British Election, Show Lead For Conservative Party

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Parallels
1:13 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

London's Dominance Becomes A British Election Issue

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 5:32 pm

Nearly every country in the world has its major hub city, often the capital, with smaller cities feeding into it. The United Kingdom takes this structure to a whole new level. London is one of the richest cities in the world, and its population is the size of the next six British cities combined.

A global hub, London completely dominates the political, cultural and economic life of the U.K. to an extent rarely seen elsewhere. The U.K. has struggled with this imbalance for decades. This Thursday's election is highlighting the divide.

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Europe
3:02 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Skeletal Horse On Trafalgar Square's 4th Plinth Is Art And A Stock Ticker

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 5:44 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story will test the ability of the British to keep calm and carry on.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

London is the home of a new work of art. It is part of a competition.

INSKEEP: It's outdoors.

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Parallels
1:23 am
Mon May 4, 2015

A Novel Dutch Lawsuit Demands Government Cut Carbon Emissions

Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, including Amsterdam. Urgenda argues that any rise in the sea level could have a huge impact on the country.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 12:37 pm

A lawsuit in the Netherlands is taking an unusual approach to climate change. So unusual, in fact, that experts around the world are watching it closely, wondering whether it might spark a major shift in environmentalists' efforts to limit carbon emissions.

If that happens, it won't be the first time that Marjam Minnesma has turned the status quo on its head.

She's founder and director of a Dutch environmental organization called Urgenda, an abbreviation for "urgent agenda."

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Parallels
3:16 am
Sat April 18, 2015

From Losers To Possible Kingmakers, A Scottish Party Comes Back Strong

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), delivers a speech in Glasgow, Scotland, on March 28. After its loss at the polls last year on the issue of Scottish independence, the party has quadrupled its membership and is on the ascendant.
Russell Cheyne Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 8:59 am

Political life is full of comeback stories, but few are quite as dramatic as the boomerang that Scottish nationalists have experienced over the last six months.

Last September, the Scottish National Party lost a vote on whether to break away from the United Kingdom.

Now, membership in the SNP has quadrupled, and that unexpected turn of events means that this party, dismissed as a loser last fall, could determine who becomes the next prime minister after British elections in a few weeks.

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Parallels
1:59 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Islanders Pushed Out For U.S. Base Hope For End To 40-Year Exile

Chagossians weep at the grave of their parents on Peros Banos Island April 10, 2006. Fifteen elders are allowed to visit once a year.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 10:17 am

One of the most important U.S. military bases in the world sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean on an atoll called Diego Garcia. It's the largest of the Chagos Islands, a British territory far from any mainland that is spread out across hundreds of miles. Thousands of people, called Chagossians, used to live on Diego Garcia.

The U.S. military moved in in the 1970s only after the British government forced the entire Chagossian population to leave.

For more than 40 years, the islanders have been fighting to return. Now, it seems they have a growing chance.

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Europe
6:21 am
Wed April 15, 2015

European Union Accuses Google Of Abusing Its Market Dominance

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 10:34 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Europe
2:25 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

At 800 And Aging Well, The Magna Carta Is Still A Big Draw

Two original Magna Carta manuscripts from 1215 are on display at the British Library in London.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 6:44 am

The British Library is now showing original manuscripts of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, the first time they've come to the United Kingdom.

But those documents are not the main event at this exhibition. It's the Magna Carta, issued by King John in 1215 β€” more than 500 years before the American documents, as library curator Julian Harrison notes.

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World
1:52 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Britain Backs Away From World Stage In Lead-Up To Elections

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on April 12, 2015 in Cheltenham, England. Britain goes to the polls in a general election on May 7. But campaign slogans and speeches β€” from Cameron and his rivals β€” won't carry many references to international affairs.
WPA Pool Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 6:00 am

In war and in diplomacy, Great Britain has always been a global leader. Next to the United States, it had the largest footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

But now, something has changed. The United Kingdom is pulling back from the world stage.

Take recent meetings of European leaders, for example. This may be the most unstable time in Europe since the end of the Cold War, as Russia has seized Crimea and is supporting a war in Eastern Ukraine.

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Europe
6:01 am
Sat April 4, 2015

Colorful Fringe Candidates Vie For Prominence In UK Election

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 12:33 pm

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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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 β€” 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 β€” and possibly the oldest β€” 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 β€” 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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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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 β€” 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 β€” an Iraqi city at the base of Mount Sinjar that Kurdish peshmerga fighters recently regained control of β€” 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 β€” an ethnic and religious minority in Iraq β€” 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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