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.

In Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk, activists who want to align the country more with Russia seized a regional administration building in the center of town last weekend. NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro went inside the building Friday and reports on what it was like:

The eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk has been the center of a standoff since Sunday, with demonstrators pleading for the city to join Russia, while government leaders insist it will remain part of Ukraine.

In the midst of this tug-of-war, there's a third country that may have a claim on the city — though admittedly, a much looser one.

"God Save The Queen" isn't just the British national anthem, it's also the name of a campaign to bring Donetsk under the sheltering wing of Her Majesty's United Kingdom.

(You read that correctly: the UK. Stay with us here.)

To say that the town of Perewalsk in eastern Ukraine has fallen on hard times would be an enormous understatement. The small industrial town near the Russian border is a collection of concrete buildings with no windows, falling-down houses and empty, abandoned factories; there's a chemical smell in the air.

In the middle of this dystopian landscape, there's an even more unexpected sight: an 80-year-old woman in a bright purple coat and headscarf, happily digging with a shovel in the dirt.

She introduces herself as Lida Vasilivna.

The drive to Luhansk takes you past fields of corn and sunflowers that are just beginning to sprout. You pass the town of Yennakieva, where the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was born. Eventually the fields give way to factories, and about 15 miles from the border with Russia, you hit the industrial city of Luhansk.

Police have blocked off the center of town. The last few blocks to the heart of the protest, at the occupied security services building, is a journey by foot, past graffiti that say, "Luhansk is a Russian City."

In the eastern city of Donetsk, protesters hung a huge banner declaring a government office building to be the "People's Republic of Donetsk."

These pro-Moscow activists want to pull away from Europe and align Ukraine more with Russia. The protests in Donetsk and elsewhere in eastern Ukraine are the focus of the ongoing crisis in the country and it has international repercussions that reach well beyond the country's borders.

Yet life in the rest of Donetsk is going on completely as normal.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia today of stirring unrest in eastern Ukraine. He says Russian special forces and agitators are behind the seizure of government buildings in the region. Thousands of Russian troops and armored vehicles are masked nearby just over Ukraine's border with Russia.

After a long winter of protests, Ukrainian activists overthrew their president in February. Now, Ukrainians are staring at the bill they have to pay.

The International Monetary Fund is demanding that Ukraine's new government implement austerity measures in exchange for loans. Russia is threatening to raise Ukraine's heating gas prices by 80 percent. Taken together, this could further squeeze ordinary Ukrainians, some of whom are already getting by with almost nothing.

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In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, hundreds of people are still camped out in Independence Square known as the Maidan. They say they'll stay, at least through next month's presidential elections, to push for greater reform. In February, violent protests in the Maidan toppled the president and left dozens dead. Today, though, the cloud of black dust over the square was from dozens of brooms sweeping. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

President Obama is in Brussels for meetings with NATO and the European Union. Events on the sideline of Tuesday's nuclear summit at The Hague have eclipsed the nuclear agenda itself.

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President Obama wrapped up a two-day nuclear security summit in The Hague today. He's been operating on two tracks on this trip. At the summit, he's been urging countries to get rid of their nuclear material. On the sidelines, he's been organizing the global community to isolate Russia, following it's annexation of Crimea.

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To the Netherlands now, where more than 50 world leaders are attending a major nuclear summit. That group includes President Obama who landed in Amsterdam this morning. The crisis in Ukraine hangs over this trip, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from The Hague.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Moments after Air Force One touched down, President Obama was walking through the cavernous hallways of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam's temple to fine art.

PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE: (Foreign language spoken)

President Obama is doing serious work in Europe this week, meeting with the G-7, NATO and the EU to discuss Russia's actions in Ukraine. He's also joining leaders from more than 50 countries in The Hague to talk about keeping nuclear weapons away from terrorists. But before the intense negotiations got underway, he launched this trip with a bit of culture.

President Obama goes to The Hague for a nuclear security summit Monday. Although the crisis in Ukraine is overshadowing the event, there is a packed agenda independent of the tensions with Russia. This is the third time world leaders have met to discuss how to keep nuclear materials out of terrorists' hands.

Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom for more than 300 years. This fall, that could change. In mid-September, a referendum on independence will determine whether Scotland breaks off from England, Northern Ireland and Wales to become a sovereign nation.

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, is ground zero in this debate. The East End of this city is poor and run down, with some of the worst health figures in Europe. Men here are expected to live into only their mid-50s, some 30 years less than in wealthy areas.

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The United States and Europe both condemn the vote in Crimea. President Obama announced measures he says will increase the cost on Russia. They include the freezing of U.S. assets of certain Russian officials. The president warned there would be more to come, quote, "if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine." The European Union is also issuing sanctions.

Foreign ministers met in Brussels today and NPR's Ari Shapiro tells us what they did.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet in London Friday for talks about the crisis in Ukraine.

An intense campaign is underway for the future of the United Kingdom. On Sept. 18, the people of Scotland will vote on whether to become an independent country. Here are answers to a few key questions about the issue.

1. Why would Scotland want to leave the U.K.?

There are some reasons grounded in logic and others based in emotion.

A few times a year, the Treasury Department publishes a long list of names announcing all of the Americans who have lately abandoned their U.S. citizenship.

According to the legal website International Tax Blog, the number hovered around 500 a decade ago. Last year, it hit a record high of nearly 3,000.

This was not a gradual change. It was a sudden spike. It's a story of dominoes falling, one after another, leading to an unexpected outcome.

The drive into Prague is like a journey into the past. As you approach, grand castles and cathedrals appear on the horizon and pull you into an old-world city that could be the setting for a fairy tale.

Three years ago, Norm Eisen made this journey in a motorcade. It was his first day as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. He was returning to the land where his mother, Frieda, had been born almost 90 years ago.

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The children's author Roald Dahl died almost 25 years ago, and yet, today you can find more musical adaptations of his work than ever.

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"Matilda" is a hit on Broadway. A musical version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is running in London's West End.

GREENE: Over the weekend, the London Philharmonic Orchestra debuted the newest adaptation of Dahl's work, a classical piece for children based on a collection of poems called "Dirty Beasts."

Parts of England have been underwater for more than six weeks now, since storms began pummeling the west of Great Britain around Christmas. While many of those areas are still submerged, the situation keeps getting worse.

Now the floodwaters are lapping near Windsor Castle, as the Thames overflows its banks. Thousands of people have fled their homes, with more evacuating every day.

South Africa has a stable government that makes wildlife protection a high priority. But even in that country, there's been a dramatic surge in poaching, particularly for rhinos.

A decade ago, fewer than 100 rhinos were killed in a year. Last year, it was more than 1,000, says Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"When you're talking about something that is more valuable than gold, and it is easily accessible, you're going to create the atmosphere where people are going to take advantage of that," he says.

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Parliament in London is an old-fashioned place. When members gather in the House of Commons, the sea of faces is generally wrinkled, white and male.

The chaplain who leads them each day in prayer is emphatically not.

The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin is the first black woman to serve as chaplain to the speaker in the House of Commons. She broke the same barrier when she was appointed chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II. She was also the first woman, and the first person of color, to run her parish in Northeast London.

Ronald Reagan once joked that the game Trivial Pursuit had a special economists' edition: It came with 100 questions and 3,000 answers. Economists are notorious for being unable to agree on anything. So it's striking that on the finances of the Olympics, they almost all agree.

"Investing in the Olympics is not worth the investment," says Andy Zimbalist of Smith College.

"You build all these facilities that are perfect for the Olympics, that are not really as desirable once the circus leaves town," says Allen Sanderson of the University of Chicago.

NPR correspondents Ari Shapiro, in London, and Joanna Kakissis, in Athens, teamed up for this joint look at Olympics economics.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi are just a few days away. Russia has spent $50 billion on everything from construction to security, making these the most expensive games in history.

Countries often justify the Olympic-sized price tag by saying the investment pays off in increased business and tourism.

After three weeks in London, I'm finally starting to understand some local customs and mores. Yet I confess that political cartoons remain a challenge. They often reference obscure government ministers or historical practices in such an oblique way that I totally miss the joke.

So it was with some relief that I stumbled upon a cartoon over the weekend whose meaning was unambiguously clear. In the black-and-white drawing, a glutton with a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth steps on a poor, miserable man, who lies pinned to the floor.

On the outskirts of London, in a basement room of the British National Archives, a historian delicately turns pages that have the brittle feel of dead leaves. Each is covered in text — some typewritten, some in spidery handwriting from a pen that scratched across the page 100 years ago.

"Saturday, the 26th of September, 1914," reads one. "The most ghastly day of my life. And yet one of my proudest, because my regiment did its job and held on against heavy odds."

When relocating to a new country, it's important to establish routines and traditions. My ritual here in London is spending an hour on the phone with the bank every day.

It's a strange thing about 2014 — we've got one collective foot planted squarely in the 21st century, while the other is stuck in back in the 19-something-or-others.

My email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts don't care whether I'm in Dublin or Dubai. I can jog along the Seine in Paris to the same music on Spotify that I listen to when I'm running along the Willamette River in Portland.

Centuries before the U.S. was colonized, the British were handing down estates and titles from father to son. Never from mother to daughter.

Then came the royal pregnancy last year. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka William and Kate, had a boy, George. But before the prince was born and his sex known, Parliament changed British law so a first-born girl could inherit the throne. And a group of female aristocrats began fighting to apply the principle more broadly.

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