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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The Two-Way
6:16 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Molotov Cocktails And Razor Wire: Inside An Occupied Building In Ukraine

Pro-Russian protesters surround a barricade made by used tires and barbed wire Friday in Donetsk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian protesters took control of the government building and have held it since Sunday.
The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 12:36 am

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:

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Parallels
4:21 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

God Save The Queen — And Donetsk, Too?

The online "God Save The Queen" campaign that started as a joke called for Donetsk to hold a referendum on whether to join Great Britain. Eventually, it was shut down: for being anti-Russian.
Novosti Donbassa

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 2:16 am

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.)

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Parallels
2:37 am
Thu April 10, 2014

In Ukraine's Rust Belt, A Mix Of Nostalgia And Nationalism

In the rundown Ukrainian town of Perewalsk, near the Russian border, 80-year-old Lida Vasilivna has just planted a garden. "Business just went belly up," she says about her town's hard times, after asking, "Are you gonna put this granny on TV?"
Ari Shapiro/NPR

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 8:55 am

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.

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Parallels
4:27 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Ukrainian Protesters Seize Weapons, Raising The Stakes

A pro-Russian activist speaks at the Security Services building, which was seized in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. The standoff is one of three taking place in the region, and Luhansk is considered particularly volatile because the Security Services building contains many weapons.
Igor Golovniov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 5:48 pm

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."

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Parallels
2:40 am
Wed April 9, 2014

In Eastern Ukraine, Normality Rules Except At Ground Zero

Emir Gushinov (in green) says not many children are taking his pony rides in Donetsk nowadays. But he said that's not because of the unrest nearby. "The main reason is that it's not a holiday," he says.
Ari Shapiro/NPR

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 7:02 am

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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News
3:14 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

In Eastern Ukraine, Demands For A Vote Boil Into Arrests

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 4:24 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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Parallels
12:31 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Ukraine's Winter Of Discontent Gives Way To Spring Of Austerity

Two men play chess in Kiev's Independence Square on Feb. 11. Ukraine's economy is ailing, and the country is facing austerity measures in exchange for an IMF loan. Meanwhile, Russia says it will sharply increase gas prices.
Martin Bureau AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 6:29 pm

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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Europe
4:12 pm
Sat April 5, 2014

Cleaning Around Barricades, Kiev Protesters Still Camping In Square

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 5:19 pm

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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.

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Europe
4:04 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Ukraine Crisis, NSA Eavesdropping Dominate Summit Discussions

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 6:39 am

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.

News
3:07 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

At Nuclear Summit, Ukraine Questions Dominate The Day

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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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News
3:33 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Crimea Casts Long Shadow In Amsterdam, Where G7 Leaders Meet

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 5:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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)

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Parallels
11:27 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Which Artwork Is A Metaphor For The Current Global Condition?

President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte shake hands in front of Rembrandt's Night Watch after speaking to the press following meetings at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on Monday. Which artwork in the museum best captures the current global mood?
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 2:41 pm

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.

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World
4:09 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Obama Heads To The Hague For Nuclear Summit

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 6:45 am

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.

Parallels
4:02 am
Tue March 18, 2014

After 300 Years Of Marriage, Scotland Contemplates U.K. Divorce

Pro-independence campaigners attend a rally In Edinburgh, Scotland, in September.
Jeff J Mitchell Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 9:22 am

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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News
3:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Europe Pulls Punches With Limited Sanctions, Wary Of Backfire

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 5:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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News
3:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

With Russian Minister, Kerry Kicks A Soccer Ball And Talks Ukraine

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 5:33 pm

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

Europe
4:02 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Will Scotland Go Independent? A Primer On The Secession Vote

A bakery in Edinburgh recently launched an independence referendum poll using Yes, No and Undecided cupcakes.
Andrew Milligan PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 10:06 am

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.

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Parallels
2:42 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Why More Americans Are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

A case against the Swiss bank UBS in 2008 led Congress to create more regulations for foreign banks holding American money. Rather than comply, many banks opted to stop serving American account-holders.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 7:32 am

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.

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Parallels
11:06 am
Tue February 18, 2014

For U.S. Ambassador, Ties To Prague That Transcend Diplomacy

Norm Eisen, the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, poses at his official residence in Prague in October 2013. Eisen's mother was born and raised in what was Czechoslovakia and was sent by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp, which she survived.
Filip Singer The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:18 am

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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Arts & Life
4:18 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Classical Music Piece Enhances Roald Dahl's 'Dirty Beasts'

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

"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."

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Parallels
1:51 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

In Damp Country, Record-Breaking Rains Flood Britain

Priscilla Smithers and her four children have arranged chairs around a few air mattresses to create a space for themselves, after fleeing their home.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 8:15 am

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.

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Parallels
2:34 am
Wed February 12, 2014

For Elephants And Rhinos, Poaching Trends Point In Wrong Direction

Two adult white rhinos stand in an enclosure at South Africa's Entabeni Safari Conservancy in 2012. Entabeni is one of the world's only dedicated orphanages for rhino calves whose parents were poached for their horns — a trend that is rising.
Stephane De Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 3:48 pm

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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Parallels
11:58 am
Thu February 6, 2014

From Projects To Parliament, Britain's 'Rev. Rose' Breaks Barriers

The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin outside her home in Hackney, England. The first woman and the first person of color to serve as chaplain to the queen and in the House of Commons moves between those rarefied worlds and that of the poverty- and crime-ridden parish in East London that she continues to run.
Godong UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 10:39 am

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.

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Parallels
12:14 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Did London Get An Economic Boost From The 2012 Olympics?

This cable car line in London, shown on Jan. 27, was built in time for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in the city. It is taking 35 percent fewer visitors than predicted.
Matthew Lloyd Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 1:33 pm

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.

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The Edge
2:25 am
Mon February 3, 2014

The Games Are A Great Party, But Not A Great Investment

Graffiti covers a vent adjacent to the Athens Olympic Stadium in this photo from Feb. 18, 2012. Expenditures on the 2004 Athens Summer Games contributed to the country's debt load, which sparked the current economic crisis.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 6:02 pm

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.

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Parallels
8:55 am
Mon January 27, 2014

British Satire: Still Current After 170 Years

Punch magazine began publishing in 1841 and survived until 2002. It was a British institution and has been credited with introducing humorous cartoons.
Ari Shapiro/NPR

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 11:41 am

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.

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Parallels
2:39 am
Thu January 23, 2014

From The Trenches To The Web: British WWI Diaries Digitized

The British National Archives has digitized and posted online about 1.5 million pages of diaries from soldiers and units that fought in World War I. Here, a photo of the 12th (Prince of Wales') Lancers Group.
From a private collection, provided courtesy of the National Archives

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 1:37 pm

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."

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Parallels
3:41 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

ln A Global Economy, Why's It So Expensive To Transfer My Money?

NPR's Ari Shapiro, who recently moved to London and set up a bank account, reports that it can still be an expensive and time consuming process to transfer money internationally. Here, people pass by a branch of Lloyds Bank in London, on Sept. 17.
Sang Tan AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 3:39 am

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.

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Parallels
12:28 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

The 'Downton Abbey Law' Would Let British Women Inherit Titles

Cawdor Castle is often called Macbeth's Castle because it's the place of a murder in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The castle was built long after Shakespeare died. Lady Liza Campbell, who was raised at the castle, is pushing to revise the law to allow women to inherit titles and estates.
Hans Wild Time

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

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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Parallels
2:35 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Some Brits Not Ready To Say 'Ta-Ra' To Iconic Telephone Box

Though most people rely on cellphones, not pay phones these days, the telephone boxes aren't obsolete. During an art exhibit in summer 2012, artist Benjamin Shine transformed one into a work called Box Lounger, on display here in Central St. Giles in London.
Dave Catchpole/Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:14 am

People in the United Kingdom are racing to save a beloved icon, in a mission that in some ways resembles efforts to save the giant panda in China, or the polar bear in the Arctic.

But this icon isn't threatened by habitat loss or climate change. The problem here comes from companies like Apple, Samsung and Nokia.

"Mobiles have taken over," laments Mark Johnson, the man in charge of pay phones for BT (formerly known as British Telecom).

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