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Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

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Our colleague, Lauren Frayer, is in Barcelona, the Spanish region of Catalonia, listening to people say they do not want change.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTORS: (Chanting in foreign language).

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An independence movement in Catalonia escalated over the weekend. The region tried to hold a referendum on independence. The central government called the referendum illegal. Police tried to shut it down and clashed with voters at polling stations.

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In northeast Spain today, violence has broken out at polling stations in Catalonia, where they're holding an independence referendum.

(SOUNDBITE OF RIOT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

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Inside a Barcelona film studio, a technician cues up a scene from the movie Prisoners, showing Jake Gyllenhaal's latest car chase.

Then a local actor — albeit one who's slightly older, balder and plumper than Gyllenhaal — delivers the Hollywood actor's lines in Catalan.

In Spain's northeast region of Catalonia, that's the official language, along with Spanish. Movies, television programs — even Netflix series — are all dubbed into Catalan. Dubbing is especially popular in children's programming for youngsters who don't yet know how to read subtitles.

Over the summer, Turkey's Twitter-sphere went abuzz after the appearance of a cryptic tweet: "The bird has flown away."

It was posted July 14 on the account of Sevan Nisanyan, a famous jailed intellectual, announcing he'd escaped from a Turkish prison. He had been behind bars since January 2014 and wasn't eligible for parole for another 10 years.

For 28 years, Joaquim Paladella has been mayor of his hometown of Batea, a pretty sandstone village of 2,000 people, nestled in vineyards west of Barcelona.

It's a place with more tractors than cars. There's so much farmwork, Batea has almost full employment. The jobless rate is 3 percent, one of the lowest in Spain.

Whenever there are elections for local, regional and national offices, Paladella sets up ballot boxes in the basement of the town hall. People line up outside.

But not this coming Sunday.

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After Hurricane Irma hit St. Martin last week, Melissa Gumbs was in her yard surveying the damage and trying to figure out how to start cleaning up. Then, underneath the debris, she and her neighbor spotted her flag, which was completely undamaged by the storm. Her neighbor hung it on the tree.

"For me, it's basically just a motivation [for] how we have to keep pushing to rebuild in the post-Irma world," Gumbs tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This is what it sounded like in Barcelona today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language).

Teenagers chain-smoke in the village square in Ripoll, a tidy Catalan town in the foothills of the Pyrenees in northeast Spain. They're trying to process what happened over summer vacation.

Theirs is one of those towns, population about 10,000, where everyone seems to know everyone. There's a Benedictine monastery, window boxes bursting with geraniums and almost zero crime.

"No tinc por!" — I am not afraid — mourners have been chanting in the local Catalan language at vigils and marches across Barcelona, since ISIS killed 16 people in and around the city on Aug. 17 and 18.

But when Spain's king broke royal protocol and joined marchers last weekend in solidarity with the terrorism victims, the tone changed: Residents booed and yelled at him to "get out!" and go home to Madrid.

Catalans are using the "No tinc por" slogan — and hashtag — to express defiance not only against terrorists but also against the Spanish state.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution.

The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey's president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people's education.

At a playground in an upscale, secular area of Istanbul, parents and grandparents express concern over the new policy.

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