Eleanor Beardsley

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in June 2004, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy.

Beardsley has covered both 2007 and 2012 French presidential elections as well as the Arab Spring in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of the autocratic President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. She reported on the riots in French suburbs in 2005 and the massive student demonstrations in 2006. Beardsley has followed the Tour de France cycling race and been back to her old stomping ground — Kosovo — to report for NPR on three separate occasions.

Prior to moving to Paris, Beardsley worked for three years with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. She also worked as a television producer for French broadcaster TF1 in Washington, DC and as a staff assistant to Senator Strom Thurmond.

Reporting from France for Beardsley is the fulfillment of a lifelong passion for the French language and culture. At the age of 10 she began learning French by reading the Asterix The Gaul comic book series with her father.

While she came to the field of radio journalism relatively late in her career, Beardsley says her varied background, studies and travels prepared her for the job as well as any journalism school. "I love reporting on the French because there are so many stereotypes about them that exist in America," she says. "Sometimes it's fun to dispel the false notions and show a different side of the French. And sometimes the old stereotypes do hold up. But whether Americans love or hate France and the French, they're always interested!"

A native of South Carolina, Beardsley has a Bachelor of Arts in European history and French from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and a Masters Degree in International Business from the University of South Carolina.

Beardsley is interested in politics, travel and observing foreign cultures. Her favorite cities are Paris and Istanbul.

French President Francois Hollande says that for now, France intends to go through with a deal to build two warships for the Russian navy. The first of the Mistral-class assault vessels is supposed to be delivered in October.

The $1.6 billion deal is the biggest sale to Russia ever by a NATO country. And three years ago, when the contract was signed, French officials hailed it as a sign that Moscow should be considered a partner, not an enemy. Still, there were critics among NATO allies even then.

Decked out in red, white and blue clothing, and waving flags and banners, thousands of supporters of the far-right National Front party marched through central Paris on Thursday — known as May Day or International Workers Day — to hear charismatic leader Marine Le Pen. The traditional gathering began, as always, at a gilded statue of Joan of Arc, where Le Pen laid a wreath.

Bearing messages ranging from the inspiring to the insipid, "love locks" can be found clamped onto bridges in major cities around the world. But no place has it worse than Paris, where the padlocks cover old bridges in a kind of urban barnacle, climbing up every free surface.

Take the Pont des Arts, Paris' most famous footbridge across the Seine river. Hundreds of thousands of padlocks cover its old iron railings; the light of day barely passes through them.

Early Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military moved into towns held by militants. Firefights and casualties have been reported at a number of different locations.

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned today that his country would respond if its citizens or interests came under attack in Ukraine. The warning came as the interim Ukrainian government ordered a new offensive against pro-Moscow militants occupying government buildings across Eastern Ukraine. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Donetsk.

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Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia today that it must join in efforts to reduce tensions in Ukraine. Biden was in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, and it looks like last week's international agreement to disarm militant groups in that country is failing. Ukrainian president says the security service will resume an anti-terrorist operation following the discovery of two bodies in eastern Ukraine. The operation had been suspended after the agreement in Geneva.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us from Donetsk.

The killing of three people at a checkpoint in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk has increased tension in the town, where a government building is being occupied by pro-Moscow militants.

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In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the opposing camps seem increasingly entrenched, despite a diplomatic effort to ease tensions. Pro-Russian forces refuse to leave occupied buildings and public squares in the east. It's an uneasy Easter weekend and neither side is willing to budge.

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

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Since the upheaval in Ukraine began four months ago, the number of kidnappings of journalists and activists has been on the rise, though they've always been part of the Ukrainian political landscape.

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Crimea is a poor region, heavily subsidized by Kiev, and gets all its gas, water and food from Ukraine. Russia doesn't even have a land link with the Crimean peninsula and absorbing it will affect banks, schools, tourism and pensions for residents.

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to mobilize 40,000 reservists as Kiev tries to beef up its military following the referendum in Crimea.

Crimeans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Morning Edition checks in with NPR's Gregory Warner in Simferopol and Eleanor Beardsley in Kiev for the latest.

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This past week, France became the first European country to destroy illegal ivory in a high profile public demonstration. It did so underneath the Eiffel Tower as part of a global effort to call attention to the illicit ivory trade. Officials say the trade not only wipes out the world's population of elephants, it also funds terrorism.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has the story.

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The Arab Spring that brought those changes to Egypt began in Tunisia, exactly three years ago today. Tunisians overthrew their dictator, prompting a wave of uprisings across the region. But three years on, lawmakers are still struggling to ratify a new constitution and lay the foundations of their country's future. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is in Tunis and sent this report.

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On Tuesday, Tunisia will celebrate the third anniversary of its revolution. Tunisia is the country that inspired uprisings across the Arab world. Since then, that country has gone through tough times but it seems to have found its way again. Opposing sides have drafted the new constitution together. It will be ready in a couple days, and new elections are set for this year. That sets Tunisia apart from neighboring Egypt and Libya, where the Arab Spring uprisings have brought violence and political upheaval.

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The medieval village of Flavigny, France has livened up its winter streets with nativity scenes, 85 of them exhibited in windows of houses throughout the town. This centuries-old village has been doing this for five years now and it's bringing in crowds of tourists.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley was one of them and she sent us this Christmas postcard.

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Once again, French television screens are full of images of joyous Africans welcoming French troops.

In January, the French military intervened in Mali to help liberate large swaths of the country from radical jihadists. Now, for the second time this year, France has sent troops into an African country to quell violence.

Last week, French soldiers went into the Central African Republic to stop sectarian killings. In news reports from the Central African Republic, crowds yell, "Vive la France!" as they run out to greet convoys of French soldiers.

France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.

Experts say Le Notre's work was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.

'The Interlocutor Of Kings'

Switzerland may be known for watches, wealth and secretive bank accounts, but increasingly people believe that not everyone is reaping their share of the country's economic well-being.

So on Sunday, the Swiss will vote on a referendum that would limit a CEO's pay to 12 times that of the company's lowest-paid worker.

The youth wing of the Social Democratic Party collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to turn the measure, known as the 1:12 initiative, into a national referendum.

For the past week or so, France has been deep in debate, wondering if there's a resurgence of an old colonial racism, or if people have just become more tolerant of bigots.

The questions stem from a series of race-based taunts against Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black. Many of the statements seem to stem from Taubira's championing of the country's gay marriage legalization, which was signed into law in May.

There's a fight going on for the soul of France. Since 1906, Sunday has been deemed a collective day of rest in the country, and French law only allows stores to open on Sundays under very specific conditions — for example, if they're in a high tourist area. Sunday work is also tightly controlled.

But some people are questioning the sense of such a tradition in a languishing economy and 24/7 world.

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