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April 29th, 2011
02:38 AM ET

A Cabbie's Tour of London

London brings to mind many iconic images:  Big Ben, double-decker buses, the London Eye, and the British Museum.  The list goes on, but what about those famous black cabs?  When you visit London, you have to get around, and these are a respected and classic part of London's history you can't miss.

With the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton just hours away, London has been getting a lot of attention from around the world. We thought you would want to see this historic point in time through a Londoner's eyes.

Back|Story had London cabbie Justin Sneddon take us on a tour of his city.  Justin works through the night, taking people around town.  So, as most of London slept, we got an insider's glimpse of the famous city, including some places many people never get to see.

You can follow London cabbie Justin Sneddon on Twitter @stormcab and find him online at

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Filed under: backstory
April 28th, 2011
07:54 PM ET

The Life of Prince William

As Britian's Prince William gets ready to tie the knot with long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, we're taking a look back at the life of the future King, as told through media reports from the past 28 years.

Filed under: Uncategorized
April 28th, 2011
07:46 PM ET

The Story Behind the Photo Op

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard traveled to Beijing this week, for a two-day visit aimed at broadening relations between the two countries. During the trip, Gillard spent some time meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Premier Wen Jiabao.  You may have seen the video from a ceremony where the two came together.  But capturing those images was more of a challenge than you might think.  CNN Beijing producer Jo Kent and photographer Brad Olson take us behind the scenes, to see what goes into getting such an important shot.

Filed under: backstory
April 27th, 2011
09:53 PM ET

The Royal Wedding: Bringing you the big event

In just two days, the eyes of the world will be focused squarely on London, as Prince William and Catherine Middleton tie the knot at Westminster Abbey.  Billions of people will savor every moment, from the instant Kate steps out of her hotel to the big nuptial kiss on the balcony of Buckinham Palace.  And CNN will be bringing you every moment of the historic event.  Supervising Producer Alec Miran gives us a look inside the broadcast facility across from the Palace, to preview just some of what you'll see on Friday.

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Filed under: backstory
April 26th, 2011
03:49 PM ET

Chernobyl: No Haven for Wildlife

Today marks 25 years since the worst nuclear accident in history.  On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded, killing at least 30 people and sending hundreds of others to the hospital.  Soviet authorities evacuated 200,000 people from the area, and set up an exclusion zone the size of Switzerland around the crippled plant.  Millions of people were exposed to radiation, and thousands developed thyroid cancer.  Despite that, the United Nations says there has been no major public health impact in the decades since the accident.  But radiation experts say the true health costs of the disaster are still unknown.

Anecdotal evidence suggests beavers, deer, hawks, eagles and other wildlife have returned to the Chernobyl exclusion zone in abundance since people fled the area in 1986.  But one radiation ecologist says that picture is misleading.  Biology Professor Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina says biodiversity in the area around Chernobyl has dropped dramatically since the meltdown.  Last year, he and his colleagues published a census of wildlife in the exclusion zone.  He talked with BackStory about his findings.

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Filed under: backstory • Russia
April 22nd, 2011
06:59 PM ET

Oil spill taking toll on Gulf animals

It's been one year since the BP oil spill devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, sending 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing out into the waters of the Gulf.   But scientists say it could take years, even decades, before we know the full environmental impact of the spill.

Just in the past few months, hundreds of sea turtles and dolphins has washed up dead on the shores of the Gulf Coast.  It's not clear just how many of those deaths are directly connected to the spill.  But scientists say it's an unusual – and troubling – development.  Rob Marciano takes us out with a Mississippi group that answers the call of animals in distress.

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Filed under: backstory • Gulf oil spill
April 21st, 2011
10:50 PM ET

Nigeria's New President

(CNN) Post-election violence continues in northern Nigeria, highlighting the deep divide between the mostly Muslim north and the majority Christian south. On Friday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan warned armed protesters that “enough was enough”.

The incumbent won the April 16th election against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, sparking chaos in the north. The violence has killed more than 150 people and displaced thousands from their homes.

Our Christian Purefoy was at the polls during the presidential election and witnessed the moment when the winner was announced.


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Filed under: backstory • Nigeria
April 21st, 2011
10:11 PM ET

What's Not to Love About Italy?

The history, the art, the culture and the charm make it one of the greatest destinations on earth.  So when The Revealer decided to do a piece on the Pantheon in Rome, the whole team was excited.

We were eager to investigate an exciting new theory that this majestic building, one of the oldest in antiquity, may actually have been built as a colossal sundial. It’s a complex piece of academic research that involves how shafts of light pour into the Pantheon at different times of the year.  Make sure to watch the piece on the website to fully understand it.

As we planned the shoot, we imagined filming CNN correspondent Nick Glass pouring over diagrams in quaint cafes and filming sunsets over Rome’s cobbled streets.  That would be the set-up, but we couldn’t cover the story without actually going inside the Pantheon itself.  Or could we?

Like so many historic buildings, you need permission to film for professional purposes.  Easy!  Or so we thought. Hordes of tourists pour through the building’s doors every day.  The only difference between them and us is… well, a few large broadcast cameras, some lights, miles of cables and oh, about seven big boxes of filming equipment. This is where we found ourselves up against the formidable barrier that is Italian bureaucracy.

What should have been a fairly straightforward process turned into a jumble of e-mails sent back and forth in English and Italian. Official requests were sent off and verbal agreements were made, but we still needed written permission to step foot in the Pantheon. When we were just days away from flying from London to Rome, the permission finally came through.  We thought we were sorted, but then another peculiar request came through…

Nick asked for a wheelchair. Not for him, for the camera. There was some uncertainty as to whether we’d be allowed to put our tripod on the floor.  To this day, we’re still not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s a bid to protect the floor – maybe they thought we’d be bringing in the amount of gear needed for a full feature film.  In the end, they did let us use the tripod – which was fortunate, as we needed this piece of kit to make sure cameraman Dave’s pictures weren’t all wobbly.

The wheelchair didn’t go to waste though.  We used it to capture the stunning, sweeping shots of the building’s majestic columns and gigantic doorway. As the researcher on the show, I was relieved that the team did use it, as acquiring the chair wasn’t as easy as you might think.  Most of the rental companies are miles out of the city, so I enlisted the help of Hada and Livia from the CNN bureau inRome.

Italian bureaucracy and wheelchairs aside, another looming issue which we had no control over was the sun. It’s not easy to film a piece on a giant sundial with no glimmer of the sun; or even worse, if there’s rain. Flights were tentatively booked, but nothing confirmed, as we anxiously monitored the weather in one of the world’s oldest cities, occasionally hurling abuse at the weather predictions.

After weeks of negotiation, and a transport strike in Rome thrown into the mix, we came up trumps.  The sun came out.  It’s the one thing you have absolutely no control over. Although, I think we can thank our guest Guilio Magli for its appearance – he’d promised to do a special sun dance just for the occasion.

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Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
April 19th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Adventures in the Arctic

As Matthew Chance and his crew headed to the Russian Arctic for their trip out on the icebreaker, they hit a few delays along the way.  The team got held up in Murmansk Province, where they spent some time exploring a Soviet-era hotel, with surprises along the way.

Filed under: backstory • Russia
April 19th, 2011
08:18 PM ET

Aboard an Arctic icebreaker

Matthew Chance takes us to one of the coldest corners of the Earth, the Arctic Circle, where he gets the rare opportunity to go on board a Russian icebreaker that's helping clear the way for ships moving into the oil-rich Arctic region.

Filed under: backstory • Russia
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