SaturdaysonCNN INTERNATIONAL630, 1030, 1430 GMT730, 1130, 1530 CET
May 25th, 2011
08:21 PM ET

CNN wins Amnesty International media award

CNN International has won the Amnesty International Media award in the ‘International Television and Radio’ category for our documentary, 'World’s Untold Stories: Locked up and Forgotten.'

CNN's David McKenzie highlights the desperate state of Kenya’s mentally disabled community, who live a life hidden away in slums and remote villages across the country.

Kudos to David, photographer Fabien Muhire and producer Ingrid Formanek - who told us this was the most disturbing story she's worked on in 25 years at CNN.  You can see the documentary and special coverage from Back|Story in the links below:

Kenya’s handicapped: “Locked Up”, pt.1

Kenya’s handicapped: “Locked Up”, pt.2

Kenya’s handicapped: “Locked Up”, pt.3

Kenya’s handicapped: “Locked Up”, pt.4

CNN Crew Locked-up in a psychiatric hospital

Locked-up and forgotten a photo gallery

Eudias and Kennedy Update

Filed under: backstory • Kenya
May 25th, 2011
02:32 AM ET

A rare visit: An insider's look at a state dinner at Buckingham Palace with the Obamas

It's not often that a U.S. president attends a state dinner with the Queen of England. Darren McGrady, former Royal Chef to Queen Elizabeth II, knows exactly how banquets on such a lavish scale are prepared. Check it out!

Filed under: backstory • Interviews • UK
May 23rd, 2011
03:11 AM ET

Doomsday Predictions: Harold Camping's fringe teachings

Followers of a fringe Christian group led by the preacher Harold Camping believed the world was going to end on May 21st.  CNN rode along with a group of "doomsdayers" as they toured the U.S. spreading their message. To read more about this story from Jessica Ravitz, check out the Belief Blog at .

Filed under: backstory • Interviews • Religion
May 19th, 2011
10:22 PM ET

A bit of modern archeology, to challenge recorded history

All roads lead to Rome – some 400,000 of them, constructed during the early civilization of the Roman Empire.

At least, that’s what we were taught in school.

Roman roads are, or certainly were, long and straight. They’re made from broken stones, mixed with cement, tightly packed then paved.

The aim, of course, was to make getting from A to B – by foot, cart or horseback – as easy as possible.

The Romans were clever folk, sophisticated for their time. Remnants of their reign are scattered across Europe.

Monty Python couldn’t have summed it up better than in the legendary scene from the comedy sketch ‘The Life of Brian’ (1979).

One of the characters, Reg, gives a revolutionary speech asking, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”  His audience goes on to outline the achievements of the Romans – including sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, public health and peace!

This may be satire at its best but it’s also what’s etched in the history books.

That is, until now.

We stumbled across a gem of a story that, in archaeological terms, seemed too good to be true.

A team, excavating a quarry, has unearthed a road that they believe was not the work of the Romans.  They say evidence shows it was actually constructed during the Iron Age.

This revelation completely changes our long-held views and could even rewrite history, according to archaeologist Tim Malim.

The Revealer production team set off from London to film the find.  The name of the town is a bit of a tongue twister – Shrewsbury in Shropshire – but it only took reporter Don Riddell a dozen or so takes to get it right.

Now, the discovery was made at a quarry, not the most picturesque of places at the best of times.  It’s an understatement to say how disappointed we were that the actual road had been covered over. How on earth were we going to tell this story in a visual way? All we could see was a big hole in the ground, a rather large pile of chipped stones and a serene field full of sheep.

Fortunately, the archaeologist Tim Malim – who led the dig – was very helpful and managed to paint a picture of what life would have been like all those hundreds of years ago.

Don donned a hard hat and retraced the steps that those who built the road, the Celtic Cornovii tribe, would have walked.

Our editor Tam added some clever graphics, plus a few more interesting snippets, and we had our story.

The discovery seems to show that Iron Age Britons were more sophisticated than we thought. It’s certainly made us rethink what we were taught in history class.

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
May 18th, 2011
06:53 PM ET

The head of the IMF is behind bars right now

Talk about a fall from grace.

The head of the International Monetary Fund is behind bars right now at Rikers Island prison.

He is accused of a violent sexual assault and pressure for him to resign is mounting.

We wanted to know what Dominque Strauss-Kahn is likely to endure in prison and how the case will play out.

So we called on prominent defense attorney Paul Callan for some answers. 

Filed under: backstory • Interviews
Revealer Clue #3: It’s really all about people
May 18th, 2011
06:26 PM ET

Revealer Clue #3: It’s really all about people

Take a look at this picture. Who do you think these people are?  One thing we can tell you: they are major players in this week’s installment of “The Revealer”.

If you know the culture represented in the drawing, then you’re almost halfway to figuring out what we’ll reveal during the show on Thursday. 

Just put your answer in the comments section here and the first person to get it right will be announced on BackStory live tomorrow as well. 

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
May 17th, 2011
10:38 PM ET

Tracking Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier In Haiti

If you read Gary Tuchman's blog post below, you'll know he was able to secure an interview with former Haitian leader Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. This all happened last Saturday in Port-au-Prince.

In the video here, you'll get a look at the waiting game and ultimate frustration he experienced along with his producer, Justine Redman.

Filed under: backstory • Haiti • Interviews
Clue #2, The Revealer: From a place and time, that will change your mind
May 17th, 2011
07:28 PM ET

Clue #2, The Revealer: From a place and time, that will change your mind

Here is clue # 2 about this Thursday's installment of "The Revealer":

This week’s segment somehow brings together two well-known ancient cultures, Charles Darwin, a quarry and transportation. We're hoping that these clues plus seeing a little more of the above photo help you guess the time, place or subject we’re bringing you this week.

Put your guess in the comments section and be sure to see “The Revealer” live on Back|Story this Thursday at 2300 CET/1700 EST.

(Tomorrow we'll provide you with a different clue that could help unravel more of the mystery.)

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
A visit with Baby Doc Duvalier by Gary Tuchman
Tuchman with "Baby Doc" Duvalier
May 16th, 2011
09:28 PM ET

A visit with Baby Doc Duvalier by Gary Tuchman

I spent more than an hour this weekend with one of the Western Hemisphere's most infamous leaders. Jean Claude Duvalier is now back in Haiti after a quarter century in exile in France. The man known as Baby Doc ruled Haiti with impunity between 1971-1986 and made a dramatic return to Haiti this past January, a year after the devastating earthquake in the country.  His father, known as Papa Doc, ruled the country with even more of an iron fist for the 14 years before that. Both men proclaimed themselves presidents for life. But while Papa Doc died in office, Baby Doc was driven out; after thousands of political opponents were allegedly killed or had disappeared during his reign. He was also accused of siphoning off tens of millions; if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

He is now living in a friend's home with his companion Veronique Roy in on a mountaintop outside Port-au-Prince in one of Haiti's nicest neighborhoods.  For months now, my producer Justine Redman and I have been trying to obtain an interview with Duvalier; to find out his side of the countless allegations against him. He hadn't done a television interview for many years. The timing was good when his attorney informed us Duvalier had consented to an interview with us. Not only would we get this important and exclusive interview, but we would also be covering that same weekend's inauguration of Haiti's new president Michel Martelly. We reported on the inauguration, and then drove to Duvalier's house. We were immediately struck by the fact that even though he is currently charged with corruption, theft, and misappropriation of funds, a police officer in a squad car sits in his driveway to offer him protection. We also saw at least two other security men in the house.

I was introduced to the 59 year old leader and immediately was struck by how infirm he looked. It is especially noticeable because when he took over his country at the age of 19 (he was the youngest leader in the world at that time) he looked every bit a teenager. But four decades later, he had a hard time moving his head, and his speech was very slow and stilted. He was also extremely soft spoken. All in all, one would never imagine  based on his appearance if they didn't know his past, that he has had such horrific allegations against him.  His companion Veronique Roy, who met him in France in 1991 after he divorced his wife, (she said when she was introduced to the president she thought he was a president of a company) offered us soft drinks and water. They were both very friendly as our cameraman Sarmad Qaseera prepared to set up his equipment for our interview.

Duvalier wanted to know what questions I was going to ask him. I explained we don't give out our questions to people we interview, but explained in general we wanted to ask him about his life as Haiti's ruler, what his life was like in exile,  why he came back to Haiti, and his response to the gamut of allegations against him. Before the cameras were ready to roll, he told me in French (which my producer translated) that he wanted to come back because he missed Haiti very much. He said he learned about the details of the earthquake from watching CNN in France, and that he couldn't believe how much damage still existed 16 months later.

As we talked he had four cellphones in front of him, glancing at them, texting on at least two of them, but not answering them when they occasionally rang. When the time had come to set up our camera, Duvalier looked at his lawyer and said "I thought this was just going to be a first casual meeting." Apparently, Duvalier wanted to meet me, gauge me, and then decide if he wanted to talk on camera at a later date. There was no luck changing his mind on this night.  Duvalier and Veronique Roy said they had plans and had to leave the house.  I told them we could do the on camera interview the next day. Roy said she would call us later that night with the time for the next day's interview. Duvalier also told my producer Justine he would personally call her.

Well, the call never came. Duvalier's attorney said to us that after we left,  Duvalier and Roy told him they wanted to do the interview, so even he didn't understand what happened. He gave us Duvalier's personal cell number. No answer. The lawyer tried calling. No answer. So the next day, we drove back to the house. Duvalier's aides said he wasn't home. But we had a feeling, based on all the security people we could see, that they were not telling the truth. We left the house and told them we would come back later in the day. After we left, my cellphone rang; it was another Duvalier aide, who said Duvalier had an "emergency," but that I would definitely be called back with a  time for the interview. That call never came.

We went back to the house to give it one more try before we left the country. His aides were as unhelpful as they could be. 24 hours earlier, we were honored guests in the Duvalier home; we even played with their dog. But now, we were being treated not quite as well as that dog. We aren't sure Jean Claude Duvalier was even aware we came back for the interview. We never got back in touch with him. But common sense tells you, his aides wouldn't have been so unhelpful and unpleasant without the okay of the man who used to rule their country, but now only rules them.

Filed under: backstory • Haiti • Interviews • journalists
The Revealer Clue #1: A common find reveals an uncommon history
May 16th, 2011
08:50 PM ET

The Revealer Clue #1: A common find reveals an uncommon history

This picture holds tiny clues to the truth about a technological feat from ancient times, which may have been wrongly attributed to an invading army.

This week's installment of "The Revealer" will change what you know about history. But can you guess where and when this story takes place?

Leave your answer here in our comments section.  We’ll announce the name of the first person to figure it out, when we debut this all-new installment of "The Revealer" Thursday on BackStory.

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
« older posts