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October 31st, 2011
09:59 PM ET

Reporter as Zombie to Celebrate Halloween

Halloween is celebrated in theU.S. and Europe with costumes, trick-or-treating and visits to haunted houses. It’s big business too.

Some estimate revenues from haunted houses at more than 300 billion dollars, but visitors to haunted houses are more demanding than ever and owners are turning up the fright factor to the delight and horror of their patrons.

CNN’s Rob Marciano got in on the action this year at a spooky mansion near Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S.

Filed under: backstory • U.S.
October 28th, 2011
08:56 PM ET

Sentences for Argentina's Dirty War criminals

After two years of emotional testimony, a historic trial came to a close late Wednesday in Buenos Aires.   Our Brian Byrnes was outside the courthouse as some of the former Argentine military officers who carried out heinous crimes during the country's Dirty War were finally brought to justice.


Filed under: backstory • Latin America
October 28th, 2011
08:42 PM ET

The Dangers of Journalism: When reporting puts you in harm's way

Reporters often encounter danger on the job.  Call it survival journalism – the fine line some journalists walk between reporting the truth and not getting killed.  Four female reporters were recently honored for courage in journalism by the International Women's Media Foundation.   We had the pleasure of talking to one of the honorees.

Parisa Hafezi is the Tehran Bureau Chief for Thomson Reuters news agency.  Last year, she was abducted as punishment for reporting controversial news about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  To this day, Reuters offices in Tehran remain under constant surveillance.  But Parisa remains, even after being threated and targeted by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.  She talked with BackStory about why she stays.

Filed under: backstory • journalists
Women who made the suits that put man on the moon
October 27th, 2011
09:41 PM ET

From Bras to Spacesuits: The Untold Story of Apollo 11

July 16, 1969. The world waited with bated breath as three men in a rocket hurtled skyward, bound for the moon.

Half a billion people tuned in to watch the grainy black and white images of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong step out of the Eagle and onto the lunar surface.

Armstrong's first step was a triumph in a complex operation that marked a new era for mankind.

A group of seamstresses in a small town called Frederica in the state of Delaware was among those watching that moment on the moon. Their role in the American space story is unrivaled.

These unassuming women, who started off their careers stitching bras and girdles, had in fact sewn the spacesuits - 21 layers of material all together.

"I had something to do that was great. I did something great in my lifetime. I built the suit that went to the moon," 75-year-old Bert Pilkenton told CNN.

For 42 years, Pilkenton, along with some 80 other young women, individually tailored spacesuits for International Latex Corporation (ILC)Dover, which had been part of the Playtex group in the 1960s. Their intimate knowledge of the human body and skills with synthetic materials and body-hugging shapes meant they triumphed over the hard amour-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA's engineers.

"Lower arm, upper arm, torso, setting zippers, the convolutes. I had a part in all of it. Wherever they needed help. We just helped each other," said Ruth Ratledge who still works at ILC Dover as a seamstress, aged 77, having given up on retirement.

At times, the girls needed to blind stitch the suits, feeling underneath to get the parts to come together, sometimes within a 64th of an inch.

For the astronauts, it was a matter of life or death. Without oxygen and the protective suit, Aldrin and Armstrong would have perished on the moon in less than 30 seconds.

As a result, sewing pins were deliberately rationed. If the spacesuits were X-rayed and had stray pins left in them where the tailors had pinned the material together, they had to start all over again.

For Ellie Foraker, who began her career with Playtex in 1952 sewing baby pants, finding pins in the suits became too much to bear one day when she realized one particular seamstress had a left a pin in the suit.

She said, "I showed her the pin and I said, "You see this? It just came out of that garment that you sewed. So I'm gonna show you what a pin will do" and I stuck her in the butt. And I said, "Do you think you will remember the next time you leave a straight pin in something?" She said, "Yes ma'am"."

Once the astronauts landed safely back on planet earth, the suits went to the Smithsonian National Air andSpaceMuseuminWashingtonwhere they remain today as a testament to the women behind the suits that put man on the moon.

Bert Pilkenton laughed as she let on a secret - "When we built the Apollo suit - the one that is in the Smithsonian Institute - some of us girls names are inside that suit."

Filed under: backstory • Science and Technology • The Revealer • U.S.
October 26th, 2011
08:25 PM ET

The Revealer Game, Clue # 3

Here is your third clue for this week's segment of The Revealer. Take a look at the video clue from researcher Olivia, and then place your guess in the comments section below.  We'll "reveal" the name of the first person to get it right... coming up on Thursday's BackStory.

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
October 26th, 2011
08:24 PM ET

A Career Under Water

We talk a lot these days about the state of the global economy and the lack of jobs and recently, CNN's Richard Quest and his team at Quest Means Business have been looking at the World at Work.

They're talking to people with unique, sometimes enviable jobs to learn the tricks of their trades.

This time they went underwater to find out more about a man who spends a good portion of his day with the creatures of the deep.  All without leaving London.  CNN's World at Work producer Rosalie e'Silva gave us a look at what went into the shoot.

See Aquarium Curator Jamie Oliver talk about what makes his job so special in the full story here

Filed under: backstory • Interviews • journalists • UK • Uncategorized
Hunting Sharks for their Fins
October 25th, 2011
09:02 PM ET

Hunting Sharks for their Fins

Sharks have been swimming our oceans since the age of the dinosaurs. But these amazing animals are dying out and fast, due to the high demand for their fins.

In fact, the environmental organization Oceana says up to 73 million sharks are killed every year. Many people consider the practice of finning to be very barbaric.

Here's why:

Fishermen actually hack off the shark's fins and throw it back into the sea alive.  The shark then slowly starves to death, drowns or is eaten alive.

Environmental groups say poachers often enter protected areas to illegally slaughter sharks for their fins. One Costa Rican organization says enough is enough.

CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor Rafael Romo has the story.

It's hard to imagine enjoying shark fin soup after watching that graphic video, but there may be a cruelty-free alternative to the traditional Chinese delicacy. Here is CNN's Kristie Lu Stout with a Back|Story flashback from 2009.

Filed under: backstory • Uncategorized
The Revealer Game: Clue # 2
October 25th, 2011
08:51 PM ET

The Revealer Game: Clue # 2

BackStory's signature series, The Revealer returns on  Thursday.  Today, we offer you a new photo clue as to the topic of the next episode.  This iconic image will bring you closer to the answer.  Let us know what you think in the Comments section, and as always, we'll read the name of the first person to get it right on Thursday's BackStory.

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
The Revealer Returns!  Here's a look at Clue # 1
October 24th, 2011
06:25 PM ET

The Revealer Returns! Here's a look at Clue # 1

BackStory's signature series,  The Revealer, returns this Thursday.  So you know what that means... the Revealer Game returns today!  The story behind the next Revealer episode starts here in a small American town with a population of fewer than one thousand people.  Can you guess where it is and why the town is so significant?

Click into the "comments" section to share your guess.  We'll "reveal" the name of the first person to get it right on the air Thursday.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Filed under: backstory • The Revealer
October 13th, 2011
09:53 PM ET

Revealing "The Mexican Suitcase"

His photographs are some of the most iconic images of war taken during the first half of the 20th century.   And for the longest time, we thought we'd seen all that Robert Capa had to offer.  That is, until the "Mexican Suitcase" turned up.  It "revealed" some little-known secrets behind the legendary photographer's work.  Nick Glass gives us a glimpse.

Filed under: backstory • photography • The Revealer
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