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December 20th, 2011
08:25 PM ET

Images of Iraq and the stories behind them

Nine years after it began, the war in Iraq has come to a close.  But the images from that conflict continue to tell a powerful and dramatic story of a country going through an enormous evolution.

Photographer Ben Lowy spent time working in Iraq during the war.  He's put some of his iconic images together in a pair of books titled "Iraq Perspectives."  Errol Barnett recently sat down to talk to Ben about his work and what it was like to be a witness to the conflict.

You can see more photographs by Ben Lowy on the CNN Photo Blog. For more on his career, check out his website:

Filed under: Interviews • Iraq • Iraq War • journalists • photography • Uncategorized
December 20th, 2011
05:17 PM ET

Giving a Voice to Abused Women

Raped, beaten and abused. Afghan women have suffered in silence for years. But a television show called "The Mask" is finally giving them the opportunity to speak out. Producer Sami Mahdi first introduced "The Mask" last year. On the show, women wear masks to conceal their identity as they talk openly about the injustices they've suffered. CNN's Arwa Damon took us behind the scenes of the show earlier this year.

A few weeks ago, we touched base again with producer Sami Mahdi to find out what the show has achieved over the last year.


And now to another story of injustice that played out recently in Afghanistan. A woman named Gulnaz was imprisoned for adultery after a married relative raped her. She was recently pardoned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Gulnaz talked about her heartbreaking ordeal with our Nick Paton Walsh from a safe house in Afghanistan.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Arwa Damon • asia • backstory • Interviews • journalists • Uncategorized
The High Cost of Saying Goodbye
December 13th, 2011
09:15 PM ET

The High Cost of Saying Goodbye

Across Africa, laying a loved one to rest can be an event rivaled by none other.  In some cases, funerals are more important than marriages and births, and no expense is spared.  But as our Robyn Curnow discovered, even the simplest of funerals can put many families in difficult financial situations.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
November 23rd, 2011
04:12 PM ET

The Revealer Game: Clue #2

The architect behind the famous building that we’re featuring on this week’s Revealer used a fascinating concept to explain his design. It’s called the ‘spherical solution’ and is illustrated here. Can you guess the name of the building – and the architect?  Submit your guess in the comments section.  We'll announce the name of the first person to get it right on Thursday's episode of BackStory!

Filed under: The Revealer • Uncategorized
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
September 26th, 2011
08:46 PM ET

Murder in Perugia: The Amanda Knox Appeal

Barbie Nadeau, author of  "Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox", talked with BackStory a few months ago, about the Amanda Knox appeal proceedings in Italy and how things have changed drastically in the years since the Perugia killing.

The Revealer Returns
August 29th, 2011
08:28 PM ET

The Revealer Returns

After a brief summer hiatus, our featured segment, "The Revealer", returns this Thursday!  So, you know what that means... the return of The Revealer Game.  Long-time fans of the show already know the drill:  In the days leading up to the debut of this week's Revealer segment, we will post new photographs each day, offering visual clues to the subject of this week's episode.

Here's the first clue:  It's a historic site that draws millions of tourists every year.  We know a great deal about how it was created.  But, for the longest time, no one was sure WHY it was built where it was.

Think you know the focus of this week's episode of The Revealer?  Post your response in the comments section below.


Filed under: Uncategorized
July 21st, 2011
08:01 PM ET

Somalia in Crisis

By Jane Ferguson and Moni Basu, CNN

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) - War forced tens of thousands of Somalis to flee their capital, Mogadishu. Famine is bringing them back.

Hungry and sick Somalis are trekking from their homes in famine-struck southern areas in search of food, water and medicine. More than 50,000, by a July 18 United Nations count, have arrived in Mogadishu, a city destroyed by two decades of conflict.

The United Nations refugee agency called it an "unprecedented influx" into a city that was notorious for exodus.

The people are arriving in a city where the sound of gunfire became as common as the start of a car engine; where tales of dismemberment and executions and other heinous deeds emanate from neighborhoods shut off from any form of governance.

What has caused the East Africa crisis?

It is exceedingly difficult to deliver aid in Mogadishu. Yet, people who have nothing left to lose hope to get lucky at feeding camps set up by Islamic charities and the United Nations' food agency.

World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran acknowledged the dire need to get food supplies into southern Somalia, where the al Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab recently lifted a ban on aid agencies.

The WFP will ratchet up its efforts and begin airlifting food within days to try and reach 2.2 million people in the south, Sheeran said.

In Mogadishu, the vast feeding camps are teeming with people, mostly women and children.

Jane Ferguson is just back from Mogadishu, where she got a first-hand look at the dismal conditions these desperate people are facing.

But hunger is certainly not the only problem Somalis are facing.  Ongoing fighting in and around the capital of Mogadishu has touched many families, making every day a fight just to survive.

In September 2010, Jane spent time reporting from Somalia.  She looked at the difficulties of staying safe in the city.

Jane also introduced us to the men who make up the front line in the fight against terrorism on the Horn of Africa, and explains why some of they continue to fight, despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges.  See that report .

Also in September, Jane visited a makeshift hospital in Mogadishu struggling amid the fighting.

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Filed under: Somalia • Uncategorized
"The Revealer" Returns: Photo Clue #1
June 27th, 2011
07:38 PM ET

"The Revealer" Returns: Photo Clue #1

Several years ago, a remarkable painting was discovered.  It was thought to be the only known portrait of one of the most iconic figures in the world of literature.  But some wondered if it was actually a true likeness of the legendary artist.  Now another copy of that image has been discovered, that some believe should quiet age-old controversies surrounding the writer.

This photograph offers a clue as to the subject of this week's edition of The Revealer.  Think you know what it is?  Post your guess in the comments section.  The first person to get it right will have his or her name read out on Thursday's show, in the Revealer segment!

Filed under: The Revealer • Uncategorized
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