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Toxic Spill Spreads; Will the Taliban Talk?; Young Girl Commits Suicide after Being Bullied; Rescuers Inch Closer to 33 Trapped Miners in Chile. Bloggers Change the Way Fashion Does Business. The Meeting of the Minds Between Hollywood and Fashion. Liza Minnelli Talks About Her New Album, "Confessions." "Glee" Cast Surpasses Beatles for Most Hits on Billboard's Hot 100. Chinese Pop Star Makes Global Connection With Turkey.

Aired October 7, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: As Hungary struggles to deal with a deadly toxic spill, its worst fears are realized, as the sludge finally flows into Europe's second longest river. Now countries downstream are on alert to make sure they don't suffer the consequences.

Going beyond borders on the stories that matter, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

Well, the toxic spill has already claimed four lives in Hungary and devastated local villages.

But what damage could it cause to the near 3,000 kilometer long Danube?

We're going to ask the E.U. whether enough is being done to contain the sludge and who will pay for the cleanup?

Joining the dots from London, I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Also coming up here on CNN, nine years after troops began to root out the Taliban, could the militants now be part of Afghanistan's future?



LIZA MINELLI, ACTOR: We did it in Germany. So everybody kind of left us alone. I mean we're making a movie about the Nazis -- a musical.


ANDERSON: Liza Minelli tells us about the film that made her and answers your questions as our Connector of the Day.

And do remember, you can connect with the program online via Twitter, as ever. My personal address is atbeckycnn. Do log on and join the conversation.

Well, the toxic flood in Hungary could now contaminate the waterways of several European countries. Take a look at the these pictures -- dead fish floating in one of the rivers near the spill in Hungary. Officials say the spill has wiped out all life in the Maca River, which leads to the Danube. Well, on the ground, rescue crews are racing to clean up the toxic sludge after 250 people were forced to flee their homes.

Let's kick off with CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, who has more on the extent of the devastation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everywhere you look in the village, the cleanup is going on -- people coming out, gathering whatever possessions they can get. This stuff here looks like flooring from inside the house right here.

And look at the line, the red tide on the house here, way above me. This is how high the red toxic sludge came through here. People literally are ripping up their flooring, taking it out, trying to salvage whatever they can.

When you come around here, take a look at it. You just get an idea of how devastated this village is. Look at the -- look at the yards here. Look at that red sludge sitting in there, just completely contaminating the whole area.

When you come up here a little more, these are the police lines. Right here, the police have set up lines so looters can't get in. They're patrolling them -- armed policemen patrolling the village, keeping out anyone who wants to come in and steal things. It's hard to imagine, though, how anyone would want to come into this village to take anything away. It's all so contaminated.


ANDERSON: Well, let's get to the latest from Nic Robertson.

He joins me on the line now from the town of Devecser in Hungary -- Nic, are worst fears realized as this contaminated sludge moves toward one of Europe's international waterways?

ROBERTSON: It is. And the government had thought that they had it under control. They said they had the professionals who are capable of stopping it. They've been adding a mixture of chemicals and plaster to the water to try and sort of change that pH content. But they just haven't been able breeze down enough to -- to -- to neutralize it, which is what they're been trying to do.

Of course, on top of that, you have these heavy metals -- cadmium, chromium, poisons like arsenic, as well, all in that water. And that's now -- that's now getting into the -- this major waterway, the Danube.

ANDERSON: What are people telling you, Nic?

I mean this is quite remarkable footage that we're watching that you - - that you shot for us over the past 24 hours.

What are people telling you about how this is going to affect their lives?

ROBERTSON: Their lives are devastated. I talked to several people today. They're trying to clear -- they're trying to clear their houses as best they can.

And you say, well, why?

And they say, well, you're right, we're just doing it instinctively. These houses are basically torn down. They don't think that they can live their lives here anymore. They're just sort of reacting on instinct, is what they say.

So these are people who really -- they really -- they're in shock. They do not know what to do. And when you look at the hands of some of the people during the cleanup, they're getting covered in blisters because they're getting this hands in this toxic sludge. It's inescapable. People -- people you look at them and their clothes are covered in it as they try to sort of salvage something of their lives. They don't know which way to turn right now -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Remarkable stuff.

Nic Robertson for you there in Hungary.

Well, Europe's second longest river is classed as an international waterway and it connects various countries, of course. The Danube originates in Germany's Black Forest and flows downstream through Europe.

Now, you can see the map. Zooming in here on the Maca and Raba Rivers, which transported the toxic sludge to the Danube. Once the Danube leaves Hungary, it flows through Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova before it reaches the Black Sea.

Well, this catastrophe could extend beyond Hungary's borders. In Croatia, experts are taking water samples in the village of Batina. Now, that's the first site after the Danube leaves Hungary.

A Serbian leader quoting the environment minister there, saying the Danube is not contaminated. But he added, "The situation is being closely monitored."

And a Romanian water official says polluted water could reach his country on Saturday.

Authorities say they are preparing for the possibility of contaminated drinking water.

This is a remarkable story. Given the number of countries who are at risk from the catastrophe, is Hungary doing enough?

Well, earlier, I spoke to the E.U. commissioner for the environment and I asked him about Hungary's response to the crisis.

And this is what he told me.


JANEZ POTOCNIK, E.U. COMMISSIONER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: We believe and hope that everything, what is possible is done there at the very spot. And we are ready to offer help if they will request it.

ANDERSON: What is the extent of -- of this catastrophe at this point?

POTOCNIK: Hey, it's obviously a serious environmental catastrophe. We are in constant contact with Hungarian authorities because we would like, of course, the this accident would be as limited as possible and that the accident would be managed. I think that's the most important thing which all of us should focus on it at this very moment. Later on is it will be the time when we will to analyze what are the consequences which led to this unfortunate event. And that's another story (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Has Hungary asked for E.U. assistance at this point?

POTOCNIK: Well, if it's possible, we have a -- we have so-called civil protection mechanism which we activate immediately when we are asked by the member states. Currently, we haven't been yet asked by the Hungarian authorities for that help. I know that some categories are studying -- are already standing ready to help if the help would be requested. But this is -- this hasn't been yet the question.

On a more longer-term, we can study, if we can help via the -- via the solidarity mechanism. But this has pretty stringent requests which has to be fulfilled. One of them is also that the disaster should be off a net -- it should be a natural disaster.

ANDERSON: And who's going to pay for this cleanup?

POTOCNIK: We have clearly established European law in that respect. It's called Liability Directive. Again, it's -- we would need to study it in detail. But at the first sight, it looks like the company would be directly liable for the damage.

ANDERSON: The E.U. commission for the environment speaking to you earlier.

Well, connecting the dots on the day's best stories, I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Up next here on CNN, overthrowing the Taliban was the easy part. Nine years into the Afghanistan war, with no end in sight, the question now is, does peace require reconciliation?

We're going to take a look at talks that could bring the Taliban back into the fold.


ANDERSON: Well, it took just three months for a U.S.-led coalition to overthrow the Taliban government in Afghanistan. But nine years after the bombs started falling, the country remains mired in war.

Ivan Watson kicking off this part of the show for you, taking a look at some new efforts to convince Taliban militants to stop fighting and start talking.

Firstly, a reminder of how it all began.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were the first shots fired in the U.S. war on terror -- a bombing campaign against the Taliban that began nine long years ago. There were almost no boots on the ground then. Washington relied on airstrikes, some U.S. Special Forces and Afghan rebels to overthrow the Taliban regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the IED activity was north of.

WATSON: Fast forward to today. There are more than 150,000 foreign troops, most of them American, in a full on fight against Taliban insurgents. Many of today's soldiers were in junior high school on the day of the September 11th terror attacks. More than 1,300 Americans have been killed in this conflict. But Afghans have been hit the hardest. More than 1,100 civilians killed in the last six months alone.

On the anniversary of the war, the Afghan president assembled a high peace council of elders and repeated this message to the Taliban.

PRES. HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): The opposition are our Taliban brothers. I call on them once again to use this opportunity and say yes to this endeavor. I want them to come and bring peace to this land.

WATSON: But a Taliban spokesman denies murders reports that the movement's leaders are talking to the Karzai government. One high ranking Afghan official says the seeds of today's conflict were sown nine years ago, when the defeated Taliban was denied any place in the new Afghan government.

FAROUQ WARDAK, AFGHAN EDUCATION MINISTER: And if anybody say that the Taliban government was destroyed, no. They were not destroyed. They were removed from power. They were put somewhere. And they were put somewhere that they can -- they can grow. And they can make a threat.

WATSON: There has been some progress in the past nine years. Schools for girls, cell phones, more paved roads, better basic health care and the first elections in Afghan history. But there is also growing public skepticism.

(on camera): Did you vote?


WATSON: No vote?

AHMAD: No, no.

WATSON: Why didn't you vote?

AHMAD: Because I don't trust to these people that they -- that they've committed themselves for the parliament of Afghanistan.

WATSON (voice-over): Pressure seems to be mounting on the increasingly embattled Afghan president. He recently broke down crying during a speech about the human costs of the war.

Nine years on, the idea of victory in Afghanistan seems very far away. The more foreign troops and money the West pours into Afghanistan, the more the fighting seems to spread.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Kabul.


ANDERSON: So, the Taliban probably deny taking part in those peace talks, but a senior Pentagon official tells CNN, yes, indeed, they are. And they are sending high level representatives.

Well, Pakistan also closely watching the reconciliation efforts, having a lot at stake, of course, as Afghanistan's neighbor.

We spoke recently with the Pakistani foreign minister about whether the Taliban should, indeed, be engaged with this.

This is what he said.


ANDERSON: Do you think the Taliban should be included in Afghanistan's government?

SHAH MEHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: What we were saying was that there was too much focus on the military solution. We understand, at times, a use of force is essential and there is an element that would only understand the use of force. They will not reconcile. But there is an element that is willing to reconcile and they can be engaged with.


ANDERSON: Foreign Minister Qureshi there.

But it's important to realize, of course, that there are several factions within the Taliban, as well militant groups operating outside of it.

Here's some quick facts for you.

There's the Haqqani Network operating south of Kabul. The picture you see here is from a recent house to house raid, trying to root out the cell. It's independent from, but allied with the Taliban.

Well, then there's the network headed by the militant leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. President Karzai held peace talks with that faction back in March.

And finally, there's the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan and led by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Of course, all these factions are separate from the militants who call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

So if the Taliban were to become part of Afghanistan's government once again, how would their involvement affect policy in regards both to foreign troops, for example, and the Afghan people themselves?

I want to bring in Afghanistan's U.N. ambassador at this point it -- here -- to him for you this evening.

He is at the United Nations.

So far, as I understand, sir, several ex-Taliban fighters and warlords have been present at this 17-member peace council in Kabul.

Am I correct in saying that?

ZAHIR TANIN, AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It has been some time that we tried to engage the Taliban, those Taliban that would like to join the peace process. So intermittently, there was -- there was a process and also a number of engagements with the Taliban...

ANDERSON: OK, let's -- I want to stop you there...

TANIN: And we...

ANDERSON: Let me stop you there for one sec.

TANIN: -- today we would like to...

ANDERSON: Yes, let me stop you there for one sec.

Who was there today?

TANIN: Sorry?

ANDERSON: Who was -- who was there today at this peace council?

Were there members of the Taliban present?

TANIN: The peace council is not -- not a body where you have all the forces, including the Taliban and factions that they fight against the government now. This council is -- is composed of 63rd influential people representing different ethnic groups, political entities and also -- also social segments of the society that -- that to be part of the efforts to end the war, to bring the peace and to engage the Taliban.

ANDERSON: OK. Is the Afghan government talking to the Quetta Shura, for example, and, indeed, members of the Haqqani network at this point?

TANIN: Well, we are not talking to the terrorist groups. We are talking to those who are ready to join the peace process and to renounce violence and to be part of a peaceful Afghanistan. So I -- I think we are talking to -- to the Taliban that are ready to serve their country and to stop fighting against their people.

ANDERSON: Do you admit, though, that if you can't get through to members of the Quetta Shura, run by Mullah Omar, or, indeed, those who are members of the Haqqani network in Northern Waziristan, this isn't worth it, is it, because these are the big boys?

TANIN: I think the idea is about the government of Afghanistan, the Afghan president and -- and Afghan leadership that tried to -- to reach out the -- the opposition, those who fight. The -- the priority of all priorities is peace. And -- and I think it is not, at this stage, about how to talk about the details.

ANDERSON: Yes, all right...

TANIN: We are...

ANDERSON: It's very confusing for...

TANIN: -- we have to...

ANDERSON: -- for viewers around the world...

TANIN: -- to (INAUDIBLE) there is a sense there...

ANDERSON: Let me...

TANIN: There's a sense there...

ANDERSON: It's very confusing to viewers around the world to work out who's talking to who at this point so forgive me for pressing you on this.

Let me ask you another question.

Has Washington demonstrated the will or, indeed, the ability to orchestrate any sort of deal, at this point?

TANIN: Any -- any reconciliation and peace talks would be an Afghan- led process. We are happy to see that our friends and partners, including the United States, are supporting these efforts. These efforts is an Afghan cause. It's called by the president of Afghanistan to all those Afghans that -- that now fight against -- against peace, against the Afghan government to -- to -- to be part of a peaceful Afghanistan and to be part of the construction of the country. So I think our partners are supporting that, including the United States...

ANDERSON: All right...

TANIN: -- when it helps to achieve peace.

ANDERSON: OK. What sort of role would former members of the Taliban play in any Afghan government going forward and how would their inclusion affect U.S. troops on the ground, for example, and foreign policy?

TANIN: It's a little bit early to talk about the outcome of any negotiations. Let's focus on -- on talks now. There is the room for -- for those who joined the peace process and the construction of the country in rebuilding of the country and also in -- in a democratic setup and the democratic life of -- of -- of the country.

Anybody who is going to be part of -- of -- of -- of the peace process can be part of -- of activities in Afghanistan, part of the government in Afghanistan. It is -- it is a little bit early to talk about such scenarios that...


TANIN: -- that you are talking about now.

ANDERSON: The details unclear. The facts remain the same. The Afghan government talking to the Taliban.

So we thank you very much indeed for joining us, the Afghan ambassador to the United Nations for you this evening.

Coming up next, our week long series of special reports on bullying continues. The government, we're going to show you how one lapse in judgment using a mobile phone led to the death of a young girl in Florida. That up next.



I'm Becky Anderson in London at 23 minutes after 9:00.

All this week here on the show, we are taking an in-depth look at the problem of bullying all over the world. Some treat it as a normal part of growing up. They shouldn't. For others, it can have lifelong and even fatal consequences.

Well, we began the week with the story of Tyler Clementi, who Tyler Clementi, who took his own life in New York last month after his university roommate streamed a video of his sexual encounter with another man on the Internet.

Tuesday, we got some expert advice -- parents who want to protect their kids from bullies at school.

And on Wednesday, we examined how even small kids can protect themselves by learning confidence and control.

Well, the government, we want to turn our attention from the physical to the more emotional forms of bullying.

CNN's Randi Kaye reports on a young girl who was harassed at school and could only find one way out.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hope Witsell was a good student. But about a year ago, Hope did something so unexpected, so out of character, it changed everything.

(on camera): Friends and family say this all started in the spring of 2009, at the end of the school year, when Hope sexted a picture of her breasts to her boyfriend. Another girl at school, they say, got her hands on that photo and sent it to students at six different schools in the area. Before Hope could do anything about it, that photo had gone viral.

DONNA WITSELL, HOPE'S MOTHER: And you just love everybody.

KAYE (voice-over): Hope's mother Donna says she warned her many times about the dark side of cell phones and computers.

(on camera): So after all those conversations, you -- you never imagined that she would sext a photo of herself to someone?

WITSELL: No. No. No. Absolutely not.

KAYE (voice-over): The photo made Hope a target. She was in middle school -- 11- 12- and 13-year-olds -- and suddenly, bullies everywhere.

KAYLA STITCH, HOPE'S FRIEND: They would walk up to her and call her like a big slut and whore and like they would -- sometimes they would like call her skank and like just be really, like, cruel to her.

KAYE: Hope hid her pain from her family and school officials. They knew about the photo, but she never told them about the ridicule. And she couldn't escape it. Online, friends say bullies wrote horrible things about Hope.

On a MySpace page called "The Shields Middle School Burn Book," anonymous bullies created a "Hope Hater" page to taunt her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I see it, I think back to Hope and what people were saying about her.

KAYE: And it got worse. In school, friends formed a human shield for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And people would try and come by and like hit her or push her into like a locker or something.

KAYE (on camera): So you walked as a -- like a crowd?


KAYE: Protecting her?

LEXI LEBER, HOPE'S FRIEND: She was, like, afraid to walk alone because she was afraid that somebody was going to do something to her or like -- like verbally attack her. So we always -- so she'd always have somebody come with her.

KAYE (voice-over): Her parents did not know what was going on.

(on camera): Did you see a change in -- in her behavior?

Did -- could you tell something wasn't quite right?

WITSELL: I could tell that she was struggling to overcome this mistake that she made.

KAYE (voice-over): On a Saturday, as school was starting last year, Hope helped her dad mow the lawn, ate dinner with her parents and then went upstairs to her room. Her parents turned on a TV show.

WITSELL: When we had finished watching the program and I went upstairs to go in her room and kiss her good night, like I always do, is when I found her.

KAYE (on camera): What happened when you walked in her bedroom?

WITSELL: I -- I screamed for my husband as I was putting her on the bed and doing CPR.

KAYE (voice-over): It was too late. Hope was already dead. The 13- year-old hanged herself from her canopy bed. She used her favorite scarves.

(on camera): The day before she died, Hope met with a social worker at school. A spokesperson for the school said the social worker was concerned that Hope may have been trying to harm herself, so she had her sign what's called a "no harm" contract, in which Hope promised to speak to an adult if she was considering hurting herself.

Her mother told me she was never told about that contract. She found it crumpled in the garbage in Hope's bedroom after she had died.

(voice-over): The school told us that the social worker had tried calling Hope's parents, but the parents say the school dropped the ball. And still, incredibly, the bullying was not over.

After Hope's suicide, her sister Samantha found more cruel comments posted on Hope's MySpace page.

SAMANTHA BEATTIE, HOPE'S SISTER: There was people putting comments on there like, oh, my god, did Hope really kill herself? I can't believe that whore did that. You know, just obscene things that I would never expect from a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old.

KAYE: Obscene things written by children -- so terrible, Hope Witsell thought there was only one way to escape.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Tampa, Florida.


ANDERSON: All right, well, I want to remind you now about a new project that tries to help kids who are bullied specifically because of their sexuality. It's called, "It Gets Better." And it includes videos from many gay celebrities with messages of support for young gay people. The founder of that project is author Dan Savage and he's going to join us on the show tomorrow as our Connector of the Day. He's going to be sharing his struggle as a gay teenager and talking about what makes him so happy to be alive today. He's going to be answering your questions, so do get involved -- is where you can submit your questions, rounding out our week long look at bullying this week here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, still ahead tonight, miners trapped underground for two months may have to wait just two days more for a breakthrough. Coming up, we're going to get the latest on the countdown to freedom in Chile.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. It's 31 minutes past nine in London. I'm Becky Anderson for you here on CNN. Coming up, inching ever closer to freedom, hopes are high outside a mine in Chile, where 33 men have been trapped for months. I'm going to get you an update on the rescue efforts there.

Also in the next 30 minutes, changing the way that fashion does business. We're going to see how young bloggers are bringing democracy of sorts to the catwalk or the runway.

And still ahead, a daughter of a Hollywood legend is a star in her own right. Liza Minnelli is your Connector of the Day this evening, answering your questions.

Those stories ahead in the next 30 minutes. First, let's get you a very quick check of the headlines.

Crews in Hungary are scrambling to keep the rest of the toxic sludge away from the Danube River and dilute what's already in there. The mud, poisoned with alkaline, has smothered several communities in southwest Hungary. A criminal inquiry is underway.

At least eight people were killed when two explosions ripped through a Sufi shrine in Karachi in Pakistan earlier today. At least 60 other people were wounded. Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The war in Afghanistan marked its ninth anniversary today, and a senior US Defense official tells CNN that the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has been in reconciliation talks with high-level members of the Taliban. Mr. Karzai's spokesman denies that, saying that while there have been signals from the Taliban, there hasn't been any negotiation.

One of the most acclaimed authors in the Spanish-speaking world has won this year's Nobel Prize for literature. Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa is best known for novels including "The Feast of the Goat" and "Aunt Julia and the Script Writer." He's also a journalist with Spain's El Pais daily, and once ran for president in Peru.

The first time frame that we heard for rescuing those trapped miners in Chile was that they could be home for Christmas. Well, it's early October at the moment, and the estimate has dramatically changed. Patrick Oppmann outside the mine for us with some good news.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Becky, something of a bombshell coming out of a press briefing this afternoon here at the San Jose mine site. Officials now more confident than ever before that the trapped miners will be rescued, and rescued soon.

The drillers are just a mere 89 meters away from these men. Officials say they will be proceeding with maximum caution, but could reach the men as early as Saturday, if not a little before. After that, what will happen is some steel casing will be put down in this hole to further fortify the hole, also acting as a buffer between a rescue capsule and the mineshaft walls.

There's going to be a bit of a discrepancy right now between when that rescue can take place. Could it happen as early as two days after that breakthrough? Or it could take as long as ten days, and that all depends on how much casing will need to be put in.

After that, rescue workers -- there's a 60-man elite rescue team. Some of those men will be put down in that hole and, at that point, the rescue will begin. These men's long nightmare finally ending after more than 60 days trapped at the bottom of a mine in Chile. Becky.


ANDERSON: My goodness. Patrick Oppmann reporting for you from Chile, there. The cause of that mine collapse is still under investigation, of course, but many accidents elsewhere have been conclusively linked to safety violations.

China, for one, is now taking action. Reports say new regulations took effect on Thursday that require mine managers to go down into the shafts with their workers. Premier Wen Jiabao is under enormous pressure to improve safety after more than 2500 miners died on the job in China last year. Joining the dots for you on the day's biggest stories.

There is a new model turning heads on the runways of Paris. No, not this kind of model. A new business model. We're going to go to Paris to see how bloggers are changing the fashion industry. Then, I find out why more traditional forms of brand management here in London still believe they've got the magic touch. That's ahead.


ANDERSON: We are always bringing you stories about how user-generated web content is a tool for change, from political dissidents in Iran, for example, to musicians in Nigeria reaching out for a global audience.

Well, now it's breaking through barriers in high fashion. Can you believe it? Our Jim Bittermann spoke with the newest enfant terrible getting all the attention.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The view along fashion's runways has changed very little. The clothes seem just as glamorous, the fashion press just as hungry, the models just as star.

But a new actor has gained entree into this once private world. A digital intruder that is changing the way the fashion business does its business. It's not just the light speed communications that can flash the glitz worldwide in an instant. It's a new accessibility. An openness, personified by 17-year-old Charles Guislain. He's still in high school, but when the Paris shows are on, Guislain escapes from his studies as often as he can to go hang out with the fashionistas, something that helps him feed his photo blog.


BITTERMANN (voice-over): But also gradually has turned him into a celebrity himself. And thanks to established bloggers, something of an internet fashion critic.

GUISLAIN: What are you wearing today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm wearing a --

BITTERMANN (voice-over): There are a growing number of fashion web waifs like Guislain, including one as young as 14, who's running commentaries on the season's creations are taken seriously enough by the design houses that they're now getting some of the highly sought-after seats at the shows, right alongside the established authorities on fashion, who have long dictated the ins and outs of style.

BITTERMANN (on camera): The internet experts are new and, perhaps, not so controllable players on a field that has traditionally been reserved for fashion's feedback loop of designers, retailers, and writers who, up until now, have pretty much dominated fashion from one season to the next.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): It's something the fashion houses now accept.

ANTOINE ARNAUD, LOUIS VUITTON: I think once you start being afraid of those new media or kind of hiding from them, a day or another, they'll come back to you. So we embrace them. We invite them.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): And, Guislain believes, what he is doing will only increase his influence.

GUISLAIN: In a few years, you will see -- you will have the Charles Guislain voice, but much more, the Charles Guislain vision. I think that's better.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): But it's not just blogging that's democratizing the industry. The internet is taking the shows right to the customers, without the mediation of the fashion mob. After streaming the catwalk shows onto the web for the past few seasons, Louis Vuitton this year has upgraded to an interactive approach that allows customers to see the clothes that even those who attend the shows cannot. For the fashion business, where unlike most others, demand is created after supply, there may be tricky new challenges.

JEAN-NOEL KAPFERER, LUXURY BRANDS CONSULTANT: What's new with the web two-zero is that a lot of self-appointed critics, influencers, social opinion leaders, et cetera. The system is not so controllable.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): Still, those who study luxury brands point out that the internet intrusion into this traditionally closed world also brings one big advantage. Instant satisfaction. Fashion houses which successfully create desire and can seduce those self-appointed critics can now be just a mouse-click away from a sale. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: Well, that is all well and good, but many people believe that celebrity endorsement is still the best way to guarantee the global success of a brand, and one label that knows how to keep Hollywood baying for its product is the iconic British brand Belstaff. I went to meet its owner at his London store to find out how he keeps his product on the front page.


ANDERSON (voice-over): First seen on iconic motorcyclist Che Guevara and Lawrence of Arabia, Belstaff's jackets were soon on the backs of the silver screen's leading rebels. More recently, it's styled the stars of films like "War of the Worlds," "Oceans Eleven," and "Aviator." So, how did Belstaff do it?

MANUELE MALENOTTI, BELSTAFF OWNER: I think that which is the most beautiful dream that people have is Hollywood is the cinema. So why not put together great fashion, quality product together with the Hollywood dream. And so people can buy, can have it, and they can see on the big screen.

ANDERSON (on camera): Belstaff and Hollywood is a bit of the sort of the meeting of minds, isn't it?

MALENOTTI: The best of products featured in more than 90 big Hollywood movies in the last five years. Futuristic movies like "I am Legend" or more contemporary, like "Mission, Impossible."

ANDERSON (voice-over): The celebrity stamp has taken Belstaff from a tiny start-up in industrial England to a big-earning fashion enterprise. But the company isn't the only British brand finding that the A-list love affair can lift their fortunes.

Emma Watson is the new face of Burberry, the hottest label this season, while Oscar-winning Tilda Swinton now fronts Pringle. The combination of British style and star substance is certainly resonating with the consumer.

JODIE BALL, FASHION JOURNALIST: British fashion stands for quality and provenance. It's got history. And I think consumers -- post recessionary consumers are looking for something with a little bit more longevity.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And if it's longevity you're after, it doesn't get much better than a brand that played a leading role in Hollywood's sartorial history.


ANDERSON: Well, I spoke a moment ago about social media, didn't I? I wanted to take a moment to tell you how you can interact with the CONNECT THE WORLD team in a very new way. We are on Facebook now. Yes, it has taken a while, I know. But what can I say? We've been busy. Point is, we are on it now, giving you the behind-the-scenes look at all that we do as a team here in London, starting with a special video message I posted a short time ago. That's CONNECT THE WORLD fan page, Take a look at that.

She recently told CNN's Larry King that she had the best taste in her career, but the worst taste in husbands. Liza Minnelli answers your questions as your Connector of the Day. Up next, she talks life, love, and performing. Stay with us.



ANDERSON (voice-over): Liza Minnelli grabbed the spotlight with her portrayal of Sally Bowles in the 1972 classic, "Cabaret." The role earned her an Oscar and made her an instant household name.

Now, more than 35 years later, the singer and actress is still going strong. The daughter of legend Judy Garland, Minnelli was destined to turn heads. She started performing in musicals in the early 1960s and soon moved to the silver screen, starring in films such as "Arthur" and "New York, New York."

She's one of the few people to have earned an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, and special Grammy over the course of her career. Known for her social circles, Minnelli performed and dined with the likes of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

And this month, she's released her latest album, entitled "Confessions." A legend spanning the generations, Liza Minnelli is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: And I spoke with Liza and asked her if performing was always in her blood.


LIZA MINNELLI, ACTRESS: I guess it started with my parents, the first time I knew about it. They'd have Noel Coward and Kay Thompson and Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and all these wonderful singers, Frank Sinatra. They'd have them over for dinner.

Then they'd play poker for about an hour. And then, they would all gather around the piano, because nobody had to show off for anybody else. You were all singing for yourselves. And when you sing like that, there is a difference between just being really quiet, and between performing. So it's really the essence, I guess, of what I do.

ANDERSON: Who have you enjoyed singing with most?

MINNELLI: Oh, God. Everybody.


MINNELLI: Everybody. Between Janet Jackson and Sammy Davis, Jr. I -- you know, it's very difficult.

ANDERSON: What great voices.

MINNELLI: But marvelous people. And these are great songs. Just great.

ANDERSON: Liza, why did you call it "Confessions"?

MINNELLI: Because we recorded the song "Confessions," and it was very intimate, and I did it practically in my bedroom. And that's really the essence of "Confessions." It's everybody's love life. Whether you're winning, you're losing, you're about to, you haven't been, but -- all of that stuff.


MINNELLI: And it's beautifully done, because it's so intimate. I never sing like this in public.

ANDERSON: Listen, one of our viewers has written to us. Johnny from Sweden says he wants to know -- certainly wants to see you back on the silver screen, and says, "When are we going to see you next?"

MINNELLI: Well, right now, I'm so concentrated on this, I can't think of anything else. But yes, I'm sure it will happen.

ANDERSON: What about this one from Sarah? She asks about stepping into the iconic "Cabaret" once again. Ever thing about doing that?

MINNELLI: Without Bob Fosse and that crew and that spirit? It could never be recreated. It really can't. And we did it in Germany. So everybody kind of left us alone. We're making a movie about the Nazis, a musical. So they kind of avoided us, and we did anything that we wanted to.


MINNELLI: And Fosse was great.

ANDERSON: Speaking of remakes, Liza, there's the new "Arthur" film, of course --


ANDERSON: Coming out, that you famously starred in alongside Dudley Moore. This is with Russell Brand and Helen Mirren. How do you think they're going to stack up?

MINNELLI: Well, I don't think you'll be able to compare them, which I'm sure is what they're aiming for. Because Dudley was so funny in that movie. And everybody loved it. They laughed, they went back to see it again.

It -- I was offered the movie with a few different people, right? And I said, "No, I don't think he's funny." Whatever. And finally, they called me and said, "We've cast Dudley Moore," and I said "I'll do it."

And then we had the first reading, we had the first reading. And we're all sitting around reading the script out loud. And suddenly, the director looks at me and says, "Wow, you can really act, can't you?" I said, "Guess so." What do you say? Dudley got hysterical.


ANDERSON: Lucy asks, "You're the daughter of the legend of Judy Garland, of course. Did you always know that you would be a star, given your theatrical dynasty that you're from?"

MINNELLI: I don't think anybody else is the child of two brilliant people is necessarily brilliant. That just doesn't come automatically. Besides, I wanted to go on Broadway. That was my passion. I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to dance on Broadway. Of course, I wouldn't have minded a short little song in there somewhere.


ANDERSON: Isn't she wonderful? Liza Minnelli for you. We've got another great line of Connectors for you next week, including the writer Aaron Sorkin, whose most recent film, "The Social Network," is creating quite the buzz. Send us your questions for your Connectors of the Day. It's your part of the show. Do remember that. Tell us where you're writing in from. You can do all of that at Tonight, we'll be right back.


ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. About four or five minutes left of the show. Tonight, we've got a story for you that truly connects the world in the way that only music can. And you may even find it a bit hard to believe. The cast of the television phenomenon, "Glee," has now officially racked up more hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts than any other music group, and they got that title by passing -- get this -- the Beatles. Billboard says when next week's list comes out, the cast of "Glee" will bring its total number of hits to 75, all from the past year. The Beatles had a total of 71 over several decades.

And, in fact, the "Glee" cast has passed most solo artists, too. Only Elvis Presley and James Brown are ahead of them. But in an ironic twist, one of "Glee's" hit songs from earlier this year was actually a cover of the Beatles song, "Hello, Good-bye," which itself was a Billboard number one hit in 1967.

(MUSIC - "Glee's" "Hello, Good-bye")

ANDERSON: And, of course, music is bought and sold very differently now than it was when the Beatles topped the charts. How significant is this record? I talked about that with Ann Donahue, senior editor for Billboard.


ANN DONAHUE, SENIOR EDITOR, BILLBOARD: It's pretty amazing, considering how many chart singles that "Glee" has done, because the show's only been on the air for a little over a year.

ANDERSON: Yes, but these are covers, aren't they? It's nothing like the Beatles were doing in the old days, come on.

DONAHUE: Well, this is true. The Beatles did have 12 number ones, they had a chart history of over three decades. But I think what "Glee" has done is really indicative of how people purchase music now. It's digital, it's an impulse buy.

ANDERSON: Yes, it's something like 2.3 regular million albums, as perhaps I would know them. But 11.5 million downloads. If the Beatles had been around in an era where you could've downloaded music, what would've happened?

DONAHUE: Oh, I'm certain they would've had a ton of downloads after their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It's one of these things where people hear it on the TV, they go to their laptop, and they immediately make the purchase.

ANDERSON: How big a phenomenon is "Glee"?

DONAHUE: It's really interesting to look at, because it's something that really kind of melds TV and music. And people have thought musicals were cheesy for so long. But here's something that people kind of have a genuine affection for. It's getting among its best ratings ever this year in the US. And it's been renewed for a third season already.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating stuff, isn't it? When we get -- look at something like "Glee" and see that it's not just successful in the US, but internationally, why do you think that is?

DONAHUE: I think there's kind of an affection for the characters on the show, and everybody loves pop music. And they do a very good job of selecting songs that are kind of universal and fun and that everyone loves to listen to, even in new versions.

ANDERSON: Right, OK. New versions, old songs. We're not seeing a lot of new stuff out there these days, are we? Why is that, do you think? We're seeing so much of this sort of "X Factor," "America's Got Talent," you know, the "Glee," that covers stuff. Why aren't we seeing enough new stuff these days?

DONAHUE: I think on the record industry's behalf, it's because people know that there's a track record of this is going to sell. On the fan's half, I think the people who are buying music online now are younger, and these songs may actually still be new to them.


ANDERSON: Oh, dear. Boring old people. Here's what some of you are saying about "Glee's" record. Treva says, "I adore 'Glee.' It's nice to see a TV show with no blood involved. They have beautiful voices."

But Henry isn't a fan. He says, "Covering songs that were hits? Sure. What a feat."

Rob writes, "Purely a function of technological access and media distribution than any comparison in talent."

Holly, though, says, "I love 'Glee' more than I love --" Oh, no, she doesn't. She says, "I love 'Glee,' but I love Elvis more." I thought she was going to say it the other way around. But anyway.

But Sean says, "You may not like 'Glee,' but the numbers speak for themselves. I love 'Glee,' it's one of the best hours of escapism on television." You know what? I think I agree with him. Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to the website,, and do have your say.

Now, take two countries, which at first seem to have absolutely nothing in common. Then, we challenge you to join the dots. It's our Global Connections segment. This week, we are connecting China and Turkey. And around the world, you have been getting involved in your numbers.

We even heard from one of China's biggest pop stars. She's been called the Madonna of the East. Ayi Jihu has sold more than 100 million copies of her record, "Get Your Dancing Shoes On." She makes a connection for us.


AYI JIHU, CHINESE POP STAR: I've never been to Turkey, but I think a favorite of a lot of Chinese people that we absolutely love the belly dancing, the whole belly dancing thing. And funny enough, I have a song called "Belly Dancer," which I performed a lot when I was in Macau in China, so I had a lot of Turkish music when I was doing shows to opening up my show, to the intro, outro, my outfits.

And it's the most -- even some of my recent songs that I've recorded has a lot of Turkish influence. It's very similar to the music I'm into, so I'm really drawn to that part.


ANDERSON: Connecting China and Turkey this week. Those are the kind of stories that we love to hear. So do get involved and join in the fun. We want to hear from you, to take part. CNNconnect is where you can find us on Facebook. I'm Becky Anderson, that is it for the show on the tele. You've been connected. Stay with us online, of course. "BackStory" is up next, right after this very quick check of the headlines for you.

The war in Afghanistan marks its ninth anniversary today, and a senior US Defense official tells CNN Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been in reconciliation talks with high-level Taliban members. Mr. Karzai's spokesman denies that, saying that while there have been signals from the Taliban, there hasn't been any negotiation.