Return to Transcripts main page


British Couple Released by Somali Pirates; Will Ireland Need A Bailout?; Greek Debt Crisis Worsens; Urban Planet: Lagos, Nigeria

Aired November 15, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: A British couple held hostage by Somali pirates for over a year prepare to head home.

But what now for their captors, who continue to terrorize one of the world's most important trade routes?

And how does piracy have a direct impact on the goods we take for granted?

Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

Well, the Chandlers' ordeal may be over, but the same can't be said for the hundreds of crew members held hostage still across the world.

So can't anything be done to stop an entire industry being held to ransom?

Joining the dots in London, I'm Max Foster.

Also tonight, Aung San Su Kyi tells us why she's not giving up the fight for democracy in Myanmar.



KEITH RICHARDS, GUITARIST: I'm just a guitar player, you know?

I mean I do my best and it's amazing that people have found it that interesting. I'm still amazed.


FOSTER: The shy and bashful Keith Richards on life as a Rolling Stone almost 50 years on. The legendary rock star answers your questions. He's our Connector of the Day.

And it's already taken over our social lives, but could Facebook be about to take over our in boxes, too?

To find out more and to tell us what you think, just head to our own Facebook page. The address,

Now, savoring their full first full day of freedom in nearly 13 months, Paul and Rachel Chandler are trying to put a long nightmare behind them, as they pack their bags for Britain.

Our David McKenzie tells us how their time spent in the hands of Somali pirates finally came to an end.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paul and Rachel Chandler are resting at the residency of the high commissioner here in Nairobi, after what has been a harrowing experience for the couple. Held captive by Somali pirates for 388 days. They were taken from the pirate lair by road to Addada (ph), through Somali militant territory and other rival clans.

When they arrived, the Chandlers were ecstatic.

RACHEL CHANDLER, RELEASED BRITISH CITIZEN: Yes, definitely over the moon. It's really great to be away from those people, to be among civilized, decent, honest people, not -- not criminals.

MCKENZIE: After a medical check-up, the Chandlers were flown to Mogadishu, where they met with the prime minister.

The transitional federal government is believed to have a hand in the negotiations, where around $750,000 was paid to release the couple. Then it was on to Kenya and finally friendly territory. Arm in arm, the couple came out and briefly waved to the press at the edge of the high commissioner's house. But since then, they have said nothing.

In the euphoria of their release, it has also been tinged with tragedy. Paul Chandler found out that his aging father had died while they were in captivity. A spokesman for the family in the U.K. said that the Chandlers will be coming home soon, but for now, that they are resting and enjoying their freedom.

David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


FOSTER: Well, a recent report says pirates are intensifying their attacks around the world. According to the International Maritime Bureau, there have been 370 pirates -- piracies so far this year. Somali pirates were responsible for 168 of those attacks. Currently, 23 ships have been captured and 536 crew members are being held hostage by pirates worldwide.

Well, to stage that many attacks at sea, the pirates have to have some kind of support system on land.

Our Zane Verjee spoke with a maritime security consultant for some insight into the threat off Somalia.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Just walk someone through pirates hijack ship and geographically, what do they do and then where do they end up?

TIM HART, MARITIME UNDERWATER SECURITY CONSULTANTS: OK, well, pirates are predominantly based in the area called Puntland...

VERJEE: Right.

HART: -- which is in -- which is this area here. It's in the -- the northeast area of Somali. And, realistically, what they'll do is they'll base themselves out of the pirate towns using mother ships, but disperse themselves. But they'll move further out into the Indian Ocean using these mother ships until they can find suitable targets.

And some groups will obviously go further north, as we can see. And some will go further down south and stick to the coast of Tanzania or deep into the Indian Ocean.

What they'll do is they'll move further out, they'll identify the targets and use these small attack skiffs to try and get on board. Once they've got on board and they've seized control of the vessel and the crew, they'll take the ships back to the anchorages off the coast of Somalia and they'll sit there and negotiate with the shipping companies to -- to pay a multi-million dollar ransom.


FOSTER: Well, many countries are helping to patrol these waters, trying to keep a vital trade route safe. And according to, nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal in Egypt. Now, these ships are transporting millions of tons of products, ranging from crude oil to coal to children's toys. And because of the repeated pirate attacks, major operators of the world's merchant fleet have considered bypassing the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aden all together.

The incredibly costly alternative for traveling between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean would be to sail around the South African Cape of Good Hope. And experts say this could add three weeks or more to the journey, increasing, of course, the cost of all those goods I mentioned.

So if ships are to continue using the cheaper route going through the Gulf of Aden, how can they avoid getting hijacked?

I spoke to Nick Davis.

He is CEO of Merchant Maritime Warfare, which provides anti-piracy training, support and advice to the merchant shipping industry.

Thank you so much for joining us.


FOSTER: First of all, at a very basic level, what advice can you give to people on these ships if a pirate tries to get on board?

It there equipment you're now issuing for those ships?

DAVIS: Well, basically, the most important thing is vigilance. If you can see the pirates coming on your radar and with good watch keeping from sort of four to six miles away, you've got lots of time to call the coalition forces that have got warships in the region and for you to then call on help and then at the same time, trying and using best management practice and a layered defense system, so lots and lots of layers, early vigilance, increase the speed, get the weave going so we're weaving the ship to make sure that the -- you show to the pirates that you've seen them, firing off flares, doing all sorts. And then, obviously, as a very last line of defense with some vessels, as you can have an armed team on board that can lay down some warning shots just to let them know that -- not to come any closer.

FOSTER: And once they're on board, if they get on board, you've then got this situation where they're in control of the ship. It's happening more and more, something you're having to deal with more and more. It's interesting that ransoms are paid so readily.

Can you just explain the process that leads to that?

DAVIS: I mean once the ship is taken, obviously, it's primarily the vulnerable ships that are taken, the ones that have a lack of vigilance, a lack of -- of watch keeping and a lack of sort of layered defense and defense mechanisms that are actually very cheap in sort of shipyard terms to -- to put in place.

But once a vessel is taken, it literally -- it goes to Somali coast. It's then very difficult, as soon as the pirates are on board, to then effectively release it, unless cash is dropped from the heavens by a sort of parachute, they count the money and then they're off.

But, obviously, the pirates know this is now a multi-million dollar business. It's a profitable criminal network that's set up. They know that the insurance companies will pay out because the ship owners have no alternative. There's no chance of military attack to vessels that are captured in Somaliland or along the coastline.

So one of the good things that is happening is that the industry is using basically what we call citadels, safe rooms. And then, if the ship gets, obviously, looking like it's going to be taken and the crew on board the merchant vessel can manage to get into their safe room, they can shut the ship down just like a sitting duck in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The pirates can't restart the engines, so they're then in a position where the military can come on board, capture the pirates if they haven't already fled and then, you know, sort of carry on their journey.

So it's in -- the crew can do 99 percent, you know, of this. There is only .1 percent of the actual sort of vessels trading in that region that get captured. So training, vigilance and good watch keeping can -- can save the day 90 percent of the time.

FOSTER: And these pirates, it seems remarkable that they can fight this technology with so little technology themselves, relatively speaking. But they -- a lot of them are desperate, I guess. The country is often desperate. Somewhere like Somalia -- and it's their biggest industry, by far.

Is there a sense that perhaps these ransoms may be encouraging the trade?

I understand the point of view that they don't have much choice, often. But it does encourage future piracy, doesn't it?

DAVIS: Oh, sure. I mean, you know, we -- we know, we have good links with the Somalis and we know that there is literally hundreds of young Somalis 18 to 26, 28 year olds that are desperate. They're on the beach. They're waiting for their turn when the funders (INAUDIBLE), the actual criminal sort of heads of and funders of this sort of agreement, they will quite happily step up to the table. There is no other option. So they'll set to sea in search of looking for these ships.

So all the time that we keep paying ransoms and also currently somehow dream and, obviously, one of the other ships just recently record ransom payments. It can only get worse. It's just incentivized throughout and obviously nobody is in Somali. Nobody really wants to set foot in Somali to try and search out the problem. There's no oil there, so America is not going to take the lead. Therefore, with austerity measures, I think this is what the shipping industry must accept, must adapt to. But like I say, 90 percent of the crews and the vessels can overcome this without too much problem. But they need to be focused and to concentrate on training and counter measures.

FOSTER: OK, Nick Davis, thank you very much.

Well, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

And still to come, Ireland's fight against a Greek-style bailout. The country is resisting rescue.

But can it stay afloat without it?

And then, sex, drugs, rock and roll, Keith Richards has lived through it all and is now telling his story.


FOSTER: Is Ireland set for a Greek-style bailout?

Well, that's the question today, as the Emerald Isle faces surging costs to fund its recent takeover of five battered banks. The Irish government insists it's in no need of rescue, but in a statement, confirms it's in talks with international colleagues and that Ireland is fully funded until well into 2011.

Those comments have done little, though, to assuage the fears of further instability across the Eurozone.

For reaction, Jim Boulden joins me now.

He is over there in Dublin -- Jim, how worried are they there?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know if the right word is worried here, Max. What they're really doing is debating here whether or not the government should actually ask for that bailout.

Certainly, some people here say that Ireland should not go cap in hand, it should not lose some of its sovereignty. That's the term being used by those who don't want to see the Irish looked for a quote, unquote, bailout.

The -- the prime minister was on television a few hours ago here nationally, and he said, look, we're not looking to put our cap out. We are not looking to lose some of our sovereignty. He doesn't like the word bailout at all.

But, you know, we do know that, of course, they are looking possibly - - possibly for some help with the banking sector, because the banking sector is in such deep trouble, it -- they cannot operate normally, the way banks are operating in other parts of the world.

And if those banks continue to have trouble, then they will need some more funding.

The question is, where would that funding come from?

And over the next 48 hours, of course, the finance ministers of Europe will be discussing this issue. But lately, in the last few hours, it -- it was kind of hinting to the fact that maybe -- just maybe Ireland will not be asking for any help. Ireland keeps saying they won't be asking for any help. So we wouldn't necessarily get any decisions this week. We might have to wait a little bit longer.

The other issue that people should be aware of is that there's an election coming. Some people think it could come before the new year. So there's a lot of politics being played here, as well, with the opposition parties. And it's getting -- it's getting quite difficult, because Ireland is in such a mess with its mortgages and its property values being so low, with its unemployment rate so high and a huge budget deficit. So there are so many other things mixed in in here. And this -- this idea of a bailout is just one more negative part of the economy. And it has, actually, you know, made people quite dour, I think, before we get to the Christmas period -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Jim, we're going to come back to you in just a moment.

If you wait there, first of all, we're going to talk about Ireland's debt crisis being a bit of hangover, really, from indulgent spending during the country's building boom a few years ago.

As Carol Jordan shows us, the excesses of that heady period are still very evident on the streets today.


CAROL JORDAN, CNN PRODUCER: Rows of empty houses, abandoned building developments, construction projects that were never even started -- these are what the Irish are calling ghost estates -- an unwanted bpd of the building boom during the years of prosperity, when Ireland was known as the Celtic Tiger.

But the country was brought to its knees when finally the building bubble burst.

This is Cian O'Callaghan. He works for NIRSA, an official body that has advised the government on the issue of ghost estates. It defines a ghost estate as developments of 10 houses or more where over half are empty or unfinished.

CIAN O'CALLAGHAN, NIRSA: Actually, there's about 620 of those in the country from our estimate from the data we're using.

JORDAN: And there is a massive over supply of homes -- about 103,000 more houses than needed.

I met Mr. O'Callaghan in the town of Middleton in the east of County Cork. A commuter town, it has a population of just over 10,000 people. We visited three ghost estates, a fraction of the number here.

O'CALLAGHAN: This is an estate which is, I think has 76 houses in it. And it's all boarded off. It's all vacant. It's probably the last phase of a bigger development, you know, which stretches back and it's got more occupancy in the estates further down.

But as you can see, there's whole kind of rows here of empty houses.


FOSTER: Well, Greece has already tapped into the trillion dollar rescue package set up by the E.U. and the International Monetary Fund back in May. On the brink of collapse, Greece was given a $146 billion lifeline, but with conditions. The country pledged to reduce its estimated 200 -- 2009 budget deficit from 13.6 percent of GDP back to the E.U. limit of 3 percent by 2014.

Another condition was regular checkups on Greece's fiscal position. And despite tough austerity measures, the latest assessment isn't good. In fact, the country's debt crisis is worse than many of us thought, initially, revised up to 15.4 percent of GDP. That's more than five times the E.U. limit, putting the country at risk of breaching the bailout deal.

Far more, I'm joined by journalist Elinda Labropoulou in Athens -- Elinda, I know the prime minister has been talking today.

What did he have to say about all of this?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the prime minister has been starting to make noises that Greece might be forced to ask for an extension through the time before it has to re--- to start repaying aid money, acknowledging that the new figures are going to bring a lot of pressure to the government following the deficit revision.

I mean the target of 7.6 percent deficit -- that's the goal for 2011, one of the conditions attached to the bailout plan that seems very hard to achieve.

Greece is going to take its new -- its 2011 budget to -- to parliament on Thursday. And we're expecting that until that time, we're likely to see a number of additional fiscal measures announced as a result of the revision, partly, along the lines of 3.5 billion euros.

Now, that's obviously a lot of money for a country that has already, twice this year, seen serious tax hikes, pensions and salary cuts. So that's probably the reason why the government is starting to look for different ways to make sure that it's able to repay its loans.

FOSTER: A tough gig.

Elinda, thank you very much, indeed.

Well, the problem doesn't stop at the Greek and Irish borders. Politicians in Portugal are voicing fears of a -- of a domino effect. Portuguese analyst, Filipe Garcia, explains why his country is at risk.


FILIPE GARCIA, INFORMACAO DE MERCADOS FINANCEIROS, PORTUGUESE FINANCIAL ANALYST: We are now feeling that the situation is currently not in our hands anymore. I mean the -- the Portuguese government and the country has some responsibilities in all this. We had problems in terms of public finance. We are not so competitive. We have a current account structural deficit.

Still, the proportions of this problem are caused mainly by the contagions (ph) from Ireland and from Greece.

So we are now in the situation in which, probably, we are not really governing ourselves anymore. We are just too dependent on what is going to happen to Ireland, because if Ireland requests for help, I am pretty sure that Portugal will be asking for help, too.


FOSTER: So Portugal is feeling vulnerable. Greece has got its problems.

What about the rest of Europe, the Eurozone in particular?

Let's return to Jim Boulden.

He is in Dublin.

He's been following the whole Eurozone story for us.

Try to give us some perspective here, Jim, because people are talking about the whole thing falling apart.

BOULDEN: Well, here's the interesting thing, Max. We had this earlier in the year, when Greece was having such issues. And we were actually discussing, debating, questioning, would the euro actually fall apart?

A number of people said that's rubbish, it just simply can't happen, there -- there's no other option at this moment.

And to hear some hints that maybe Portugal says, you know, maybe that it would still be the kind of an issue, the -- the fact is, where we are talking about yet another government in the euro looking possibly for a bailout, not at the moment.

But the question is, will German taxpayers, for instance, be happy bailing out Irish banks?

Will they be happy bailing out anybody if they needed it in Portugal or Spain?

This whole issue comes back again -- once again -- and it puts this whole question of the euro under the microscope again. And we saw how much it weakened during -- during this time against the dollar, though it has, of course, recovered a little bit since then.

It's just interesting that we -- you know, about -- a few years ago, Max, we were talking about the euro being one of these big reserve currencies, rivaling the dollar in the world, about being such an important currency. And now, we're back to having these -- this -- this debate -- debate these issues about the euro itself and how can these countries help each other out and will the taxpayers help each other out to make sure that this experiment continues -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Jim, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Dublin on the program today.

Well, you next, a bit of dirty business here on CONNECT THE WORLD -- supplying public toilets. In fact, we'll be taking you to a city where one entrepreneur is providing relief to many.

And Facebook wants your in box, apparently. The new product that's being dubbed the Gmail killer -- or is it?


FOSTER: Half of the world's population lives in cities and that number is set to skyrocket in the coming decades. Right now in Kobe, Japan, the World Health Organization is holding a global forum on -- on urbanization and health.

So all this week, CNN is looking at what's being done to create better lives for cities as well as all around the world.

We're kicking off our Urban Planet week in Lagos, Nigeria, where finding a public toilet can be pretty tricky.

But as Christian Purefoy reports, one local entrepreneur is trying to bring cleanliness and convenience to the city.


CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nighttime in the rain and collecting sewage -- not many people envy Iliyiasu Yusuf's job.

(on camera): This is one pipe that you don't want to get too close to when they turn that lever.

(voice-over): But for Yusuf, his company, DMT Mobile Toilets, is no laughing matter.

ILIYIASU YUSUF, EVACUATION MANAGER: This is a serious business. There are some people who think it looks so funny. But I -- I know what I'm doing, so I can (INAUDIBLE) proud of it -- be proud of it.

PUREFOY: The problem is that for most of Lagos' 15 million inhabitants, once they leave home or work, there is almost nowhere to relieve themselves.

(voice-over): Social entrepreneur Otunba Gaddafi started Nigeria's only mobile toilet manufacturer in 1996, after he tried organizing an event for thousands of people but couldn't find any private toilets to hire. He now hopes to provide Lagos with all its toilets, showers and other bathroom needs.

OTUNBA GADDAFI, CEO, DMT TOILETS: All proudly designed and manufactured here in Nigeria. And mind you, the (INAUDIBLE) that goes in there proudly Nigerians.

PUREFOY: DMT produce up to 200 mobile toilets a month, for both rent and sale across the whole of West Africa.

GADDAFI: The biggest competitor we have right now is inside the bush. Where people are not using us, they are going inside the bush. And it's not good for their health.

PUREFOY (on camera): This is one of the major bus stops for people coming into Lagos from across the country -- six to 12 hour journeys with very little proper toilet facilities. But when they get here, relief is just across the road.

(voice-over): And people are prepared to pay the 10 cents it costs to user these regularly clean facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before we can only go in the high bush. We go along the roads. But now when we have this one, we are very (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It helps to keep everywhere neat, clean, to avoid, you know, from (INAUDIBLE) smelling.

PUREFOY: And everyone sits on the toilet, including the rich.

GADDAFI: This is our VIP toilet, because we are (INAUDIBLE) where you have, you go to toilet. This is a red carpet reception. We want you to feel more important by using the toilet, a fully air-conditioned toilet, satellite dish, MP3 player, stereo, healthy (INAUDIBLE) television there for you to really feel important using the toilet.

PUREFOY: As far as Otunba is concerned, even the most unpleasant of Lagos' challenges is an opportunity.

(on camera): Why have you chosen this action?

Is that your logo?

GADDAFI: Yes. It is -- this is a business that people shy away from, from (INAUDIBLE) to other goods, everybody must answer the call of nature. And in Nigeria, which over 150 million people giving me the raw materials every morning, I can never be out of business.

PUREFOY (voice-over): A serious business, indeed, for everyone involved.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.


FOSTER: Well, according to the group Water Aid, four in 10 people do not have a safe or clean private place to use the bathroom. Afghanistan is the worst, with 92 percent having no access to adequate sanitation. Chad and Eritrea are tied for second. And Burkina Faso is next -- 87 percent there.

Now, tomorrow, though, we head to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Now, they say that bright colors can lift a person's mood. In that case, the residents of one city neighborhood should be in pretty good spirits. Meet the two Dutch artists who have given one pavella (ph) a colorful makeover.

Still ahead tonight, though, she's picking up right where she left off -- Aung San Su Kyi goes back to the business of building democracy after being freed from years of house arrest. We'll hear from Myanmar's opposition leader straight ahead.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, trying to bring change to Myanmar. The newly-freed Aung San Suu Kyi urges her countrymen to take a stand.

Facebook's got mail. With a fight brewing, Facebook takes on some deeply entrenched giants in the e-mail space.

And rocking on with the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards, no less, is your Connector of the Day.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, we've got to check on the headlines this hour.

For the first time since they were kidnapped by Somali pirates more than a year ago, Paul and Rachel Chandler have updated their travel blog with one word, "free." The Chandlers are preparing to return to the UK in the wake of their release.

The death toll from Haiti's cholera outbreak is rising. Haitian officials say 917 people have died and more than 14,000 have been hospitalized. The UN says there are now cases of the disease in every part of the country, including the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

A fire at a highrise building in Shanghai has killed at least 42 people. The Xinhua news agency reports the 28-story building was under renovation when it went up in flames. There's no official word on the cause, but some residents say workers threw cigarette butts into the hallways.

At least 32 people are dead after a residential building collapsed in East Delhi in India. Dozens more are injured, and authorities are hunting for the cause of the disaster. Sara Sidner has more.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit says the scale of this tragedy is unprecedented in Delhi's recent history. Dozens of people have been killed, dozens injured and, for hours, there were two dozen people at least who were believed trapped underneath that rubble. Rescue crews working through the night.

The incident happened around 8:15 in the evening, and six hours after it happened, they were still searching for possible victims. About 200 to 300 rescue crews are on the scene, according to authorities.

Now, they are looking for the exact cause of this collapse. A five- story building collapsed, it was flattened. You're seeing huge pieces of concrete, you're seeing floors and ceilings all collapse down into a huge pile of rubble, and everyone is wondering how this happened, if there were any signs.

There is concern that this may be an unauthorized building, a building not built up to standard. There's also a lot of concern that the heavy monsoon, there were very heavy rains here in Delhi in the last few months, that that might have been part of the problem that created weakness in this structure.

At this point, the falling structure, it was close to the Yamuna River, and there is the possibility, the chief minister says, that there was standing water in the basement of the structure, which she said should never happen. Right now, everyone here in India is saying that their hearts go out to the victims in this unprecedented tragedy. Sara Sidner, CNN, New Delhi.


FOSTER: Aung San Suu Kyi is calling for a non-violent revolution in Myanmar, pledging to work towards restoring democracy and improving human rights. The opposition activist is getting back to work just days after being freed from years of house arrest. She says she hopes to engage in dialogue with Myanmar's military regime and says she's not afraid of being imprisoned yet again.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke to CNN, answering questions about her time spent under house arrest and her goals for the future.


AUNG SAN SUU KYI, MYANMAR OPPOSITION ACTIVIST (via telephone): There was lots of reading to do. I had to listen to the radio for hours and hours every day to keep in touch with the rest of the world.

So many things to do. There were never, really, enough hours of the day. I know that this will sound strange, when I say that, well, there's so much to do. But that's the way it was.

I did meet people from outside occasionally, especially in -- since last year. I met my lawyers quite frequently, and then, my doctors would come once a month.

We didn't contest the election, so we have nothing to do with the elections. But the NLD has formed a committee to look into allegations of fraud and all kinds of vote-rigging, which you probably have heard of, and we're doing it in the name of the rule of law, not because we have anything to lose or gain, as we did not take part in the elections.

What we are looking for is dialogue, so I'm not just thinking of what I'm going to say to him. I think what we have to think about is what we have to say to each other. We have to work together, that is the main message. Those inside the country have to work together, and also, those of our supporters outside.

Please don't forget our political prisoners, and also, just to say thank you for everything you've done to help us.


FOSTER: Aung Saan Suu Kyi there, thanking her supporters around the world for not losing faith in her fight there. Regional neighbors of Myanmar have had varying reactions about her release, meanwhile. Indonesia is encouraging Myanmar's military rulers to include Suu Kyi and her followers as part of the path towards democracy. They called her release long overdue. Japan also called for Myanmar to move towards democracy, encouraging further positive measures in the realm of human rights and national reconciliation.

But some of Myanmar's biggest trading partners, including China, have been fairly silent on Suu Kyi's release. China, in fact, has been Myanmar's strongest ally since the military took power there in 1962.

Now, after the break, will we ever get any work done in the office again? We take a look at Facebook's new mighty messenger system that's got the tech world abuzz. Not sure how your boss will like it, though. We'll also have more details on just what's involved in just a moment.


FOSTER: Not e-mail, but a new modern messaging system. The social networking giant Facebook has just announced its latest product aimed at capturing the heart of its digital users lives, their inboxes. It'll have seamless messaging, unifying conversations happening through SMS, chat, e- mail, or Facebook, in fact. It'll also show conversation history and have a social inbox for filtering exactly the messages you want to see.


ANDREW BOSWORTH, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, FACEBOOK: This new product really enables people to go to one place and share however they want to share. If you want share over e-mail, and I want to receive it on chat, no problem. If you want to send a text message, and I want to get it on Facebook, that'll work, too.


FOSTER: Well, users will also be able to have a e-mail address when the system rolls out gradually over the next few months.

Now, Facebook will have an incredible user base to tap into for its new messaging system, of course. It's got more than 500 million active users around the world, 70 percent of them are outside the US. The average person has around 130 friends and spends over 700 billion minutes per month on the website.

If we look at where Facebook comes in terms of audience share, you can see it beats its webmail competitors for unique visitors, that's the count of each person, not the amount of times they visit a page. According to ComScore, in September this year, the social networking site had around 620 million visitors.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees this new rollout as complementary, not competitive and definitely not an e-mail killer. But once it becomes a one-stop online shop, will people want to keep their existing e-mail accounts? That's the big question. We're going to ask "Wired" magazine's Ryan Singel, who joins us from San Francisco, what he thinks of all this. He was there for the announcement, and there's lots of hype around this, wasn't there? So, what did you get from the announcement? What does it actually mean?

RYAN SINGEL, "WIRED" MAGAZINE: It's really smart. They're really not going after every one of your e-mail accounts and trying to get you to move it in there. But for the people that use Facebook often, the younger generation that texts, this is a really smart system, and it keeps them logged into Facebook.

So, whether you're on your phone or whether you're on your home computer, you're going to be using Facebook to message people, and it doesn't matter whether you're using e-mail or IM, it's a really smart system.

FOSTER: And what's the thinking behind this from Zuckerberg's point of view, do you think? Because he's got a big vision for his company and its roll in the internet, hasn't he?

SINGEL: Right. Well, they figured out that identity is really about your connections to your friends. So they really want you to, like -- they want to be able to have all the communications with your friends as well. So, for instance, normally with e-mail, you have to remembers somebody's e- mail address, or if you want to IM them, you have to do that. And Facebook can't see that.

If you're going to use this product, then Facebook is going to see who you're messaging all the time, and they're going to start to know even more about who you are just from who you message.

FOSTER: And that raises all these privacy concerns that are often pointed towards Facebook. Does this give them more power over information and, therefore, infringe your privacy more?

SINGEL: Well, there's some interesting things. Right now, Facebook messaging actually strips out some links. So, if you wanted to, say, send your friend a peer-to-peer link, a way that they could download a movie that maybe they shouldn't, Facebook actually strips that out. And it's not clear if this new system's going to do the same thing. But it definitely - - because it funnels all of these conversations into Facebook, they have the possibility to do some content filtering, and it will be interesting to see how far that goes.

FOSTER: Because in the past, everything's been funneled through Google, hasn't it? So, is Facebook the new Google?

SINGEL: Facebook isn't the new Google, but they certainly are a new powerhouse on the internet. So, like Google, they have an increasing number of products that they want people to use. And now, with messaging, they've got one more thing that you're going to spend more time on Facebook. And more time logged into your Facebook identity. And you being logged into Facebook and that being your identity is really where Facebook makes its money.

FOSTER: OK. And I just want to ask you, just for -- in basic terms, so those of us who have a relationship with Facebook but don't fully understand all the complicated bits of it, are they effectively allowing you to have an e-mail address that you can use like Hotmail or Gmail, or Yahoo mail?

SINGEL: They are. So, you just go into the messaging section of Facebook, and you can sign up and they will give you an e-mail address at And you can then set it up so that you can use it like any other e-mail account. But it's going to work a little differently, because when you go to your inbox in Facebook, they're only going to show you the messages from your friends. And the people that you don't know or don't communicate with often show up in this kind of other little side box.

But otherwise, yes. If you --, you will have an e-mail address there, and you can use it just like Gmail.

FOSTER: OK. Ryan Singel, thank you very much, indeed. We'll wait to see how successful that is, where we will have e-mail addresses. Find out in a year or so, I guess.

As you know, CONNECT THE WORLD has a Facebook page itself, so we thought this would be a perfect place to ask if you'll be switching to their new messaging system. Here's what you had to say.

Ishu writes, "I'll never leave my current e-mail provider, but the new e-mail system of FB is, I think, good."

Becks agrees. "I wouldn't stop using my e-mail, but have one with Facebook."

Kingsley puts it like this. "Recipe for disaster. They should leave the mail service for Yahoo."

And Mike says, "Facebook is for fun, but e-mail is serious business. I will close my account if Facebook makes it mandatory to join this new service." We don't think it will be mandatory, by the way.

Do tell us what you think about this new messaging service. Head to

Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, they don't come any more rock and roll than this music legend. Keith Richards talks to me about the roller coaster ride that is the Rolling Stones.


FOSTER: As far as life stories go, our next guest has one that few of us would survive, in fact. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, he really has done it all. Let's get you connected with the icon that still has the power to shock.


FOSTER (voice-over): He's what only can be described as a living legend, with a rock and roll lifestyle just as notorious as his rock and roll lyrics. But for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, it's all about the band.

KEITH RICHARDS, GUITARIST, THE ROLLING STONES: We're a bar band, you know? We got glorified bar band.

FOSTER (voice-over): Richards first met bandmate Mick Jagger whilst in primary school. An encounter that would change rock history. Richards was a party boy, famous for his bevy of women, outlandish comments, and run-ins with the law. But nothing seemed to slow him down.

The band is still touring today, and was recently featured in a Martin Scorsese documentary, "Shine a Light."

And this month, Richards is out with a new book, "Life." The memoir offers an inside glimpse at the dynamics between Richards and Jagger, with revelations that have the media buzzing. He told me why it was that he decided to write this book now.

RICHARDS: We'd been on the road for three years, and I know that I had spare time. And if it was ever going to happen, it was going to be in this time. So, I revisited myself.

FOSTER: Had a chance.


FOSTER: We've got lots of viewer questions from all over the world. Tom McDonnell wants to know, "Do you have a favorite Rolling Stones song?" The question you've been asked --

RICHARDS: I know, I mean this is the most difficult --


RICHARDS: Thing to answer. But there -- off the top of my head, let's say "Midnight Rambler."


RICHARDS: Yes. Just because it encapsulates what Mick and I can do together, and it's the most obvious example. I -- that -- I call "Brown Sugar," "Satisfaction," of course.

FOSTER: A lot of viewers like "Satisfaction."

RICHARDS: Because it becomes -- these are all my babies.


RICHARDS: These songs. I choose "Midnight Rambler" just because it's a great mixture of what Mick and I can do together, and that nobody else can do, I guess.

FOSTER: How would you encapsulate the roles that both of you had, and is it sometimes frustrating when one gets credit that the other did?

RICHARDS: Yes, I don't think credit really comes into it. And, as you say, it's a collaboration. And collaboration cannot exist in a vacuum. There has to be some rub and some conflict.


RICHARDS: And some -- it's just how you deal with it. So, basically, that to me is the important thing about the way Mick and I work together. Is a little bit of grit.


RICHARDS: The thing that makes the pearl in an oyster --


FOSTER: OK. You talk about a bit of grit, and Justin Sears says, "What was your worst moment with Sir Mick, and what did you learn from it?"

RICHARDS: I'm sure it's still to come.


RICHARDS: As far as learning from it, you learn everything as you go along with each other. I can't think of any one particular incident, really. It's a matter of being able to get along. You have highs, incredible highs. And the lows are incredibly low.


RICHARDS: And you -- if you can deal with those two, some way you come out in the middle.

FOSTER: It's amazing, you talk about some of the tensions sometimes in the group. It's amazing you've lasted so long, so successful so long. But do you think that tension, the grit that you talk about, is part of what keeps you going, it keeps the music alive?

RICHARDS: Yes, yes, exactly. It's -- without that, things don't happen. They just lie dormant. And there's that tension. And you've got two guys working together, and they've got -- "Oh, that's a good a good idea, but I think it should do this," and "I think it should do that." And, so, you get tension. And that's -- from that, you get what you get, you know? It's always been amazing to work with Mick and I'm still trying to write the perfect song for him.

FOSTER: Lots of people say you've already had those perfect songs. A question from Rasa is, "any advice for the younger people who, like me, still like to rock and roll and play the guitar?"

RICHARDS: Hey, if that's what you like to do, I'd say go for it. There's -- it's the most fun in the world. And after all, you can only trip up and fall over. And everybody can stand up and get up again. But if you've got that desire to play music and rock and roll, it's not the most damaging thing on the face of this planet.

FOSTER: You've talked about some of the damaging things you've done in the past, that sort of rock and roll lifestyle. When you actually came down to writing the book, was it easy -- easier than you thought to write because it flowed? Or were some of the memories a little vague?

RICHARDS: The idea of it was very easy. The actual reliving of the life was kind of painful.

FOSTER: Was it?

RICHARDS: Yes, of course. You try reliving yours, you know what I mean?

FOSTER: So, those awkward moments you had --


FOSTER: You have to sort of --

RICHARDS: And now you have to go through things that you'd already sort of buried, you know?


RICHARDS: Like -- when the bodies come out of the grave, and you're, "Oh, not again!"

FOSTER: But were you honest, then, in the book? Did you write the - - write about those things?

RICHARDS: I did --

FOSTER: Even though you --

RICHARDS: I think it was as honest as it could be. And it was just the way it affected me, and the band from my point of view. I'm sure there's other people with different points of view. And after all, all they have to do is write a book about it. I'm amazed when I come out and hear people have taken me to heart.

FOSTER: Finally, I just want to ask you, how do you think you've -- how would you encapsulate the impact you've had on the world? It's a big question, but what impact would you -- ?

RICHARDS: Well, it's probably bigger than Mao Tse-Tung, you know?

FOSTER: But you had -- culturally, you've had a big impact, haven't you?

RICHARDS: Yes, I know. These things I still reconciling or thinking about, that you --

FOSTER: What do you think it is?

RICHARDS: I don't know. Hopefully, it's that we spread a message that, hey, everybody can get along. You shouldn't take small things and blow them up into enormous things. And that rock and roll is very soothing for the heart.

FOSTER: And it's still alive. These people are still buying your records in massive amounts.

RICHARDS: That's all right with me.

FOSTER: When you were a kid, did you ever envision this? I guess it's what you dream of.

RICHARDS: No. You can dream, right? Now I'm in it, but --

FOSTER: Living the dream.

RICHARDS: Yes. And -- no. I'm pretty much over awed by all of this, actually. I'm just a guitar player, you know? I do my best, and it's amazing that people have found it that interesting. I'm still amazed. It makes me want to work harder.


FOSTER: Just a guitar player. Keith Richards, there, kick starting another great week of Connectors for you. Tomorrow night, the girl Vogue calling the top -- one of the top models of the new millennium. Think Armani, Hugo Boss, and Burberry. Agyness Deyn has been the face of them all. So, if there's something you'd like to ask this in demand cover girl, send us your questions and remember to tell us where you're writing from. Head to Tonight, we'll be right back.


FOSTER: Let's get some reaction, now, to one of our top stories today, the release of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar's ruling regime freed her from years of house arrest over the weekend, and she picked up right where she left off, pledging to bring democracy to her country by means of a non-violent revolution.

Many of you are now sharing your thoughts on the story on Walt67 writes on our blog, "Biggest problem for Myanmar's junta is the 21st century. The entire world has ostracized it for political repression and a scam election."

Another viewer writes, "Suu Kyi represents the Myanmar that could be. If she were to leave the country, the government wins and digresses from the ultimate goal of democracy in Burma."

Mazeman has this to say about Myanmar's top general. "Than Shwe is nothing -- is nothing more than a superstitious thug who is scared out of his mind by a 30-year-old woman who's never raised her hand against him. A 60-year-old woman who has never raised her hand against him."

Now, we couldn't leave tonight without showing you these spectacular pictures. Millions of Muslims are making their way to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Haji pilgrimage. It is one of the greatest religious observances in Islam, which every able-bodied Muslim is expected to perform at least once in his or her lifetime.

For our Parting Shots tonight, we are following this incredible journey. Here, pilgrims are just five kilometers from Mecca, but they've taken a well-deserved rest along the way. And a meal shared together on the side of the road near the Mina valley, the first stop on the way to the plains of Arafat.

They need to keep in contact with family or friends back at home, a mobile phone is a must. And a charging point.

Here's a view from the top of the Noor mountain where the Hiraa cave is, overlooking Mecca. This is prayer time at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Friday. The pilgrims have come from more than 180 countries around the world.

And just to give you some idea of just how many people will be undertaking the Haji, here's our final shot near the Grand Mosque, where more than 3 million, or 3.4 million people were expected over the five-day pilgrimage. Unbelievable.

I'm Max Foster. That is your world connected tonight. "BackStory" is next, right after this check of the headlines.