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Mount Kelud Erupts, Sending Thousands Fleeing; Gus Kenworthy's Sochi Puppies; Olympic Skiers Complain Of Warm Olympics; Winter Weather Bashes Northeastern U.S., Southwestern UK

Aired February 14, 2014 - 15:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight, battling the elements -- thousands of flights canceled as snow forces travel chaos in the U.S.

Across the Atlantic, the royals weighed in to help as Britain braces for yet another storm. So is there finally an end in sight?

Also ahead, Hindu controversy, why this book was taken off the shelves and what it means for freedom of speech in India.

And love on the streets of Tehran, marking Valentine's Day the Iranian way.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: Welcome.

Deep snow and sleet to devastating floods, extreme weather is making life miserable in parts of the United States and Britain. A vicious storm is being blamed for at least 16 deaths in the United States. Power is still out for nearly 400,000 people and more snow is predicted as the storm sweeps to the north.

The commute on Pennsylvania Turnpike turned treacherous this morning. Some 100 vehicles were involved in a collision backed up -- or backing up traffic for hours. Dozens of people were taken to hospital.

In the UK, the problem is flooding as well as gale force winds. It's the wettest beginning to the year for more than two-and-a-half centuries.

And a new storm is threatening to bring even more misery. Hard hit Datchet got some royal help today. Princes William and Harry joined soldiers distributing sand bags.

We are covering the weather on both continents tonight. Rosa Flores is in New York's LaGuardia airport where frustrated travelers are dealing with major delays. And Jim Boulden is covering the flooding in Staines- upon-Thames in Surrey in England.

Rosa, first of all let's go to you, because so many flights canceled in a crucial commercial hub.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, you're absolutely right. There's about 1,400 delays -- excuse me, cancellations at this hour. And that number has been growing. When it comes to delays, there's about 4,000 delays around the country. And that number has also been climbing throughout the day.

Some of the worst areas around the United States are in Charlotte, North Carolina, in Denver, Colorado, Chicago O'Hare airport and also in Newark.

So on this Valentine's Day, Max, there's a lot of people exercising patience because at these airports there's a lot of cancellations and a lot of delays.

FOSTER: And what sort of information are you getting about when this might be over, when things might get back to normal?

FLORES: You know, it always takes a few days to flush out all of the kinks in air travel. Right now the delays here at LaGuardia airport are down to an hour. They are an hour-and-a-half just two hours ago.

So things are definitely improving. They're improving across the country, but it always takes a few days to air them out, because you mentioned earlier, there were 7,000 flights that were delayed yesterday. So accumulatively, when you talk about yesterday and today that's 8,400 flights that were canceled. That's a lot of people who were misplaced.

FOSTER: And during the week, of course, at least we're getting into the weekend if we're looking at the financial damage here. But the damage done to the economy during the week, what sort of numbers are we looking at here?

FLORES: You know, our wonderful producers here at CNN tallied up the numbers. If you look at the month of January and until now in February, they tallied it up about 5.5 million passengers have been impacted with cancellations. If you do the math, that's $3 billion with a "b" that passengers have to pay extra out of pocket for hotels and also for meals.

And I know that a lot of people probably don't feel sympathy for airlines, but airlines also had a huge impact to the hundreds of millions of dollars of lost revenue -- Max.

FOSTER: OK. Rosa, at LaGuardia, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

We're going to turn to the UK now where Jim Boulden is in the flood hit town of Staines-upon-Thames. Earlier, he spoke to Ed Mitchell from the agency attempting to stop the crisis from getting worse here.


ED MITCHELL, BRITISH ENVIRONMENT AGENCY: We've had a whole series of different storm and weather events, which has caused coastal flooding, river flooding, et cetera. So, yeah, we're working flat out at the minute to protect as many people as we possibly can.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you know in December that this was what January and February were going to bring us? Because there is some criticism that maybe people weren't prepared enough, or told to be prepared enough?

MITCHELL: It's very important that people do keep an eye on their flood risk. We do encourage everybody here to keep an eye on our website. And we also have a phone line that you can ring, which will tell you exactly what the latest is in terms of the flood position.

I think the winter that we've just had is most likely going to be wettest since -- well, for 250 years. And that was not how it was forecast. So I think it's caught us all by surprise a little there.

BOULDEN: But the military is now in and helping, have been for the bast week. Is that something that you always has as a contingency, or does that just show how difficult this one is?

MITCHELL: Well, we're very much part of a multi-agency response. This isn't just the environment agency, it's the military, the police, the fire and rescue, et cetera. And that is coordinated through out multi- agency structures. The military are deployed when it makes sense to do so and when they can help as best they can. So it's great to have them around. We're just on the other side of the river from here, they're helping us put up some temporary defenses, which will protect several hundred homes. So, it's great to have their assistance.

BOULDEN: There's been a lot of talk about flood defenses, about sacrificing one area for another area that makes it very political as well as it makes it very sort of strategic, doesn't it?

MITCHELL: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, to be very clear, we don't sacrifice areas. What we do is we choose where we can afford to spend our money for best effect to defend areas. So, yes, absolutely, we can't defend everywhere. And we're careful about where we do defend. But in defending a particular location, we don't sacrifice another.


FOSTER: Jim Boulden there reporting on this enormous logistical exercise, which has finally set in, Jenny Harrison here in the UK, with some criticism that the authorities didn't respond quickly enough.

And the problem they've got is that the waters, or the ground is saturated with water. So they're trying to deal with that. But the question is, if they get more rain it's not going to actually make much difference.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: You know, the important thing is, Max, I really don't have any good news at all, because there is another system of course as you say on its way in. And then guess what, Monday another, Wednesday another after that.

And I want to start by showing you this, it goes back to the 29th of January up until the 11 of February, but you could also be looking at this, believe it or not, from mid-December. And what it is showing you, there's the UK, there's the southwest of Europe, these systems, of course, have just been coming in from the same direction, they have been really big intense storm systems, the gale force winds, the torrential amounts of rain. And so as you know we have just seen an unprecedented amount of water.

In fact, the amount the numbers have just been revised again by the UK Met office. And these areas in the dark of blue and black over three times the January average rainfall, that was just January. These heavy rain began back in December.

So if you compare it another way, quote a complicated looking graph here, but basically got three different authorities collating data from hundreds of different weather stations. And these have all been taken over hundreds of years. And you can see here since 1910 these particular agencies, but you can see here the red line, that's all you need to focus on, because that is the line where we are.

So again just another way of looking at the same information.

But this is a storm, this is the one that's been bringing the rain in the last few hours. It will be clearing, of course, throughout the weekend, but again it's just been widespread, heavy at times. You'll notice also some snow further to the north, but of course the concerns are still down across the South. There Friday, Saturday, Sunday again all of these areas showing in red.

And I wanted to show you this as well. This is back in February 2013. This is what it normally looks like in the Somerset level. This is what it looks like February this year. So a closer view, that is what it did look like, this is what it looks like. We have just got so much under water.

As many as 5,500 homes have been flooded since December last year. So there are plans to really try and help this.

One of the things they are doing, Max, with the UK environment agency is they've brought in all of these pumps from the Netherlands, which are beginning to pump out as much as 7.3 million tons of water every day.

But as I say, the next storm system comes through, another one pushing through late Sunday into Monday. Not as heavy, the rain.

Where have they been coming from? They have been coming across the Atlantic. So this storm is heading on Monday, this is the one that has been bringing all that snow along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

So, not out of the woods just yet.

The winds won't be as heavy. They are beginning to ease off. They won't be as strong, either, with the next storm system that comes in on Monday. And they shouldn't be as strong with a system that comes in on Wednesday as well.

But that being said, it really is about the water. And there is just too much of it. And there is more on the way.

And Max, until that pattern changes with the jet stream, unfortunately we're going to see this time and time again with like a day in between before the next storm system comes across.

FOSTER: Jenny, that is such grim news. We're going to take it to Jim Boulden now, because he is within the flood zone in Staines-upon-Thames.

We couldn't get him a moment earlier, because we've got these technical problems, as you can imagine.

But Jim, Jenny there telling the people around you basically it's going to get worse.

BOULDEN: Yeah. As you can see, these gale force winds have now hit the Thames valley area. It was quite calm earlier today. Not as much rain, maybe, as we'd expected, Max, but the winds are hitting here very hard.

And of course what they have said here is that even if we saw the Thames fall in level a little bit today, we saw some of the flooding falling a little bit today, that's because we didn't have rain yesterday, but...

FOSTER: There you go. Those are the scenes that Jim is dealing with, you know, flooded areas, the wind is high. Technical problems to broadcast as well. But nothing compared to the sort of problems people have living within those scenes.

We'll try to get to back to him later.

Still to come tonight, thousands seek shelter after the latest volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Java.

Then, one U.S. skier is getting a lot of attention for activities off the slopes. We'll show why a silver medal winner Gus Kenworthy is in the spotlight.

Also ahead, Oscar Pistorius speaks out and prepares to face trial a year after the death of his girlfriend.

All that a much more when Connect the World continues.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now Italy is about to enter a new political era again. Enrico Letta resigned as prime minister on Friday after just 10 months on the job. Letta was effectively forced out by his Democratic Party rival 39-year-old Mattheo Renzi who is now expected to replace him.

This is just the latest in a wave of political and economic crises to hit the EuroZone's third largest economy.

Syrian opposition activists report 32 people were killed in an attack in the southern province of Daraa. They say a child was amongst the victims of the suicide car bombing. This video is said to show the aftermath, although CNN can't confirm the authenticity of the video posted online.

The opposition also says the military used war planes to barrel bomb a Damascus suburb.

Meanwhile, a second round of peace talks in Geneva has ended with no progress. The negotiations mediated by the UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi came to a close with both sides blaming each other for the impasse. Nevertheless, a third round of talks is proposed.

Now the Indonesian island of Java is dealing with a major volcanic eruption. It's killed at least three people and forced tens of thousands to flee as Ralitsa Vassileva tells us it may not be over either.


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For two days now Mount Kelud has spewed molten ash and thick black smoke high into the skies over east Java. At night, what looks and sounds like rain is actually ash falling, blanketing the ground in a thick gray carpet.

One photo posted online shows lightning striking the volcano's peak during a nighttime eruption. Residents say they've never seen anything like it before.

BAMBANG PURWONO, EAST JAVA RESIDENT (through translator): This is the biggest eruption I've ever seen. You can see sand and gravel falling. The last eruption we only saw sand and ash.

VASSILEVA: More than 76,000 people fled their homes as residents within a 10 kilometer radius of the volcano have been ordered to evacuate. The government has raised its eruption art to the highest level as more eruptions may still be in store.

The widespread ash is causing huge problems for airlines. The eruption has shut down airports in five cities, canceled hundreds of flights and left thousands of passengers stranded, while airplanes sit idle covered in Ash.

ANDI WIRSON, ADI SUTJIPTO AIRPORT GENERAL MANAGER (through translator): The current conditions are that volcanic ash is now covering the runway, apron and tarmac. We have already measured the thickness of the volcanic ash, which is at 5 centimeters on the runway and tarmac, 2.5 centimeters at the apron.

VASSILEVA: Outside the city of Yogyakarta authorities close the world's largest Buddhist temple after it was also covered with volcanic ash.

Volcanic eruptions are nothing new in Indonesia. Mount Kelud last erupted in 2007. In 1990, the volcano killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds in another eruption.

And earlier this month, another volcano, Mount Sinabung, erupted on western Sumatra Island, killing 16 people.

Ralitsa Vassilav, CNN.


FOSTER: Well, another action packed day of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Britain got its first gold of the games in the form of Lizzie Yarnold in the women's skeleton. She took the top spot in the podium after smashing the track record in her third run.

It wasn't such a good day, though, for U.S. hopefuls in the men's super combined downhill skiing event. Defending Olympic champion Bode Miller and world champion teammate Ted Ligety looked promising for a U.S. medal going into the competition, but they lost out to the Swiss, Sandro Viletta specifically, who shocked pundits to take the gold.

And at the end of Friday, here is what the top of the medal table actually looks like. Germany continues its domination of the gold with seven. Switzerland is now in second with 5. And four nations have four golds each.

CNN's Ian Lee is in Sochi. He joins us now live.

Ian, Team USA getting a rather surprising visitor today.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that's right Max, Vladimir Putin visited Team USA house. And he also visited the Canada house. It was a bit of a surprise visit for the athletes. And the typically stoic president let his hair down a bit. He had some wine there. They talked about sport. They chatted. He was seen laughing and genuinely concerned about the situation of the athletes, which the athletes replied that they are very happy and this Olympics have been well up to their standards.

The meeting only last about a half hour, but when he left he did have a Valentine's gift from Team USA. They gave him one of their silver jackets as well as a pin, a Team USA Valentine's pin -- Max.

FOSTER: And the U.S. team lots of talking points there, because Gus Kenworthy, the freestyle skier hoping to take home a bit more than a silver medal he got.

LEE: That's right. He's seems like he's going to be taking home at least four puppies that he's rescued here. They were abandoned. He found them. And he just couldn't let them go. And while he did win silver on the slopes in slopestyle skiing, he's winning gold and hearts of girls back home.


GUS KENWORTHY, U.S. OLYMPIAN: A lot of girls like Olympians and puppies, which has been overwhelming, but yeah I have.

Yeah, it's been sweet. A lot of like humane shelters and stuff like that have been hitting me up, too, which is pretty cool. Yeah, I don't know, I don't think it's sort of like that crazy. I mean, I guess everyone else thinks it's crazy, but just trying to bring some dogs home.


LEE: And he's working to get these dogs home. He's had them put up in kennels as well as getting them vaccinated. And as we heard, there is support in the United States trying to help him bring them back home as well, Max.

FOSTER: Lots of snow in the U.S., so they'll be comfortable there.

And in terms of the weather where you are, they've got this problem. Everywhere else they're sort of trying to get rid of the snow, but in Sochi, they haven't got enough.

LEE: That's right. And don't let what I'm wearing fool you right now. It has been warm during the days, especially up in the mountains. And that has caused a lot of problems for the skiing events. They've been started a little bit earlier when it's cooler in the day, some of the tracks have been shortened because the temperature difference from the top and the base has changed so drastically.

And really when you see these skiers go down the courses, it really rips up the snow there. It's not hard. They can't make precision turns. So the skiers who are later in the competition, you see them really struggling trying to make these turns, which has made it difficult here. And it does look like it's going to let up quite yet, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Ian, thank you very much indeed. Enjoy the rest of the competition. Back with you over the weekend.

And you can catch up on all the latest news from the games on CNN's Aiming for Gold website. That's Plus, from Sochi with love, read about the Olympians making the most of Valentine's Day with romance in the Russian mountains.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, a year after Olympian Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, we'll bring you these exclusive new photos of the couple.

Also ahead, a major publisher recalls a controversial book in India after complaints from Hindu groups. We'll look at the debate between respect for religion and freedom of speech.


FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London, welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

Now Oscar Pistorius is calling the death of his girlfriend a devastating accident. The Olympian says he's still consumed with sorrow exactly a year after he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp in his own home. Pistorius maintains he mistook her for burglar, but he faces trial for murder early next month.

CNN's Robyn Curnow has new exclusive pictures of the couple and looks back at the case against the man known as Bladerunner.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These exclusive pictures from a source close to Oscar Pistorius appear to show a young couple in love, intimate and personal.

These would be some of the last photographs they would take together, because on Valentine's Day morning, exactly one year ago, it all ended.

Oscar Pistorius' agent awoke to a phone call.

PEET VAN ZYL, PISTORIUS' AGENT: Just had this voice of a girl frantically shouting, please, you have to come to Oscar's house, trying to make sense of what's wrong.

No, no, someone's shot, someone's shot. So I immediately thought it was Oscar that has been shot.

And no, no, no, Reeva has been shot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paralympic and Olympic star Oscar Pistorius has allegedly shot his girlfriend.

CURNOW: It was a shooting that shocked South Africa. The golden boy Olympian had killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, an up-and-coming model. He was arrested and charged with murder.

Pistorius denies the murder charge. He says it was a tragic mistake, that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

In just a few weeks, a high-court judge will hear the case.

Now, Oscar Pistorius' murder trial will take place in this courtroom. It begins on the 3rd of March.

Now, the state has listed 107 witnesses. Not all of them are expected to be called, but we do expect to hear testimony from Oscar Pistorius' family, some of his ex-girlfriends, as well as police forensic experts.

Pistorius' team says they'll counter with their own forensic evidence.

LAURIE PIETERS-JAMES, CRIMINOLOGIST: I think that the state does want to get this case over with.

They have booked the court for three weeks, I believe, and they should be able to present at least the state case in those three weeks.

CURNOW: After staying away from Pistorius' previous court appearances, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, and other family members are expected to attend the trial.

After a year of waiting, her family says they're looking for closure.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Pretoria, South Africa.


FOSTER: The latest world news headlines just ahead.

Plus, this book is banned in India after a legal challenge from a Hindu group. Is it a case for respect for religion or a setback for freedom of speech in the world's largest democracy? We'll take a closer look.

And hammer away with only two days to go before the BAFTA Awards. We pay a visit to the trophy factory.

Plus, Valentine's Day in the Islamic Republic of Iran. We go to Tehran where this holiday is becoming more and more popular amongst young couples.


FOSTER: This is Connect the World. The top stories this hour.

The royal family got involved in flood relief efforts in the UK today. Princes William and Harry joined soldiers distributing sand bags in a hard- hit town. A month's worth of rain has fallen in just 48 hours in some places. And in the U.S. the snow keeps falling as winter storm pushes through to the north. It's blamed for at least 16 deaths and nearly 400,000 power outages.

Talks are underway to form Italy's third government in less than a years. Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned on Friday amid infighting in his Democratic Party. He is expected to be replaced by a party leader Mattheo Renzi. Renzi has criticized the government's failure to push through political and economic reform. France is sending more soldiers to its troubled former colony the Central African Republic, 1600 French troops arrived there in December, and now, 400 more are to be added. The Central African Republic has been hit by months of religious and ethnic violence.

Delhi's chief minister has resigned over obstacles to passing a new anti-corruption bind. Arvind Kerjiwal also called for new elections in the Indian capital. The bill would have created an independent body with power to investigate civil servants suspected of corruption.

Some major names of the literary world are speaking out after Penguin India's decision to recall a book. "The Hindus: An Alternative History" chronicles the rise of one of the world's oldest religions. Its author, Wendy Doniger, is respected, and American academic -- a respected American academic. But right-wing Hindu groups say the book contains heresies. CNN's Sumnima Udas has more.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a book that many here in India had never even heard of, but Penguin Book India's decision to withdraw the American historian Wendy Doniger's book called "The Hindus: An Alternative History" from the Indian market has outraged many writers and literary groups here.

Author Arundhati Roy of the Booker Prize-winning "The God of Small Things," wrote a scathing open letter to Penguin, also her publisher, saying, quote, "Even if there was no fatwa, no ban, not even a court order, you have not only caved in, you have humiliated yourself abjectly before a fly-by-night outfit."

She's referring to the Hindu Nationalist group which filed a civil suit against Penguin claiming the book was riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies and deliberately intending to outrage religious sentiments.

After a four-year legal process, Penguin reached an out-of-court settlement to withdraw the book from India. The publishing giant defends it decision, saying it has an obligation to, quote, "respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be."

Doniger blames Indian laws, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, but at the same time, it makes it a crime to offend religious sentiment in spoken or written words. Proponents of India's penal code, though, say in a country with a history of religious violence, these laws may perhaps be needed.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


FOSTER: Well, earlier I spoke with British historian and writer William Dalrymple. He's a vocal critic of the decision to destroy copies of "The Hindus" in India. I began by asking him why Wendy Doniger's book is so controversial amongst some Hindus.


WILLIAM DALRYMPLE, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR: It's a clash of two cultures, really. Wendy's a child of the 60s. She does Freudian analysis of Hindu myths. She's a profound and great scholar of Sanskrit, but a Freudian interpretation of these myths often causes upset among very traditional Hindus who are not used to hearing their myths interpreted in any but in a faith context.

And she's a woman who is in love with Hinduism, who has dedicated her life to the Hindu myths, but whose style of interpretation and criticism of them doesn't sit easily with some Diaspora Hindus who are used to hearing it only in the context of the temple and in the way they're used to hearing their myths interpreted, and she's run into a lot of opposition over the years.

She's hugely respected among other scholars. But her style of exposition riles some people up in the Hindu community, particularly among the Diaspora.

FOSTER: And is that a minority, would you say? This is not the general view of Indians in regard to the religious impact of literature?

DALRYMPLE: Well, I think a scholar like Wendy writing for a -- is writing for an audience of intellectuals. And these two worlds don't often meet each other, and it's a clash of two different styles of talking about mythology.

Just like a modern Biblical scholar at a university doing textual analysis of the Gospels will see the Gospels in a different way to an evangelical Christian in a Midwest church. They're two different species, and when the two come into conflict, then they will all come into contact, obviously there's going to be some dissonance.

FOSTER: So, what are your views on Penguin recalling and destroying the copies of the book?

DALRYMPLE: It's become clear that Penguin in fact fought a four-year campaign against this lawsuit, and Wendy herself has made clear what I know personally to be true, that the Indian legal code still has on the statute books, particularly -- a particular statue called 295 A, which makes it a criminal offense to in any way cause offense to anyone else's religion.


FOSTER: Well, "The Hindus" is just the latest book to court controversy. We went to pick some of the other examples of well-known disputed books here in London, for example, and the publication of Adolph Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the manifesto prohibited in Germany, although many libraries have a copy for academic research.

There's also Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." This book caused outrage amongst some Muslims when it was published and led to a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death.

And an older example, D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover." The uncensored version of the book was actually banned for several decades in the UK, Canada, and Australia. It was deemed to be obscene because of its explicit language and sex scenes.

Well, for more on the recall of "The Hindus" in India, I'm joined now by Madhava Turumella. He's the vice president of the Hindu Forum of Great Britain. Thank you very much for joining us.


FOSTER: And you're rather pleased with Penguin's decision today. You're not agreeing with some of these authors who think it's a terrible idea.

TURUMELLA: I am happy that Penguin has done it, but at the same time, Hindus' view is that we are very liberal and it is not right to say that we don't encourage freedom of speech. It's not correct. Because it is not that easy to ban a book in India, and India is a particular country.

FOSTER: And your point is that this book hasn't been banned in India.

TURUMELLA: It's not banned at all, yes.

FOSTER: And you wouldn't want it to be banned?

TURUMELLA: No, I don't want it to be banned. But at the same time, I want Wendy to come out and to say clear-cut, point-by-point, raised by Hindus, refute them. But actually, Wendy has this ability to just write whatever she wants to write, and then shoot and scoot. And then she runs away.

So for example, it's not new. Wendy has done -- she wrote an essay on Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta. And Hindus made a lot of inaccuracies, factual inaccuracies. When we raised these points, Wendy never bothered to answer, and Microsoft withdrew that they said factual inaccuracies.

FOSTER: But --

TURUMELLA: Even in this book, by the way.

FOSTER: But would you -- but her full body of work, would you agree that -- you've got a particular issue with this one book, but her full body of work is actually a more solid foundation on which to critique Hinduism?

TURUMELLA: What is her work? Her work, actually it's -- I'm actually brought up in tradition, I'm a priest, I studied with her.


TURUMELLA: I would say her work, she just translated the Rig Veda, that's all her academic work. The rest of them were, perhaps, she was making commentaries. And those were actually her fantasies or -- I mean, I think that --


TURUMELLA: -- they are her views.

FOSTER: Away from that, we know that there's a difference of opinion from you and her supporters.


FOSTER: But this issue that Penguin has got caught up in --


FOSTER: -- your view is that you shouldn't ban the book, but you don't necessarily want it -- you like the fact that it's been taken off the market. Shouldn't you be allowing the public to decide --


FOSTER: -- what they think of the book rather than --

TURUMELLA: This is -- yes.

FOSTER: -- saying that they shouldn't even have a right to see the book.

TURUMELLA: This is our problem. We Hindus have been extremely liberal. As a result, we Hindus have been taken for task and these, whatever little, for example, in page 36, Wendy made a comment saying -- a very strong observation saying Hindus do not allow women to study Vedas.

But Vedas -- the Veda, Rig Veda, which she translated, Vedas are 29 -- Vishishtadvaita and our leaders are there. And then, the chapter that claimed the lady wrote 13 hymns. I --

FOSTER: But we're talking here about what lots of people see as freedom of speech. You say you're not against freedom of speech.

TURUMELLA: No, we are not.

FOSTER: But you don't want the book --


TURUMELLA: I want her to --

FOSTER: -- on the market.

TURUMELLA: I want her to -- no, we're not actually saying that. What I --

FOSTER: But you like the fact that's come off the market.

TURUMELLA: I -- you're not seeing. There is a difference the way that you put it, in a sense, face-saving method, by whoever it is. See, it is not that easy. It was actually out-of-court settlement. It should have done -- my wish was it should have gone through the court --


FOSTER: And ended up with the supreme court.

TURUMELLA: -- entire. It has to go through the entire law process. But then, why did they wait to drop? Because the law that factually it contains a lot of inaccuracies.

FOSTER: Well, there you're in agreement with everyone on this issue, because a lot of people who disagree with you wish it had gone to the supreme court and hadn't been dealt with outside court so it could have been dealt with as a national issue.

TURUMELLA: Hindus have been vindicated if this case had gone to the supreme court. Because see, your freedom of expression should not become our insult. We have tolerated enough, and I was saying --


FOSTER: But you want to --

TURUMELLA: -- these pages --

FOSTER: But the case in the court was to take it out of circulation, really, wasn't it? And you --

TURUMELLA: It is not the court which said -- Penguin Publisher said it.

FOSTER: I know, but ultimately, that's what you wanted them to do.

TURUMELLA: No. Ultimately, we wanted the truth to come out. The truth has to come out. Let's debate. Let's go to the --


FOSTER: We can't have a debate if the book isn't out --

TURUMELLA: No, actually --

FOSTER: -- and people can't even read it.

TURUMELLA: So, you want us to go out onto the streets like some Salman Rushdie? What happened to Salman Rushdie and that? So, we don't want to go onto the streets. We went through the legal process. Is that wrong? India is a legal country. It's a secular country. You have the freedom of expression, but you are --


FOSTER: But freedom of expression is a multitude of views, and that view has been taken out of the market.

TURUMELLA: No, it has not. They have taken it out. We wanted it to continue. They have taken it out. Who wanted them to take it out? And they have taken -- their legal experts said no, take it out. Factual inaccuracies, that is what we're saying. Please don't try to bring inaccuracies into -- and say that this is your history.


TURUMELLA: Who are you to say this is our history? We are Hindus. I'm brought up in tradition. I'm not agreeing with you. Come, let's fight about it legally. Let's fight about it and let's come to a table and talk about it. And I challenge -- and there are so many inaccuracies there.


TURUMELLA: So, this is the problem with that.

FOSTER: Well, like you say, you didn't get that opportunity, because it was settled out of court.

TURUMELLA: She was --

FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us here.

TURUMELLA: Thank you for having me.

FOSTER: There's been a lot of reaction to this story on our Facebook page, as you can imagine. Here's a sample of what you've had to say from viewers on both sides of the debate.

One viewer says, "India is claiming itself as the world's biggest democracy, and we all know that freedom of speech is a fundamental of democracy. India should not ban it."

On the other side of the debate is this viewer, who said, "So, you can publish a book that may be factually incorrect and claim that it should be allowed to prove freedom of expression? We don't reject only to someone hurting our sentiments, but also the sentiments of those practicing other religions."

The team at CNN CONNECT THE WORLD want to hear from you. What do you think about Penguin India's decision to recall "The Hindus"? Is it right to move to avoid possible unrest, or is it an attack on freedom of expression or speech? Well, is where you can have your say. You can also tweet me @MaxFosterCNN, your thought please, @MaxFosterCNN.

Live from London, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. In a few minutes, we'll get a behind-the-scenes look at where it all begins at the BAFTA Awards. Plus, the pope celebrates Valentine's Day at the Vatican. Find out how and why after the break.


FOSTER: It was one of the first crises of the Cold War, the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. Overnight, one of Europe's major cities was cut off from the daily delivery of food, medicine, and fuel that had kept residents going. The blockade is the subject of the latest installment in CNN's documentary series, "Cold War." Take a look.


KENNETH BRANAGH, NARRATOR: The Soviets blocked all major road, rail, and canal links between West Berlin and Western Germany. They made no concerted effort to seal every route, but delivery of the 12,000 tons of food and coal normally supplied by the West to Berlin every day, was now impossible.

The Soviets cut electricity supplies to factories and offices. West Berliners could do little. Their only large power station had been dismantled for reparations by the Soviets in 1945.

The Western allies imposed a counter-blockade on the Soviet zone. Workers throughout the whole of Berlin faced unemployment and hardship.

ELLA BAROWSKY, BERLIN COUNCILOR (through translator): First of all, it was a terrible shock. Wherever you went, everyone asked, oh my God, what will happen to us now?

BRANAGH: Stalin's purpose was clear: to force the Western allies to change their policies or quit Berlin. In 1945, the Western allies had made a written agreement with the Soviets. Planes could fly along three air corridors 20 miles wide to two Berlin airfields, Tempelhof and Gatow. Sea planes could also set down on Lake Havel.

The British responded to the challenge. They planned an airlift. Foreign Secretary Bevin put his weight behind the idea.

ERNEST BEVIN, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The physical suffering of 2.5 million people in Berlin to try and influence the allies, the Western powers, in their treatment of the Germans and to try to force us out, is one which we are unable to accept.

BRANAGH: General Clay, the American commander, didn't believe an airlift would work. He had wanted to test Soviet resolve by running an armed convoy through the blockade. Reluctantly, he agreed to pursue the airlift idea with Ernst Reuter.

ROBERT LOCHNER, US MILITARY GOVERNMENT: Clay had said that this would mean extreme hardship and how little we could bring in at first, and he asked Reuter point-blank, "Do you thin, the Berliners will be able to take it?"

Reuter quietly replied, "You take care of the airlift, I'll take care of the Berliners."

And Clay said that was good enough.


FOSTER: And you can tune in this Saturday, actually, for the next episode of CNN's landmark series, "Cold War." Revisit a pivotal time in history as the iron curtain divides a world struggling to recover from the ravages of war. That's the next "Cold War," Saturday, 8:00 PM in London.

This Sunday, London rolls out the red carpet for the BAFTAs. It's Britain's most prestigious film prize and the last major award ceremony before the Oscars. Blockbuster "Gravity" leads the nominations, but Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" is tipped to pick the prize for Best Film.

Behind the glitz and the glamour of the red carpet, the iconic masks statuettes have a story of their own. Nina Dos Santos went to find the place where BAFTAs are born.



NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether it's Tom, Leonardo, Cate, Sandra, or Judi, one famous face is guaranteed to win big Sunday night: the 6.5-pound BAFTA statue made of polished bronze. It has a storied history all of its own.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Well, this West London industrial estate is about as far away as you could possibly get from the glitz and glamour of the red carpet. But it's in this small, family-run foundry that the BAFTA is actually born.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Each year, the team at New Pro Foundries is in a race against time to churn out more than 250 BAFTAs. The masks are hand-crafted to a precise size and measurement, and technical director Patrick Helly is fiercely proud of the results.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): How precious is a BAFTA?

PATRICK HELLY, NEW PRO FOUNDRIES: It is absolutely priceless to those who receive them.

DOS SANTOS: And to those who make them, like you?

HELLY: They're -- yes, we make a very good living at it, thank you very much.

DOS SANTOS: This is a veritable piece of cinematographic history in the British film space. What it is is the original model upon which all of the BAFTAs have been made, based on the design by Mitzi Cunliffe in the 1950s.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): They take good care of it. It's a key piece of BAFTA DNA. Once the mold is made, the metal can be poured. It's smelly.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Well, I can tell our viewers, from here, the phosphorus really is kicking in, isn't it?

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): And as for the temperature --

HELLY: We cast these at around about 1090 degrees Celsius.

DOS SANTOS: Well, let's just say that it's far hotter than any BAFTA nominee.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): It's amazing to think that basically, each one of these is a BAFTA.

HELLY: Well, yes. We make them in batches of ten. Been making them since 1976.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): After everything cools, out pops a brand-new BAFTA.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): When you see people standing on the podium clutching that award that you've probably made --


DOS SANTOS: -- how does that make you feel?

HELLY: Oh, to be honest, I don't watch it.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): He doesn't. But millions do, so the BAFTAs must be ready for their closeup.

HELLY: We've just got a little bit more work to do this, and then it'll be ready to go to the polishers. And then, we end up with this.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Wow. Do you mind, if I may? Thank you. I suppose this is the time when I have to thank my mother, my sister, my husband, my colleagues for all of their hard work. Thank you.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The music is playing, they're forcing me to sign off. But just like the stars, I also get carried away when holding a BAFTA.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN, London.


FOSTER: At least she thanked her colleagues, that's all I can say. And join CNN for coverage of the BAFTAs. Becky will be on the red carpet as the stars arrive. That starts on Sunday at 2:30 PM here in London, 3:30 in Berlin.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, love is all around. We show you how they're marking Valentine's Day in Iran and at the Vatican.


FOSTER: Well, as lovers around the world celebrate Valentine's Day, the pope is giving them advice. Greeting thousands of young engaged couples in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about maintaining a happy relationship. His Valentine's message on Twitter was very clear: "Dear young people," he wrote, "don't be afraid to marry."

Well, with St. Valentine's Day traditions so deeply-rooted in Christianity, you wouldn't expect to see it celebrated in Iran, of all places. But as Reza Sayah reports, the Islamic Republic is seeing more and more young couples openly share their love.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cuddly stuffed teddy bears, bouquets of red roses, sweets shaped like hearts, couples sharing hearts. One look around and it's obvious --

SAYAH (on camera): -- Valentine's Day is here.

SAYAH (voice-over): "It's a day of love," says Ali. A romantic dinner is what Ahmed is doing for his soon-to-be wife.

SAYAH (on camera): Here's what's not obvious: this is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

SAYAH (voice-over): Where Shia Islam is woven deeply into the fabric of public life, where conservative hard-liners have denounced Valentine's Day and deployed morality police to prowl for un-Islamic behavior. Even holding hands in public was risky if you weren't married.

But here's what's remarkable: many Iranians say things are changing. At this candy shop in northern Tehran, shoppers buy heart-shaped sweets to the tune of techno music. At flower shops, florists work overtime. Shopkeeper Meesaw Kozini (ph) says business is booming.

And it's no longer hard to find young unmarried Iranians freely holding hands and musing about love. "Love is an inner feeling, and we try to make sense of it," says Payman Nazari. "We want to make what we love part of our lives."

Many here credit first-year president Hassan Rouhani and his promise to relax social restrictions. Last year, for example, he banned morality police from arresting women based on their dress.

"It's much better this way," says Mariam (ph). "You feel more comfortable." But fear of repercussion by authorities still exists. Nowhere did we find the word "valentine" on gifts or sweets, and many are still wary that promoting Valentine's Day will lead to trouble.

SAYAH (on camera): This store's security guard preferred that we went away. What doesn't seem to be going away is Valentine's Day, in a country where 45 percent of the population is under 25, curious of Western-style romance and not afraid to show it.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.


FOSTER: And finally, in tonight's Parting Shots, after celebrating Valentine's Day the Iranian way, we turn to doom and gloom. It's said that roses are red and violets are blue, but that's not entirely true. Sometimes, they can be made black.


CAITLIN CARROLL, THE BLACK FLORIST: I'm a florist in a shop today, very macabre, dark, twisted florist that only sells black flowers. They are not going on sale, but we are giving them away today to the public. There's a donation of five pounds, which all the money will go to charity, and you will get a small, four-day-old rose and a few other bits and pieces to take away to give to your valentine.

The shop is open for one day only, today. We close when we sell out. And then we're gone, and we'll pop up somewhere else in the UK. We've had a lot of interest this week. There's been a lot of head pop in through the door. There has been a complete mix, from male to female to young to old. So, maybe the black rose is a new -- this year's valentine.

I think they're wonderful. I think they're absolutely stunning. There's no natural black flower that exists, so I think the curiosity is what's bringing people into the shop. But the flowers actually are dyed. You take the rose and you actually put it into black ink, and the ink comes through the stem, and that's what turns the rose black.

This is it. This is what happens when you become the black florist.


FOSTER: And they're going to be even darker by the end of the weekend, aren't they? I'm Max Foster, thank you for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Have a great weekend.