Brink of extinction, mapping Mars, gaming console wars, France’s floating cinema and cycling’s Everesting craze

Jul 15, 2020 Episode 03

Find out why some lemurs and whales are almost extinct, why NASA needs your help, the big fight in video game consoles, the best socially distant event EVER and how the world’s highest mountain is inspiring a cycling craze that’s getting a boost because of the pandemic.

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Newsy Pooloozi!”




LEELA: Hello and welcome to our third episode of Newsy Pooloozi.


I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.


MAMA: And I’m her side-kick, I mean her mom, I mean her producer, or the big story explainer…


LEELA: And since she’s Texan, but we’re broadcasting from India…




LEELA: This week on Newsy Pooloozi we’ll hear which species are fighting for survival, why NASA needs your help, what’s happening in the “console wars” in the gaming world. We’ll find out which European city is about to host the best social distancing event of the summer and what mountain has inspired a whole new cycling craze.


And our lucky dip is a double dip all about…  pandemic paranoia.


But first… let’s hear a wrap from the biggest news stories of the week.


MAMA: Around the World in 80 seconds


LEELA: “Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”


MAMA: The World Health Organization is warning that the COVID19 pandemic is going to get worse and worse, unless countries around the world follow precautions. This comes as US President Trump makes moves to stop supporting the Organization. Though it’s worth noting… Trump did finally wear a face mask in public after months of reluctance.


In the central European country, Serbia, people are angry at their government’s handling of the pandemic. Protesters in the capital city, Belgrade, have taken to the streets five nights in a row. Over 70 people were arrested for trying to storm parliament that means they were trying attack the building where laws are made.


In India three generations of the country’s most beloved showbiz family have contracted COVID19. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, his son and daughter-in-law, also actors and his granddaughter… are down with the virus but… on the road to recovery.


Finally… Disney World reopens (despite the surge of coronavirus cases in Florida), but only to those who wear their masks…. On the other side of the world, a theme park in Japan is banning all screaming… So, if you can’t keep your mouth shut on those crazy roller coasters, you can’t ride.


LEELA: Whoooo… Thanks for that fast flash around the world. And now… it’s time to tackle… the Big News Story of the Week.


MAMA: It’s catastrophic news…




MAMA: That’s a fancy word for disaster, but in a sudden “can’t go back to the way it was” kind of way.


LEELA: Now you’re scaring me.


MAMA: It’s catastrophic… for lemurs and whales.


LEELA: Huh?!


MAMA: International Union for the Conservation of Nature – a big group of people concerned about the earth and conserving, or saving, nature… they come out with something called the “Red List” every year. And you know what red symbolizes, right?




MAMA: Yes. Or danger…. It’s the Red List of threatened or endangered species”. They began compiling this list over 60 years ago and it’s become the most comprehensive, or full, source of information on… animals, plants, even fungus… that are about to become extinct. And you know what extinct means right?


LEELA: Gone. Forever. Like the dinosaurs.


MAMA: And now maybe the lemurs… Well, a third of their species, anyway.


LEELA: Not Lemurs! Those little-bitty, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed monkeys…


MAMA: Primates, to be exact. With black and white rings on their tales.


LEELA: Not all. Just the Ring-Tailed Lemurs.


MAMA: Ohh… Listen to you!


MAMA: Ahhh… So, as we’ve established, they’re super cute in fact if your ever in need of a smile, then do a search on lemur images here’s let’s do it, alright typing l e m u r ok and prepare to spend five minutes going…


MAMA/LEELA: Ahhh… Look at that one… Oh, scroll down, LOOK. At. That!


MAMA: OK, back to story. The catastrophe is not just that they’re being hunted… But that their habitat that’s the place they live in, the forest of Madagascar off the coast of Africa is being destroyed.


LEELA: It’s called deforestation right? Basically, getting rid of the forest that these cutey pies live in.


MAMA: Correct. And it’s not just the lemurs on the RED LIST that have moved from endangered to critically endangered. Let’s cut across the world and into the ocean…


The North Atlantic Right Whales are one step from extinction too… You know there are only around 250 of these things thought to be left on earth or in the ocean


LEELA: Why? It’s not like humans are taking away THEIR habitat.


MAMA: No… but global warming thanks to humans means warmer sea temperatures are driving away their prey, so naturally, the whales go swimming after them into new seas where there are more boats. Most of these North Atlantic Right Whales are dying from bumping into ships or…  getting entangled in fishing nets. Sad, huh?


LEELA: Yeah…


MAMA: But you know it’s not just oh, poor whales, poor lemurs… I mean, it’s also poor humans.


LEELA: We’re not extinct!


MAMA: No, not yet, thank goodness. But you know, this business of warming waters and deforestation… we’re really changing the planet. And when we destroy the habitats of animals, humans become more exposed to unusual animals, germs and even diseases that have otherwise been deep in the forests or jungles. Like the coronavirus. Scientists link habitat destruction with increased risk of wildlife diseases spilling over to us, humans.


LEELA: Oh, boy. Every story is linked to the coronavirus these days!


MAMA: Sadly, yes. Well, many anyway.

But you’ll be pleased to know our next story has nothing at all to do with the coronavirus. Because it’s… “out of this world”.


LEELA: Ohhh…. Yeah! Good one, mama. Well, you guys will have to keep listening to know what is she means…


LEELA: Now it’s time for…


RUN STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow… In other words -science!


LEELA: So, you’ve probably heard about different rovers on Mars


MAMA: They’re those robot-like vehicles, that look like big, metal spiders with huge wheels, that go exploring, or roving, across the red planet collecting samples of the soil, the rocks, even liquids if there is any and, of course, they take lots of photos.


LEELA: Big spiders I get it. That’s right. But sometimes they run into problems, like when a rover, called Spirit, got stuck in a sand trap over ten years ago and never managed to get out!


MAMA: And other times they can just get run down… The terrain, or ground surface, on Mars is seriously tough… NASA’s Curiosity Rover has been on Mars for eight years even though it’s only covered 22-and-a-half kilometers, which is not very far.


LEELA: But the information it’s gathered, including hundreds of thousands of pictures, has been valuable in helping scientists understand what Mars is REALLY like.


MAMA: But… the Rovers wheels are wearing out…


LEELA: Poor Curiosity…


MAMA: And there’s service station on Mars…


LEELA: Yeah… and no Martian mechanic either!




LEELA: guess what? YOU can help!

Well, we all can!


MAMA: NASA is asking for space enthusiasts to help it label thousands of photos from Mars. It will feed those labeled photos into a big AI – or artificial intelligence computer and program it to, more quickly, identify the different kinds of ground surfaces on the planet.


LEELA: This means the AI computer can spot patterns humans might not have noticed, like terrain never “seen” or photographed before.


MAMA: Ah, so Curiosity can just head to those new, unexplored places more quickly?!


LEELA: Bingo! But only if ordinary folks with a little bit of time can help label those photos.


MAMA: Otherwise… Curiosity might get stuck like the Spirit Rover did. And we don’t want to kill curiosity, do we?


LEELA: Of course, we don’t… Or dampen its spirit.




LEELA: Coming down to earth, but staying plugged…

RUN STING: “It’s time for… Technology News, technology news, tech news!”

LEELA: All right gamers, listen up – this one’s for you. Hey, hey, hey… Put your weapons,

I mean games, I mean consoles – away and listen up! We’re going to find out more about the… Console Wars! Which is it going to be? PlayStation or Xbox that comes out with the best console first? Let’s go across to our tech reporter, Jackson Hosking, who’s gonna to tell us more.

JACKSON: It’s simply one of the hottest tech stories at the moment. The new PlayStation 5, or PS5, as we like to call it and the Xbox Series X are both coming out soon.

Sony (the PlayStation creators) and Microsoft (the Xbox creators) have a long history of making consoles.

They also have a history of competing to get the best console out first! We still don’t know when either console is actually going to be available to buy or how much it will cost.

Think of it is as Console Wars! There’s a MASSIVE debate online right now.  People from both sides are talking about which console will be better.

Now, let us get to some of the specs we’ve heard so far, and if you didn’t know, specs are short for specifications – which means what’s inside a certain gadget.

I saw the new PS5 console during a reveal event online. It’s black and white and stands up, like a tower.

People are saying it could be over 35 centimeters tall That’s longer than your average school ruler!

LEELA: So, Jackson, if it’s standing up, how will it fit onto people’s shelves at home?

JACKSON: Good question apparently you can also lay it down on its side. PlayStation has also built an amazing storage drive. This means it boots up in seconds and there are little to no load screens. This feature is also cool if you’re a fan of the game Ratchet & Clank – which is a PEGI 7

LEELA: Wait, what? Did you say, the video game called Ratchet and Clank is Peggy 7 meaning it’s ok for kids 7 years and older? Whoo-hoo for me! Sorry, you were saying the new storage drive means it can load up fast…

JACKSON: It’s so fast, there’s no loading screen as you pass between different in-game worlds. This was demonstrated on the PS5 online event.

LEELA: No loading screens as you pass between different worlds? Again… Whoo-hoo! And what about the latest Xbox?

JACKSON: Well, the Xbox Series X console also stands upright, like a tower! It’s black and shaped like a rectangle. It can also lie down on its side, just like its rival, the PS5. The Xbox Series X is meant to be the fastest and most powerful Xbox consul so far.

And again, like the PS5, it also promises less waiting or loading times. Xbox also says the new console has a clever way of staying cool with its built-in fan that is so quiet, it won’t interrupt your gaming! That’s always a good thing, in my opinion!

LEELA: Thank you Jackson! I suppose we won’t really know the differences between them until they’re launched and people can get their hands on them.

JACKSON: Yeah, absolutely. No idea of actual prices or release dates yet. The one thing both the PS5 and Xbox Series X creators DO agree on, is that they aim to launch their consuls sometime during the holidays this year!

LEELA: Yeah, just in time for Xmas and Diwali, no doubt! Thanks, Jackson! Jackson…? Jackson…? I think he’s gone back to his console… That was Jackson xxx reporting from England.  Staying in Europe,  it’s now time for the ACE part of our podcast.

STING: Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture, and /or Entertainment.


LEELA: And for this week’s ace story we need a little of this…




LEELA: Dance with me, Mama…


MAMA: Under the bed?


LEELA: Mama… you’re not supposed to tell people… this is where we record…


MAMA: Ummm… I might have let that cat out of the bag…


LEELA: Huh? Anyway, back to the music… Guess where we are?


MAMA: Not under the bed?


LEELA: (cough)


MAMA: Ok… this music… Alright alright alright… this is the accordion, so somewhere in France?


LEELA: Paris, the capital city… to be exact!


MAMA: Ahhh! The home of high fashion… the even higher Eiffel Tower… French food (obviously –though not, believe it or not, French fries) … and, officially, the most visited city in the world.


LEELA: Yep. Where they’ve come up with the best EVER socially-distanced way of going to the cinema. Hop on board!!


MAMA: Ahh, right… It’s the Cinema on the Water or as the French say.


WOMAN SAYING IN FRENCH: Cinema on the Water


LEELA: This week 38 boats which each can seat up to six people will all be docked in front of a huuuuumongous screen on the River Sein for a truly unique movie experience.


MAMA: It’s kicking off this really cool event, or transformation, that takes place every summer, called Paris Plages (like plaque) that means Paris Beaches. Now… Paris is in the middle of France… it’s nowhere near a beach. But about 15 years ago the mayor of the city decided to turn the banks of the River Seine (like Quinn) into temporary, artificial beaches…  just for the fun of it.


LEELA: Oh, I wish they would do that here in Delhi…


MAMA: Yeah, wouldn’t that be so cool? First, they need to clean up the River Yamuna and figure out how to get more water in it. But that’s a story for another day…

But you know, you’re on to something though. Sometimes when one city does something cool like this Cinema on the Water, it inspires other mayors or leaders of others towns and cities to put on similar events. So, if anyone listening finds out their town is doing something cool or creative for their citizens in these strange COVID-19 times let us know.


LEELA: Send us an email please. I love to get email! to contact@newsyjacuzzi.com. Ok ok Enough dancing…


Moving on… It’s now time for…


SPORTS STING – “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”


LEELA: Only we don’t really have the sound for the sport we’re doing… Or the place that inspires it… Here, let’s try this… Ewww, burrrrrrr…


That’s right. Today we’re heading to the mountains. Let’s go to our reporter in north India, Amvi Tripathi, who’s in the foothills of the Himalayas.


AMVI: That’s right Leela. I’m in the Indian hill town, Dehradun, which is in the Doon Valley on the foothills of the Himalayas. The Himalayas is a looooonng mountain range. It has many of the highest mountains… in the world… including the highest of them all Mount Everest!!!


How high? Eight-thousand, eight-hundred, and forty-eight meters. (Or 29-thousand feet for you Americans.) Many people climb it, but it’s way too icy and rocky to ride your bicycle up!

But guess what?


The height of Everest has inspired a whole new cycling challenge called. “Everesting.”

But it’s not for any ordinary cyclist like me! But for super strong and super committed cyclists.


Basically, they pick any hill anywhere in the world and ride up and down up and down…


Over and over again… until they reach that magic number:  eight-thousand, eight-hundred, and forty-eight meters 8,848 the height of Everest.  That’s commitment!!! But I know what you’re thinking. Eight-thousand, eight-hundred, and forty-eight meters is only 8-point-8 kilometers! And that’s like cycling to school and back. Easy peasy, right….?   Wrong!!!!


It takes A LOT of energy and effort to cycle up, up, up UP-HILL!


And you might not be that surprised to know…


SFX Cycle


Eve resting is a sporting challenge that’s really taken off during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why? Because you don’t have to go anywhere – just find a nice, steep hill closest to your home and… get going. Up and down… up and down… up and down……!

This is Amvi Tripathi reporting from Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: And finally… Our lucky dip, just for the fun of it story – well, it’s tied this week.

The lucky dip machine has grabbed two goodies.


MAMA: And they’re both about Leela’s favorite topic – COVID19, the coronavirus!!!


LEELA: I know, I know, but trust me, they’re both really funny.


MAMA: And what’s really fascinating, is they’re both on the paranoia spectrum… but at two different ends.


LEELA: Paranoia, what?!


MAMA: Ok, first things first. Let’s talk about paranoia. So, you know how we’re all super careful now about making sure our hands are clean?


LEELA: Oh, yes, I do, Mama!


MAMA: And making sure we don’t touch our faces… We’re even being careful about products we buy, things we bring into the house, right? That’s because we’re trying to be careful not to catch the virus… But sometimes being careful can get the better of us… and make us–


LEELA: paranoid!


MAMA: Yeah ok, But hold on, do you know what that means?


LEELA: Cautious or, like, careful.


MAMA: Right, but in an extreme way. Like when we hear a funny noise at night and think the worst… We know there’s no monster there, we know monsters aren’t real, but sometimes we get a little paranoid that there could be a monster or something bad out there. So, while some of us have been getting a little paranoid about the virus and, with reason, because it’s so new, even the experts weren’t sure how it spread right, but others aren’t very paranoid or careful at all… So, it’s a spectrum, like a rainbow extreme paranoia on one end and relaxed caution on the other. Got it?


LEELA: Mmmmphhhhmmph


MAMA: SO, you know the story what we do first… extreme or relaxed??


LEELA: Extreme.


MAMA: Good choice. So, if you’re extremely paranoid, what do you do if you want to go to the library and check out a book during a pandemic?


LEELA: Wear gloves?


MAMA: Could do. What else?


LEELA: Leave it in the sun?


MAMA: Yep, the sun’s ultraviolet rays kill germs. But do you open every page?


LEELA: Hmmmm.


MAMA: Well, you should NOT do is what some folks have done in the US – and probably elsewhere in the world. Cook their books!


LEELA: Yep, don’t put your books in the microwave. Wait, what’s that noise?


SFX Microwave open/shut, popcorn popping, zapping noises


MAMA: Oh, I’m making popcorn…




MAMA: Yeah, because popcorn, potatoes, last night’s pasta, well they all go in the microwave. Books do not! That’s right, in recent weeks, there’ve been multiple cases of book lovers attempting to kill COVID-19…


LEELA: by nuking them in the microwave.


MAMA: And this is not a good idea as Though you might not realize it, many library books have little metal security strips in them. And metal and microwaves…




MAMA: So, just to be clear, I’d like to go across to the United States and speak to one of America’s sharpest librarians, Jean Ferguson from Smith College to give us this public service announcements:


JEAN: (talking about not putting books in the library)


MAMA: Yes ma’am. Thank you, Jean Ferguson. Got it?


LEELA: Got it.


MAMA: So that’s too far on the spectrum of paranoia. Whereas in Germany seems some otherwise rule obeying people are wearing their masks.


LEELA: But the wrong way.


MAMA: The masks are on, and covering their mouth,


LEELA: but not their noses. And, well, infected droplets of air… can escape from the nose not just the mouth. But what’s really oddddddd…


MAMA: Is the solution that a train and bus company in the German city of Berlin have come up with.


LEELA: Rather than be heavy handed and demand that the masks are worn correctly…


MAMA: they have a different strategy.


LEELA: A stinky secret weapon.


MAMA: Body odor!!


LEELA: Peee-yuu!


MAMA: In a billboard campaign, they’re asking their passengers to not wear deodorant that’s the stuff adults put on under their arms to stop from smelling especially in the hot summer months, like… now!


LEELA: Peee-yuu! That would make me cover my nose!


MAMA: That’s the idea!




LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!


And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!

If you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do subscribe to our podcast, and while you’re at it…


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So, you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!