Giant seaweed blob, JUICE rockets to Jupiter, NYC’s “rat czar,” Happy Vaisakhi

Apr 19, 2023 Episode 147

Giant seaweed blob – sargassum – head to Florida, JUICE rockets to Jupiter, Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi and New York’s “rat czar”

Episode Transcript

Episode 147

 LEELA: This week – giant blobs of seaweed, JUICE rockets to Jupiter, Sikh’s celebrate Vaisakhi and New York’s “rat czar.”

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults!

This week…

Have you heard about the giant blob of seaweed heading for Florida? Never fear, we have a special report from the sunshine state to give us the real score.

And the JUICE rocket takes off for Jupiter – no, we’re not talking rockets full of apple juice and OJ but a big moon mission.

Sikhs all over the world celebrate Vaisakhi.

And the Big Apple has a big rodent problem – find out how who’s gonna “rat them out!”


LEELA: I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder – otherwise known as my… mama!

MAMA: Hello, hello. I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: Alrighty then, let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA:  So, a lot of you have probably been hearing about the giant blob of seaweed heading for Florida, right?

LEELA: Yeah, I saw it on the PBS website. It’s a 5,000-mile-wide seaweed belt lurking in the Atlantic Ocean! Yuck! It’s more like science fiction, if you ask me.

MAMA: I know, right? Well, while we don’t wanna argue with PBS, it might not be as bad as feared, at least not by the time it reaches the beaches.

LEELA: Phew!

MAMA: This week, we thought we’d better head to Florida – to talk to our correspondent there, Lani Power, for the lowdown.

LEELA: Who’s just come back from Miami Beach, in fact. Over to you, Lani.

LANI: Most beachgoers are used to seeing seaweed piled up in the water and on the shore.

But have you heard of the news reports that have been swirling around the massive band of algae coming our way.

The Space Coast Tourism Office has even started calling it “Seaweed-ageddon”!

While the news reports may be exaggerating somewhat, it is true that we’re going to see a lot of seaweed this summer.

You see, sargassum as this is officially called is a type of brown algae that floats on the top of the ocean.

While it’s an important habitat for sea creatures, once Sargassum washes up on shores it quickly becomes a nuisance.

Some people are already complaining of rashes and headaches.

But the real threat is to our noses.

That’s because it doesn’t take long in the harsh Florida sun to decompose, giving off a pungent smell similar to that of rotten eggs.

Not exactly what most people are looking for when they plan a trip to the seaside…

From what I saw a couple weeks ago on a trip to Miami it wasn’t so much an enormous blub of algea – more like patches of seaweed floating on the water.

Scientists predict that the majority of the Sargassum will arrive on beaches in a couple of months.

Bad news for tourism, which is the third largest industry in Florida, and it employs 1.7 million people in tourism related jobs, so it’s kind of a big deal.

While I’m glad Florida isn’t going to be eaten by a giant ooze monster, it’s going to take some planning and quick action to stop people’s vacations from becoming an odiferous outing.

In Florida I’m Lani Power, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, Lani! Wow – odiferous, huh? That sure is a fancy way to say stinky!

MAMA: And by the way, if you want to see what this stuff really looks like, the Wall Street Journal has done a fabulous photo essay on this story, which will give you a real indication of just what Florida’s in for – yes, there’s a link in our transcript!

[SOURCE:  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/a-5000-mile-seaweed-belt-is-headed-toward-the-coast-of-florida


LEELA: Moving on

MAMA: So, I want to ask our listeners… what’s the longest trip you’ve ever been on?

LEELA: Do I get to answer?

MAMA: Sure girl.

LEELA: Well, 13 hours in the air from New Delhi to New York was looooong, I can tell ya…

MAMA: Completely. Makes those 8-hour flights seem easy-peasy. But what would you think about 8 years of travelling?

LEELA: Excuse me?

MAMA: Well, that’s how long it’s taking for JUICE to travel.

LEELA: OK, now I’m really confused.

MAMA: Well, here to clear things up is our correspondent in Germany, Nandani Parikh with some… space news!

NANDINI: Move over Mars- Jupiter is all the rage now!

At least in the world of space exploration.

What’s that?


JUICE taking off.

Ok, not a rocket full of OJ, but the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – aka JUICE – blasting off thanks to the European Space Agency and it’s controlled at Mission Headquarters here in Germany.

Juice plans to study Jupiter and its moons.

Well, not all 80 of them yes, the huge planet has 80 natural satellites.

But just the three largest moons will be studied, because they are thought to hold larger quantities of water below their surface.

Yes, this is a mission to see if there are other places we can inhabit besides Earth!

It’s gonna take nearly eight years for JUICE to arrive.

Gosh, I’ll be preparing to go to college by then!

In Germany I’m Nandini Parikh, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks for that report, Nandini!

MAMA: Yes, we love us some juicy space news, don’t we?

LEELA: You just couldn’t resist, could you?

MAMA: Nope!

[SOURCE: https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/04/14/esas-juice-mission-launches-on-its-6-billion-km-journey-to-explore-jupiter-and-its-icy-moo


WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”

MAMA: Fox News settles a big lawsuit, paying out nearly $800 million dollars after being accused of defaming, as in hurting the reputation of, the voting machine company, Dominion. The US cable news network spread false claims the vote had been rigged against Donald Trump.

The east African country of Sudan is under the grip of deadly fighting between its army and a paramilitary group in the capital of Khartoum. Two rival generals had agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire as residents are low on food and water, but the sounds of heavy gunfire and warplanes are shattering hopes of that.

Tick-tock – time is up for TikTok in Australia. Well, partly. The popular video social media app will be banned from all Australian government devices because of security concerns about the Chinese-owned platform.

And how much does an old dinosaur skeleton cost? Well, a 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex – described as ‘one of the most spectacular T. rex skeletons in existence’ – was bought by a private individual for a cool $6.2million. Talk about a roaring rate!

LEELA: Well, thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.”

MAMA: I think that’s the clearest you ever said that Leela. Anytime, Leela.

 ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”

MAMA: And when we say culture, we mean festivals. Yes, it might be a hundred degrees here in Delhi, but just a few days ago was one of the last of the many spring festivals celebrated here in India.

LEELA: Happy Vaisakhi! Ok – no idea what that means? To be honest, I have loads of Sikh friends and even I didn’t know what that means until last week!

MAMA: And, as Sikhism is one of the major religions here in India, that started not far from us in the state of Punjab, it is surprising. We did not know about it. But we do pride ourselves on finding out and all the cool festivals and cultural traditions all over the world, here we are about look into Vaisakhi!

LEELA: So, what is the festival celebrating and how did it originate?

MAMA: Well, actually, it was originally for hundreds if not thousands of years it was a harvest festival for Hindus, many of whom still get up early in the morning, heading to rivers, canals and even ponds, for a ritual cleansing dip in the water.

LEELA: Oh, cool. I get it.

MAMA: But for Sikhs it was also on that day some 300 years ago that their tenth guru – as spiritual leader – formalized many aspects of the faith, unifying the religion, creating an order, like a denomination or community within the community, called Khalsa. And of course, today it’s celebrated with music, prayers and, of course, food!

LEELA: Yumm! I feel more enlightened about a festival that happens every spring – right under my nose!

MAMA: And, speaking of prayers, food and celebrations but switching religions entirely – Muslims are going to celebrate the end of the month-long fasting of Ramadan with the big Eid celebration. And if you want to know more, then dive into our archive and check out our explainer on Eid in Episode 46 and Eid celebrations around the world in Episode 96.

[SOURCE: https://www.sikhpa.com/campaigns/sikhvaisakhi/


LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: Odd and kinda yuck.

MAMA: Again?

LEELA: Oh, yeah, I think the oddball machine likes to… freak us out!

MAMA: OK. Let me get some freak out music, “Ah, freak out…”

LEELA: Okay okay okay…!


LEELA: So, do you know what this is?


MAMA: Ummm…


MAMA: Oh… is it… little horrible squeaky rodents?

LEELA: Right. Except there’s nothing little about these rats! Turns out the Big Apple – as in New York City – has a BIG rat problem.

MAMA: Yuck…

LEELA: Never fear – the rat czar is here.

KATHLEEN CORRADI, NYC RAT CZAR: There’s a new sheriff in town. You’ll be seeing a lot of me – and a lot less rats.

LEELA: That’s Kathleen Corradi – a former schoolteacher who hates rats. So much she’s made it her life’s work to rid schools of the horrid creatures. And now she’s taking on America’s most populous city, where rat sightings have jumped in recent years. Back in 2014 a study estimated there were two million rats in the city. That’s one rat for every four residents. Nine years ago. Today… the number is likely to be even higher!

MAMA: Yiiick! Better her than me.


LEELA: Yep. That’s why she’s being called the Rat Czar.

MAMA: Czar, of course, is the old title for the emperor of Russia, but has come to mean someone with a lot of power in a particular activity.

LEELA: Yep – let’s hope her power and disgust sends New York City’s rats packing.

[SOURC: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-york-citys-first-rat-czar-will-fight-its-rodents-180981994/



FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – A giant, stinky blob of seaweed is drifting toward the Gulf of Mexico, heading for Florida. What’s the official name of brown algae that floats on the top of the ocean?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Scientists say seaweed is likely to come ashore by summer to create a rotting, odiferous mess. What does odiferous mean?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – aka JUICE – blasted off on a mission to study Jupiter’s three largest moons. How many moons does the big planet have?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – People of the Sikh religion are celebrating Vaisakhi – a spring festival that also celebrates the founding of one Sikh community in particular. What are they called?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – New York City hires its first-ever “rat czar,” in an effort to clear the city of its 2 million rats.  Where does the word czar originate from?


And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip Blog page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that’s all we have this week – except…

MAMA: Oh, you know –

LEELA: Thank you for the thank you, Tara Bhathena!

MAMA: Yes, she left us a review on Apple Podcast that said:

LEELA: “I love this podcast. It’s a fun and non-intense way to listen to the news. I found it through the past, and the curious.”

MAMA: Why thank you to our friends at the Past and The Curious – another great podcast all about history you should definitely check out.

LEELA: And thank you Tara – seriously!

MAMA: Yes!

BOTH: (sings)* Thank you!


LEELA: What about you? Did you enjoy this dip in the coolest pool of news and information? Well, then SMASH that subscribe button, OK? And while you’re at it – leave us a review!

MAMA: We’ll read it out loud if you do!

LEELA: Until next Wednesday then…

MAMA: Have a good week!

BOTH: Bye!!!