NATO woes decoded, UK’s post-drone, microchip in footballs, jail for dumbest thieves
May 18, 2022 Episode 99
Russia furious at NATO’s Nordic expansion, UK’s post-drones take off, possible microchip in Aussie footballs, jail for Hong Kong’s dumbest thieves
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the coolest news pool for curious kids and adults!
And boy do we need it – we’re still burning up here in HOT Delhi!
In world news this week…
Finland and Sweden might join NATO – we’ll remind you what that is and why Russia’s furious that its Nordic neighbors want in.
Also, drone delivery becomes a reality for the UK’s postal service.
Australia considers inserting microchips into footballs to help umpire the game with computer clarity.
And we have an update on the world’s dumbest thieves– who stole, then sold, an antique scroll for small change when it was worth millions.
This is Newsy Pooloozi.
I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and here’s my sidekick –
MAMA: I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: Also known as my Mama… Alrighty – let’s dive in with the…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: So if the news has been on in your house, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about NATO and the potential of new Nordic members joining the club and Russia being madder than before and now something about Turkey too, right?
LEELA: Yes, and my head is spinning (sighs).
MAMA: No kidding. Alright – let’s start at the beginning. Do you remember what NATO is? It also stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
LEELA: Ah, yes. It’s a club. But not like a fun club.
SFX OF KIDS PLAYING
LEELA: It is a defense club. And I don’t mean you get to hang around, practicing taekwondo either.
SFX OF KICKING
LEELA: It’s a club of 30 countries forming a military alliance.
MAMA: Correct. And is Russia part of it?
LEELA: Oh, no.
MAMA: Right. In fact, NATO was formed in 1949 with the purpose of providing protection against the USSR.
LEELA: As in the Soviet Union – the group of communist countries that used to be run by… Russia! So why NATO is still around if the Soviet Union isn’t?
MAMA: Good question. When it collapsed in 1991 the powers that be – by that, I mean primarily the US, which holds the most power in NATO – decided to keep it going.
MAMA: Well, power is power, I suppose. NATO wanted to support countries with the same world view of its own countries – like being free-market democracies.
LEELA: Hmmm. Then why not Russia? They’re not communist anymore and their people vote in elections.
MAMA: Hmmm. Well, there was something called the Russia-NATO Council twenty years ago. But when Russia invaded Ukraine 8 years ago and took over part of Ukraine called Crimea, all relations were suspended.
LEELA: Oh, yeah, I forgot the Ukraine-Russian war actually started in 2014. Man!
MAMA: I know… So Russia doesn’t like NATO and sees it as Western countries – that is, most of Europe, the US and Canada – trying to reduce Russia’s influence.
LEELA: Most of Europe, but not Ukraine, right?
MAMA: Correct. It wanted to join and that’s one of the reasons Russia invaded again in February of this year.
LEELA: But the plot is thickening, right, with the Nordic countries of Sweden and Finland “Russia’s” “neighbor” also wanting to join. And, again, Russia’s not happy. Scary.
MAMA: Totally. Both countries had always prided themselves on not being members of NATO, handling their own security themselves, but now… they want that protection.
MAMA: Oh, yeah, remember, the idea of a military alliance like NATO is all the countries defend each other if someone outside the club attacks.
LEELA: Right. That’s why NATO countries aren’t fighting with Ukraine, because Ukraine’s not part of the club.
LEELA: But if Finland and Sweden join…
MAMA: The plot does thicken. But there’s a twist… Turkey, which is also a NATO member, says they’re gonna block the entry of Sweden and Norway
LEELA: Why? And how?
MAMA: Well, you can’t join unless all the members say yes.
MAMA: And Turkey is holding a grudge against both countries for giving sanctuary to militants from Kurdistan, which it views as terrorists.
LEELA: Eyy-yii-yii! This is as complicated as a sixth-grade playground!
MAMA: Yeah… I think you just about summed it up
TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”
MAMA: And now, staying in Europe, but moving from politics to tech… So folks, it’s really starting to happen.
LEELA: Yep, the world with drones dropping off our mail from the sky is a reality. At least it is in some of the remotest corners of the United Kingdom.
MAMA: You know the UK is a bunch of islands right, two big ones and many teeny-tiny ones only reachable by boat.
LEELA: With some pretty silly names, by the way, literally in one case – ever hear of the Isles of Scilly. They’re for real folks.
MAMA: Well, spelt S-C-I-L-L-Y, though.
LEELA: The C is silent, meaning it’s well and truly silly. There’s also the Isle of Mull – where you can “mull” things over while you wait for your mail to arrive by boat or a polluting plane. (Sigh) Such silly things to mull over…
MAMA: But no more… With a “click” and a “drop” drones will deliver mail to far flung out-posts. For more let’s go to our England tech correspondent, Jackson Hosking.
LEELA: Take it away, Jackson!
JACKSON: Thanks, Leela.
So you know the question… “is it a bird?”
And “is it a plane?”
No… is the answer.
It’s a… “Mail drone.”
Royal Mail has been running a trial – that means practicing – this program on the Isle of Mull for a year-and-a-half trial.
Now it’s expanding its use of drones for deliveries, creating FIFTY new “postal drone routes” in remote parts of the United Kingdom.
Right now, ferries and conventional aircraft get posted to the small islands around the south of England and up near Scotland.
But they emit a lot of carbon, never mind they’re often affected by bad weather.
The new drone fleet will get the post delivered faster and most likely cheaper too.
But – best of all – it will be way more environmentally friendly.
The drones, which are about as long as a car, are autonomous – and that means they’ll be making the journey on their own without the help of humans.
But, no, sadly they won’t be delivering the mail directly to people’s homes.
They drop their 220 pound or 100 kg pile of mail at the local post office.
Then a postwoman or man delivers it to people’s doors.
Though you never know what the future might bring…
SFX OF A DOORBELL AND A DRONE
In the South of England, I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi
LEELA: Thanks a lot for that report, Jackson. Keep us “posted,” get it?
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: Protesters in Sri Lanka angry at the government’s handling of its worst economic crisis in 70 years – got their way with a new prime minister. But the South Asian nation is down to its last day of petrol and the central bank might have to print new money to pay government employees.
One of the most powerful symbols of American consumerism is shutting shop. Yes, McDonalds is selling off 850 outlets across the country. The 1990 opening of the first Mickey D’s in Moscow became a symbol of Russia embracing Western capitalism.
The eighth sandstorm to hit Iraq in the last month is sending at least 4,000 people to hospitals with breathing problems. The Middle East has always been battered by dust and sandstorms, but they’re becoming more frequent.
Speaking of dust… NASA is saying goodbye to its quake-hunting InSight lander earlier than it intended because of Martian dust landing on its solar panels. Meaning it’s running out of power and is stuck.
And finally, a man from Nepal set a new world record for climbing Mount Everest the most times. How many times has 52-year-old Kami Rita climbed the highest mountain in the world? 26 times!
LEELA: Thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.
MAMA: You’re most welcome, Leela.
SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”
MAMA: Hey, Leela.
LEELA: Hey, Mama.
MAMA: Did you hear about the new microchip technology that the Aussies may use in their football games?
LEELA: I cannot say that I did.
MAMA: Well, a suggestion has been made to the Australian football league, or Aussie Rules Football, to install – get this – install microchips inside their footballs.
LEELA: Wait a minute – as in a very small piece of silicon with electronic circuits on it that can perform logical operations and store the data?
MAMA: Well, well done. Yes, those. Inside the football.
LEELA: I guess anything is possible.
MAMA: It would be able to check whether a ball hit the post, was touched or had gone out of bounds.LEELA: Wowzers!
MAMA: It’s said it could revolutionize the game the way Hawkeye revolutionized tennis and cricket. Those are the cameras that Sony developed about 20 years ago to improve the accuracy of where the ball “landed.”
LEELA: That sounds like a productive way to combine sports and technology, buuut…
MAMA: But, what? It will make the game move faster and you can’t argue the “call “the way you can with officials. I know, I know. Why do we even need referees and umpires if chips and cameras make all the decisions?
LEELA: Exactly. Who would the crowd get mad at and “boo?”
MAMA: I hear ya. Who knows, pretty soon we may have robots running up and down the field making all the decisions;
LEELA: Oh, man.
MAMA: Don’t you mean, “Oh, machine…!”
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: It’s an odd story with an even odder update.
MAMA: Oh, is it top-up time?
LEELA: Yep – but first we’re gonna replay the story we did way back in the autumn of 2020 in episode 16.
MAMA: Oh, yay! We get to hear your sweet younger voice! Right… now.
LEELA: This story is about some very dumb art thieves…
MAMA: Yeah, if you’re going to steal high art, it’s a good idea to know what it is and how much it’s worth.
LEELA: This robbery took place in the island city of Hong Kong, just off the coast of China in broad daylight!
The thieves walked into an apartment building, pulled open an iron gate and burst through a wooden door to get inside.
Within two hours the burglars walked out with $500 million dollars’ worth of antique stamps, coins and scrolls with fancy calligraphy writing.
The thieves knew the apartment belonged to Fu Chunxiao.
He’s a well-known collector of stamps and art produced during the communist revolution last century.
The thieves also seemed to know he wasn’t at home – but was on the mainland of China because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What they didn’t know…………. How valuable their booty was!
And so when they went to sell off their stolen treasure, well they didn’t think twice about cutting the most prized possession… in half!
It was a valuable piece of calligraphy written by the famous revolutionary leader and founder of Communist China: Chairman Mao.
The thieves clearly didn’t know how precious it was.
They just thought it was… too long to hang up.
And so snip, snip, snip.
MAMA: Why, thank you young Leela for that story we did a year-and-a-half ago.
LEELA: Most welcome. Only now we know it wasn’t thieves who did the cutting. We’ve got an update!
TOP-UP TIME STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Go on give me a top up, please? It’s top-up time. Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Top-up time! Now? Yeah, now. It’s top-up time.”
LEELA: Right, so now we know the booty’s value is closer to $645million dollars, not $500 million.
MAMA: Woah – that’s a grand theft!
LEELA: Yeah, but these dumb thieves had no idea and sold it to an amateur collector – meaning not an art expert – for WAAAAAY less. For instance, guess how much they got for the scroll, which alone was worth $300 million dollars.
MAMA:Okay, A million dollars.
LEELA: Not even close.
MAMA: A hundred thousand dollars
LEELA: Nowhere near that. You won’t believe how much. I had to check it like five times to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.
MAMA: Go on.
LEELA: They sold the $300 million dollar scroll… for less than… $25!
MAMA: $25 dollars, that’s it…. No way!
LEELA: Yep. And it was the amateur collector who didn’t know how precious the scroll was and cut it in half, so it could be more easily stored. Now we know
MAMA: Well, that’s what you get for not researching your work.
LEELA: Totally. They were all sent to jail for up to two-and-a-half years.
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 – Russia is not happy Sweden and neighbors Finland might join NATO. What does NATO stand for?
North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – And what, in practical terms, is NATO?
A defense club, a military alliance, with members defending each other if someone outside the club attacks
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Autonomous drones will be dropping mail to remote islands in the United Kingdom. What are autonomous drones?
Drones making a journey on their own without the help of humans.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Australia considers inserting microchips into footballs to help umpire the game with computer clarity. What is a microchip?
A very small piece of silicon with electronic circuits on it that can perform logical operations and store the data. How can all of that fit in one microchip? Technology is amazing.
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Three people have been jailed in Hong Kong for stealing art said to be worth millions, including a calligraphy scroll written by Chairman Mao. Who was he?
The founder of Communist China
And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, and then go to the Lucky Dip 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 almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!
But first… do you know what next week is? Have you been counting?
LEELA: Next week is a celebration of curiosity. As in us! Newsy Pooloozi – what curious kids listen to?
MAMA: We’re about to produce our…
LEELA: Wait for it…
LEELA: Wait for it…
LEELA: Okay YES!
BOTH: Our hundredth episode!
LEELA: And you’ll never believe who we have as a special guest next week.
MAMA: Here’s a clue: wowzers!
LEELA: Podcast fans, be ready to squeal! Like I did.
MAMA: And if you, too, want to be a part of our 100th episode, tell us what word pops into your head when you hear:
LEELA: Newsy Pooloozi.
MAMA: Also how do you define curiosity?
LEELA: And – which would you prefer – curiosity, money or power?
MAMA: Seriously. We want to know. And there are no wrong answers.
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LEELA: Alrighty then, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!