Sahara Desert dust storm, lost Amazon boys, UK solar tunnel, otter escort

Mar 23, 2022 Episode 91

Kid News This Week: Sahara dust storm darkens Spain, Ukraine’s “wonder woman,” boys lost in Amazon found, UK solar tunnel, special escort for otters

Episode Transcript


OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults! 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: And this week on Newsy Pooloozi… A huge dust storm is swirling across Europe from the Sahara Desert making it hard for people to breath in parts of Spain – we’ll tell you why it’s happening.

Hear the tale of one of Ukraine’s  most heroic soldiers, who also happens to be a mother of 12, as we give you the latest on the war.

Speaking of super heroes, you won’t believe how long two young brothers survived being lost in the Amazon rain forest.

Ever heard of a sunshine tunnel? Well, that’s what we like to call the underwater cable taking solar energy from Morocco to the UK.

And, finally, guess what adorable creatures got special escort to cross the road in Singapore? Well, you’ll just have to listen to the end to find out.

LEELA: But first, it’s time for…

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

MAMA: Have you seen the pictures from Spain this week?

LEELA: Yeah, it looks like Armageddon!

MAMA: Oh, look at you with those big fancy words. Yes, it does kind of look like the end of the world.

LEELA: Or it looks like a bad winter’s day here in New Delhi.

MAMA: Yes, only it’s not pollution that’s causing that peachy-yellow-orange haze. It’s good old fashioned dust.

LEELA: Oh, we have that here too. When the desert loo blows in.

MAMA: Yes, the loo being those strong, dry and dusty wind storms which come off the desert in the height of summer.

LEELA: Not a toilet, in case you were wondering.

MAMA: Not that kind of a loo, indeed. Well, this is even bigger than the loos of India and Pakistan (don’t laugh, you know what we mean) – this was a huge dust storm swirling over Europe from the Sahara Desert, making it hard to breathe in large parts of Spain.

LEELA: Uh oh.

MAMA: And it’s going so far up north it’s making extra cleaning work for people as far away as Paris and London.

LEELA: Again, something we know well here in India where if you don’t mop your floors EVERY day the bottom of your feet get filthy. I should know!

MAMA: Well, the Sahara isn’t far from Spain, which sits just above North Africa. Every year a large dust cloud rises from the Sahara Desert, though it usually heads west across the Atlantic. But sometimes a layer of dust breaks away and heads north to Spain. So let’s cut across to our trusty Spanish correspondents…

LEELA: Nina and Marky Granena in Barcelona for more on this annual phenomenon.

N/M: Thanks, you guys.

We gotta say it sure is dusty over here.

Luckily in our part of Spain it’s not super bad.

The skies aren’t hazy orange like in other parts of the country, like the capital Madrid.

In Madrid they are warning people to keep their doors and windows closed.

And not to go outside unless you’re wearing masks.

Our grandmother says she’s not feeling well because it’s hard to breathe the desert dust that’s in the air.

Though this year is bad, it’s not uncommon.

In fact, there’s even a special word for when there’s sand or dust in the air – “calima.”

The calima dust storm is so large you can see it from space.

One scientist said it was like a “river of dust.”

And guess what?

These dust storms are likely to get worse thanks to climate change.

In Barcelona, I’m Nina Granena

And I’m Marky Granena

Reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks a lot, you guys. I had no idea you get these dust storms too.

MAMA: Yes, and like we said, this year is so bad it’s spreading further, creeping up through France and the UK with some saying it might get as far north as Denmark.

LEELA: That’s a lot of dust cloths and mops needed then.

MAMA: Yep. And now let’s turn our attention to the bigger news story in Europe – the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


LEELA: It’s been a bad week for the millions of Ukrainians being bombarded by Russian troops.

MAMA: Sadly, yes. You might have heard this week that theatres, schools and shopping centers have been hit.

LEELA: Hang on – isn’t everything closed?

MAMA: Well, yes, they are. But these places are being used as shelters for people to take cover in.

LEELA: But they’re being bombed?

MAMA: Many have been, yes.

LEELA: Ooooph.

MAMA: Of course it will be weeks, if not months, before the extent of the damage and number of lives lost is really known. But there are dozens of stories of heroism, sacrifice and generosity.

LEELA: Like the wonder woman story.

MAMA: Yes, that was something – Olga Semidyanova – the 48-year-old combat doctor – who’s also a mother of 12 children, six of whom she adopted.

LEELA: Big heart!

MAMA: Mmmhmmm. She reportedly continued to battle Russian forces even though most of her unit had been killed and she, herself, was fatally wounded.

LEELA: (breaths deeply) And the peace talks?

MAMA: Well, there’ve been at least six rounds now and no solid cease-fire – that means when both sides put their weapons down.

LEELA: And stop firing.

MAMA: Yep. Never mind foreign troops going home. But the fact that they are continuing to talk indicates both sides still see hope of peace. And Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy described the talks as beginning to “sound more realistic.”

LEELA: Well, that’s something!

MAMA: True. Now, let’s move on from Ukraine, but stay with the heroic theme, shall we?

LEELA: I’m always up for a bit of hero talk.


MAMA: So, it’s come to our attention that there are often stories of great heroism and bravery.

LEELA: Or just smarts under pressure.

MAMA: Or keeping calm under pressure.

LEELA: Either way – we’ve got a new segment: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super hero story!’


MAMA: So, Leela, how long do you think you’d survive lost in the Amazon rainforest?

LEELA: What?!

MAMA: A week?

LEELA: You kidding, a day – two, max! The fright of snakes would kill me if the real ones didn’t!

MAMA: Never mind foraging for food – knowing what’s safe to eat and what’s –


MAMA: Well, two young boys were lost for four weeks in the Amazon!

LEELA: Whaaat?

MAMA: And when I say young, I mean talking about an 8 and 6-year-old.

LEELA: Oh, woa – they must have been sooooo scared. Talk about keeping your cool.

MAMA: Well, luckily for them, they’re part of Brazil’s indigenous community. Do you know what indigenous means?

LEELA: Yeah, like the native people – the people who originally occupied the land.

MAMA: Right, originating naturally in a particular place – that means these boys have grown up in the rainforest. I don’t think city kids would have been able to survive a month in the rainforest.

LEELA: Still, four weeks is a long time without your parents in the outdoors!

MAMA: That is true. So, Glauco and Gleison Ferreira were trying to catch small birds in the jungle when they got lost. Hundreds of friends and family spent weeks looking for them. But it’s the rainy season in the Amazon – which makes walking and moving in the jungle even more difficult than usual. Finally, four weeks later, a local tree cutter just happened to stumble across them. The brothers are being treated in hospital for malnourishment, but they are expected to make a full recovery.

LEELA: Thank goodness!

MAMA: Temperatures at the top and bottom of the world are setting records as both Artic and Antarctica polar regions are in the midst of heat waves. Even though they’re triggered by global weather patterns, they’ve taken scientists by surprise.

Facebook’s in trouble down under as Australia sues the media giant over scam ads impersonating famous people pretending they support a product when they don’t. What’s worse, is Facebook is said to have done nothing to stop the ads – that deliberately target more susceptible, or gullible, users, meaning folks who aren’t likely to question things. Remember – question everything!

Bad news for summer travels, as the airline giant Delta warns increases in the price of oil might mean higher ticket prices. How much? Possibly ten percent more expensive.

Scientists name a new dinosaur species from the early Jurassic period that was discovered in southwestern China. Yuxisaurus kopchicki was 6 to nearly 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) long with scary spikes all over its body.

And finally, a dream come true for some in Sri Lanka, where they’ve had had to cancel exams for millions of students after the island nation ran out of printing paper.

MAMA: It’s time to talk power.

LEELA: Oh – more on the Russia-Ukraine story?

MAMA: Actually, no – a little bit of this in fact.

SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”   

LEELA: So when you say power you mean energy?

MAMA: Indeed. The UK wants clean renewable energy. IN fact – to be less dependent on big energy countries, like Russia, in fact.

LEELA: So they want solar energy?

MAMA: Right. Except –

LEELA: There’s not a lot of sunshine in Britain!

MAMA: Exactly. So they’re gonna go to a country that has it, like Morocco in Northern Africa.

LEELA: What? That’s like 2000 miles away.

MAMA: 2,300 to be exact, in this case, or 3,800 kilometers.

LEELA: But… how?

MAMA: Subsea cables.

LEELA: Huh?!

MAMA: Sub is a prefix that means under. So underwater cables.

LEELA: Sunshine underwater? Wild…

MAMA: Yes, in a way. Power from the sun to be exact. But I like the idea of sunshine underwater. For more on this let’s go to our tech and environment correspondent in England, Jackson Hosking.

LEELA: Take it away, Jackson.

JACKSON: Thanks, you guys. This new venture is called Xlinks.

It’s from the guy who used to run Tescos – that’s a big supermarket chain here in the UK.

So if anyone knows how to move goods from one part of the world to another, it’s probably Dave Lewis.

But sunshine UNDER water, you ask?

Well, let’s back up.

As you said Morocco – in North Africa – has a lot of sunshine.

Even on the shortest winter days, it’s sunny for around 10 hours there – compared to the UK’s measly 7 hours of sunshine. Yes, it gets dark at 4pm in the winters, here, folks. That’s before I leave school!

But in Morocco there’s more than enough sunlight!

And wind, too, that sweeps across its vast desert.

So that energy – two-thirds solar and one-third wind energy – will be captured at local power plants, stored in massive batteries and eventually sent to us, here, in the UK.


Well, miles and miles of bulky cables will wind their way from Morocco to under the shallow waters off Spain, then Portugal and France, to finally arrive in the UK.

Pretty cool, huh? Or, maybe I should say, pretty sizzling?


A whopping 7 million UK homes will benefit from this subsea cable.

Only… it’ll be five years before the first cable is active and the other three are slated to launch in 2029.

It’s just shocking how long these massive projects take to build, isn’t it?


In the south of England, I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, Jackson! 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: Well, you won’t believe what adorable creatures got special police escorts to cross the road in Singapore.

MAMA: Ummm, squirrels?

LEELA: Nah, they’re so fast, they don’t need help.

MAMA: Ahh, the fancy pooches and pusses of the crazy-rich?

LEELA: No, those kind of creatures only walk on red carpets and “cat” walks, Mama.

MAMA: Ha ha – good one.

LEELA: I’ll give you a clue – they’re semi-aquatic mammals. And they’re incrediblyyyyyy cute!

MAMA: Huh… Badgers? Mink?

LEELA: I’m pretty sure there are no badgers and mink in tropical Singapore… but they kinda look like mink, come to think about it. Well, a seal mixed with mink, really…

MAMA: Huh? Oh! Otters!

LEELA: Yes! And did you know the smooth-coated otter population in the Asian city-state has nearly doubled in the last four years? OK, so there are only 150 in total – but Singapore is a small, densely packed island. And when I say densely packed, I mean with people! So, how does a group of otters cross the road?

MAMA: Is this a joke?

LEELA: Nope.

MAMA: OK, how does a group of otters – otherwise known as a bevy, family or romp by the way – of otters cross the road?

LEELA: With a police escort, of course. In Singapore anyway. A video of which is still going viral, of course.

MAMA: Ahhh….  And, yes, we’ll put a link to this in our transcript.

LEELA: But it’s not all adorable escorts for these carnivorous creatures. Though they mostly co-exist peacefully with humans, they have been known to scale walls, steal fish from ornamental ponds, have territorial gang fights and even attack the occasional human.

MAMA: Uh oh.

LEELA: Yeah… I guess we “otter” rethink about our adorable otters. Get it?

MAMA: Oh, nice one, girlie. Who says only dads get to tell bad jokes.


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 – Dust from the Sahara Desert is turning Spain’s skies orange and making it hard for people to breath. Though it’s particularly bad this year, it is a familiar phenomenon called what?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – India and Pakistan have smaller desert dust storms too, which can happen in the summer. What are they called?

The Loo

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Two young indigenous boys were lost in the Amazon rainforest before being rescued. What does indigenous mean?

Originating naturally in a particular place – in other words being native to a place.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – An underground tunnel will transport solar energy from powerplants in Morocco to the UK, which only gets a measly 7 hours of sunshine in the winter. While North Africa gets how many hours of sun in winter?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Otters get a special police escort to cross a busy street in Singapore. What is a group of otters called?

A bevy, family or romp.

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


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