Shipping chaos, portable space center, Mississippi mud and mummy march

Apr 7, 2021 Episode 41

Cargo ship troubles, space center on-the-go, how The Mississippi got clean, Nat’l Poetry Month and march of the mummies

Episode Transcript



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




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi  – your weekly dip into the whirlpool of news and information!


I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And, as ever, I’m joined by my Mama and big-story-explainer…


MAMA: Hello. I’m Lyndee Prickitt.


LEELA: This week on Newsy Pooloozi…


It’s container chaos on the high seas – shipping containers, that is. We’re gonna take a deep dive into this story (get it?!). But don’t worry, you can come up for air and a ray of sunshine, as there’s some good news too…


And if that’s too deep for you, we’ll shoot up to the stars with the latest tech news about a space observatory that could fit into your backpack.


Find out which dirty river – one of the biggest in the world, in fact – cleaned up its act.


And you’ll never guess what was moving through the streets of Cairo – it just might give you a fright!


We’ll also tell you which story was our April Fools last week and announce the winners of our “competition to guess.”


But first it’s time for…


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


MAMA: So all eyes were on the Suez Canal last week. That’s the narrow canal dug out of the desert in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, so that boats don’t have to sail all the way around Africa.


LEELA: It’s a super-duper short-cut, but last week it had the world’s heaviest traffic jam!


MAMA: Yeah, because a massive container ship – the length of four football fields – was stuck and ships couldn’t go around it.


LEELA: For six days! Maybe that’s why my new shoes didn’t arrive in time for Easter…?


MAMA: Well, it turns out container ships have been running into troubled waters a lot lately and not just in the Suez Canal. But first, let’s back up a second and make sure everyone is clear just what a container ship is.


LEELA: Well, from a distance it looks like a massive Rubik’s cube.


MAMA: Right, but up close those cubes are huge. You know when you see a big truck on the highway?


LEELA: Like an 18-wheeler?


MAMA: Uh-huh. Well, that massive 20 to 40 foot box being hauled – that’s a container. And a big cargo ship can carry up to 24,000 containers. That’s equivalent to how much a freight train 44 miles long can haul. Or put another way that’s  156 million pairs of shoes, 300 million tablet computers or 900 million cans of baked beans – just to give you some mind-boggling examples.


LEELA: And to make me hungry. So basically, they’re big and carry A LOT.


MAMA: That sums it up. But guess what’s been happening lately?


LEELA: Oh no…


MAMA: More containers have fallen off ships in the past four months than are typically lost in a whole year!


LEELA: You mean they just fall off?! And go to the bottom of the sea?


MAMA: ‘Fraid so.


LEELA: But why?


MAMA: Well, usually bad weather. But the increase is because of heavier traffic and heavy waves.




MAMA: So, you know all the online shopping we’ve been doing because of the pandemic?


LEELA: Oh, yeah.


MAMA: Well, we’re not the only ones. Everyone’s at it, so there’s a huge increase in demand, meaning container ships around the world are holding more now than ever before.


LEELA: Uh oh.


MAMA: That’s not all. The demand means there’s a shortage of containers, which means that older, corroded, or rusty,containers are possibly being used. On top of that, crews  are being stretched by all the extra work, so they might not be able to pack and secure the containers as well as they normally would have.


LEELA: And when there’s bad weather on top of that…


MAMA: It isn’t good. Many experts think the whole industry needs tighter regulations more in line with the aviation sector, too. Because a ship that’s packed with more containers than ever, hitting unexpected, big rolling waves, well, it’s no wonder so many are ending up at the bottom of the sea.


LEELA: That can’t be good for our oceans or our sea-life.


MAMA: No. And the cargo shipping industry already accounts for roughly 2 percent of all greenhouse emissions worldwide. So if you can buy something made locally –


LEELA: That doesn’t have to be shipped.


MAMA: Then do it! But, there is good news. Maersk, the world’s largest container shipment carrier, just announced that in two years it’ll deploy their first carbon-neutral shipping liner.


LEELA: Whoa – a mean, green machine!


MAMA: It’ll use e-methanol or bio-methanol as fuel. And they’re not the only one trying to go green. There’s even a wind-powered cargo ship being developed.


LEELA: Wait. Wind? Isn’t that what boats always use? Like sails and all that.


MAMA: Good point. They did. But not once coal came along to power huge boats, like container ships. But now a Swedish company (Wallenius Marine AB) reckons they can cut carbon emissions by ninety percent by using wind! Reworking the best of the past to make a better future.


LEELA: Like… back to the future!


MAMA: Yeah. I guess you could put it that way.




LEELA: Now it’s time to do some star gazing… if only we had an observatory…


MAMA: What? One of those big rooms with a dome as a ceiling and a massive telescope?




MAMA: In our house?


LEELA: Well, yeah.


MAMA: Right. Well, I’d just settle for a conservatory. Or a telescope.


LEELA: Oh, great. Can we get a telescope then, please?


MAMA: Oh, I walked right into that, didn’t I? You better put that on your wish list, darling. Because to get a decent one costs a LOT of money, never mind takes up a lot of space.


LEELA: Well, not any more…


TECH STING – LEELA/MAMA: “It’s time for…. Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


LEELA: You can have the power of a space centre  – or a mini-observatory – that’ll fit in your backpack, according to our tech correspondent, Jackson Hosking!


MAMA: OK, then. Tell us more, Jackson.


JACKSON: Thanks, you guys.


I’m happy to say good old fashioned star gazing has been given a reboot!


Best of all  taking super cool, pictures of what you see in the sky – otherwise known as astrophotography (naturally!) – just got a whole lot cheaper!


It’s a powerful but small telescope and camera teamed with….you guessed it…. a smart app.


There are two versions of these portable observation stations – the…  Stellina, which means “little star” and the Vespera, which means “evening star.”


Both are the brainchild of a French company, called Vaonis, which wants to make astronomy easier and more accessible.


Here’s how it works.




You tap on your phone or tablet what you want to see in the night sky.


Then, thanks to GPS, or satellite tracking technology, the telescope then moves…




to find it.


It will also give you ideas on what to view based on your current location and the astronomical calendar.


This mini “space centre” has a pretty impressive camera too – allowing you to explore the cosmos, capture photos and share your discoveries with friends.


And, sorry Leela, while it’s a LOT cheaper than an observatory, they’re still not affordable for a guy like me just yet, even if I ask for an increase in pocket money… but maybe one day…


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



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.”



America’s Major League Baseball is getting political, moving its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia. It says the state’s new voting law – criticized for hampering access to absentee voting and affecting minority communities more than others – goes against its values.


Nearby in Florida, emergency crews are pumping gallons of water out of a reservoir that sprang a leak. The wastewater reservoir is from an old fertilizer factory that used a strong chemical known as phosphate. Officials are worried the leak could breach, or break, the reservoir walls with contaminated water flooding the area.


In South America over a 150 baby tortoises are being nurtured back to strength after airport authorities in the Galapagos Islands seized the hatchlings from a smuggler. They were found individually wrapped in plastic in a suitcase after it went through an  X-ray machine. Galapagos giant tortoises are the largest living tortoises in the world and are only found on the Galapagos Islands.


And how’s this for horsing around – an Australian theatre art director did something a little unusual with lunch bags while he was quarantining at a hotel. He constructed a big, paper pony, naturally. And of course posted lots of photos riding it, brushing its teeth and hanging out on the balcony. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.


LEELA: Newsy Pooloozi – I feel really woozy. After that world wrap. Newsy Pooloozi.


MAMA: Whoa – you’re a poet!


LEELA: Who didn’t know it.


MAMA: But your feet show – ‘cause you’re a Longfellow!


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


LEELA: So, you might have a hunch…


MAMA: That April is national poetry month. OK. Should we stop rhyming.


LEELA: Yeah.


MAMA: Because not all poetry rhymes.


LEELA: No, just the good ones.


MAMA: Hmmph! Well, let’s see. In celebration of Poetry Month we’re going to read out a short poem each week.


LEELA: This one was written by our podcasting pal April – from April Eight Songs & Stories Podcast.


MAMA: Which has been running five years and is celebrating with a birthday party on April the 8th! We’ll be there – what about you? Find out more at aprileight.com or go to the Kids Listen app.


This is a poem called “For Sophia”
Way up in the forest clearing
Trickles the stream across the path.
Over rocks, it swirls and bubbles,
Undeterred by a fallen branch.
The clarity is startling.
Reflecting sun it burbles and gleams.
The stream knows where the heart is
And there  it is meant to lead.


LEELA: Ahh… I like that.


MAMA: And how about this for short and sweet:

Porcupines by Marilyn Singer

Hugging you takes some practice.
So I’ll start out with a cactus.


LEELA: And if you have a favorite poem you’d like to hear or even which you’d like to read out loud –


MAMA: On Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: Send us an email with your idea at contact@newsyjacuzz.com


LEELA: Now – less poetry, but no less poetic – it’s time for…




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


MAMA: Now – what is the second longest river in America that cuts through ten states and is so famous for its muddy banks there’s a chocolate pie named after it?


LEELA: Ummmm… I know this… the…. Ummm.. the Mississippi.


MAMA: Phew! Now spell it.


LEELA: Mama!


MAMA: Come on – you might not be raised in America, but there are some things you gotta learn.

Mis-sis-sippi. Mis-sis-sippi.


LEELA: Is that a southern thing?


MAMA: Hmmm. Well, we’ve got some good news about the river that didn’t always have a clean reputation. We have this report from Lani Power.


LEELA: Of the Book Power for Kids podcast, in fact.


LANI: The Mississippi River, which flows past downtown St. Louis where I grew up, isn’t known as one of the cleanest rivers around.


In fact, it used to be one of the dirtiest.


Back in the 80s, there was talk of building a marina on it and my dad’s family would joke that anyone swimming there would stink for the rest of their lives!




Because cities along the river would just dump sewage into it.


Is that gross or what!


And when people tried to change this they were met with a lot of resistance.


Because it cost less to just dump the waste instead of cleaning it up in water treatment plants.


That all stopped with the Clean Water Act that was put in place almost fifty years ago – in 1972.


But it took years and years for good treatment plants to be built and have an impact.


Well, over time the effects have been… tremendous, according to a new survey of the river from Louisiana State University.


Waste from animal and human products is now so much less – just 1% –  of what it used to be!


The Mississippi may still be muddy, but Old Man River is cleaning up his act!


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


LEELA: Thanks a lot, Lani! And now it’s time to release the muscles around your mouth and prepare to drop your jaw, ‘cos you’re not gonna believe what the lucky dip machine has spit out 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? And odd ball, no doubt!”


LEELA:  Oh yeah, this is odd alright. Now, Mama, let’s play the word association game.




LEELA: If I say to you Egypt, what’s the first thing that comes to your head?


MAMA: Uhhhh… pyramids!


LEELA: OK. And if I say pyramids, what the first thing that comes to your head then?


MAMA: Uhhhh…  Egypt?


LEELA: (coughs) Besides the word I’ve already said. Follow it on.


MAMA: Oh! Mummies.


LEELA: Right. Mummies from ancient Egypt, which was a civilization that existed in 3000BC – that’s 5000 years ago! And if I say mummies, you’d say?


MAMA: Dead people. Dead rulers. Pharaohs.


LEELA: Yeah, dead. Now. If I say procession, as in parade…?


MAMA: Uhhh… Marching.


LEELA: Right. And do the dead march?


MAMA: Excuse me?


LEELA: No, they do not. At least not USUALLY.


MAMA: Huh? Oh. Ummm….


LEELA: Cue music, Mama.




LEELA: Once upon a time – just a few days ago – a most unusual procession took place down the streets of Cairo. (That would be the capital of Egypt.)


It was none other than “The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.”


But I’m calling it…  “The March of the Mummies.”


Why were twenty-two mummies – 18 kings and 4 queens, including Queen Hatshepsut and King Ramses II –  being paraded down newly paved streets in a lavish, multimillion dollar extravaganza?


Oh, they were moving house. You know, going for an upgrade.


Really. No joke. This is no April Fool.


Lining the dramatically-lit 3-mile journey were hundreds of dancers – dressed like old Egyptians (but not walking like them), as  the national treasures were relocated to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.


Each mummy was carried in a vehicle decorated like old chariots and fitted with special shock-absorbers.


Even the roads were newly paved so there would be none of this.




Because, you know, imagine what a bump could do a mummy.




Bye-bye hand.


And, of course, this isn’t their first move. The mummies were discovered in 1880s in the ruins of Egypt’s ancient capital – which is modern day Luxor in Upper Egypt.


The new museum will have a “Royal Hall of Mummies,” designed so visitors will experience the illusion of being in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. But some have said:


MAMA: “Beware of the curse of the pharaohs – cast upon anyone who disturbs the mummy of an ancient Egyptian.”


LEELA: And, well, recently, Egypt has had a string of disasters – from a deadly train crash, a building collapse and that rather costly traffic jam in the Suez Canal we mentioned earlier. So… let’s hope the pharaohs like their new home!




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 – The Suez Canal is a shortcut so boats don’t have to sail all the way around Africa. It’s a narrow canal dug out of the desert in which country?

The Suez Canal cuts through Egypt.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Cargo ships are huge – some are the length of four football fields. Up to how many containers can the big ships carry?

The biggest cargo ships can carry 24,000 containers.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – The French company Vaonis has developed two small but powerful telescopes that can fit into a backpack and be used with a smart phone – the Stellina and Vespera? What do those words mean?

Stellina means “little star” and Vespera means “evening star.”


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the US that was once known for being dirty, but has cleaned up its act. How many states in the US does it pass through?

The Mississippi River cuts through ten American states.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Mummies from ancient Egypt, which was a civilization that existed 5000 years ago, have just been re-housed in a new museum. But when were they moved before that?

The mummies were moved from Egypt’s ancient capital to Cairo in the 1880s.


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


But… drumroll please.




LEELA: First we’ll announce which of our five unbelievable stories last week was the April Fool:




MAMA: Fast-food Easter eggs.


LEELA: They’re not a thing.


MAMA: But, just to throw you off, we made sure everything else in that candy story was totally true.


LEELA: Yes, you can eat bar-b-cue flavored chocolate bars, earwax jelly beans and a Wasabi KitKats.


MAMA: But not fast-food flavored Easter Egg.


LEELA: Not YET, anyway.


MAMA: True. Very true. And now to announce the first five clever listeners who guessed this correctly.


LEELA: And got in touch to tell us so! Should we do the drumroll again?


MAMA: Oh, why not. We’re on a roll!


(both laugh)




MAMA: Abagail from the US.


LEELA: Vihaan from India.


MAMA: Yu-Ting from Taiwan.


LEELA: John Mark from the Philippines.


MAMA: And Eliot (with one L) from the US.




MAMA/LEELA: Whaahooo!


LEELA: Thanks for playing.


MAMA: And don’t forget to send in any poems or poetry ideas you have for “Poetry Month.”



LEELA: Alrighty then. That’s it from us this week. Time to grab your towels and dry off.


But… don’t forget… If you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then why not tell a friend. See if they could guess last week’s April Fool story or this week’s mummy madness. Go on, share the love!


And if you want to get in touch, drop an email to… contact@newsyjacuzzi.com


See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!