Dec 29, 2021 Episode 79
As the year closes, it’s time to look back at the big news stories on Newsy Pooloozi this year!
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi’s year-end special “look-back” episode. I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and…
MAMA: I’m Lyndee Prickitt – sidekick, sound effects finder and, well, Leela’s mom.
LEELA: And what a news year it’s been!
MAMA: Yeah, we thought 2020 was intense, well, 2021 started with an insurrection, or up-rising, on the world’s oldest democracy
LEELA: That would in the USA.
MAMA: But that wasn’t all
LEELA: Yep, there was a monumental verdict delivered in America, troops pulling out of Afghanistan.
MAMA: And two massive world gatherings one for sports and another for the environment.
LEELA: As you’re about to hear on this special wrap of the biggest news stories of 2021. Cue the archives, Mama.
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLES
MAMA: So we’ve said before that a democracy
LEELA: Which means that every citizen over the age of 18 gets to vote for its leaders
MAMA: That’s right. And one of the signs of a thriving, healthy democracy is the smooth transition of power. That means whoever doesn’t win the election leaves office peacefully.
LEELA: But what if you don’t think the election was fair? What if you think one side cheated?
MAMA: Well That’s serious stuff and you’d have every right to challenge the outcome. As has happened with US President Donald Trump’s maaaaannny claims of voter fraud
LEELA: That means cheating
MAMA: In several different states during November’s election. But each of those claims has been looked into, sometimes they’ve even recounted the voting ballots, and each time it’s been dismissed in a court of law.
LEELA: But SOME… people still believe it, right?
MAMA: That’s right. And what’s really upsetting about that is it means those people sometimes start disbelieving everything – even the laws that most of us want to live by in a safe and secure society
LEELA: Like the people who stormed the US Capitol building last week? When congress was confirming that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election?
MAMA: Yes. Five people lost their lives because of the Trump supporters, many of whom had weapons who stopped believing in the democratic process and turned to violence to try and get their way. The good news is – most people, even many who voted for Trump, are rejecting that kind of behavior.
LEELA: Phew… You can disagree, but you can’t kick and scream. That’s what my teachers say.
MAMA: They are so right. Though, I’ll be honest and say there is worry that it might happen again in the run-up to Biden’s inauguration – that’s the ceremony when he’s actually sworn in as president – on Jan 20.
LEELA: And that’s why the other party, the Democrats, are trying to remove Trump from office? Even though he’s – well, nearly gone?!
LEELA: Seems kind of silly to me…
MAMA: I know, but he’d spoken to his supporters, many who promised they’d carry weapons and did, encouraging them to march on the capital, repeating his disproven claim that the election was stolen, and many people are worried if he does that again, more violence will continue.
LEELA: So… they want him out.
MAMA: Yes, but it’s also sending a message that this kind of behavior – not believing in the system of democracy – is something that shouldn’t be allowed. And let’s not forget – it’s Trump this time, but if he’s allowed to stir up angry supporters to storm the capital – we have to think… Who might be in power next that thinks it’s ok to do the same thing? It’s a slippery slope.
LEELA: A slippery slope… Oh… like… whoa… hold on, hold on… or we could all… go down… fast…!
MAMA: Leela… Come back…! (laughs) Well, at least we can laugh.
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLE
MAMA: All eyes were on the US this week as the trial of the ex-police officer accused of killing George Floyd last summer in the state of Minnesota came to an end.
LEELA: The jury took just 11 hours in its deliberation – that’s the process of weighing up all the evidence and options and then making a decision.
MAMA: This super fast turn-around surprised everyone.
LEELA: Including us!
MAMA: But the amazing Madison Smith , of the All things Madison podcast, in Atlanta, Georgia was standing by and bringing us this report.
LEELA: Over to you, Madison.
MADISON: Thanks, Leela.
Well, today was like no other in my lifetime. It was the long-awaited decision in the murder trial of the former Minnesota policeman, Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
Now as I’m sure you remember protests around the country erupted last summer after officer Chauvin was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 22 seconds. And, if you saw the video it was hard to watch. Well, the verdict’s in.
He was convicted of all three charges.
US JUDGE PETER CAHILL READING OUT THE JURY’S VERDICT: “We the jury find the defendant guilty…”
MADISON: I can personally say I’m relieved to see justice was served.
I know black and brown people were holding their breath. Because this trial means a lot when it comes to police reform and how police treat black and brown people.
But you know, honestly, I felt sorry for George Floyd too. No one should be treated like that. And it was a horrible thing for his family to go through.
I think we’re all hopeful that this is a start in shaping better policing policy and better police accountability too.
So going forward making it a better place for us all. For Newsy Jacuzzi I’m Madison Smith reporting from Atlanta.
LEELA: Thanks a lot, Madison. It’s super great to get your take on this story.
MAMA: Yes, absolutely. And thanks again for the fast turn-around on this important breaking news. Around the United States people are breathing a sigh of relief. Especially as tensions had been growing… As we reported last week, there was another case of a white police officer killing a black man – Daunte Wright – just 11 miles from where Floyd was killed.
LEELA: And people have been out protesting ever since.
MAMA: This is a tough but important topic and it’s probably a good idea to talk to your grown-ups about what’s happening, we’ll give you the facts in the most clear
LEELA: And gentle.
MAMA: – way we can.
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLE
MAMA: Now, we need to turn our attention to a big and important news story – Afghanistan.
LEELA: That’s just next door to us here in India.
MAMA: Well, a teeny tiny bit of the two countries touch – in the northern part of India. But really, Afghanistan is the other side of Pakistan, which is India’s neighbor.
LEELA: It’s pretty upsetting what’s happening there now.
MAMA: Yes it is. So for those who don’t know – US troops, who’ve been in Afghanistan for 20 years, are leaving the country. And an unelected and very authoritarian regime has moved in
LEELA: The Taliban.
MAMA: Mmmmhmm. You know what an authoritarian regime is right?
LEELA: Well, a regime means rulers, right?
MAMA: Yes, the government.
LEELA: And I think authoritarian means they’re really strict – if you don’t follow their authority then bad and scary things can happen to you.
MAMA: Yes, I’m afraid so.
LEELA: And you have no choice, right? You can’t elect someone else, like another government or regime?
LEELA: That sounds awful.
MAMA: It is. And in this case it’s especially tough for girls and women. Remember this?
MUSIC OF AFGHAN YOUNG WOMEN SIGNING
LEELA: Oh, the Afghan girls singing in protest – on social media – after being told they weren’t allowed to sing in public.
MAMA: That’s right. We did that story around 5 months ago when things were starting to get really bad and freedoms were being taken away again.
MAMA: Well the Taliban ruled from 1996 to 2001. Women had to wear burkas, those are robes that cover the entire body, including the face. The Taliban also disapproved of girls over 10 years old going to school. And if you disobeyed these rules you could be whipped in public. But that changed when the Afghans elected their own leaders after US troops went in 2001.
LEELA: Why did they go in? To free the people?
MAMA: Well, actually the US troops were trying to find a person called Osama bin Laden, who organized a terrible attack on Americans in 2001.
LEELA: Oh, the 9-11 terror attacks.
LEELA: Did they find him?
MAMA: Yeah – but ten years later and in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
LEELA: So why did America stay so long?
MAMA: Well they were trying to stamp out the terror activities and stabilize the country.
LEELA: But now they’re leaving and the Taliban are back!
MAMA: Hmmm, It’s complicated and there are no easy answers. But one thing is for sure – it’s gonna be hard for those Afghanis who became used to certain freedoms to live under the Taliban. And it’s gonna be especially tough for those who’ve been helping the US troops for two decades.
MAMA: And it’s going to cause tension here in India – being so close to a brutal regime.
LEELA: But, Mama. If there are brutal rulers it’s bad for the whole world, right?!
LEELA: Huh, actually yes, That’s very true. Some say the Taliban have changed their ways and could bring stability. But most people are worried.
MUSIC OF YOUNG AFGHAN WOMEN SINGING
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLE
MAMA: More than 25,000 people around the world from teenage activists to leaders of nations went to Glasgow, Scotland, to attend or be on the sidelines of COP26, which is now wrapping up.
LEELA: And we’re gonna give you the low-down on this important environmental summit. Starting with the first thing we all want to know: why on earth is an environmental summit called COP… 26?!
MAMA: Ha, good question! I’m afraid the answer is deeply dull – it stands for Conference of Parties. This is the 26th one.
LEELA: That doesn’t sound dull. Party! Party!
MAMA: Sadly not that kind of party. But the other definition – as in members of a group. As in a group of countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
LEELA: Yeah, that’s dull.
MAMA: Yes, But, what they’re discussing isn’t. Most environment experts say this is the most important meeting world leaders have ever had.
MAMA: Ever. Because they reckon this is the last chance leaders have to take united action needed to stop the earth warming up.
LEELA: Well, have they?
MAMA: Good question. There have been some major advances. Like a 100 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030.
SFX OF A TREE FALLING
MAMA: Do you know what that means?
LEELA: Uh… they’ll stop cutting down forests?!
MAMA: Bingo! And why does that matter?
LEELA: Oh, oh. I know this. Trees, well, all plants, absorb carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas we now have too much of and kindly convert it into oxygen, which we breathe.
MAMA: Exactly. That’s why rainforests, in particular, are called the “lungs of the planet.” Never mind the loss of forests means a lot of plants and animals have nowhere to go. So, this pledge would protect 85% of the earth’s forests.
LEELA: Wahhoo! Well done, COP26!
MAMA: Yes, though some say the deal doesn’t protect enough land soon enough. But, as far as that other greenhouse gas goes – methane – over 100 countries have also agreed to reduce it by 30% in the next nine years.
LEELA: OK. Sounds good.
MAMA: And many countries have promised to become net-zero by 2050.
LEELA: And net-zero means – however much a country messes up the atmosphere, it has to clean it up by just as much.
MAMA: Gosh, you have been listening!
LEELA: For once.
MAMA: However, critics say that these “net-zero promises” with dates set so far in the future are just a way of delaying action.
LEELA: I know that trick. I promise I’ll clean my room next month.
MAMA: Ah-huh. And there’s been another big criticism of COP26 – that even though richer countries created most of the pollution that caused the climate crisis, poorer countries will be most affected by it. Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, put it this way:
Mia mottley, prime minister of Barbados: “It is like me throwing garbage in your yard and telling you that you must pay to clean it up. You can’t pay to do anything because you now have to spend all of your money on the garbage I have thrown into your yard. It is unjust. It is wrong.”
MAMA: So, it’s no wonder thousands of people took to the streets of Glasgow, and other cities around the world, saying not enough has come out of the summit.
LEELA: So, they’re angry.
MAMA: Some are. But sometimes anger – if you don’t let it eat you up – can be motivating. As former US President Obama said when he spoke at the conference.
BARACK OBAMA, former US President: ” To all the young people out there. I want you to stay angry. Channel that anger, harness that frustration, keep pushing harder and harder for more because that’s what’s required to meet this challenge. Gird yourself for a marathon, not a sprint.”
LEELA: OK, then. (takes quick few breaths as if about to run) Let’s do this: Ready. Set. Go!
SFX OF RACE STARTING
MAMA: And that’s Leela racing to a better future.
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLE
MAMA: So how many of y’all caught some of the stunning athletic feats at the 2020 Olympics?
LEELA: I did! And OMG – I never knew what humans were capable of! I mean did you see that bouldering?
MAMA: Oh, the sport of climbing?
LEELA: Ah huh. And did you see the diving?
MAMA: Oh my gosh, I love diving. It’s totally, totally my favorite!
LEELA: And the artistic swimming! How do they do that?
MAMA: And those super young skateboarders, doing all those flips.
LEELA: Even after scary falls during training!
MAMA: I know, Or the Indian boxer who continued to compete despite getting seven stitches in an earlier match.
LEELA: And Simone Biles taking a break but coming back.
MAMA: Absolutely. And to think they’ve all had to wait an extra year because of COVID. And then there was all that controversy about the Japanese not wanting to host the Olympics and fans not being able to be there in person to watch. And yet –
LEELA: The games went on.
MAMA: And what grace the athletes showed. On and off the pitch. I mean, there were so many touching moments, showing sportsmanship at its best.
LEELA: Like the t-shirt exchange. (laughs)
MAMA: Well okay, it was funny, but touching when the reigning badminton champion, China’s Chen Long, had the grace and wit to take off his shirt and exchange with the player who dethroned him, taking him off the golden throne – Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
LEELA: Annnnd when the South African swimmer
MAMA: Ah, yes, Tatjana Schoenmaker.
LEELA: Yeah, when she looked completely surprised that she broke the world record and won gold.
MAMA: Well, I think she was just so overwhelmed with emotion –
LEELA: And then all of her opponents went over to her and surrounded her in a massive group hug! I loved that.
MAMA: I know. That reaction from opponents. I mean talk about being great at sports. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it!
LEELA: Don’t cry, Mama!
MAMA: It’s ok – happy tears. My favorite absolute moment was when the high-jumper from Qatar, Mutaz Barshim, who was tied in the top place with Italian high-jumper, Gianmarco Tamberi, well, he asked the Olympic official if they could SHARE the gold rather than go for a tie-breaker round.
SOUND FROM THE OLYMPICS OF Mutaz Essa Barshim ASKING: “Can we have two goals?” AND the OFFICIAL RESPONDING: “It’s possible.”
MAMA: The look on their faces was sheer joy.
LEELA: And the Italian jumps up like a little kid and then runs all over the place – he was so happy!
MAMA: I know, I mean, if you want to smile, if you want to feel humanity and joy – watch that clip.
LEELA: Seriously. (The link is in our transcript and our Facebook page, of course!)
MAMA: And we know America, Russia and China dominate the events, taking away the most medals. But for countries that might not be such powerhouses, every SINGLE medal is a massive triumph for the whole nation.
LEELA: And that was the case for my dear India. We won our first-ever gold in track-and-field!
MAMA: Yes. Neeraj Chopra is the men’s gold medallist in the javelin throw.
LEELA: Which is one of the oldest events in the Olympics, dating back to ancient times when the Greeks first created the games.
MAMA: Yep, That’s right. And India’s men’s hockey team won bronze.
MAMA: And though India was devastated their women’s hockey team just missed out – the pride in those players remains immense!
LEELA: Yes, we might be sad by their defeat. But oh boy, oh, boy – are we all mesmerized and impressed by their hard work and talent.
LEELA: In fact, for more on the emotional story of India’s Olympic hockey teams, let’s go to our India sports correspondent, Yuvraj Sahni.
YUVRAJ: Thanks, Leela.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been super special for India – and not just because we sent more players this year than ever before!
But also because our men’s hockey team ended a 41-year-old jinx.
Yep, we used to dominate in field hockey long ago.
Yet we haven’t managed a medal since 1980.
But this Olympics, the men’s hockey team defeated Germany to win a bronze medal!
As you can imagine – everyone watching including me! went wild.
And even those who didn’t watch, beamed with pride when they heard the news.
As one commentator put it: “This Bronze Is Worth Its ‘Weight’ In Gold.”
But that wasn’t all.
The women’s field hockey came super-duper close to getting a bronze too, narrowly losing out to Great Britain.
While the bronze medal might have been lost – the hearts of India were certainly won.
Because, you see, most of the team come from very tough, impoverished backgrounds.
The team captain, Rani Rampal, said she barely had two square meals of food a day when she was a young child.
For her, and most of the team, hockey was a way of escaping those hardships.
But it wasn’t easy.
Many people would tease the players, and their families, for letting girls “run around a field dressed in shorts.”
Never mind that here in India, there isn’t a lot of funding to support people training for the Olympics.
So the fact that our women’s hockey team went as far as they did has won over the country.
Rani said that all those who once teased and doubted her are now putting their daughters in hockey, telling them to be like her, to be like Rani Rampal.
In New Delhi, I’m Yuvraj Sahani, reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi.
LEELA: What a story! Thanks a lot for that report, Yuvraj. I wouldn’t mind being like Rani Rampal myself!
MAMA: Seriously, what grit those girls and women have. It’s so inspiring. You know, I think you said it last week, that the thing about the Olympics, is that even if you you’re not that big into sports, when you start watching all that talent –
LEELA: From all over the world, but united in friendly competition – you can’t help but be amazed!
SFX OF BELL AND WHISTLE
LEELA: And that brings us – not only to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi – but to the end of the year!
MAMA: And as our New Year treat, we have the last of our best ofs –
LEELA: Oh, yeah, to make sure you start 2022 with a smile, we’ve got the best of the oddballs next week. Until then… See ya later, alligator.
MAMA: After a while , crocodile.