Toxic air, pollution solution, turtle spies, dumb art thieves and swearing parrots

Oct 14, 2020 Episode 16

India’s pollution menace returns, but scientists brew up a pollution solution, high tech helps track turtle thieves in Costa Rica, Hong Kong police crack the case of the dumb art thieves and potty mouth parrots are sent to the naughty corner in England.

(Special thanks again to Amaira and Anaira Mirza for their joint work on this week’s fabulous artwork!)

Episode Transcript

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




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a news podcast for curious kids…


MAMA: And adults looking for news that goes beyond politics and the economy.


LEELA: I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.


MAMA: And I’m Lyndee Prickitt.


LEELA: OK… Let’s dive on in to our whirlpool of news and information! This week on Newsy Pooloozi we’ll hear… How India’s deadly pollution is back… and why it’s a multi-headed monster… that’s not easy to tame… However, scientist might be mixing up a pollution solution… that might mean farmers don’t have to burn their fields… High tech helps track down the hunters and buyers of endangered sea turtles…

Find out why you should really know something about art before you try stealing it… unlike the dumbest art thieves in Asia… And it’s pandemonium in England as parrots shock guests at a wildlife center with their… uh… colorful language…


SFX OF PARROT: “colorful language… colorful language”


LEELA: But first up…. It’s the… big…news… story… it’s time to tackle… the Big News Story of the Week.


MAMA: A lot of people might not know this but India is one of the most polluted countries on earth. As Leela knows well having lived here most of her life. Take it away, Leela. Ahh…. Leela… where did you go… Leela… OK… I guess I’ll just read her bit. The World Air Quality Report listed the capital region, Delhi where we live as the most polluted city in the world. Here to tell us more is our Delhi correspondent Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. Wait, what? Oh, that’s where she went! All Right! Take it away Leela…


LEELA: Hello, I’m here in the middle of India’s capital, New Delhi. There should be the piercing blue skies of autumn… But not now. The lockdown effect is over people are back on the streets, cars are whizzing past, construction is underway just about everywhere. And if we open up our handy little app, we’ll see the latest figure on the Air Quality Index is 371 hazardous.


And it’s not just Delhi. Six other cities in India are also on the list of the most polluted cities in the world… It’s so bad I have to wear a mask half of the year!


In fact, at school back when schools were open, we had a flag system that informed us if it was safe to take a break outside or not if it’s a green flag yay, we can play. But if it’s yellow, hello, time to get inside… And if it’s red it’s dread-full…. Inside all day, doors shut tight. Back to you in the studio. Reporting from New Delhi, this Leela Sivasankar Prickitt racing back to the studio.




MAMA: Oh! Hello! Well, thank you for that report madam. So, anyway, as you know… while most of the world moves from summer clothes to autumn attire… Here in Delhi, we move from masks to protect us from COVID to masks that protect us from the toxic air. What does the pollution do to us? Here’s what slam poet Naina Lavakare, who’s an air pollution activist in New Delhi, has to says:


SOUNDBITE Naina Lavakare: Pollution first effects the sinuses. That means a runny nose that means a sore throat and a lot of snot, polite folks call phlegm. When? All year round in a place where the air is not sound. But when air quality is really, really bad like it is in this great land. Then it makes everyone really, really mad Because it causes big problems with your breathing and your lungs or worse. It’s a curse…Because tiny particles not seen by the eye They get into the lungs, they don’t just make your cry into your blood, they travel deep and that can make you sick for more than weeks and weeks.


MAMA: It’s not just India, of course. Pollution has been rampant in China. And many cities in the middle east too.


LEELA: And the people in California and Oregon know about this too!


MAMA: And Australia yes, when wildfires burn the air becomes smoky and toxic. And it spreads for miles and miles.


LEELA: And that’s what’s happening here, right?


MAMA: Well, that’s one of the issues. Farmers nearby are using fire to clear their fields. Unfortunately, India’s pollution is bit like a monster with many, many heads.


LEELA: Mama, Like Ravan!


MAMA: Ha, yes! Ravan is the multi-headed demon-king of Hindu mythology. And there’s one in Greek mythology too, a multi-headed water snake called Hydra. And the point about having many heads, means…


LEELA: They’re tough to kill!


MAMA: Exactly. You might slay one head of the monster, but there are others waiting to get you!


LEELA: Aaaahhhhh… Mama….


MAMA: (laughs) So one head of India’s pollution monster is the smoke from burning fields, then comes Diwali.


LEELA: Which is like India’s Christmas one of the biggest celebrations here: “The Festival of Lights.”


MAMA: Right. Which people celebrate by bursting fireworks and lighting thousands of candles, or diyas, and while that used to be fine… Well, India has 1.3 billion people – that’s four times the amount of people in the US all living in a country that’s a third of America’s size.


LEELA: Crowded…


MAMA: So that’s a lot of smoke going into the air.


LEELA: But only for one day.


MAMA: Well, it’s about a week that the air gets so bad it’s off the charts past 999 on the Air Quality Index.


LEELA: Uhhhhh…. Ok, and the next monster head is?


MAMA: Well, so many people still light fires to cook with the old, old fashioned way, believe it or not.


LEELA: Or just to keep warm.


MAMA: Yep, that’s another monster head up here in the north of India it gets cold for a few months’ and the homes aren’t really built to be warm. So, while fires keep us warm and are lovely to look at, they’re super dirty. Especially again when there’s sooooooooooo many people doing it.


LEELA: Is that it for the monster heads?


MAMA: No way we’re only halfway there. There’s the natural dust, sweeping in from the desert that adds to the pollution although it makes your throat dry.


LEELA: And your nose full of buggers.


MAMA: Ewww…Totally but at least it’s not as deadly as smoke pollution. But then there’s construction work after all this is a developing country, so we’re still building roads, highways, homes, shopping malls, business parks you name it. And the West did that gradually over a century it’s all happening in just a couple decades here! And then……….


LEELA: There’s more?!


MAMA: Oh, yeah. There’s smoke and waste from factories and manufacturing plants. And then the last one but it’s a doozy.


LEELA: Cars!


MAMA: And motorcycles, scooters, some buses, and especially the trucks.


LEELA: I’ve lost count how many heads this gnarly monster has!


MAMA: But there is some hope to fight at least one of the heads of the pollution monster.


LEELA: Thank goodness!


MAMA: Thanks to science and innovation, in fact.


LEELA: Oooohhh, that means it’s time for…


SCIENCE STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow… in other words Science!


MAMA: And here to tell us how science, biology and chemistry in fact could provide a pollution solution…


LEELA: Is our other Delhi correspondent, Anaira Mirza… Take it away, Anaira!


ANAIRA: As you now know, one of the biggest causes of pollution is farmers burning their crops.

In the perfect world, once farmers harvest a crop, they should leave the stubble to lay fallow.

That means leaving it to decompose or rot naturally for a whole season.


And even though that sounds gross, the old crops are full of nutrients, so it’s super good for the soil.

But India’s farmers often only own a few fields! So, there’s no time to let them lay fallow.

That’s why they burn down the stubble, so they can quickly plant new seeds and grow more crops.


It’s known as a viscous cycle! But help is at hand. Indian scientists have spent five years cooking up a special mixture like a witch’s brew! Because get these different types of fungus are added to water, jaggery, or unrefined sugar, and gram flour!


This mixture is sprayed all over the crops and mixed all up. And, then, guess what?

The stubble like magic decomposes naturally! And all those good nutrients stay in the soil!

In less than a month new seeds can be planted. Presto!


No fire, no smoke, no pollution… just an organic solution! And who says chemistry is no fun?!

In New Delhi, I’m Anaira Mirza for reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: Thanks, Anaira!  Well, that was quite a spooky take on our big news story and science sidebar…


MAMA: Yeah, the multiheaded pollution monster and a witch’s brew to make crop stubble magically disappear… Are we possibly getting into the Halloween spirit, or what??


LEELA: I think so!


MAMA: Maybe that’s because we and many other podcasters in the kids listen network are getting into the season.


LEELA: There are all sorts of Halloween specials planned, aren’t there?


MAMA: Yes, Something’s brewing… But now…


STING: “It’s time for… Technology News, technology news, tech news!”


MAMA: Leela! Watch thinks about sea turtles?


LEELA: Ahhh….  They are so cool….


MAMA: That’s what I thought…


LEELA: But, wait, aren’t we doing a tech story?


MAMA: Once again technology and biology are working together. You see, you’re not the only one who likes turtles. There are a lot people who hunt them to sell.


LEELA: What?? As pets??


MAMA: Sometimes… sometimes it’s their shells or skin people want and other’s just want them as dinner.


SFX: Dinner bell and “Dinner!”


MAMA:  But sea turtles are becoming endangered.


LEELA: Oooooh….


MAMA: But guess what one super clever scientist, Dr Kim Williams-Guillen, from the University of Michigan, decided to do?


LEELA: Spy on the thieves?


MAMA: Ewww, very close. But how’s she gonna do that without getting noticed?


LEELA: Uhhhhh… Turn herself into a small sea turtle like they do in the Wild Kratz cartoon?


MAMA: Again, not a bad idea, but impossible. However, using a 3D printer, she created fake eggs that look and feel like the real thing. Only inside is a GPS tracker.


LEELA: Smart! So, has she caught any turtle nappers?


MAMA: Well, she made 101 fake eggs and placed them into nests on beaches in Costa Rica that’s in Central America. Already five were able to track the routes of poachers and buyers who took the eggs.


LEELA: Result!


MAMA: I know! And guess what Kim called her clever spy contraption?


LEELA: Uhhhhh… shelly, the spy?


MAMA: Ha, ha good try. Nope, the “Investigator.”


LEELA: Ha, ha…. I like it! Did you know my favorite teacher at school last year was Miss Turtle? Unusual name, but she tortoise well.


MAMA: (laughs) And, folks, there’s more jokes to come as we have our favorite English correspondent giving us the low-down on potty-mouthed parrots… But first…


LEELA: Let’s catch up with the rest of the big news stories happening around the globe…


STING: “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: Just more than a week after leaving hospital, US President Trump is back on the campaign trail. But the next scheduled debate between him and rival Jo Biden has been cancelled as the two couldn’t agree on the safest format.


Britain’s Prime Minister announced new lockdown measures to be applied when and where necessary. A very “high alert level” will be implemented where transmission rates of COVID-19 are rising most rapidly.


The United Nations’ World Food Program was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to fight hunger. The Nobel Peace Prize is a famous award given to people or groups that work to promote peace.


Canada is promising to ban plastic containers and bottles that can only be used once. Environmentalists are thrilled, saying plastic pollutes our oceans, lakes and rivers, harming wildlife and generating microplastics in the water we use and drink.


An Italian teenage computer whizz is on the path to becoming the Catholic Church’s youngest person in recent times to be a saint. Carlo Acutes died of leukemia in 2006 when he was only 15 years old, but had spent his last few years using the internet to spread his faith.


STING: Now it’s time for our podcast: Arts, Culture and/or Entertainment.


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: Indeed.




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 was 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. One suspected burglar has been arrested, but police are still looking for the other suspects.


MAMA: And finally… We have a story of some naughty parrots.


LEELA: Naughty pirates?


MAMA: Nope, naughty parrots.


LEELA: Parrots?!


STING: Step right up, Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? And odd ball, no doubt!


LEELA: An odd parrot, more like.


MAMA: Five odd parrots, in fact.


LEELA: But parrots are super smart creatures. They can mimic humans.


MAMA: And they can also add, subtract and understand the meaning of zero! But let’s just go back to that bit about mimicking, or copying, human speech.




MAMA: What if the speech, the words, they’re mimicking aren’t very nice words?




MAMA: Oh yeah! Here to tell us more about the naughty parrots in an English wildlife center is…


LEELA: Jackson Hosking, our England correspondent.


JACKSON: You’re right that parrots are super smart and super chatty creatures. Maybe that’s why a group of parrots is called a “pandemonium” – which is a word we usually use to describe noisy chaos.


Well, it’s been parrot pandemonium at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, here in England. Five African grey parrots are now on the “naughty step” for their very colorful language.


SOUNBITE: “Naughty step Naughty Step”


JACKSON: Here in the UK, being sent to the naughty step is another way of saying you’ve behaved badly and need time out from the main event. Well, these parrots have ruffled a few feathers with their choice use of words, swear words, to be more precise…


SOUNDBITE: “Swear words, Swear words”


JACKSON: And guess what? The more people laugh, the more the parrots swear! They’re playing up to their audience. Just like you. But that’s not the only trait they share with us. Apparently, these parrots are worse when all five of them are together and they egg each other on….


SOUNDBITE: “Egg each other on, Egg each other on”


JACKSON: Guess that’s why they say birds of a feather stick together! So, rather than washing their beaks out with soap… the keepers have decided to separate the parrots.


They’re introducing them to better behaved birds. They’re hoping the nicer birds will have a good influence on the naughty parrots and encourage them more bird calls and less expletives.


So far no one really knows who taught these parrots such profanities in the first place… now that would make an interesting story! As I don’t know the answer to that one, I’ll end with a parrot joke instead. “What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?” and no, the answer is not a colorful swear word!

the answer is… “A CARROT”! (laughing) Did you like that one, Leela?


LEELA: Ha, ha, Jackson! Here’s one back at ya – What’s a parrot’s favorite game?


JACKSON…. Uhhhhh


LEELA: Hide and speak!


MAMA: Oh, you guys can’t resist…! Thanks for that, Jackson!


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



LEELA: India has 1.3 billion people that’s four times the amount of people in the US all living in a country that’s a third the size of the US.



MAMA: India is one of the most polluted countries in the world with many factors contributing to the problem – from vehicle exhaust to rampant construction, from the burning of fields to the use of open fire ovens.



LEELA: Sea turtles are hunted for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells… Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered.



MAMA: Parrots are so smart, they not only know how to mimic human speech, but they can also add, subtract and understand the meaning of zero!



LEELA: What do you call a group of parrots a “pandemonium,” which is a word we also use to describe noisy chaos.


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




MAMA: Oh, first the shout-outs! Let’s do the email from India first… This is from 12-year-old Sadhana from Bangalore… who writes, “I just listened to your podcast and I really loved it. It was so funny and normally listening to the news is quite boring to me. But your podcast made it fun and informative. So, thank you.” Well, thank you so much, Sadhana! Awesome


LEELA: And this one was left on Stitcher from GF50… who says, “This show is a fun, informative zip through the news… it’s edited and stitched together with total aplomb ”


MAMA: Confidence. He goes on to say… the FX are terrific! Add to this some real buzz and excitement in the scripting & presentation… It puts a lot of high-profile, expensive podcasts to shame.” Whoa… It goes on, but we’ll start blushing if we read the rest. But trust me these comments absolutely thrill us. We do little happy dances with each one we see.


LEELA: Mama, you’re not supposed to say that!


MAMA: Oh… well… okay…


LEELA: Alright… make us dance some more then! Subscribe and leave us a review wherever you listen… Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Radio Public or come to our website at www.newsyjacuzzi.com


See you next week…  in the Newsy Pooloozi!