Ukraine crisis, Wordle brain-game craze, space-junk lunar crash

Feb 2, 2022 Episode 84

We breakdown the crisis in Ukraine and explain why Russian soldiers are at its border, also NYT buys Wordle and space-junk will crash into the moon

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, of course, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder, who also just happens to be my Mama.

MAMA: Hello, hello – I’m Lyndee Prickitt. And since we’re back in India, let’s use the local greeting, shall we?

BOTH: Namaste!

LEELA: OK, this week on Newsy Pooloozi we’re gonna explain why you keep hearing about “Ukraine ” and why it matters to the world.

And speaking of words you’ve heard lots of chatter about – we’ll tell you all about “wordle”- the newest and hottest brain game on the block, which has just been bought by a major newspaper.

And, finally, a rocket is about to crash into the dark side of the moon! But guess what? It’s not as uncommon as you might think…

All that, plus the world news wrap and the best five background facts heard on today’s show. But first, it’s time for…

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

LEELA: Which is… I’m getting a new cat! Not another stray, like the ones I look after outside, but a real, live-in, home, domesticated cat! Of. My. Own!

MAMA: OK, Leela. That’s big news to you, but it’s not exactly making international headlines. Which is what we do here Newsy Pooloozi (coughs).

LEELA: Yeah… but – I’m getting a cat! Her name is Treasure and she’s adorable and arrives tomorrow!!! And she sits on your shoulder.

MAMA: OK. Got that out of your system now?

LEELA: Yeah. OK… But I’m getting a cat!

MAMA: OK – moving on. I know we’ve all been hearing a lot about Ukraine-Ukraine-little bit about Russia too-but mostly: Ukraine, right?

LEELA: Oh, yeah, I know – like, you are a crane?

MAMA: (Laughs) You’re a “pain,” Leela! OK – let’s get on with the basics – do you know where the country of Ukraine is?!

LEELA: Uhhhh… Somewhere next to Russia. No, I mean Europe.

MAMA: Actually, both! And right there lies the problem.


MAMA: Like so many places, its geography is everything.


MAMA: It’s life, Leela. OK – you wanna talk cats, alright let’s talk cats. You look after some of the neighborhood strays, right?


MAMA: Some hang out on the left side of the house – and some on the other side, right?

LEELA: Yep. They’re two different families and they don’t always get along either.

MAMA: Yeah exactly. Well, which do you love more?

LEELA: Mama! I couldn’t choose.

MAMA: It’s hard, right? You have ties with both sides.

LEELA: Yeaaaaaahhh…..

MAMA: Well, so does Ukraine. For decades it was linked to the Russian Empire and then it was part of the Soviet Union. Which is?

LEELA: Ummm… That was the group of communist countries ruled by Russia, most of last century, right?

MAMA: Well, in practical terms, yes. Though technically it stood for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was ruled by the communist party based in Moscow, Russia. So you’re right. And communism is?

LEELA: When the government owns everything.

MAMA: Right. So when the USSR broke up in 1991, many of the countries started to find more in common with the free markets of Europe.

LEELA: Ah, like when the cats on the left had kittens and I started spending more time with them. 

MAMA: Yep, they were prospering and you wanted to be a part of that. And the cats on the right had started to become a little sullen and – 

LEELA: A little grouchy, jealous and aggressive, actually!

MAMA: Hmmm, maybe they were missing you. And the amount of food and resources you used to give them?

LEELA: Totally.

MAMA: Well, that’s kinda what’s happening in Ukraine. They were part of the Russian Empire and the USSR, but kinda favor Europe now and want to join a club called NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which includes most of western Europe, the US and Canada.

LEELA: Doesn’t sound like a very fun club to me.

MAMA: It’s not. It’s a defensive club of armies, what’s called a military alliance.

LEELA: Is Russia part of it?

MAMA: No ma’am. In fact, NATO was formed in 1949, specifically to provide protection against the USSR.

LEELA: Dun-dun-duuuuun. The plot thickens! No wonder Russia’s so mad at Ukraine! Then again, Ukraine is a free country, right? They should be able to do what they want.

MAMA: Yep. But some people in Ukraine do have old ties with Russia, so 

LEELA: The country’s pulled in both directions?

MAMA: A little bit. Mostly Ukraine is scared Russia is going to invade, like they did 8 years ago when they took over a region called Crimea.

LEELA: What?! And now they want to take over all of Ukraine?

MAMA: Well, Russia says no. But right now there are well over a hundred-thousand soldiers, along with helicopters and tanks,  lined up on its border with Ukraine.

LEELA: That’s kinda bullyish behavior.

MAMA: Big time. That’s why you keep hearing about it in the news. Everyone is wondering what’s gonna happen next. People are also worried that if Russia does invade, those NATO countries – like the US –  might decide to join in the fight.

LEELA: What?! That would be silly – why would they want war?

MAMA: They don’t. But they also don’t want a big country thinking it can overtake a smaller one.

LEELA: But it’d turn into World War3!

MAMA: Hold your horses. Most experts think this is just, as you say, bullying behavior from Russia. Just for show.

LEELA: Ah, kinda like when the big tom cat prances around and hisses a bit.

MAMA: Bingo. There you go. The big news of the week was about cats after all!

LEELA: Yayyyyyyyy!

MAMA: But, seriously, let’s now cut across to a young Ukrainian woman, Alexandra Burkovska, to get her take on what’s happening.

ALEXANDRA BURKOVSKA:  Ukraine, with its fertile lands and open access to the sea, has always been targeted by its neighbors – the Russian Empire and Poland and the USSR. So, naturally all the traditions, mythology and language were wiped out for a while as well as people trying to preserve it. And it is happening again. I feel like right now something major is on the verge of happening. Something that the last eight years of unclear, uncertain war

conflict between the two countries has been leading up to. Even my most apolitical friends and family can sense the shift in the entire situation.  They are ready to run and I think everyone is on the edge right now more than ever. But I still hope for a brighter future.

MAMA: Wow. Thanks a lot, Alexandra, for your take on this important story.  

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: There’s a shake-up in the US Supreme Court as 83-year-old Justice Breyer announced his retirement. President Biden promises to nominate a black woman to replace him, though all nominations must be approved by the US Senate.

A beach in Thailand is being declared a disaster area after an oil leak from an underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand. The Thai Navy is working to contain the leak, which is mostly offshore, though the oil is making its way inland, blackening two spots along the shore.

Taking the annual temperature of its economy, the Indian government expects the country to grow at a whopping rate of 9.2 percent this year and some 8-and-a-half percent next year, which could mean more prosperity for the huge developing nation. But many worry that India’s poor might not be part of that growth spurt.

And it’s raining iguanas in Palm Beach, Florida! The recent cold spell in the US took the creepy crawlers by surprise with temperatures in the Sunshine State dropping so low – the coldest in ten years in fact – that iguanas began falling out of trees.

LEELA: As ever, thank you so much for that whippity-whappity-zippity-zappity world wrap of what’s making headlines elsewhere in the world, Mama.

MAMA: You’re most welcome, Leela.


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

LEELA: OK – so when we say arts, culture and entertainment we’re not just talking paintings, theater or music, folks. We also entertain ourselves with games.

MAMA: Brain games, to be precise.

LEELA: In case you haven’t heard – move over scrabble!

MAMA: Move over crosswords. Want something quick to test your linguistic intelligence?

LEELA: Yep, we’re talking Wordle.

MAMA: And in case you haven’t heard it, the daily quick-fix brain teaser that leaves you wanting more.

LEELA: Because it only releases one online challenge a day.

MAMA: You just get six chances to guess the daily five-letter word – with no clues or categories to help you out.

LEELA: You just start by inputting a five-letter word and Wordle turns the correct letters yellow.

MAMA: Or green if you got the right letter and put it in the right spot.

LEELA: Kinda like a hangman, except you only get six guesses.

MAMA: More like “hang face” then.

LEELA: Good one! People have been going bonker-brains for this brain game – some 300,000 people logging in every day to play. Even – yes – us.

MAMA: Yeah, we’re not gonna tell you how many turns it took us to get the right word.

LEELA: No. But we will tell you the big news. The New York Times, famous for its daily crossword, just bought Wordle.

MAMA: For an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

LEELA: But Wordlers are worried the big newspaper will move the puzzle behind its content paywall.

MAMA: But the NYT promises to keep the brainteaser – which has become appointment playing for many – free.

LEELA: Phewee!

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: Oh yeah. It’s not every day that a rocket crashes into the moon!

MAMA: Oh, gosh, that doesn’t sound good.

LEELA: Well, believe it or not, it’s not as unusual as you might think. Cue the music, Mama.


LEELA: Once upon a time, in 2015, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted into outer-space. It was carrying none other than the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite that tracks solar storms.

MAMA: Well, we definitely need some climate observation, but who knew we’d be doing it from deep space!

LEELA: Well, the second-stage part of the rocket didn’t have enough fuel to return to Earth. So, it’s been chaotically looping around the Earth and the Moon ever since. And, apparently, it’s pretty common to abandon space junk in deep orbit.

Luckily, an asteroid-hunter kept tabs on the 4-tonne booster and realized it’s gonna slam into the lunar surface on March 4.

Yes, that means a new crater for our lunar-love.

Sadly for space watchers, it’s most likely going to crash into the “dark side of the moon,” so it won’t be visible from Earth.


MAMA: By the way – did you know the dark side of the moon isn’t really dark, it’s just that we can’t see it from Earth.  But, is this crash, well, dangerous for the moon?

LEELA: Nope. According to astronomers, the moon is pretty routinely hit with larger objects moving 10-20 kilometers per second! And the SpaceX rocket-part will be traveling three times slower. Phew.  


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 – Tensions are building up in Ukraine where over 100,000 Russian soldiers have gathered near its border. Where is Ukraine?

In between Russia and Eastern Europe.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Russia feels a deep connection with Ukraine, which was once part of the Russian Empire and the USSR. What was the USSR?

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Russia is worried that Ukraine will join NATO, which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But what is it exactly?

A military alliance between most of Europe, the US and Canada

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – A piece of a Space-X rocket that was launched in 2015 is going to crash into the moon next month. What was the rocket carrying?

The Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The space junk is said to be heading to the dark side of the moon in early March. Is the dark side of the moon really dark?

Nope – we just call it that because we can’t see it.

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


Thank you very much for taking a few laps with us – I hope you found the temperature just right? If so, why don’t you tell a friend about us? So they can jump on into the news pool with you? Think of the cool things you have to chat about!

Alrighty then, catch ya next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!