storming of the US capitol tests democracy

US democracy tested, Pompeii’s “dhaba,” chopstick art, rice ATM

Jan 13, 2021 Episode 29

The big news story of this week’s podcast is the storming of US Capitol, which tests the foundations of democracy. Plus, hear all about an ancient cafe uncovered in Pompeii, millions of chopsticks getting reused and India’s rice ATM!


Do check out the BEST KIDS PODCAST 2021 list we made it onto – thank you, Feedspot!

Also, here is a link to the super cool Pompeii discovery and the chopstick recycler.

P.S.: Missed our show last week on vaccine relief, the “kids speak for parks” initiative by Robbie Bond, real magic wands and weird space sounds? Check it out here.

Episode Transcript

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


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a whirlpool of news and information for curious kids!

MAMA: And quite a few adults like listening to us too!

LEELA: Well, we welcome all!

MAMA: Thank you!

LEELA: I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt.

MAMA: And I’m co-host Lyndee Prickitt

LEELA: And this week is a doozy because there’s big news, ancient news and artistically odd news for you.

First, we’re going to break down the storming of the US capital and what it means for America.

We’ll also tell you the super cool dharbar or restaurant uncovered in the ancient city of Pompeii.

The Indian man who used his life savings to create a rice ATM and if you don’t know what that is, I confess I didn’t at first, then keep listening.

That’s not all. We’ll tell you what wacky and wonderful things can be done with your chewed over chopsticks!

It’s another whirling episode, so let’s get cracking and begin with the…

STING: “Now it’s time to tackle the Big NEWS story of the week!”

MAMA: And this is a big one. 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 Capital 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 who 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?!

MAMA: Mmmm-hhmmm.

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: Yeah, 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…!

MAMA: (laughs)

MAMA: Now you hungry?

LEELA: Oh, yeah.

MAMA: Great – it’s time to talk food.

LEELA: Oh, yeah – ancient Italian style. It’s time for….

STING: For the world of wow, wow, wow… In other words -science!


LEELA: So there’s been a super cool discovery in the ancient city of Pompeii.

MAMA: Yep, archaeologist, who study the remains or artifacts of ancient people, have uncovered another part of Pompeii.

LEELA: But first you should remind us what Pompeii is, Mama.

MAMA: Oh, right. Pompeii was a town in Italy that was at the foot of a volcano, called Mount Vesuvius, which erupted almost 2000 years ago. When it happened many people managed to run away.

LEELA: Before the hot ash and lava came down on them!

MAMA: But nearly 2000 people didn’t and were killed, buried beneath a blanket of hot volcanic ash.

LEELA: Which turns into a rock with lots of holes in it when it dries, called pumice.

MAMA: Well the thing about Pompeii is that blanket of pumice ended up preserving the city and its people. The in the middle of the 17th century, archaeologists starting excavating

LEELA: that means carefully digging

MAMA: The remains of Pompeii.  And they’re STILL making discoveries.

`LEELA: Like the dhabar or food stall they’re uncovering right now.

MAMA: Yep. The street side cafes back then were called thermopolia. And what’s so fascinating

LEELA: – is how similar they are to the food counters and snack bars of today!

MAMA: yep, you basically had a counter upon which there were pots of food clay pots back then of course and even drawings on the outside of the stall…

LEELA: To indicate what food was served there.

MAMA: Like chicken and roosters, according to the remains they were able to scientifically investigate from these old clay pots

LEELA: pork, chicken, goat, duck and even snails!

MAMA: Sometimes all in the same spot

LEELA: Which was probably soup!

MAMA: Yep. There was also a painting of a woman riding a seahorse, probably because there was a nearby water fountain in the same square. And an image of the food stall itself which painted from outside, which experts reckon might have even been the logo of the established man.

LEELA: Some things never change.

MAMA: I know… it’s super cool and of course as always we’ll put a link to the story so you can see the pictures for yourself on our Facebook page and website.

SFX: “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: In India the highest court in the land has stepped into a dispute between the government and farmers who’ve been holding massive protests in the capital against three new laws. The supreme court has put a stay, or halted the laws, which the government says will give farmers more market freedom but the farmers fear will benefit big business more.

In the US, political experts say that Georgia’s Senate seats going to two Democrats shows America’s south is shifting its politics. The win means Democrats will take control of Congress for the first time in a decade.

Staying in America some good news from police in the state of New Jersey. Newark city officials say police training in de-escalation that means calming tempers down is working, with not one officer firing his or her weapon on duty once in the last year. Whoohoo Newark!

Pakistan was thrown into darkness when a electrical failure at its biggest power plant triggered the collapse of the entire grid. Most of the South Asian country’s 210 million people were left without power but luckily only for a few hours.

And the Gothenburg Film Festival in Sweden is conducting a “pandemic cinema experiment”. It’s accepting applications from film buffs who’ll get a week’s stay in an old lighthouse on an isolated island. The winner won’t be allowed a phone, a friend, or even a book  just food, drink and all 60 movies premiering at the festival.

LEELA: And now let’s mosey on into the…

MAMA: “Kindness corner.” Is that what we want to call us?

LEELA: Yeah I like it.

MAMA: You see we realize that there are a lot of super cool stories out there about people doing really cool

LEELA: And kind

MAMA: Cool and kind things. You know the kind of stories you hear that make you go


MAMA: Maybe we should call the “ahhh” corner?

LEELA: Hmmm.. I like the kindness corner better…! Because it’s like the opposite of the naughty corner, which kids know well!9

MAMA: alright then. Well kicking off our first installment from the kindness corner is our reporter, Adyshree Kathuria, who has this story about the Indian man who created the rice ATM.

LEELA: ATM?! As in an “automatic teller machine?” Like the kind of thing you get money out of – like a “hole in the wall,” as the British would say?

MAMA: You got it. But this dispenses rice and other such needed items…

LEELA: Take it away, Adyshree!

ADYSHREE: That’s right, LEELA. This is a story about an office worker an HR executive named Ramu Dosapati. He’s from the south Indian state of Hyderabad. Several months ago, he saw a woman spending a third of her tiny income on a LOT of chicken. “Why so much chicken?” he asked her.

“Because there are many migrant workers,” she said, “who’ve lost their jobs because of the pandemic, but they can’t get home. They’re hungry, so I’m helping.”When Mr Dosapati heard this, he decided if she could help, so could he! He cashed in his retirement fund to set up a stall, where those who are hungry can get rice.

People started calling it the “Rice ATM.” But that wasn’t all. He and his family were supposed to be moving into a new, bigger home. He’d even sold land for the new property. But he and his wife decided it was more important to use the money to keep feeding the people, lining up outside and around the corner of his “Rice ATM.”

In total, he’s spent around 52 lakh rupees, or 70-thousand dollars, of his own money helping those in need, Wow! Reporter in New Delhi I’m Adyshree Kathuria for Newsy Pooloozi

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Adyshree!

MAMA:  What a great story to begin our new segment – the kindness corner.

LEELA: Indeed. And now…

STING: 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: Well, not so much an odd ball but an odd stick.


LEELA: A CHOP-stick, to be precise.

MAMA: What’s so odd about chopsticks?

LEELA: Not odd… but wasteful. We all love sushi and a bowl of noodles, right? And not just in Asia, but in the UK, Europe and North America… people can’t get enough of food eaten with chopsticks. Take the Canadian city of Vancouver, did you know there’s approximately 100,000 chopsticks used and thrown out EVERY SINGLE DAY.

MAMA: Whoa… that’s a lot of little wooden sticks. But what’s the big deal – they’re biodegradable.

LEELA: Sure, sure – it’s better than plastic. But what about the human hands and massive machines that went into planting those trees, chopping them down, processing them into chopsticks, putting them into packages, using fossil fuel to ship them across the world, so we can use them for just TWENTY minutes and then throw them away?!

MAMA: (laughs nervously) You have a point. Can’t get those resources back, can you?

LEELA: No ma’am. But you can…


LEELA: Re-use the wood.

MAMA: Uhhhh, it’s been in people’s mouths…

LEELA: Well, a clever German man, called Felix Böck, has designed a process where he uses heat, steam and pressure to transform the chopsticks into wooden tiles. Those are then crafted into all kinds of cool things, from tablet stands to table-tops, desks and EVEN staircases.

MAMA: what? That sounds too cool to be true.

LEELA: It’s so true, he’s turned it into a company called ChopValue that’s already recycled more than 32 million chopsticks!

MAMA: Whoa, 32 million little wooden sticks that would’ve just gone into a landfill, to rot naturally, but still been of no use.

LEELA: But now it’s a resource that can even find its way back into the restaurants where his chopstick recycling bins are placed as countertops or even artwork on the walls.

MAMA: Talk about the circular economy.

LEELA: Or a new twist on the “cycle of life”

MAMA: Yep. Awesome. Well, it’s early in the year, but this is now officially my favorite story of 2021.

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


FAB FACT NUMBER 1: We know democracy is the system of governance in which everyone (over 18 years old) gets to vote for their leaders. But what’s the sign of a healthy, thriving democracy?

When there is a smooth transition of power  meaning leaders leave peacefully when they are voted out.

FAB FACT NUMBER 2: The ancient Italian city of Pompeii was buried under what?

The hot ash and lava of a volcano, called Mount Vesuvius, which erupted almost 2000 years ago, killing 11. 100 people.

FAB FACT NUMBER 3: What is the name of hot ash and lava when it dries?

It’s called pumice stone, which is a rock with lots of little holes in it.

FAB FACT NUMBER 4: An ATM is a ‘hole in the wall’ that gives you money, when you put your bank card inside. But what do the letters stand for?

The ATM acronym stands for ‘automatic teller machine.’

FAB FACT NUMBER 5: Wooden chopsticks are biodegradable, but what other resources go into making and distributing them?

Human hands and massive machines plant the trees, chop them down and process the wood into chopsticks, never mind all the packaging and fossil fuel to ship them across the world.

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

MAMA: We’ve made it to the Top KID Podcasts 2021 list put together by Feedspot. It’s a super cool list which we’ll also put in our show notes, on our Facebook page and website. So check it out!

LEELA: And if you enjoyed this dip…. in the whirlpool of news and information… then do subscribe to our podcast on…  Apple Podcast, Spotify, Alexa or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re at it… Give us a good rating. Or better still, leave us a review.

Alrighty then. See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!