Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse appears on Smart Talk

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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, May 31, 2018:

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse appears on Thursday’s Smart Talk.

There always are numerous issues related to Pennsylvania’s capital city to discuss and among the topics we’ll ask the Mayor to address are Harrisburg’s finances, proposed new trash and recycling rules, parking and crime.

Harrisburg is part of a lawsuit filed against several financial, legal and engineering firms that had advised the city on the 2003 repairs and retrofit of the city’s trash-burning incinerator.  The suit blames those firms for misleading the city that led to borrowing and huge debts.  At one time, Harrisburg was $360 million in debt and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.  With state assistance, a recovery plan was developed, taxes went up and assets were sold, but today Harrisburg is viable financially.  We’ll talk with the Mayor about what he hopes the suit achieves.

Also, one of those assets that was contracted out was parking.  Most believe parking is expensive in Harrisburg and businesses have long complained that it has hurt their bottom lines.  Papenfus recently announced a plan to make parking free after 5 p.m. in the downtown — something that should help night time businesses like restaurants. 

As a hub for the region, even those who don’t live in Harrisburg can be affected by decisions made there so tune into Thursday’s show.

Lyme — The First Epidemic of Climate Change author

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, May 30, 2018:

The number of cases of Lyme Disease doubled in the U.S. over the past two decades.

The illness is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged or deer ticks.  These ticks feed on the blood of mammals such as mice, raccoons, deer and humans.  

So, what’s behind the increase in Lyme Disease?  

Mary Beth Pfeiffer, author of the new book Lyme The First Epidemic of Climate Change writes that warmer temperatures is a big factor in the spread of the disease.  Ticks that couldn’t survive in some regions are now thriving.  Even though it has nothing to do with climate change, Pfeiffer says ticks are hard to kill and adapt well.  She writes that another reason humans are coming into contact with ticks more often is many places that once were forests or fields have been developed and animals like deer are living in woodlots or closer to humans.

The book also delves into the controversies surrounding the diagnosis of Lyme Disease and whether the thousands of people who show symptoms of Lyme are suffering from chronic Lyme Disease — something many reputable medical professionals discount.

Mary Beth Pfeiffer appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Do you have a question or story to tell about Lyme Disease?  Call 1-800-729-7532 between 9 and 10 a.m. 

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TMI’s future/UN peacekeepers recognized

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, May 29, 2018:

The Three Mile Island nuclear plant hasn’t been profitable for the last six years.  Last week, TMI failed to sell electricity it produces at the PJM Interconnection auction for power needs three years from now.  That marks the fourth year in a row that TMI failed to sell any of its power at the auction.  The facility’s owner Exelon has announced plans to close Three Mile Island in September of 2019.  Last week’s auction makes the plant’s future look bleak.

However, there still are efforts being made to save TMI from closure.  Exelon is looking for federal regulatory reforms to make nuclear competitive with natural gas or renewable energies.  This week, the governor of New Jersey signed legislation, authorizing $300 million annually to rescue its nuclear plants. 

Exelon and TMI supporters say nuclear is clean and doesn’t produce carbon emissions while others decry the loss of 675 jobs at TMI.

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Exelon’s Vice President for Government Affairs David Fein and Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries, who co-chairs a coalition to save the plant.

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U.S. COL. Michael Rauhut & Australian COL. Todd Ashurst

Also, Tuesday is the annual International Day of United Nation’s Peacekeepers.  According to the UN, the day “offers a chance to pay tribute to the contributions of uniforms and civilian personnel to the work of the Organization and to honor more than 3,700 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948.” 

Two peacekeepers appear on Tuesday’s program — COL. Michael Rauhut, director of the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. (PKSOI), U.S. Army War College and Australian COL. Todd Ashurst, Class Vice President, U.S. Army War College.        

Mosquito, tick diseases/DNA ancestry tests

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, May 25, 2018:

Summer-like temperatures are on the way soon and lots of rain this spring means Central Pennsylvania will see a large population of mosquitos, ticks and fleas.  Being bothered is one thing — getting sick is another.

The Centers for Disease Control reported earlier this month that diseases spread by mosquito, tick and flea bites tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016.  There were more than 640,000 cases of vector-borne diseases identified during that period.  

Lyme Disease — spread by tick bites — increased the most.  But Zika and West Nile virus also were up due to mosquito bites.  

On Friday’s Smart Talk, we’ll discuss the dangers presented by these pests and what can be done to reduce bites from them.

Appearing on the program are Tim Abbey, Penn State Extension Educator, Horticulture – Green Industry and Tom Smith, Mosquito Surveillance and Control Pesticide Education and Community and Citizen Engagement at Penn State.

Are you one of the millions of people who have submitted DNA to companies like Ancestry.com or 23 and Me to get information on where your family came from or your ethnic background?  With aggressive marketing and advertising, more and more people are providing a saliva sample in a tube and sending it off only to find out a few weeks later whether they’ve always heard from relatives or what they suspected was true.  How accurate are the tests and what can we learn from them?

Joining us on Friday’s Smart Talk is Darvin Martin, analytical chemist who teaches classes on DNA tests Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society’s genealogy conference.

Road Trip to Nissley Vineyards

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, May 24, 2018:

Wine is the subject of Thursday’s Smart Talk during a Smart Talk Road Trip to Nissley Vineyards in Bainbridge, Lancaster County.

In particular, we’ll be focusing on Pennsylvania wines and the state’s wine industry.  There are more than 200 wineries across the state that produce 1.6 million gallons of wine each year.  Pennsylvania is the nation’s sixth largest wine producer.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we’ll discuss the history of winemaking in Pennsylvania.  William Penn actually had the colony’s first vineyard — planting grapes for wine in 1683 in what is now Philadelphia.  It was almost 300 years later before wineries became common in the state.

Among the topics Smart Talk addresses are the different types of wines produced in Pennsylvania’s six wine regions, the economic impact wine has in the state, how wine has helped increase tourism, wine vocabulary and how to buy wine with confidence.

Our guests come from the Pennsylvania Winery Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the Pennsylvania Wine Society and Nissley Vineyards.

How do clinical trials work?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, May 23, 2018:

In an ideal world, medications, medical devices or procedures could be developed in a laboratory and be ready for use by doctors in a short amount of time.

That may be ideal, but it’s not realistic.  Today, many drugs, devices and procedures are developed through the use of clinical trials that involve human beings who volunteer to be part of them.

Even though there are clinical trials going on all the time and the need for more volunteers, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about them.

For example, most clinical trials take 15 to 17 years before they get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Actually, only about 10% do make it through the clinical trial stages and are approved by FDA.  Clinical trials related to hematology (the study of blood and blood-related diseases) are the most successful while oncology (cancer) trials are the least.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we’ll answer questions about clinical trials like what they involve, if a volunteer has to have the illness or disease being studied and how people can volunteer for a clinical trial?

Our guests are from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center — a teaching hospital.  Dr. Neal Thomas is associate dean for clinical research and a pediatrician and Dr. Christopher Sciamanna is an internal medicine physician, who is exploring whether exercise is a way to prevent reinjury in older adults.  He’s looking for clinical trial volunteers.

Interested in participating in a clinicl trial?  Go to studyfinder.psu.edu.

For more on clinical trials plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. From policy to personal choices we’re taking a  comprehensive look at today’s health system. Online at TransformingHealth.org. A partnership of WITF, Penn State Health and WellSpan Health.

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Dr. Neal Thomas & Dr. Christopher Sciamanna

Poor people’s Campaign marches on Harrisburg

The year 1968 was considered a monumental year in American history.  The Civil Rights Movement was at its height, protests over the war in Vietnam grew, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago was disrupted by violent protests and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy were assasinated.  Before he was killed, Dr. King started “The Poor People’s Campaign” to fight racism, poverty and militarism.

Fifty years later, The Poor People’s Campaign has been resurrected. Renamed The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival — the protest movement is described as a “non-violent six-week season demanding new programs to fight poverty and racism, immediate attention to ecological devastation and measures to curb militarism and the war economy.”  Protests have been going on in nearly three dozen states, including Pennsylvania.

The campaign kicked off in Harrisburg last week.  After a rally, 13 people were arrested for blocking traffic.

So what does The Poor People’s Campaign want to achieve?

That’s a question we’ll ask on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.  Our guests are Leslie Avila from the group Movement of Immigrant Leaders and Rabbi Michael Pollack of March On Harrisburg.

Asian Pacific Heritage/Author Allen Guelzo on Reconstruction

May is Asian American and Pacific Heritage Month. May was chosen in the late 1970s to coincide with the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Thousands of Asians help build that railroad but Asians and Pacific Islanders have contributed much more to America.

Pennsylvania is home to 433 thousand people who trace their roots to Asia and the Pacific Islands. Many are entrepreneurs who have created businesses in the state.

We discuss that unique history and heritage on Monday’s Smart Talk with Tiffany Chang Lawson, Executive Director, Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Special Projects and Thomas S. Lee, Vice Chair of the Commission.

Also, the Reconstruction period after the Civil War is generally thought to be from 1865 to 1877. It’s a time that doesn’t get much attention in the history books, but yet it’s when decisions were made that still are being felt today. Many of those decisions didn’t have a positive impact.

On Monday’s program, we’re joined by Dr. Allen Guelzo, author of the new book Reconstruction A Concise History. Dr. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director, Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College.

Poll: Americans positive on immigrants/Newlywed finances

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, May 18, 2018:

Immigration is a hot issue in the political landscape and a divisive topic in communities around the country. How do American’s feel about immigration today? A Bucknell University survey finds that American’s views on new immigrants have improved significantly since the last presidential election.

The nationally representative survey was conducted by YouGov for the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy from March 26 – April 1. The survey results show that perceptions of new immigrants and the perceived value they bring to the country have improved across all measures, since a similar survey was conducted in July 2016.

The survey results do reflect some political differences among respondents, but findings demonstrate that most Americans hold some positive views about new immigrants.

There are partisan divides — with Democrats viewing immigrants more favorably than Republicans — but Americans of all political leanings hold at least some positive views about new immigrants. The results also show that as a group, Trump voters are not an anti-immigration bloc.

Bucknell Political Science Professor Chris Ellis directed the polling for the Bucknell Survey Research Laboratory and he will be on Friday’s Smart Talk to talk about the results. 

Royal wedding watchers have waited for Saturday’s big event for months. One wonders if Prince Harry and Megan Markle have taken that time to plan for more than what they’ll be wearing. Have they discussed financials? According to family wealth advisors, money is the number one reason that people seek marriage counseling today and it plays a prominent role in most divorce proceedings.

With June as the most popular month to get married, we’ll discuss the top three must-dos for newlyweds of any age to secure their financial future. Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker is a family wealth advisor and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and she will be in the studio to discuss how important it is to protect your financial future in marriage if the unexpected happens.

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Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker, Avantra Family Wealth

Sports betting now part of PA gambling expansion

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photo by Scott LaMar WITF files

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, May 17, 2018:

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling on a New Jersey case that essentially legalizes gambling on sporting events.  The decision was met with happiness by many who play fantasy sports games or have bet on games illegally in the past.

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved expansion of gambling last year and sports betting was taken into consideration, but that doesn’t mean the state is ready to roll it out immediately.  In fact, it may be some time before bets can be placed on sporting events in Pennsylvania.  New Jersey has indicated in could be ready to accept bets within the next few weeks.

Regulators in Pennsylvania still have to decide how odds and point spreads will be set, whether wagers can be placed on line and what minimum and maximum bets will be taken.

The state’s casinos can apply for licenses to offer betting on sports.  Those licenses may cost upwards of $10 million.  There will be a 34% tax rate on the house’s winnings.

Sports wagering comes on the heels of a significant gambling expansion last fall in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss sports gambling and the expansion of other games in the state are Doug Harbach of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Josh Ercole, Chief Operating Officer at Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s businesses are optimistic about the national and state economies and the prospects for their own businesses.  That’s according to the PNC Economic Outlook Survey of Small and Middle Market Business Owners.

PNC Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Gus Faucher is on Thursday’s Smart Talk with details and analysis.