US Army War College International Fellows

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Courtesy of the US Army War College web site

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, July 31, 2018:

The U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks is known as an educational institution for senior military officers and government civilians. It is lesser known, however, for the international contingent who comprise one-quarter of the student body each year. 

The first six international officers arrived for the one-year program in 1977. Those officers represented Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea and Mexico. This year, 73 nations sent officers to Carlisle Barracks as International Fellows, as they are called. Their academic year consists of studying, research and fellowship, in areas ranging from US culture, military concepts and doctrine, to national and theater level strategies. 

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Col. Robert Connolly and Col. Elisabeth Michelsen, International Fellows/Photos: Charity Murtorff

The War College has very competitive selection process for US participants. The qualifications and selection for international officers is equally competitive. 

The United States Army Chief of Staff extends an invitation each year to approximately 80 senior military officers from different countries. Officers must meet certain criteria to attend, including that they are destined for strategic leadership positions in their military. 

Since 1978, more than 1,700 International Fellows have graduated from the War College. Sixty-six have gone on to become Chief of their respective Military Service or the Chief of Defense (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff equivalent).  

There are currently two heads of state who have graduated from the program: President El Sisi of Egypt and President Buhari of Nigeria 

International officers are encouraged to bring their families for the year they spend in Carlisle, and to integrate fully into the local community and schools.  

Joining Smart Talk on Tuesday to talk about their experience is Col. Robert Connolly from the United Kingdom and international program class president and Col. Elisabeth Michelsen of Norway. 

Also in the studio is Kevin Bremer, Deputy Director International Fellows Program, U.S. Army War College. 

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Kevin Bremer, Col. Elisabeth Michelsen and Col. Robert Connolly

A list of locations represented in this year’s class is found here: International Fellows.pdf

Democratic Socialism and Whose Streets?

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Activist Brittany Ferrell and crowd of protesters in WHOSE STREETS?, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, July 30, 2018:

Thursday, Smart Talk hosted Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders. Sanders identifies as a Democratic Socialist, but what exactly does that mean? 

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) website says of the group, “We believe that working people should run both the economy and society, democratically, to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.” 

Though there is variation among people who identify as Democratic Socialists, in general, they believe that production should be in the hands of the workers and that capitalism is problematic. They also believe that some sectors, such as healthcare, should be entirely in the hands of the government.

According to the DSA website, Democratic Socialists’ perfect society would be humane, environmentally friendly, and equal for all. 

More Democrats are aligning with the movement; NPR reports that DSA membership went from about 6,000 in 2015 to 43,000 in early July 2018. 

To discuss Democratic Socialism on Monday’s Smart Talk are Professor Joseph Sabino Mistick, J.D., Duquesne University School of Law, and Danny Martin, Harrisburg DSA, chapter steering committee.


Danny Martin


On Monday, July 30th at 10pm, WITF-TV will air the documentary Whose Streets?  The film provides an “unflinching look” at the Ferguson uprising.

On a Sunday afternoon in August 2014, an unarmed Michael Brown was walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of Saint Louis. Brown encountered a police officer and what happened next is disputed by law enforcement and citizens who saw the event unfold.

Within minutes, Brown lay dead in the street from multiple gunshot wounds, where his body would remain for more than four hours.

National and international media descended upon Ferguson in the hours and days following Brown’s killing. They captured and transmitted images of street protests and a grassroots movement began demanding justice for Brown and for the community.

Residents and people from around the country joined the protests and some came to Ferguson, including two filmmakers, Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, to lend their voice.

Folayan and Davis produced the documentary because they “felt compelled to counter the images the media portrayed that dehumanized Mike Brown and desensitized viewers to the scenes of chaos and his death.”

Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis will join Smart Talk on Monday to discuss the film project and the impact they hope to make. 

The Newspaper Industry’s Changing Landscape

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, July 27, 2018:

The newspaper industry has undergone a transformation over the last 10 to 15 years. With the advancement of the internet, newspapers jumped on board to develop a web presence offering ready access to their customers.

While print customers paid for subscription services, the web version was free to anyone with access to a computer.

Eventually, the industry’s advertising-based business model felt the economic pressure of newspapers giving their product away for free.  The thinking went that if subscribers can access the news free online, any time of day, why would they pay for a newspaper that arrives hours well after the news events occur?

Some say that by offering a free product, the industry set itself up for potential failure.

Today, some newspapers around the country, and in the mid-state, have cut staff and production schedules, while others are placing paywalls between their product and customers. 

Other newspapers, including some in Central Pennsylvania south alternatives like reducing the number of print editions of their papers and putting most content on their websites or actually adding more news.

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Dr. Kyle Heim, Alex Hayes, Cate Barron, Ted Sickler and Scott LaMar

Joining Smart Talk on Friday to talk about the newspaper industry’s changing landscape are Cate Barron, Vice President of Content with PennLive and the Patriot-News, Ted Sickler, LNP Media Group, Inc.’s Managing Editor of Features and Special Projects, and Alex Hayes, Managing Editor of the Gettysburg Times. Also joining the conversation is Dr. Kyle Heim, Professor of Communication/Journalism, Shippensburg University.

China not taking recyclables impacts midstate/Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, July 26, 2018:

Before this year, China was the largest buyer of recycled commodities, which were by volume the largest United States export. However, beginning January 2018, China stopped accepting two dozen foreign recyclables, including mixed paper and mixed plastics. In addition, it lowered the permitted amount of contaminants – non-recyclable items that are put in recycling bins – from five percent to 0.5 percent. This was seen as a nearly impossible level to achieve. 

Since the U.S. can no longer sell its recyclables to China, the refuse is piling up at material recovery facilities as they try to find new outlets for the waste. To deal with this change, some counties, such as Lancaster County, are cutting down on household items that can be recycled. Other counties are considering raising fees to compensate for the loss of the foreign outlet for recycling services.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, Kathryn Sandoe, Chief Communications Officer at Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and Bob Bylone, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center join us to talk about recycling in Pennsylvania. 

For more information on this topic:


Bob Bylone and Kathryn Sandoe

Also, Jeff Weaver — the Campaign Manager for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016 has written a new book about the campaign.  It’s called How Bernie Won — Inside the Revolution That’s Taking Back Our Country — and Where We Go From Here.

Weaver appears on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss the Sanders campaign and presidential politics.

Jeff Weaver will be at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg Saturday at 6 p.m.

Rain and Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future

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Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF


What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, July 25, 2018:

The incessant rain that started falling last weekend is still going strong. It’s causing flooding throughout Central Pennsylvania, while closing roads and damaging homes. 

The rainwater doesn’t only inconvenience drivers – it also poses a serious danger to pedestrians. A woman was swept away after falling into the Conewago Creek in southern Dauphin County Monday night.

Water is running into basements and even the first floors of homes, as well.

The rain is expected to continue Wednesday and maybe taper off with a continuing chance of showers Thursday. By the time the precipitation ends, some areas could have up to a foot of rain.

Wednesday’s Smart Talk provides an update on the weather, roads and other valuable information with Eric Horst, Millersville University meteorologist, Fritzi Schreffler from PennDOT, and Jeff Thomas from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

The Sentinel is compiling a map of flooded roads and invites people to report flooding on their form.

Also, solar energy is responsible for less than one percent of Pennsylvania’s net electricity generation, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future project group hopes that by 2030, solar power produced in this state will account for 10 percent of retail electric sales. 

group of stakeholders with expertise in areas ranging from business to environmental advocacy met in a series of workshops to come up with ideas for increasing the state’s production of solar power. In addition, everyone is invited to comment on the plan.

As explained in the Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future draft planincreased solar energy can have health, economic, and environmental benefits. 

To achieve its goal of expanding solar power in Pennsylvania, the project group determined that a combination of cross-cutting, grid scale solar generation and distributed solar generation will likely be necessary.  

Cross-cutting involves making solar power affordable. Grid scale (solar energy produced in large amounts at farms or plants) is expected to account for the majority of Pennsylvania solar generation, while it is anticipated that distributed solar generation (small-scale technology used to produce electricity closer to the end use of power) will account for 10-35 percent of the state’s solar energy. 

On Wednesday‘s Smart Talk to discuss Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future is Patrick McDonnellSecretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. 

National Geographic Photographer and Issues facing Asian American/Pacific Islanders

National Geographic  photographer Joel Sartore is a man on a mission, and time is running out. Not for him, but for the subjects of his work.

Sartore is the founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark, a 25-year documentary project to save species and habitat around the world by bringing attention to their plight. He hopes the photographs will encourage people to do something before it’s too late.

Sartore’s goal is to photograph the more than twelve thousand animal species currently living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. He is more than halfway there.

Some of his subjects are already gone. In 2008, Sartore photographed “Bryn,” the last remaining Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. Her death marked the species extinction.

Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark will be featured at The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, Millersburg, Pa, through the end of August. He will be speaking there from 3-4 on Saturday, July 28.

Sartore joins us Tuesday to talk about his project and the status of at-risk species.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in Pennsylvania, according to an article in the Public Opinion reporting on census trends. In fact, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest growing racial groups in the United States.

Like any group of people, they are not immune to the social influences and issues affecting society today. Issues such as the opioid epidemic, sexual assault, domestic violence, and bullying impact their communities without distinction.

Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs is hosting a symposium on Saturday, July 28, at the State Museum to highlight these complex issues and give participants access to local and state resources.

Joining us in the studio is Tiffany Chang Lawson, the Executive Director of the advisory commission and Dr. Sue Mukherjee, Vice Chair, Jobs that Pay Committee, to discuss the event and how they hope it will impact the AAPI community.

Caving and “Eat First, Cry Later”

The subject of caves gained prominence in light of the Thailand cave rescue. According to cavers from Franklin and Cumberland County, Pennsylvania is home to over a thousand caves.   

Caves are formed when rock is dissolved by acidic rainwater that seeps through tiny pores in the rock surface. After tens of thousands of years, a cave is formed. 

Some of Pennsylvania’s largest caves extend over a mile in length and reach more than 200 feet in depth.Exploring caves is called caving or spelunking, and some area hobbyists have been practicing for over 50 years. Many are drawn to the historical and scientific significance of caves, while others seek the thrill of exploration. 

Caves are essential to environmental ecosystems. Animals and plants make their homes in caves and it is where rain is filtered before returning to the earth’s water supply. When exploring, cavers are careful not to disturb the natural way of life, taking nothing but pictures and leaving nothing but footprints. 

Discussing cave exploration in Pennsylvania on Monday’s Smart Talk are Franklin County caver Patrick Minnick and Kim Schwartz, general manager of Indian Echo Caverns. 

Also on today’s Smart Talk, Mimi Barash Coppersmith joins us to talk about her recently published memoir “Eat First, Cry Later: The Life Lessons of a First-Generation College Graduate, Penn State Alumna and Female CEO.” 

The book details her life from childhood through her mid-80s. She was born during the Great Depression and grew up a Jewish Pennsylvanian girl during World War II. She attended Penn State University and has remained an active member of the Penn State community. She has also been involved in numerous charitable organizations and events. She made her way as a businesswoman when the field was largely dominated by men; she has experienced the losses of several people close to her, and she has combatted breast cancer and mental illness. During her life, she found purpose in helping people and developed into a feminist.

These experiences taught Mimi Barash Coppersmith many influential lessons, 48 of which she enumerates throughout her book. Several of these lessons involve helping and receiving help from others and the importance of interpersonal connections. 

Social Determinants of Health

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, July 20, 2018:


Dr. Wanda Filer

On Friday’s Smart Talk, guest host Dr. Wanda Filer, Strategic Health Institute, leads a discussion on Social Determinants of Health.

There are many factors that can influence personal health. These factors are known as Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Determinants can include race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth, access to healthy food and employment, amongst many others.  

How can we better understand what affects health? How can this information be used to improve inequalities within communities in the region? Can funding from programs like Medicaid help improve housing, transportation and food security and thereby improve an individual or family’s health outlook?

Social Determinants may also impact your health insurance. Earlier this week, a report on Morning Edition explained how health insurers are utilizing details through social media to determine your rates.

On Friday’s Smart Talk, guest host Dr. Wanda Filer will be joined by Leesa Allen, Executive Deputy Secretary at Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Dr. Margot Savoy, Chair and Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Temple University, current national chair of the Commission doing the EveryONE project, and Dr. Steven Woolf, Director Emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Leesa Allen, Dr. Steven Woolf and Dr. Margot Savoy

Additional reading on this topic:

Robocall Epidemic and Improving Customer Service


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, July 19, 2018:

It never fails, the phone rings as soon as you sit down for dinner or begin a task; those intrusive and unwelcome phone solicitations.

Automated phone calls, also known as robocalls, have doubled in the last year with more than four billion calls placed last month alone.

Consumers find these calls annoying, intrusive and unwanted. Some of the calls are scams and some are legal. Robocallers are finding unique ways to disguise numbers to appear legitimate.

Who is making all these calls and how do you stop them?

Today on Smart Talk guest host Brian Roche (WGAL News 8) examines the robocall epidemic with attorney Margot Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center and Jonathan Banks, USTelecom, Law & Policy.                  

Also today, we focus on customer service and customer care.

Treating customers poorly is not a crime – but it can cause significant long-term damage to a business and its reputation. The impact of a bad experience can significantly affect the bottom line. A recent online report suggests that bad customer service experiences cost U.S. businesses $75 billion dollars annually.

Companies are going back to school to address customer care. Joining us on Smart Talk is Duffy Johnson from The Etiquette School of Central PA to discuss the basics of good customer service.

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Duffy Johnson



Organ Donation


What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, July 18, 2018:

Medical advances in organ transplantation have progressed significantly with improvements in surgical methods and drug therapies. Yet, despite medical progress the shortage of organs remains the greatest challenge, world-wide.

In Pennsylvania alone, thousands are waiting on lists for months and even years. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the national waiting list, joining more 118,000 people across the country who also need organs. The numbers are daunting.

Organ donations can come from both living and deceased donors. One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and help 75 people.

Joining guest host Valerie Pritchett (abc27) in the studio is TJ Bradley, a York county husband and father who is currently waiting for a kidney. Also, Lauren Gydosh recently donated a kidney to a former co-worker and will be in the studio to share her experience.

Dr. William Hoffman, director of the Living Donor Program at UPMC Pinnacle, joins us, along with Rebecca Brown, nurse manager with UPMC Pinnacle Transplantation services. 


Rebecca Brown, Dr. William Hoffman, TJ Bradley, and Lauren Gydosh

For more on organ donation plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare, check out WITF’s Transforming Health, a partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital BlueCross.