Why are mothers still dying from childbirth? (Encore episode)


What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 18, 2019:

Giving birth to a child is one of the most significant events in a woman’s life. It is also one of the most dangerous.

It is difficult to believe that in a modern medical era women still die from childbirth complications. In fact, while maternal mortality in the world has declined, rates in the U.S have increased.

Approximately 700 women die each year in the U.S. as a result of pregnancy or pregnancy‐related complications. For every woman that dies, dozens more experience severe complications.

For minority women, the risk is even greater. Black women are dying at three to four times the rate of white women after childbirth.

What is killing these mothers? Are these deaths preventable?

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss factors affecting maternal mortality are Dr. Rebecca Sieber, M.D., OB-GYN, Lancaster Physicians for Women, Lancaster General Hospital, Dr. Jason Baxter, M.D., Associate Professor, OB-GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and member of the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, and Dolores Smith, mission director maternal and child health, March of Dimes in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Jersey.


Dr. Rebecca Sieber, OB/GYN

Mental Health Awareness Month


What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, May 29, 2019:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Nationwide, 57.7 million Americans – nearly one-in-four – live with some type of mental health condition, and about 20 percent of children have a diagnosable mental illness during a given year.

Since 1949, Mental Health America has run a campaign in May to educate the public about the many forms of mental illness that affect people as well as how to improve mental health.

This year’s campaign focuses on the mind and body and includes topics such as animal companionship, spirituality and religion and work-life balance.

Another issue related to mental health is stigma and discrimination. Though people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, media portrayals often lead to misperceptions that people with mental illnesses are inherently violent. Many employers are also unaware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to employees with mental health conditions even though workplace stress causes approximately one million employees to miss work each day.

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Dr. Gina Cavorsi (L) and Shalawn James (R)

Joining Smart Talk to discuss a broad range of issues relating to mental health and to answer listener questions about mental health is Shalawn James, Director of Program Advocacy with the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania, Dr. Gina Cavorsi, Chief Medical Officer, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Christine Michaels, CEO National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Keystone Pennsylvania.

Libraries managing conflict resolution


What to look for on Smart Talk,Tuesday, May 28, 2019:

There was time when a librarian’s greatest challenge might be quieting a noisy patron or tracking down overdue materials. In modern times, everything seems more complicated, including the role of a public librarian.

Libraries around the country are now adding conflict resolution to their professional skillset. As the number of library patrons experiencing homelessness increase, staff are encountering situations where skills are needed to resolve problems on the spot.

How does a library remain inclusive and welcoming while managing encounters that are often endemic to homeless patrons?

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the challenges facing libraries are Karen Cullings, Interim Executive Director, Dauphin County Library System, Randie Yeager, Human Services Director with the Dauphin County Human Services Department, Lisa Howald, Library Manager of the McCormick Riverfront Library, and Ryan Dowd, Director, Chicago-area homeless shelter and author of The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness.

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Randie Yeager, Lisa Howald, and Karen Cullings

Also, state lawmakers are taking steps to impose a fee on communities that rely completely on the Pennsylvania State Police for law enforcement support.

Half the commonwealth’s municipalities — home to 20 percent of its population — would be affected.

PA Post reporter Emily Previti appears on Smart Talks with the details.


Emily Previti

Explore Pennsylvania!

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Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season and with it comes dreams of vacations and long weekends.

There is so much to explore in Pennsylvania, from arts and history, to outdoor recreation and cultural events.

History buffs from around the world travel here to experience, first-hand, the starring role Pennsylvania played in the founding of our nation.

A sportsman’s paradise, Pennsylvania features a diverse landscape of rugged mountains, scenic waterways and state forests.

There is ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in nearly every corner of the state. If you are looking for something to do or a place to visit, you won’t have to journey far in Pennsylvania to find it.

Travel and tourism is big business in Pennsylvania, too, generating more than $41 billion each year, resulting in $4.3 billion in tax revenue and responsible for 490,000 jobs.

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Chris Barrett, Carrie Fisher Lepore & Rick Dunlap

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk to talk about exploring Pennsylvania as we enter the busy summer travel season is Carrie Fisher Lepore, Deputy Secretary, Office of Marketing, Tourism, and Film, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; Chris Barrett, President/CEO, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau; and Rick Dunlap, Director of Public Relations, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg.

WITF staff will also share some of their favorite sites in Pennsylvania, so put on your shoes and let’s explore PA!

Fifth Anniversary of Same-Sex Marriage in Pennsylvania / Horse Racing Deaths


Nancy Janda, left, and her new spouse Larisa Van Winkle, right, parade through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh after being one of 19 same-sex couples married by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in a marriage ceremony held in the Pittsburgh City Council chambers, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Tuesday, May 21, 2019:

On May 20, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones ruled in Whitewood v. Wolf that Pennsylvania’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex couples to get married in Pennsylvania and ensuring already-married couples’ marriages would be recognized.

Twenty-three plaintiffs from across the Commonwealth had filed a lawsuit through the American Civil Liberties Union after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 in U.S. v. Windsor.

Joining us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the impact of this ruling five years later, as well as the ongoing challenges facing the LGBT community in Pennsylvania, are Jason Landau Goodman, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, and Amanda Arbour, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Central PA.

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Jason Landau Goodman and Amanda Arbour

Also, horseracing is an exciting spectator sporting event and big business in Pennsylvania. It is also high-risk, to both horse and jockey. In fact, a racehorse dies every week in Pennsylvania; a shocking statistic by any measure.

Why do racehorses die with such frequency and what can be done to improve outcomes?

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the industry‘s horse safety and health challenges is Dr. Kate Papp, DVM, Veterinarian and Co-founder of PA Racehorse Rehoming and Dr. Bryan Langlois, President of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and Medical Director of the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County.

On Tuesday at 10pm, HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will investigates racehorse deaths, as well. Dr. Kate Papp appears on the program.

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Dr. Bryan Langlois, DVM and Dr. Kate Papp, DVM

Escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran / Breaking down the primary election results


Reporters surround the stage before a meeting of energy ministers from OPEC and its allies to discuss prices and production cuts, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 19, 2019. The meeting takes places as tensions flare in the Persian Gulf after the U.S. ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the region over an unexplained threat they perceive from Iran, which comes a year after the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on Iranian oil. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, May 23, 2019:

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated over the past several weeks, which has led some members of Congress to warn that a war could be on the horizon. While the Trump Administration has said its goal is to deter Iranian aggression, President Trump tweeted last weekend, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Earlier this month, on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini announced a partial withdraw of his own, stating that Iran would begin to keep enriched uranium in excess of the limits of the deal. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

U.S. officials have also cited concerning intelligence that suggests Iran could be preparing to harm the United States, and, in response, have deployed military assets to the region and evacuated some personnel from neighboring countries. What threat does Iran pose to the United States? Is a military confrontation on the horizon?

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the current geopolitical landscape between the United States and Iran is Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh, Professor of International Affairs at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

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Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh, PhD

Also, Pennsylvania held its primary election on Tuesday. On the ballot were the State Superior Court, county commissioners, school boards, and municipal officials as well as a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 12th Congressional District.

Appearing on the program to discuss what surprised him about the election results as well as the path forward for Pennsylvania politics as we approach the 2020 presidential election is Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs and Professor of Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

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Dr. G. Terry Madonna

Attorney General sues Purdue Pharma and foster care in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, May 22, 2019:

Since 2017, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been part of a coalition of 41 states investigating opioid makers and distributors. Last week, his office filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

According to the filing, sales representatives from Purdue made 531,000 visits to Pennsylvania, second only to California, and continued to push doctors to prescribe opioids to patients even when they did not need them. The suit alleges a violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the lawsuit and his office’s efforts to combat opioid abuse is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

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Linda Earhart and Sandra Schreffler

Also, across Pennsylvania, more than 13,000 children live in foster care. Most of the children enter the system facing serious barriers to success: trauma, mental health challenges, and abuse.

Organizations that help children also experience difficult challenges, foremost is finding willing, and suitable, families to foster.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the state of foster care in the Commonwealth are Sandra Schreffler, foster care recruitment supervisor with the Children’s Home of Reading and Linda Earhart, Pennsylvania foster parent.

Hives and honey / PA State Animal Response Team


What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, May 17, 2019:

Bees are nature’s most prolific, and important, pollinators.

Their intrinsic value to global ecosystems and commercial agriculture cannot be overstated. More than 75 percent of all food crops and nearly 90 percent of wild plants need animal pollinators to some degree.

Bees and other natural pollinators are under threat and are disappearing rapidly. Habitat loss is a primary cause, along with pesticides and global climate change.


Comparison of bees (Photos of bumblebee and honeybee in public domain, photos of wasp and hornet courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the role of honey bees and beekeeping are members of the York County Beekeepers Association, which is celebrating 100 years of bee-advocacy. Many restaurants in downtown York are also participating in Restaurant Honey Week from May 18-May 25. Joining the conversation is David Papke, chairman of the Centennial Celebration Committee and a 40-year beekeeper, Jeremy Barnes, past-president of YCBA, and Gary Anderson, president of York County Beekeeper’s Association.

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Jeremy Barnes, David Papke and Gary Anderson

Also, animals are especially vulnerable when disasters strike.

In the late 1990’s, Hurricane Floyd decimated parts of the Southeastern U.S. Millions of animals perished and thousands were separated from their owners.

North Carolina recognized that many animals could have been saved if there was some type of coordinated response. So they developed a plan for future emergencies.

In 2004, Pennsylvania followed suit and launched a State Animal Response Team (PASART) to prepare for natural and other animal-related events.


SART members pulling a horse dummy out of water, as part of the team’s animal-related rescue services training.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss their unique mission are Sarah Speed, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team and Ed Kraus, director of advancement.

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Sarah Speed and Ed Kraus

What’s happening at the Capitol?/What do Pennsylvanians think about health?

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With a budget deadline on the horizon and a flurry of legislative activity on issues ranging from abortion to judicial elections, the Capitol is an increasingly busy place.

Joining  us on Monday’s Smart Talk to provide an update on what’s happening in Harrisburg is WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer. Among the topics to be discussed are a bill passed last week in the State House that would ban abortions on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis, Governor Wolf’s Restore PA plan to invest in Pennsylvania infrastructure, and competing plans to change judicial selection.

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WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer

Also, a recent poll conducted in conjunction with the Muhlenberg College Public Health Program found that a majority of Pennsylvanians disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling health care. Six in ten Pennsylvanians want to let the Affordable Care Act stand or strengthen it to do more, and nearly two in three Pennsylvanians support the federal government offering a “Medicare type” insurance plan to all Americans that would compete with private insurance plans.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss these and other findings is Dr. Christopher Borick, Director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion and Professor of Political Science.

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Dr. Christopher Borick (Photo courtesy of Muhlenberg College)

Remembering ‘Operation Overlord’ / Congressional candidate Rep. Fred Keller


This is the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June 1944, during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Allied invasion at the Normandy coast in France during World War II. Landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five landing beaches. Seen in the background is part of the large fleet that brought the Allied troops across the English Channel. Barrage balloons are flying in the air, designed to entangle low-flying enemy aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, May 16, 2019:

On June 6, 1944, during World War II, American and Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious invasion in history.

Operation Overlord” is best known today as “D-Day,” when forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France. By the end of that day, the Allies had established a foothold on the French coastline.


A reenactment scene from a past Army Heritage Days event at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA.

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A reenactment scene from a past Army Heritage Days event at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA.

This weekend, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) in Carlisle is recognizing ‘Operation Overlord’ during the annual Armed Forces weekend commemoration event.

Army Heritage Days is a “timeline” living history event that features several hundred reenactors from all eras, in addition to equipment displays and a fly-over by WWII-era aircraft.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss ‘Operation Overlord’ and the events on the Heritage Trail are Geoffrey Mangelsdorf, Director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and Jared Frederick, History professor at Penn State Altoona and a WWII living historian.

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Geoffrey Mangelsdorf

Also, Pennsylvania will hold a special election on May 21 for the 12th Congressional District seat vacated by U.S. Representative Tom Marino. Marino announced in January his decision to leave following his re-election to a two-year term last November.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss his campaign for this position is Pennsylvania state representative Fred Keller. Representative Keller is a Republican, serving the 85th district, which includes Snyder County (Part) and Union County (Part).

The 12th Congressional District is located in central and northern Pennsylvania and includes Perry, Juniata, Mifflin, Snyder, and Union Counties and parts of Northumberland and Montour Counties in the WITF listening area.

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Rep. Fred Keller