Understanding the threat of eating disorders


What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, June 28, 2019:

Eating disorders are recognized as the most fatal mental illnesses. Someone dies as the result of an eating disorder about once an hour, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition.

Eating disorders affect Pennsylvanians from all backgrounds. Genetics, environmental factors and personality traits can create a greater risk for an eating disorder.

Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania State Senate that would require schools to provide educational information about eating disorders to parents with children in grades 5-12. Senate Bill 324 would also create guidelines for local school boards to develop screening programs and provide a framework for notifiying parents if a problem is identified.

Friday’s Smart Talk discusses the eating disorders that affect at least 30 million Americans – including binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa – and what the state is doing to combat them.

Joining Smart Talk are Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks) the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 324, Dr. Rachel Levine, the secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Joey Julius, a former Penn State kicker in recovery for an eating disorder, and Claire Mysko, the chief executive officer of the National Eating Disorders Association.

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Joey Julius (L) and Dr. Rachel Levine (R)

Joey Julius Penn State Football Highlights

Tackle in Kent State game

Tackle in Michigan game

(Footage courtesy of Big Ten Network)

United States strategy in Iran and the Middle East / Philadelphia refinery fire

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This image released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday, June 17, 2019, and taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter, shows what the Navy says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous. (U.S. Department of Defense via AP)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, June 27, 2019:

More than a year ago, the Trump Administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran based on the belief the deal did little to curb Iran’s nuclear threat.

Tensions between the two countries escalated after two oil tankers were attacked this month while transiting through the Gulf of Oman and Iran shot down an American drone.

President Trump called off a potential retaliatory strike after learning that it could kill 150 people, but, days later, his administration imposed another round of sanctions against senior Iranian officials including the Ayatollah.

Last month, Smart Talk explored the status of U.S.-Iranian relations, but, in the past several weeks, developments have once again thrust the issue back into the limelight.
Have the sanctions done anything but provoke the Iranians to respond militarily? What is the American strategy in Iran and the Middle East? What are the next steps for both the United States and Iran?

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to zoom out and discuss the big picture situation between the two nations and the U. S.’ broader strategy in the region is Dr. Christopher Bolan, professor of Middle East Security Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute, which is part of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. Read his column on U.S.-Iranaian relations in Defense One here.

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Dr. Christopher Bolan

Also, the largest oil refinery on the East Coast is in South Philadelphia and operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The refinery caught fire Friday following a series of explosions, sending plumes of smoke into the air.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause and evaluate the impact on the region’s air quality.

Joining us on Smart Talk to talk about the investigation and reports that dangerous chemicals were released in the area is StateImpact Pennsylvania Reporter Susan Phillips.

Farmers see impact of record rain and TEDxYouth@Lancaster


What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, June 26, 2019:

Record rainfall over the past year has put some Pennsylvania farmers behind schedule.

Pennsylvania saw 21 days of rain in May 2019, tying the state record for most rainy days in a month. This continues a pattern of above-average rainfall across the region that began last year.

Record-breaking rain has made it difficult to plant things like corn and soybeans on time. If a farmer is lucky enough to plant on time, the rain can wash away or sometimes rot crops in place.

All of this precipitation 67.03 inches in Harrisburg in 2018, according to the National Weather Service – left fields with standing water, some for weeks on end.

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Karen Paulus (L) and Mark O’Neill (R)

Joining Smart Talk to discuss how high rain totals affects farming operations are Mark O’Neill, PA Farm Bureau communications director, Karen Paulus, a farmer at Paulus Mt. Airy Orchards in Dillsburg, and Jim Barbour, a produce and hay farmer in Susquehanna County.

Also, TEDxYouth@Lancaster is coming to the Ware Center in Lancaster on June 30 from 1-5 p.m.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. Independently run TEDx events like Lancaster’s help share ideas in communities around the world.

TEDxYouth@Lancaster will feature speakers age 21 or younger. This year’s TEDxYouth@Lancaster features 10 speakers, ranging from ages 13 to 20. The theme is Rising Above.

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Bekah Gerace (L), Gaurav Mittal & Bob Vasile

Appearing on Smart Talk and speaking at TEDxYouth@Lancaster are 17-year-old Bekah Gerace, who battled cancer and mental illness and noticed being treated differently for a physical illness versus a mental illness, and 16-year-old Gaurav Mittal, who believes in the importance of research and created a stand-alone prosthetic hand that he operates just by thinking. Joining Gerace and Gaurav on Smart Talk is Bob Vasile, executive director of TEDxLancaster.

Helping students remain in Community College and refugee resettlement numbers dip


What to look for on Smart Talk, Tuesday, June 25, 2019:

Attending college is a big commitment. A commitment of time, resources, and juggling personal obligations, like work and family. For many people, the obstacles to a higher education may seem insurmountable.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is promoting a program aimed at helping people break down some of those barriers.

The Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) program is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Human Services and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. Resources are directed to students enrolled in state community colleges who also receive public assistance, through programs that help with food, housing, and other bills.

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the KEYS initiative and its benefits are Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Human Services, Cynthia Doherty, Harrisburg Area Community College provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Melissa Addis, student at HACC participating in KEYS program.

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Melissa Addis (front), Secretary Teresa Miller (middle) and Cynthia Doherty (back)

Also, several years ago Lancaster city was dubbed “America’s refugee capital” in a BBC article because of the number of refugees settling there. The report indicated that since 2013 Lancaster received 20 times more refugees per capita than the rest of the US.

But more recently, those numbers have been cut in half. What accounts for the recent change?

Joining us on Smart Talk to talk about resettling refugees and what the changing numbers mean is Sheila Mastropietro, office director with Church World Services of Lancaster and Stephanie Gromek, development and communications coordinator at CWS.


Stephanie Gromek (left) and Sheila Mastropietro (right)

100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the road ahead for women in politics

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A 1913 Women’s Suffrage March in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Information Agency/Public Domain)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, June 24, 2019:

On June 24, 1919, Pennsylvania became the seventh state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

The constitutional amendment came after decades of protest and activism by women’s groups when President Woodrow Wilson finally called a special congressional session in May 1919. The amendment was ratified later that year, and women began to vote by the presidential election of 1920, the same year the League of Women Voters was established.

In the immediate aftermath of the suffrage movement’s crowning achievement, Congress passed a flurry of new legislation aimed towards women’s issues, and, now 100 years later, women constitute a majority of the American electorate – in every presidential election since 1964, more women have voted than men.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the historical context of the women’s suffrage movement is Dr. Christina Larocco, Scholarly Programs Manager at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Louise Stevenson, Professor of History and American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College.

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Dr. Louise Stevenson (L) and Dr. Christina Larocco (R)

For all the advances in women’s rights, women are still significantly underrepresented in elected office, making up less than one-fourth of members in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In Pennsylvania, the disparity is as acute; 24.9 percent of PA legislators are women, and the Commonwealth has never had a female governor.

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Christina Hartman

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss challenges that face women seeking elected office, as well as broader efforts to promote civic engagement among women, are Lynn Yeakel, President of the Vision 2020 Initiative at Drexel University, Samantha Pearson, President of the Pennsylvania National Organization for Women, and Christina Hartman, a two-time congressional candidate in Central Pennsylvania and political activist.

Governor Tom Wolf and Restore PA / understanding migraine


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference at the John H. Taggart School library, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Philadelphia. Wolf discussed his infrastructure package, Restore Pennsylvania, to help remediate contaminants from Pennsylvania schools. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, June 21, 2019:

Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $4.5 billion “Restore Pennsylvania” infrastructure plan in January. The plan includes money for natural disasters like floods, expansion of broadband internet service, clean-up of blighted properties and brownfields, decominate structures and waterways with lead and help maintain local roadways. To gain approval, he has taken the case directly to the communities that would benefit from the deal.

It isn’t surprising that here is plenty of support for the projects and outcomes, but funding the plan remains contentious.

“Restore Pennsylvania” relies on a state-wide severance tax on natural gas drillers. This tax proposal has been met with opposition by the Republican-controlled legislature since Wolf took office in 2015 and began proposing the tax.

Governor Wolf joins us on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss “Restore Pennsylvania,” what it will mean for the state’s infrastructure and how he’ll move the plan forward.

Also, if you are one of the nearly forty million people in the U.S. who experience migraine headaches you know how debilitating they are.

Migraine is much more than just a bad headache, treated with over the counter pain medicine. For many people, migraine is a chronic disease that significantly diminishes their quality of life.

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and the 2019 theme is “Sowing the Seeds for a Cure.”

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Dr. Stephen Ross

How much progress has been made to, if not cure, improve the quality of life for people living with migraine?

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss treatment progress and advocacy are Dr. Stephen Ross, MD, Professor of Neurology, Penn State University College of Medicine and Nim Lalvani, Director of the American Migraine Foundation.

Who pays for state police coverage / Innovation U


In this March 27, 2015 file photo, Pennsylvania State Police block the road to an apartment complex where Charles Cottle barricaded himself, in Hempfield, Pa. The latest effort by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose a fee on municipalities that use state police troopers, instead of a local police force, is getting the same pushback as the state tries to wean the state police budget off highway construction funds. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, June 20, 2019:

In 2013 the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 89 which was designed to generate transportation infrastructure funding to repair and upgrade the state’s roads and highways. The law increased the state’s tax on gasoline — giving Pennsylvania the highest gas tax in the country.

More than five years and a few billion dollars later, that promise appears to have not been fulfilled. A significant portion of the gas tax revenue is now diverted to pay for operations of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Part of the issue is two-thirds of Pennsylvania municipalities rely on state police for part- or full-time patrol services because they don’t have a full-time local police force. The diverted revenue is helping cover their service.

Should municipalities pay for their own state police coverage?

Joining us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss legislation that would impose a fee for police service is Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Sturla, a Democrat serving part of Lancaster County.

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Rep. Mike Sturla

Also, today’s marketplace encourages entrepreneurs to develop new ideas. But once you have an idea, where do you go? Who can help you take the idea to the next level?

Universities across Pennsylvania offer campus space where students and community members connect with fellow entrepreneurs, experienced business people and interested financiers.

Appearing on Smart Talk to share stories of how entrepreneurs and academic incubators collaborate to bring new ideas to life are James Delattre, Penn State’s Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, Jim Hoehn, Regional President for PNC in Central PA, and Joseph Kitonga, Penn State alumnus and founder of Vitable Health.

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Jim Hoehn

Wilson College Sesquicentennial and World Sickle Cell Day


What to look for on Smart Talk, Wednesday, June 19, 2019:

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to take on an abnormal sickle shape, which can result in a range of health challenges including severe pain, clogged arteries and a heightened risk of stroke. The disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans and is particularly common among those with African, Arab, Asian, Black, Caucasian, Greek, Indian, Italian, or Latino ancestry.

June 19 is World Sickle Cell Day. The South Central Pennsylvania Sickle Cell Council will host an open house celebration Wednesday at its Harrisburg office in recognition of the anniversary.

Appearing on Smart Talk to help raise awareness about the disease and to discuss ongoing work to learn more about the disease is Joseph Robinson, executive director of the South-Central PA Sickle Cell Council, Dr. Gwendolyn Poles, president of the Board of the South-Central Sickle Cell Council and a retired physician and who lives with sickle cell disease, Dr. Gayle Smink, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Penn State Hershey and director of the children’s Sickle Cell Anemia program at Penn State Hershey.

Read more about Sickle Cell Disease in an article written by Dr. Gwendolyn Poles here.

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Joseph Robinson (L) and Dr. Gwendolyn Poles (R)

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Dr. Gayle M. Smink, Penn State Health

Also, Wilson College is celebrating 150 years this year. On March 24, 1869, Wilson College was granted its original charter and became the first United States college for women to be endowed by a woman, Sarah Wilson. Over the ensuing 150 years, Wilson College has strived to deliver high-quality education to women, including a focus on single mothers that has led to national recognition from the National Center for Single Mothers in Higher Education.

In 2014, the institution became fully coed, a move that sparked controversy but that college leaders viewed as a necessity for an institution facing enrollment challenges and significant financial debt.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss Wilson’s sesquicentennial celebration and some of the institution’s current challenges and opportunities is Barbara Mistick, president of Wilson College.

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Wilson College President Dr. Barbara Mistick


Wilson College Commencement 2019. Photo courtesy of Wilson College/Facebook

Ending child marriage in Pennsylvania/Lobbying for renewables


What to look for on Smart Talk, Tuesday, June 18, 2019:

Child marriage is something that happens in other countries, right? Not so fast, advocates say, because there are young people getting married in the U.S.

Around the world, nearly 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year. Numbers in the U.S. are a little harder to come by since there are few studies and no federal laws regarding child marriage. Each state sets its own requirements. However, data collected from 41 states found that more than 200,000 minors were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015.

With some exceptions, there is no minimum age in Pennsylvania for a child to marry. Children, mostly girls, age 15 or younger can marry with parental consent and if a court decides it is in her best interest. Children 16 or 17 only need parental consent.

Legislation is being considered in the Pennsylvania Senate to eliminate the loopholes in the current law that allow for marriage under 18. Legislators say there is a fine line between consent and coercion, and Senate Bill 81 will provide both parties the opportunity to consider their options as adults.

Appearing on Smart Talk on Tuesday to discuss the issue and legislation are sponsors Sen. John Sabatina Jr., a Democrat serving Philadelphia (part) County, Sen. Judith Schwank, a Democrat serving Berks (part) County, and Fraidy Reiss, executive director of Unchained At Last.


Sen. Judith Schwank (L) and Sen. John Sabatina (R)

Also, hundreds of Pennsylvanians will descend on Harrisburg this week to advocate for bipartisan legislation that will transition Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy to help combat climate change. Joining us on Smart Talk to talk about the state’s largest annual citizen lobby day for the environment is David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment.

Proposed changes to PIAA playoff and transfer rules / Changes in emission test rules

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St. Joseph Prep’s Justin Montague holds the championship trophy after a PIAA, Class AAAA championship football game against Pine-Richland in Hershey, Pa. on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. St Joseph won 49-41. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)

What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, June 17, 2019:

A 1972 Pennsylvania law requires the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to accept private schools as members. For decades, the PIAA has contended that the law thus prohibits holding separate playoff tournaments for private and public schools.

Yet, as private schools have continued to dominate state playoffs in a variety of sports, many public schools have urged separating the playoffs to level the playing field between schools that can recruit and schools that have fixed geographic boundaries.

State Representative Aaron Bernstine introduced legislation last week that he says addresses these issues. House Bill 1600 would require the PIAA to institute separate tournaments for public and private schools (charter schools would be considered public schools), eliminate many restrictions on students transferring, and create a final “crossover game” between the winners of the public and private tournaments.

While the bill enjoys support from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi called the legislation an “end around” in a statement last week.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the bill and its implications on high school athletics in Pennsylvania is Rep. Aaron Bernstine.

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Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R – Beaver County, Butler County and Lawrence County)

Also, last Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill on a party-line vote that would lift the requirement for annual emissions inspections on vehicles for up to eight years after the vehicle was manufactured. Emissions test cost an average of about $40 and are required in 25 Pennsylvania counties.

Opponents worry that the bill could jeopardize $420 million in annual federal funding that Pennsylvania receives under the Clean Air Act. In other states, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted waivers of the emissions testing requirement.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the legislation and Pennsylvania’s air quality are Senator Kim Ward, Chair of the Transportation Committee, and Joe Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Clean Air Council.

CORRECTION: Construction of vehicle emission testing facilities was approved by the legislature during the Gov. Robert Casey Administration in 1993. Gov. Tom Ridge’s Administration reached a settlement with Envirotest Systems Corp.to end the program. That settlement resulted in Pennsylvania paying Envirotest millions of dollars. We regret not making that clear during Smart Talk.