Smart Talk: Documenting Pa. COVID experience

Listen to Smart Talk every weekday at 9am and 7pm on WITF 89.5 & 93.3. You can also stream WITF radio live on our website or ask your smart speaker to “Play WITF Radio.”

Years from now, Pennsylvanians will remember and tell stories about how they spent their time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pennsylvania’s First Lady Frances Wolf is leading an effort to document life during the last year with the One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views virtual photo exhibit.

The submitted images will be displayed for public viewing and archived as visual documentation of the pandemic. Submit photos here.

First Lady Frances Wolf appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the One Lens initiative, along with Porcha Johnson, CEO/Founder of Black Girl Health and One Lens central region ambassador.

York man collects plastic and trash from the Susquehanna River while in his canoe

Also on the program, John Naylor of York is a one-man Susquehanna River cleanup crew. For the last four years, Naylor has cruised the river in his canoe a couple times a week, picking up plastic bottles and other trash.

Unfortunately, there’s more than enough refuse to fill the canoe. Check out his Instagram page for pictures and information.

Naylor is on Smart Talk to describe why he does it and what he’s found on the river.

Virginia researchers may have a clue to increased colorectal cancers in African-Americans

Finally, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that African-Americans are 20% more likely to develop colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from it. Overall colorectal cancer rates have declined in America in recent years, but African-Americans have not seen the same decreases as people of European descent. And even as the overall rates have dropped, the rate among younger people has gone up.

Researchers at the University of Virginia may have a reason why African-Americans are more susceptible to colorectal cancer.

One of them, Dr. Li Li is with us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk. Dr. Li is a primary care physician and chair of the UVA Department of Family Medicine, lead researcher in the study and head of the Cancer Control and Population Health program at the UVA Cancer Center.

The impact of a $15 minimum wage

Both President Joe Biden and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf have proposed increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2027.

Those who support hiking the minimum say it will help millions of low-paid workers and lift them out of poverty while opponents say it will result in a loss of jobs because employers won’t be able to afford to employ workers at higher wages.

Both sides can point to statistics to back up their arguments, which is one of the reasons raising the minimum wage is such a contentious issue.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report saying a $15 minimum would raise close to a million people out of poverty, but also kill 14 million jobs.

Dr. Arindrajit Dube, Ph.D., Professor, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences Department of Economics, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst has researched the minimum wage through dozens of studies and is critical of the CBO report. He appears on Monday’s Smart Talk.

Immigrants assisting law enforcement in solving crimes could be deported due to backlog

Also on Monday’s show, the U-visa program, designed to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are the victims of crime but assist law enforcement, is significantly backed up. As a result, immigrants who may be eligible to become legal U.S. residents, could be deported while waiting for their cases to be heard.
A group of attorneys is pushing to speed up the U-visa program. Two of them — Whitney Phelps, Esq., Managing Attorney, Community Programs with the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center and David Freedman, Esq., Barley Snyder Attorneys at Law — join us on Smart Talk.