U.S. Route 15 is focus of human trafficking

Victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality and because the problem is so prevalent it can often occur in plain sight.

The central Pennsylvania area is especially vulnerable to human trafficking because of the interstate highway system crossing through the state.

Understanding the signs of trafficking and knowing what to look for might help to address the problem and aid survivors.

Rhonda Hendrickson, the Vice President of Programs at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg is also a coordinator with the Pennsylvania Alliance Against Trafficking in Humans: Route 15 Project. She appears on Smart Talk Monday, along with Karen Galbraith, a Training Projects Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Tanya M. Gould, Survivor Leader Expert & Consultant and Vice-Chair of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking to discuss human trafficking.

To report human trafficking, call the National Human trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888.

Teaching Against Trafficking website mentioned during Smart Talk here.

Author of book on scientist who discovered connection between sugar and cancer is on Smart Talk

Otto Warburg is probably one of the most important scientists of the 20th century and one those outside of cancer research have never heard of.

His discovery of how cancer cells devour glucose or blood sugar at a rate of 10 times that of healthy cells in the body became known as the Warburg effect.

Otto Warburg was a gay Jewish man who survived Nazi death camps in Germany because Hitler and the Nazis feared cancer and thought Warburg may be able to cure cancer. A new book examines Warburg’s fascinating life and how his theories on cancer may be coming back into vogue.

The book is called Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection. The book’s author Sam Apple, who hails from the Philadelphia suburbs is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.

Penn Vet opens institute to study diseases spread from animals to humans

Saying that 75 percent of all newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic – meaning passed from animals to humans – the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has established an Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases. Is Covid-19 one of them?

Many, and probably most researchers, believe the virus came from bats and that humans may have come into contact with infected bats at a wet market in Wuhan, China.

There are other examples of zoonotic diseases – Ebola, Zika, swine flu, avian flu and West Nile virus to name a few from last twenty years.

Smart Talk examines whether covid-19 is a zoonotic and how these diseases are spreading.

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk are Christopher Hunter, PhD, Mindy Halikman Heyer Distinguished Professor of Pathobiology; director, Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases and Dr. Lisa Murphy, DVM, associate professor of Toxicology; resident director of the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System at New Bolton Center (Kennett Square, PA); co-director, Wildlife Futures Program; and associate director, Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases.

New poll finds Pennsylvanians support mask mandates in school, split on vaccine mandates

Pennsylvanians don’t like how their leaders are handling COVID-19 twenty-two months into the pandemic but tend to support masking in schools and vaccines. That’s according to the latest Muhlenberg College Poll that focused on COVID. Neither President Joe Biden or Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf got high marks for how they’re handling COVID mitigation efforts.

Pennsylvanians are split almost evenly on whether employers should mandate that their employees get vaccinated against the virus.

Christopher Borick, professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion appears on Monday’s Smart Talk.

What does the nation’s economy really look like?

When asked about the nation’s economy, most Americans would probably not have much good to say about it. They would have evidence to back up their opinions too – inflation hit a 30-year high in October. Prices for essentials like gas, energy and food have been climbing.

Meanwhile a new jobs report Friday found 210,000 jobs were added to the economy in November – far below what was expected and coming a month after 500,000 jobs were added.

The supply chain to stock store shelves or provide parts to manufacture products has been disrupted as well.

However, consumers have more cash on hand from government stimulus checks and child credits. Consumer demand is one of the driving forces of inflation.

Interest rates are low and wages are up.

Monday’s Smart Talk features nationally respected economist Gus Faucher, the senior vice president and chief economist of The PNC Financial Services Group to provide an overview of the economy.

“First Friday” focuses on holiday music and Art of the State

December’s “First Friday” Smart Talk – a focus on arts and culture in Central Pennsylvania — features three separate conversations, including one about an art exhibit and two others highlighted by holiday music.

The 54th annual “Art of the State” exhibit is at the State Museum of Pennsylvania now through January 2. Curator Amy Hammond appears on Smart Talk Friday to discuss this broad and diverse, multimedia representation of art from across the state. Art of the State is in-person this year after being online only last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Current events like the pandemic and racial reckoning of last year are the subjects of many of the pieces.

Also on the program, “Joy to the Burg” is becoming a holiday tradition itself. The project includes an album of local musicians performing holiday favorites in music styles that include rock, bluegrass, choral, and brass.

Joy to the Burg will have a TV special on December 9 and performance showcase at the Englewood in Hershey December 12.

Proceeds go toward programs for homeless people in the region.

Founder Sheldon Jones and Steve Schwartz, Director of Development for Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area are with us.

Finally, “Christmas with the Celts” comes to the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center in Hanover Sunday, December 5 at 3 p.m.

The Celts mix lively traditional Irish music and instrumentation with American pop music and their own originals.

Celts founder Ric Blair and Eichelberger Executive Director David Adler are on Smart Talk.

Covid, including what we know about omicron, answered

It was just a week ago that we heard about the omicron variant of the Covid-19 coronavirus. A week later, we still don’t know much about how transmissible or whether omicron can cause serious illness.

Even without the new variant, the number of Covid cases in Pennsylvania is high. Tuesday’s case count of more than 7,600 is one of the largest in the past few weeks and doctors are warning winter weather driving people indoors and holiday get togethers could mean more infections.

Those are a few of the reasons there still are many questions about the virus and vaccines.

Throughout the pandemic, Smart Talk has featured medical professionals to answer Covid questions.

On Thursday’s program, we’re joined by Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease specialist at UPMC in Central Pennsylvania.

How will Pennsylvania use infrastructure money?

More than $18 billion will be on its way to Pennsylvania as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month.

The money will be used to repair, upgrade and modernize highways and roads, bridges, rail and mass transit, airports and water systems. In addition, cleaning up the environment like polluted streams, lead pipes and old gas wells will get attention and broadband internet access will be expanded.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk focuses on Pennsylvania’s infrastructure needs and projects and how the money will be spent.

Appearing on the program are Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Patrick McDonnell, Larry Shifflet, Deputy Secretary for Planning with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Cathy Farrell, Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Report Card produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Gene Barr, CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

Midstate towns on the list of safest from crime

Several Pennsylvania cities and small towns made the list of the Safest Small Towns in America and Safest Cities in America in research conducted by SafeWise.com — a home security company. Using FBI crime statistics, the company ranked towns and cities based on the number of violent crimes and property crimes per 1,000 people.

Luzerne Township in Fayette County was tied for first in the small town rankings with no crimes reported. Other safe small towns in the top 100 include Millcreek Township in Lebanon County and West Cocalico Township in Lancaster County. On the list of municipalities with larger populations, Manor Township in Lancaster County was counted as one of the safest.

Rebecca Edwards is a Security Expert, Safety and Technology Reporter for SafeWise.com and she appears on Smart Talk Wednesday to investigate the trends.


The number of murders increased by almost 30% nationwide in 2020 according to a recent report from the FBI. Meanwhile, homicides spiked in 29 major cities through September of this year, including in Philadelphia where 500 murders have been reported in 2021.

The big question is why there are more murders and what can be done about it?

Joining us on Monday’s Smart Talk are Jeff Asher, data consultant with AH Datalytics, who studies crime and former Pennsylvania secretary of Corrections John Wetzel.



Rules of the road explained

More Americans travel during Thanksgiving week than any other time of the year. In fact, the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving is when the most volume of travelers are on the road. According to AAA, there will be more than 53 million people traveling by vehicle, air or rail this year.

The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest party nights of the year which could lead to more drivers operating vehicles while intoxicated. Also, Pennsylvania’s deer season begins on Saturday so there probably will be more hunters driving to their camps on Friday and that also could mean more deer activity on roadways too..

The Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement agencies are patrolling the roads to ensure motorists obey traffic laws. However, with so many laws on the books, it can be challenging for motorists to keep track of them all.

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk are Fritzi Schreffler, PennDOT District 8 Safety Press Officer and Corporal Brent Miller, Director, Department Public Information of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Visit 511pa.com for live, updated traffic conditions.