Domestic violence — ending the abuse

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of abuse and how to prevent it from happening.

More than 1,600 Pennsylvanians have died from domestic violence in the last decade, and last year alone there were 123 victims in Pennsylvania. Sixty-seven percent of those victims were killed by a current or former intimate partner and most often a firearm were used. Domestic violence affects all areas of society — men, women and children, young and mature, all races and socio-economic groups, but women make up a disproportionately higher number of victims.

Susan Higgenbotham
Susan Higgenbotham, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, appears on Smart Talk on October 17, 2019.

Preventing domestic violence before it occurs means taking a multi-tracked approach. This includes engaging men and boys in the problem and creating “safe communities” on college campus’s and in faith-based organizations, for example.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss tackling the problem of domestic violence in Pennsylvania is Susan Higgenbotham, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Also, as part of the 2017 federal tax overhaul, federal lawmakers created tax incentives called opportunity zones. The goal of the zones is to spur investment in distressed communities.

Charlotte Keith
Charlotte Keith, Spotlight PA, explains opportunity zones on Smart Talk on October 17, 2019.

The premise is that individuals and businesses can defer and reduce their capital gains taxes by putting their profits or other investments toward projects, properties and businesses in certain low-income U.S. census tracts. About 300 places were designated as opportunity zones in Pennsylvania by the Wolf Administration.

Communities are optimistic about the program, but are the opportunity zones working to create investment in communities that need it the most?

Joining us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss opportunity zones are two journalists who have reported on the initiative. Charlotte Keith, is with Spotlight PA, an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and PA Post Reporter Ed Mahon.

PA Post reporter Ed Mahon explains the debate over the Pennsylvania minimum wage.
PA Post reporter Ed Mahon explains opportunity zones on Smart Talk on October 17, 2019.

Syria, what is happening now?

In a matter of weeks, events in Syria have taken a global spotlight.

President Trump announced U.S. troop withdrawals from Syria in early October. As U.S. forces began pulling back from positions along the border, Turkey targeted the Kurds in northern Syria — an American ally in the battle against ISIS.

The situation on the ground is complicated. A civil war in Syria began in 2011 with a civil uprising and the eventual involvement of other actors, including the U.S. Russia, Turkey, minority groups and Islamist’s.

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday to provide an analysis of the situation is retired Army Col. Robert E. Hamilton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Eurasian Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.

Army
Retired Army Col. Robert E. Hamilton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Eurasian Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, appears on Smart Talk, October 16,2019.

Also, it might surprise people to learn that a nationally recognized ballet school is tucked away on a wooded side street in a small central Pennsylvania town.

In 1955, Marcia Dale-Weary opened what is now called the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) in Carlisle. Since then, the program has become well-known as a feeder school for prestigious ballet companies around the country.

The CPYB will perform a fall production called Once Upon A Rhyme that brings “storybook adventures to life through dance.” The ballet is at the Harrisburg Whitaker Center on October 26 and 27.

Joining us on Smart Talk to introduce the production are Nick Ade, CEO of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Cary Burkett, WITF on-air host and event narrator, and performers Ava Rittle and Jackson Martin.

Once
Nick Ade, CEO of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, performers Ava Rittle and Jackson Martin, and Cary Burkett, WITF on-air host and event narrator, appears on Smart Talk, October 16, 2019.

Myths and misconceptions about black bears

This past summer saw an unexpected visitor to the city of Harrisburg. In June, residents were shocked to see a small black bear roaming the city streets. Although, the black bear weighed a mere 100 pounds, small compared to the largest recorded in Pennsylvania that weighed a whopping 733 pounds.

While the chances of encountering a black bear are unlikely, they still reside in the mid-state. According to a 2015 estimate, there are around 20,000 black bears calling Pennsylvania woodlands home.  In fact, the bear population has be on the increase for decades, and with habitat loss and an increase in development bears and people are coming into contact more frequently. 

Mark Ternent, biologist at PA Game Commission

Smart Talk

Mark Ternent, biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission appears on Smart Talk on October 15, 2019.

Many myths and misconceptions surround black bears. For instance, they are not always black, some are a cinnamon color. Depending on where they live, black bears exhibit different “denning” times, pelt color and movement patterns, so there are unique qualities within the population.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss Pennsylvania black bears and their unique differences is Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist, Mark Ternent.

Also, there are some events that transform a nation. Others pass with little public awareness and we only appreciate them after they occur.

In 1969, four transformative events took place within the span of only 100 days. In the book, 100 Days: How Four Events in 1969 Shaped America author and historian Harlan Lebo looks back at how each one shaped the nation. Harlan Lebo appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.

Pennsylvania ACLU files lawsuit to remove victims rights measure from November ballot

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is challenging a victim’s rights measure that is set to appear on the November ballot.

The ACLU argues the amendment, which is known as Marsy’s Law, would affect too many parts of the state constitution and is a violation of laws governing statewide referendum.

Pennsylvania is currently without a Victims’ Rights Amendment to its Constitution, a fact that proponents of the measure hope to rectify.

The Marsy’s Law amendment will require that victims of violent crime and their families must be treated with respect and dignity by the criminal justice system. And their safety must also be considered when courts set bail and release conditions.

Marsy’s Law for All was named after Marsalee Nicholas, a California co-ed murdered by an ex-boyfriend. A week after her death, her family members walked into a grocery store and were confronted by the accused murderer. They were not told that he had been released on bail.

Appearing on Smart Talk Monday to talk about Marsy’s Law and the ACLU lawsuit are Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, Jen Riley, State Director, Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Randol, ACLU-PA’s legislative director, and Steven Bizar, partner at the law firm Dechert LLP.

VA
Jen Riley, State Director, Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania Victim Advocate, appears on Smart Talk, October 14, 2019.
Elizabeth Randol
Elizabeth Randol, ACLU-PA’s legislative director, appears on Smart Talk, October 14, 2019.
Steven Bizar
Steven Bizar, partner at the law firm Dechert LLP, appears on Smart Talk, October 14, 2019.

The question that will appear on the November 5 ballot reads:

“Shall the Pennsylvania constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them.”

 

Less Oil or More Caskets?

America’s dependency on foreign oil is a long-running subject of national security debate.

Today, the U.S. is much less dependent on foreign oil than it was a decade ago. As shale oil production increased in the U.S., foreign oil imports declined. However, industry forecasters say that while oil dependence should continue to decrease, petroleum will play a major role in the nation’s

Author Greg Ballard wrote Less Oil or More Caskets: The National Security Argument for Moving Away from Oil.
Author Greg Ballard, wrote Less Oil or More Caskets: The National Security Argument for Moving Away from Oil, appears on Smart Talk October 10, 2019.

energy consumption for the next twenty years. Author Greg Ballard writes that by changing ideas about transportation and technology, our nation, and the world, could be on a path to freedom from oil dependence in that same amount of time. He says by eliminating the need to protect and preserve foreign oil supplies, money and lives will ultimately be saved.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss why America must cut dependence on foreign oil is Author Greg Ballard, who wrote Less Oil or More Caskets: The National Security Argument for Moving Away from Oil. Ballard is a retired Marine officer and a former Mayor of Indianapolis.

Also, in November 1940 in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back with the only weapons they had: pen and paper. They documented life in the Ghetto and wrote detailed, eyewitness accounts of Nazi brutality.

Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum, the underground group was known by the code name Oyneg Shabes. The story of their resistance is told as a feature documentary titled, Who Will Write Our History.

“Which side of the story becomes the official narrative? Whose accounts do we elevate to the level of ‘truth,’ and whose do we ignore or even bury?”
– Roberta Grossman, Nov. 18, 2018

Appearing on Smart Talk to share the story of the Jewish perspective and detail the “richest cache of eyewitness accounts to survive the Holocaust” is Roberta Grossman, writer, producer and director of Who Will Write Our History.

The documentary premiered globally in January. There is an exclusive screening in Harrisburg on Sunday, November 10, at the Chisuk Emuna Congregation.

Roberta Grossman
Roberta Grossman, writer, producer and director of Who Will Write Our History, appears on Smart Talk on October 10, 2019.

Pa. National Guard suicides occurring at an alarming rate

In the United States military, suicide is now an epidemic.

In the past four years, 34 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard have died by suicide. The problem is so significant that Governor Tom Wolf instituted a Task Force to help mitigate the influx of suicides in the civilian-soldier population. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense identified the National Guard as having the highest suicide rate of any service component, with 30 deaths per 100,000 service members.

Eighteen years and counting, war and deployments have taken their toll on U.S. troops. Soldiers, home and abroad, are facing a new enemy; mental health. However, more than half of those in the Guard who died by suicide were deployed.

The National Guard is a reserve component of the United States military that consists of Army and Air Force members. Because the National Guard holds a dual status as a state militia, all 50 states and four US territories have a guard unit under their command. Guard units are used for in state emergencies, and are also called upon by the president for federal service.

Many guardsmen have full-time jobs outside the military and only commit to one weekend a month and two weeks a year for their military service. However, they are still expected to uphold the same military standards and training as their active duty counterparts.

Why is there an increase in suicides among National Guard troops?

Appearing on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to offer insight on National Guard suicides are Lt. Col. Gerard Wrazien, Family Support Director, Rose Brandberg, the Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Coordinator, and Mark Todero, Suicide Prevention Program Manager — all with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

National Guard
Lt. Col. Gerard Wrazien, Family Support Director, Mark Todero, Suicide Prevention Program Manager and Rose Brandberg, the Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Coordinator, appears on Smart Talk, September 9, 2019.

For a deeper look at mental health issues and the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at TransformingHealth.org. A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital BlueCross.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 press one for veterans and military

Military one Source 1-800-342-9647

 

The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare

Healthcare in the U.S. is expensive — especially if it involves tests or being treated in a hospital and those are routine care. An extraordinary medical episode like a heart attack or cancer can result in bills that reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s one of the reasons health insurance is important but insurance often doesn’t pay the whole bill.

Best-selling author Dr. Marty Makary says it doesn’t have to be this way.

In his newly published book, The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare — And How to Fix It, Makary writes that one in five Americans currently has a medical debt in collection, up to a quarter of medical tests and prescription medications may be unnecessary according to a nationwide survey of doctors, and what patients pay for the same treatments at hospitals vary sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars for no valid reason.

Dr. Makary will be speaking in Lancaster October 15 and he appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.

Dr. Marty Makary, M.D., practices surgical oncology and advanced laparoscopic surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is a professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

October 6 – 12 is Fire Prevention Week and the American Red Cross is taking the opportunity to talk about keeping your home and family safe from the dangers of fire. That includes practicing an escape plan and what homes should be equipped with to prevent fire or escape from a fire.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss fire prevention week are Laura Hughes, Executive Director, Central PA American Red Cross, and Lisa Landis, regional director of communications, American Red Cross.

For a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at TransformingHealth.org. A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital BlueCross. Resource referenced by Dr. Makary during the program: Fairhealth.org

What’s all the fuss about roundabouts?

Pennsylvania is on track to install more roundabouts in the future, a somewhat new initiative.

Traffic circles are nothing new, in fact, they are fairly common throughout western Europe and in parts of the U.S. The “rotary” gained notoriety in a now-famous movie scene depicting a family vacationing in Paris who can’t figure out how to exit the circle once they are in it.

Traffic circles and roundabouts are not the same thing, though. Traffic circles are much larger than roundabouts and move at higher speeds. They are not very popular because they tend to cause driver confusion.

Roundabouts are becoming much more common, and safer, in the U.S. PennDOT data on 19 newly installed roundabouts on state routes show that they are safer and more efficient than a traditional four-way, traffic light intersection.

Roundabouts feature a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. There are no signals within the circle and drivers must yield to traffic before entering the intersection.

Sounds easy, right? Then why do so many drivers dislike the roundabout?

Joining Smart Talk on Monday to discuss the benefits and innovation of roundabouts is Jeff Bucher, Project Development Engineer & Roundabout Coordinator PA Department of Transportation.

Jeff Bucher
Jeff Bucher, Project Development Engineer & Roundabout Coordinator PA Department of Transportation, appear on Smart Talk, October 9, 2019.

Also, in today’s 24-hour news cycle, with breaking headlines, all-news networks and online outlets are all competing for viewer’s attention.

A new program on PBS aims to widen the discussion, revealing the story behind the story, and providing new insights into how today’s events have been shaped by the past.

RETRO REPORT on PBS is a one-hour magazine format series that premieres Monday and Tuesday. Appearing on Smart Talk to share insights into the program is Kyra Darnton, RETRO REPORT Executive Producer and veteran producer from CBS News and 60 Minutes.

Watch Retro Report on WITF Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm through the month of October. Programs are also available on-demand through the PBS app and on our website.

 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eric Foner on his new book The Second Founding

In his new book The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Eric Foner writes about the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and significant impact they had on the United States — even to this day.

The three amendments ended slavery, provided equal protection under the law to all American citizens (and identified citizens) and gave the right to vote to all Americans (except women), regardless of race.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Eric Foner appears at the Midtown Scholar Book Store on October 4, 2019.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Eric Foner appears at the Midtown Scholar Book Store on October 4, 2019.

Foner explores the many issues the Congress and the nation had to deal with as the newly freed slaves and free blacks were integrated into American society. Along the way, he writes about monumental racial discrimination in both the south and north, that included violence against African-Americans and how courts interpreted the amendments that set the stage for Jim Crow laws in the south.

Eric Foner appears on Friday’s Smart Talk.

Smart Talk takes a Road Trip for Friday’s program featuring Foner to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Midtown Harrisburg in the midst of the Harrisburg Book Festival. Several best-selling and well-known authors are appearing through Sunday.

Smart Talk takes a Road Trip for Friday's program featuring Foner to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Midtown Harrisburg in the midst of the Harrisburg Book Festival.
Host Scott LaMar (left) and author Eric Foner (right) appear at the Smart Talk road trip to the Midtown Science Book Store, October 4, 2019.

 

150th anniversary of the Periodic Table; the genius behind the discoveries

To some, the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements is the stuff that high school exam nightmares are made from. To others, it represents enormously important scientific discoveries.

Simply put, the table is a cataloging tool that enables scientists to predict the existence and properties of matter on earth and in the universe itself. It has been called “one of the most significant achievements in science,” and scientists point out that the table reflects not only chemistry, but the fundamental qualities of physics and biology, too.

Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist, was credited with the discovery of the table when he devised a way to not only diagram known elements but also to allot spaces for elements not yet discovered. The periodic table’s design and use as a predictive tool for determining the composition of the universe is considered its genius.

This year marks the 150th anniversary since Mendeleev “discovered” the Periodic System. Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss its significance in past and future discoveries is Catherine T. “Katie” Hunt, Ph.D., former R&D director, Rohm and Haas/Dow Chemical Company and a Past President, American Chemical Society (ACS).
Catherine T. “Katie” Hunt, Ph.D., former R&D director, Rohm and Haas/Dow Chemical Company and a Past President, American Chemical Society (ACS).

Catherine T. “Katie” Hunt, Ph.D., appears on Smart Talk October 3, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Hunt)