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Smart Talk 02/24/2017: Trump not faring well in PA poll; Spelling Bee

The first Franklin and Marshall College Poll since last November's election shows registered voters polled in Pennsylvania are not impressed with President Donald Trump's job performance so far but the majority of those polled are confident in the president's ability to handle the economy. F&M political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna appears on Friday's Smart Talk to analyze the poll results. The poll found 32% of registered voters believe Trump is doing an excellent or good job as president. Two in three said the U.S. is on the wrong track. Meanwhile, 52% of registered voters say Pennsylvania as a state is moving in the wrong direction. Six in ten favor an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Also, the Central Pennsylvania Spelling Bee is set for this weekend at WITF's Public Media Center. On Friday's Smart Talk, Host Scott LaMar, News Director Tim Lambert and Transforming Health reporter Ben Allen take our annual shot at spelling and show just how smart the young spellers are.

Smart Talk 02/24/2017: Trump not faring well in PA poll; Spelling Bee

Smart Talk 02/23/2017: Gun Ban Overturned / Volunteer Firefighters

Earlier this month, Congress voted to revoke a rule set forth by the Obama Administration that banned the sale of guns to people who are registered as receiving mental disability support from the Social Security Administration. About 75,000 Americans, who are described by the New York Times as "individuals who suffer from schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and other problems to such an extent that they are unable to manage their financial affairs and other basic tasks without help" would have had their names added to a national background check database that would have prevented them from legally purchasing guns. Supporters of the ban regard it as common sense gun legislation - Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy worried "I hope something truly awful doesn't happen because of this." Those who supported the repeal felt the wording of the ban was overly broad and infringed upon 2nd Amendment rights. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley feared the ban would preclude anyone with "an eating disorder" to buy a gun. On the Thursday edition of WITF's Smart Talk, Republican Congressman Tim Murphy, who represents part of Southwest Pennsylvania, lends his perspective as the only pyschologist in Congress as to why he supports the repeal of this ban. We will also talk with Shira Goodman, Executive Director of Cease Fire PA, about why her organization feels a ban on weapons sales to the mentally ill is a good idea. Also, many Lancaster County residents rely on the 67 volunteer fire companies that service the region. But volunteer numbers have dropped dramatically - from a peak 250,000 in the 1970's to about 45,000 today. A grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has allowed the Lancaster County Fire Chiefs Association to initiate a recruitment drive to sign up and train 210 new volunteer firefighters over the next three years. Duane Hagelgans, commissioner of Blue Rock Fire Rescue and a retired Lancaster city battalion chief, joins us on Smart Talk to discuss the impact a shortage of firefighters has on the community and how people can apply to volunteer.

Smart Talk 02/23/2017: Gun Ban Overturned / Volunteer Firefighters

Smart Talk 02/22/2017: Civil conversation; vaccinations; primates

The program 1A - hosted by Joshua Johnson - made its debut at the beginning of January on WITF-FM and on public radio stations across the country. 1A replaced the Diane Rehm Show after Rehm's retirement late last year. Joshua Johnson is on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss the early months of 1A and civil conversation at a volatile time in the nation's history. Human beings and gorillas share 99% of DNA - and while that 1% demonstrates a remarkable difference between the two species, that 99% points to considerably more similarities. Dr. Lauren Howard is an Assistant Professor of Psychology & Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind at Franklin and Marshall College. She recently led a team of researchers studying the social and communicative development of chimpanzees and gorillas. Their research concluded that these primates develop memories and skills based on observations of live beings - that they are more inclined to learn from people or other primates than from non-organic examples. She appears on Wednesday's program. Dr. Howard is also the director of the Early Social Cognition Lab at F&M's Development and Experience (DAX) Center, providing three innovative child development research labs. Information about becoming involved with the center's research can be found at their website, www.dax.fandm.edu. Last month, President Trump met with Robert Kennedy Jr. who is someone who questions whether vaccinations for children are safe and whether they may contribute to or cause autism. Kennedy left that meeting saying Trump asked him to head up a committee to research the safety of vaccines. Dr. Loren Robinson, the Deputy Secretary for Promotion and Prevention in the Pennsylvania Department of Health is with us on Smart Talk to discuss vaccinations. WITF's ultimedia News Director recently led a WITF listener excursion to Cuba. He tells about it on Smart Talk.

Smart Talk 02/22/2017: Civil conversation; vaccinations; primates

Smart Talk 02/21/2017: Pennsylvania's Congressional Districts

In 2011, Republicans, who held the majority in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, re-drew the state's congressional districts to reflect the population shifts recorded in the 2010 census. The districts were cut up and redrawn - Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post referred to them as "real funky-looking Congressional districts." They stretch hither and yon, disjointed and often connected by tenuous strips of land. The result? Thirteen Republicans and five Democrats represent Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives. This is in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by one million. Former Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Jim Burn told the North Hills Patch "We knew that the Republicans would use their control of the process to draw a map that benefited Republicans, but we did not expect them to abuse their power to this degree, all while shutting out the public." To add more context, states where Democrats control the legislature also have districts that many considered gerrymandered. Maryland is an example. The results of the 2016 election have many people questioning the validity of the current congressional districts. As stated on their website, Fair Districts PA is a "coalition of citizens and organizations who believe that in American democracy, elections should represent the will of all the people, not just the politicians, and should provide citizens with meaningful choices in electing representatives." Smart Talk will speak with Carol Kuniholm, Director of Fair Districts PA as well as organization aides Diana Dakey and Jim Foster. Also joining the conversation are David Thornburgh of Pennsylvania's Committee of 70 and Drew Crompton, Chief of Staff and counsel for Pennsylvania Senate Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati.

Smart Talk 02/21/2017: Pennsylvania's Congressional Districts

Smart Talk 02/17/2017: Truth or Consequences

Discourse in America has taken an unpredictable turn in the 21st Century as "truth" and "lies" seem to have become interchangeable. While Americans have become inured to the smudging of facts by advertisers, political leaders and certain media outlets, the brazenness of the unapologetic lying in both mass and interpersonal communication has been taken to a level that makes people question their perceptions of reality. On Friday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss the value of truth and the harm of lies, how to differentiate the two and what we can do to promote honest dialogue to develop sustainable relationships with other people and institutions. Joining us in studio are Kevin Mahoney, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Kutztown University and founder of the Pennsylvania-based news and activism site, Raging Chicken Press. Also in studio is Linda Beck who teaches as an adjunct professor of communications at several Pennsylvania colleges. Joining us by phone from New York City is Jason Stanley, a Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of the 2015 book, How Propaganda Works.

Smart Talk 02/17/2017: Truth or Consequences

Smart Talk 02/16/2017: State-owned universities closing or merging?/Physician General talks opioids

Declining enrollment. State funding that is less than before the Great Recession nine years ago. Competition. All are factors in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education entertaining moves that some may consider drastic. PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan has raised the possibility that some of the 14 state-owned universities may close or merge. Money is at the heart of the challenges facing the system. Brogan indicates that state system is undergoing a strategic review. He appears on Thursday's Smart Talk to explain. Also, Pennsylvania's Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine joins us to discuss the state's opioid epidemic. About ten Pennsylvanians are dying each day of an opioid overdose. That's even though the overdose reversal drug naloxone has saved many lives when administered by police or emergency technicians. Naloxone isn't available to first responders only and Dr. Levine has been touring the state to drum up awareness for how it can be obtained at pharmacies. Dr. Levine tells us on Smart Talk

Smart Talk 02/16/2017: State-owned universities closing or merging?/Physician General talks opioids

Smart Talk 02/15/2017: Pennsylvania's Medical Cannabis Program

In April of last year, Governor Wolf signed into law Pennsylvania's medical cannabis legislation. Pennsylvanians suffering from numerous illnesses including cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and Parkinson's Disease are qualified to obtain medical marijuana in the form of pills, oils and creams - but not in plant form. A patient must be certified by a physician and issued a patient ID card. Government assistance and private health insurers are not required to reimburse patients for medical marijuana costs. Last month, the Pennsylvania Health Department released applications for growers and dispensers. Permit approvals will be announced this June. Joining us on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss the implementation of the state's medical marijuana program are Christine Brann, an attorney with JSDC Law Offices, who advocates for the use of medical cannabis; April Hutcheson from the Pennsylvania Department of Health who will talk about the state's role; Kevin Provost, co-founder of Greenhouse Ventures Partnership in Philadelphia, a consultancy firm that help to grow businesses supporting the marijuana industry and Dr. Andrew Rosenstein, CEO of Steep Hill , a laboratory that tests cannabis for safety and efficacy headquartered in Maryland. Kevin Provost and Dr. Rosenstein will be speaking at the World Medical Marijuana Business Conference and Expo April 21st and 22nd in Pittsburgh; it is the first large-scale, physician-led conference for healthcare providers and patients interested in medical marijuana.

Smart Talk 02/15/2017: Pennsylvania's Medical Cannabis Program

Smart Talk 02/14/2017: Cultivating Female Owned Businesses

In 2016, the US Small Business Administration estimated there were about 1 million small business in Pennsylvania about 98% of businesses in state. More than 52,000 of those businesses are in Lancaster County - the most outside of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions. According to a 2015 report by nerdwallet.com, more than a quarter of those Lancaster businesses are owned by women making Lancaster the 10th best city in the country for female entrepreneurs. WITF's Smart Talk will discuss cultivating and promoting women-owned businesses and entrepreneurship in Lancaster and Central PA. Joining Smart Talk in studio are Melisa Baez, Director of Women's Business Center and Yessenia Blanco, Microloan Program Coordinator - both with ASSETS, a Lancaster based business development organization and Patricia Robinson, owner and CEO of EVOLVE Training and Development, an organization that supports aspiring entrepreneurs.

Smart Talk 02/14/2017: Cultivating Female Owned Businesses

Smart Talk 02/13/2017: Technical Education for the 21st Century

The days of getting a high school diplama and obtaining a high-paying job are over. Almost all jobs require some post-secondary training. In an era of the "gig economy," a constantly evolving workforce and multiple generations crippled by student debt, educators are re-thinking the role of a four-year college degree as part of the American educational structure. America has had a skilled labor shortage for much of the last two decades and it only could get worse. Careers in occupational therapy, construction, automotive technology, manufacturing, plumbing and nursing pay well for the most part there aren't enough workers with the skills and educations to fill them. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology exclaims on their website "Technical skills are the new currency. Do you have a plan to acquire them without breaking the bank? Get on the path to success in the new economy!" The school trains students in programs including architectural technology, computer and systems network administration, masonry and many other skilled trades. Laurie Grove, Director of Career Services at Thaddeus Stevens Technical College; Vic Rodgers, Associate Provost for Workforce Development at Harrisburg Area Community College, Central Pennsylvania's Community College and Dr. Peggy Grimm, Administrative Director at Dauphin County Technical School appear on Monday's Smart Talk to discuss preparing Pennsylvanians for meaningful and sustainable careers.

Smart Talk 02/13/2017: Technical Education for the 21st Century

Smart Talk 02/10/2017: Artist Philip Pearlstein

Marshall N. Price of the National Academy Museum describes the nude paintings by Philip Pearlstein as "a radical departure from the dominant aesthetic of abstraction . . . reactionary, even retardataire." The Pittsburgh-born painter is known for his modernist realism nudes, referred to by art critic Sidney Tillim as "not as a symbol of beauty and pure form but as a human fact--implicitly imperfect." Pearlstein's works are on display at more than seventy museums and he is the recipient of the National Council of Arts Administrators Visual Artist Award. The Susquehanna Art Museum is opening its exhibition, Philip Pearlstein: Seventy-Five Years of Painting on Saturday and Pearlstein will join Smart Talk for a special broadcast from the WITF Atrium to discuss his works and the imperfect beauty of the human form. Also, the Trump Administration is proposing extensive cuts to government spending. White House staffers informed the newspaper The Hill in January that "the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely." Government support of the arts has encouraged artistic education and expression since 1965. Philip Horn, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts will join Smart Talk to discuss the importance of promoting the arts and why investment in the arts contributes to culture and society.

Smart Talk 02/10/2017: Artist Philip Pearlstein

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