Coach Paterno Ready for 2011

Unfazed by a recent practice field collision with one of his wide receivers, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is eager to kick-off the 2011 season.  “How do I feel?  I feel, great except I’m in a lot of pain,” Paterno said as he conducted his annual media day news conference from a golf cart.  “If I told you I could get up here and run around, no I can’t.  But, in about eight, nine days I should be able to do everything without some guy riding me around.”  

The 84-year-old coach expects to be walking the sidelines during week one of the college football season, when the Indiana State Sycamores come calling in Beaver Stadium.  Paterno’s shoulder and pelvis were injured in the August 7th practice field accident, but he stresses the x-rays show no fractures.  The doctors tell Paterno he should be 100% in eight to ten days. 

This will be the Hall of Famer’s 46th season as PSU’s head football coach and he shows no signs of stopping.  “The day I wake up in the morning and I say, hey, do I have to go to practice again – I’ll know it’s time to get out of it,” Paterno says.

Table Games Revenue Hits Highest Level to Date in July

Table games play in Pennsylvania hit a new high mark last month.   Gross revenue produced by table games at the state’s  10 casinos topped 56 million dollars in July; the highest level since March.   Table games, which are taxed at a lower rate than slots due to the manpower required, brought in more than 9 million dollars in tax revenue in July.

Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, says employment has continued to increase at the casinos since table games began.  He says over the last year, 47 hundred additional jobs have been created at the casinos.  He says table games take more people, including dealers and other staff, to deal with the extra demand. McGarvey says casinos are still adding tables and employees.

McGarvey says at the beginning of table games, they were seeing gross revenue in the 30 million dollar range and now it’s up to the 50 million dollar range.  He says casinos are still attracting customers and learning what games people like to play.

McGarvey also says table games have not affected slots negatively, he says slots play has increased about 1 or 2% since table games began.

Sen. Toomey, Protesters Talking Jobs

A team of unemployed workers and supporters is traveling the state to stage protests outside of US Senator Pat Toomey’s regional offices.  “I was let go for two reasons.  They happened to be corporate greed and the outsourcing of jobs,” says Dan Haney of Philadelphia.  The protesters say Toomey needs to focus his attention on creating jobs for the middle class. 

As the protests are taking place in his home state, Toomey spoke to the nation in the weekly Republican Address.  Its focus: jobs.  “Every day small business owners, job creators and entrepreneurs are bombarded with new regulations and higher costs, discouraging these employers from expanding their businesses and higher additional workers,” Toomey said.  In the five minute speech, Toomey expressed optimism while blaming the nation’s 9.1% unemployment rate, in part, on job-killing federal regulations

But the protesters say politicians like Toomey focus too much on CEOs and not enough of middle class families.  “They want to balance the budget on the working class’ back, and let corporations and CEOs and millionaires get more tax breaks, and put more money in their pocket,” Haney said in a telephone interview from an event outside of the Harrisburg federal building (pictured above). 

Toomey has recently been tapped for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (super committee).  In the GOP Address, Toomey said he will work to produce a plan that cuts government spending and creates and environment where entrepreneurs can thrive.

Children More At Risk for Digital Eye Strain as Use of Devices Becomes More Common

Children and teens are spending more time using not only computers, but smart phones and other devices with smaller screens. VSP Vision Care optometrists are reporting nearly one-third of their patients suffer from symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as digital eye strain.

VSP Optometrist, Dr. Noah Eger with the Eger Eye Group in Coraopolis, says it’s not uncommon now to diagnose a kindergartener  or first grader with near-sightedness, something that used to show up in grades four or five.   

Dr. Eger describes some of the symptoms of digital eye strain as blurry vision, difficulty focusing on near objects, dry or irritated eyes, headaches and back or neck pain.    

To prevent these symptoms, he recommends the 20-20-20 rule.  That means stopping every 20 minutes during work with a digital device to focus on something that is 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Dr. Eger says proper lighting is also important.  He says you don’t want light behind you or directly over the display terminal shining down on the screen.  He adds that the devices should not be used regularly in the dark

Dr. Eger says the device should be the proper distance away from the user. He says for a computer screen, you should be at least two feet away from the display. For hand-held devices, there’s the Harmon distance, the amount of space between your elbow and your forefinger.

Dr. Eger says regular eye exams for children are important. He says the initial exam should be conducted at age 1, with exams again at ages 3 and 5, and yearly exams when the child enters school.

PA Supreme Court to Allow TV Coverage

Never before has the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed cameras to record its oral arguments.  It’s a historic move, according to Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille.  “For the first time ever, we will be videotaping actual sessions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.”  The state’s highest court has written new rules that will give the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) the ability to rebroadcast full sessions, beginning this fall. 

The Supreme Court is open to the public, but its three courtrooms seat only about 100 people.  “So this will give a widespread lesson in the third branch of government in how we operate,” Chief Justice Castille said in an interview with Radio PA. 

The new rules allow PCN to request to record scheduled proceedings for rebroadcast.  “Sealed” cases will not be videotaped, and Castille says the court can still exercise discretion to prohibit camera coverage of sensitive subjects.  Another provision in the new operating procedures clarifies that the Supreme Court shall incur no expense for the endeavor.   

PCN President Brian Lockman is proud to have their cameras inside the Supreme Court.  “Our network for 17-years has been covering the different levels of state government, to help people understand it better, and this really completes the loop.”  Lockman says everything PCN does is “gavel-to-gavel,” but that will literally be the case with the Supreme Court broadcasts.  Coverage is expected to begin on September 13th.

Commander of Final Space Shuttle Flight Reflects on the Future of Manned Flight


Christopher J. Ferguson, Commander, STS-135

NASA has created a new office, the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, to oversee manned flight and International Space Station operations.  The Pennsylvania native who commanded the final space shuttle flight says he’s seeing strong public interest in America’s space program since bringing the shuttle Atlantis back to earth last month.

Commander Christopher Ferguson says the future of the country’s space program is up to the American people, and what he’s hearing so far is that a dollar spent on space travel for humans is a good dollar spent.  He says there’s a silent majority of people who believe we’re on the right track. 

Ferguson says we had to stop flying the shuttle, in order to pay for a safer vehicle to take us into low earth orbit and beyond.  

Ferguson says when we lost the space shuttle Columbia in 2003; we realized the shuttle had a finite amount of life left in it.  He says we realized it’s not the safest vehicle we had hoped for when it was developed. He adds its impractical with today’s funding to support the continued operation of the space shuttle and develop the new vehicles we’re going to use to go beyond low earth orbit. 

The new NASA directorate will manage construction of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.   It will be able to carry four astronauts on 21 day missions beyond low earth orbit. The multi-purpose crew vehicle is in the testing phase. The directorate will also manage development of a new  heavy-lift Space Launch System.


**The photo  of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Launch Abort System test vehicles and the photo of Commander Chris Ferguson are provided courtesy of NASA.


Spicing Up Diet May Be Healthier Than You Think

New research shows certain antioxidants may reduce the negative effects of high fat meals.  Researchers at Penn State compared two meals. One meal used about two tablespoons of antioxidant spices and the other did not. Dr. Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health and nutritional sciences at Penn State, says they found less of the fat ended up in the blood stream of those eating the spiced meal.

West says they found a reduced absorption of triglycerides in those eating the spiced meal, plus a positive effect on insulin in the blood compared to those who ate the meal without the spices.

The spices and herbs used were rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika.

West says the herbs and spices were spread among the three items in the meal. The meal consisted of a dessert, bread and chicken curry.

 West says the spices and herbs were selected because a previous study indicated when you add spices to ground beef and grill it, you produce less of the cancer-causing oxidative stress markers in the meat.  When people eat it, there are less of those chemicals in the blood.

West says the research is in its infancy, so they want to do more investigation. She wants to look at individual herbs and spices to see what the major contributor is, and what the right “dose” would be.

West says the early research shows it wouldn’t hurt to spice up your diet, because unlike some other antioxidants, these spices add little in the way of calories to your diet.

The McCormick Science Institute and the National Institutes of Health supported the work.


Corbett Remembers 9/11

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is less than a month away.  “That day will stick with me, as it sticks with everybody, as to where you were and what you were doing,” says Governor Tom Corbett.  Ten years ago, Corbett was chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency.  He was in Harrisburg to conduct the commission’s quarterly meeting on September 11th, 2001. 

Details of the tragic events were sketchy when the meeting began.  “We conducted the meeting in an hour, we moved through it very quickly.  But, what I remember is that I kept getting notes produced to me.  I was reading the notes, and I could not tell the members of the commission because they were about the buildings falling,” Corbett recalls. 

Corbett had flown into Harrisburg, but drove a rental car home to Pittsburgh because all commercial planes had been grounded.  It was an emotional Turnpike trip that day: “Knowing that off to my right somewhere was where the heroes had taken over the plane and crashed it into the ground.”    

Flight 93 National Memorial

Phase 1 of the Flight 93 National Memorial will be dedicated during the 10th anniversary commemoration next month.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is under construction, and phase 1 will be dedicated during next month’s 10th anniversary commemoration.  Governor Corbett recently had the chance to fly over the site, and says he looks forward to being there on September 11th

This Monday, Corbett will speak at the 37th annual National Organization for Victim Assistance conference, where special recognition will be given to the 9/11 victims and the advocates who’ve provided assistance.

Tree Disease Could Pose Hazard to Pennsylvania’s Hardwoods Industry

A west coast disease that destroys trees has been detected for the first time in Pennsylvania and state Agriculture officials have announced a quarantine to stop any spread.   The disease is caused by a beetle.

The Walnut Twig Beetle tunnels beneath the bark of black walnut trees, carrying a fungus that causes small cankers or lesions to form on the tree. As more beetles attack and the number of cankers increases, the tree is slowly starved of nutrients and dies, thus the name Thousand Cankers Disease.

Sven-Erik Spichiger, entomology program manager for the state Agriculture Department, says it poses a significant threat to the hardwoods industry.  He says black walnut is a high value timber tree in Pennsylvania.  He says many people also use the trees in landscaping.

The disease has been detected in Plumstead Township, Bucks County.  The quarantine restricts the movement of all walnut material, whether it’s living, cut, chipped or dead, as well as all hardwood firewood from Bucks County and other states known to have the disease. It does not apply to nuts, processed lumber or finished wood products without bark. Failure to follow the quarantine could result in criminal or civil penalties.

There’s no known control or cure for Thousand Cankers Disease.  Spichiger says people who see signs of the disease should report it to the department’s pest hot line at 1-866-253-7189. Symptoms start with die back in the upper crown, with areas losing leaves or leaves turning yellow. The beetle makes very tiny holes in the tree, about the size of a poppy seed, so it’s usually hard to detect.

As Troops Come Home, The Real Warriors Campaign is Poised to Help


By next September, more than 30-thousand U S troops will be withdrawn from combat services in Afghanistan.  As deployments come to an end and service members reconnect with families and friends, readjusting to life outside the combat zone can be difficult.  The recent loss of 30 troops in the deadliest incident of the Afghan war can increase the stresses for their comrades. 

The Real Warriors Campaign is ready to help with a variety of resources according to Major Ed Pulido.  He says they have help for grief issues as well as the invisible wounds of war. The services are available to active military and veterans.

Some returning service members may feel that no one understands what they’ve been through. Others may find that their role in family life changed while they were away or they may feel isolated.  The Real Warriors Campaign is reaching out and asking returning troops to seek support if they face a challenging transition back to life at home.

Major Ed Pulido says soldiers are trained to be tough, but they should not hesitate to ask for help.  He says things are changing; commanders are being educated and service members are being supported and watched to make sure they’re OK.

Major Pulido says we’ve learned from the mistakes we made when soldiers came home from Vietnam. He says we’re going to take care of all who support and defend this great nation.

Major Pulido says there are warning signs friends and families should not ignore. These include individuals who have given up on themselves or their career, hyper vigilance or risky behaviors.

Major Pulido says they want to encourage people to understand these issues.  Some service members who have not served in active combat duty may have also suffered from combat-related stress, due to spending time in war zones and being exposed to roadside bombings and attacks.

Some returning service members could be suffering from undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries as the result of the concussion from a bombing. Major Pulido says the Real Warriors Campaign has services to provide support.

**Photo by SSGT Aaron Allmon, courtesy of The Real Warriors Campaign