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Documentary Featuring Tree Of Life Survivors Premieres Friday

On today's program: A new film looks at the rise of antisemitism; a proposal could drastically change long-standing protections for birds; City Council is starting over on a trust fund to support parks; and the PSO’s new Pops conductor imagines his first fall season. 

“Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations" was directed by Andrew Goldberg and produced and edited by Diana Robinson. The film runs 90 minutes and features interviews with Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria, George Will, Deborah Lipstadt, Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, Rabbi Elisar Admon and more.

  How global hatred disseminates and harms
(00:00 — 07:55)

 By virtually every yardstick, antisemitism in the U.S. and Europe is rising and worsening in ways not seen since the 1930s, according to filmmaker Andrew Goldberg, whose latest work chronicles vandalism, social media abuse, assault and murder in four Jewish communities. 

Production on “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” had already begun when the crew heard about the mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where ultimately 11 people died. Goldberg says producer Diana Robinson, who was on site at the time, hails from the Steel City. 

“I know that Pittsburgh hit her harder than any of the other stories because this was her home,” he says. “I would say it was a great benefit to us.” 

Like a virus, hatred mutates and evolves across cultures, borders and ideologies, Goldberg says. That's why he opens in Pittsburgh, and follows other stories of bigotry and violence in Hungary, England and France. 

The film premieres locally on Friday at the AMC Waterfront 22 and runs through March 12. 

Trump rule could end penalties for bird deaths
(08:57 — 12:57)

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protected more than 1,000 species of birds from a host of threats for a century, but in 2018 the Trump Administration’s Interior Department issued guidelines that weakened it. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant reports several states and conservation organizations are now challenging the administration’s opinion on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in federal court.

The public can on the rule that will define the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act through March 19th

Who gets to spend the parks tax money? And how? 
(12:59 — 21:58)

City residents and representatives of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy are hosting a hearing tonight at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers to talk about how to spend money to rehab city parks.

The tax itself is straightforward: Voters in November narrowly approved a $500,000 increase in property taxes in the city; an owner of a home assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $50 in taxes annually. But how to spend that estimated $10 million is more contentious.

Oliver Morrison reports for PublicSource.org that an initial proposal by City Councilor Anthony Coghill would have divided the money equally among the city's nine council districts. That legislation was shelved after criticism from Councilor Ricky Burgess, who says more is needed for parks in already underfunded neighborhoods.

There's also confusion about matching funds. Leading up to the vote in November, conservancy CEO Jayne Miller said any tax money would be matched by money from foundations and other donors. Council has said they thought she'd be fundraising by now. She says no—that the conservancy should only fundraise once they have a plan to begin maintenance and renovation, potentially on a project-by-project basis.

Council hasn't said when a final plan to create and implement the parks fund might be adopted. 

New Pops conductor talks about his influences
(22:55 — 28:08)

Byron Stripling joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as its second-ever Pops conductor earlier this year. 90.5 WESA’s Bob Studebaker talked with Stripling about how his musical journey will lend itself to a fresh take on the PSO’s successful program. 

“Our whole thing in our family was great music and great art. My parents took me to see the great Leontyne Price, the soprano. But they also took me to see Ella Fitzgerald,” Stripling says. “That’s what the Pops program is going to look like.” 

Check out the symphony’s PNC Pops 2020 program here

90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque contributed to this program. WESA receives funding from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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