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A super PAC is behind new ads targeting a candidate in 12th Congressional District campaign

Mel Evans

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Super PAC with ties to pro-Israel group runs ads targeting Summer Lee
(0:00 - 7:26)

A newly active super PAC has produced spots targeting state Rep. Summer Lee in the campaign to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle.

The political ads are from a super PAC called United Democracy Project, and WESA’s government & accountability editor Chris Potter explains this committee is “an offshoot” of AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is a prominent voice on pro-Israel policies in American politics.

Potter notes that despite the group’s affiliation to AIPAC, these ads don’t mention Israel, but rather her support of establishment Democrats.

“Ms. Lee is a progressive candidate. There is a concern, in some quarters at least, that she might sort of ally herself with what's known as ‘the Squad,’” says Potter. “These are young, progressive women of color. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, some other folks, Ilhan Omar, who in some people's view, are too willing to sort of rethink American foreign policy towards Israel. And so there's this concern that Ms. Lee has pushed back against that, that she won't be a solid enough vote for Israel.”

Debates regarding Israel-Palestine have emerged as a foreign policy issue in the race for the state’s 12th Congressional District. In May 2021, Lee posted a pair of tweets in response to an Israeli raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to George Zimmerman fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.

Earlier this month at a Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh forum, Lee also stated that she believes Israel has a right to exist, and that the U.S. should continue sending aid to the country.

Following North Side mass shooting, nonprofit exec urges listening to youths
(7:32 - 15:04)

Pittsburgh Police continue to investigate the mass shooting that happened early Easter morning at a North Side Airbnb that left two teens dead and several young people wounded.

Mike Dixon is the executive director of Basketball Dreamz, a nonprofit on the North Side that teaches life skills to youth through sports. He says some of the kids he works with were at the party the night of the shooting.

He says the kids he works with feel like their voices are being ignored, and the city leaders need to look to community programs to help solve these problems. Dixon says violence prevention programs and trained social workers could be used to prevent gun violence, in addition to law enforcement.

“We have a lot of people who said that it intimidates the community when seeing more policemen,” says Dixon. “I suggest that our police officers are able to try to find kinds of ways to interact with the community.”

How to urban forage in Pittsburgh
(15:08 - 22:30)

Some local farmer’s markets and restaurants in the Pittsburgh area might feature foods, such as ramps or mushrooms, that were foraged. Walking around the Pittsburgh area, residents might be able to spot some delicacies that could end up in your kitchen.

“I think it's really gained a lot of popularity because of, the people just enjoying being outside and wanting to learn more about their environment, and also having more control over their food supply and knowing what's around them,” says Melissa Sokulski, a natural food advocate, herbalist and the author of the blog Food Under Foot.

Sokulski leads foraging hikes through Frick Park, where she points out edible plants, as well as poisonous ones.

“It really is important to know 100% what you’re foraging and what you're eating,” says Sokulski. “On my walks, I really steer people toward things that don't have poison lookalikes, so they can feel confident in what they're getting and feel safe about what they're eating.”

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.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. 

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