News

CIA Operations Head Reflects on 30 Years

Apr 3, 2015
Secretive Ireland / Flickr

When Thomas Twetten graduated from Iowa State, he knew he was interested in foreign countries and psychology. When he graduated with a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University, he knew he wanted to serve his country. His only quandary was whether to join the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I joined there partly because of the aura of not knowing very much about it. There was much less information available about the CIA."

jjjj56cp / flickr

It's almost go-time in the garden, which means it's time to get ready for planting season.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University Extension horticulturists, Linda Naeve and Richard Jauron.

They share advice on getting rid of old plant debris, how to dispose of it, and how to avoid common pitfalls in the planning process. Richard and Linda also answer listener questions, including an inquiry on how to plant flowers for a fall wedding.

Jane Kettering, St. Ambrose University

    There is a Middle East Institute on the campus of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

The immediate question that comes to mind is why a Catholic University in the middle of America has created an academic institute focused on the Arab world.

Pat Blank / IPR

After announcing his plans last Monday to run for the Republican Party nomination for President in 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz embarked on a two-day campaign swing through Iowa.  In Cedar Falls on Thursday, he spoke to around 100 at the Pipac Events Center.  

Photo by John Pemble

Mandela Wani Michael joined the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army when he was just 11 years old. He says he wanted to keep going to school, but that was not an option.

“When the war broke out, we had to leave my town. Finding food and water, it became a problem. I would wake up and think ‘I have to go to school,’ but there was no school in the bush. The only way for me to be with friends was to join my friends as child soldiers.”

Jad Abumrad on Unanswered Questions and Making Concepts Dance

Apr 2, 2015
PopTech / flickr

What does a shrimp sees when it looks at a rainbow? How well can we really know the minds of animals? Why do we blink?

These are some of the questions that Radiolab creator and co-host, Jad Abumrad, tackles with each episode of his show.

iprimages

Republicans in the Iowa House Wednesday revived wide-ranging firearms legislation, agreeing to some demands from Senate Democrats.  

Senate Democrats argued an earlier bill threatened public safety.  

The GOP agreed to drop a proposal to eliminate the three day waiting period to purchase a handgun.  

Earlier this week the differences between the House and Senate seemed insurmountable.   Democrats wanted to preserve the required permit to acquire a handgun including a three day waiting period and mandatory background checks.   

Flickr / United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The world’s first openly gay head of government is in Iowa. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir served as Iceland’s Prime Minister from 2009 to 2013.

Sigurðardóttir is one of the keynote speakers for the 10th annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, which takes place Friday at the Prairie Meadows Event Center in Altoona. 

Wikimedia Commons

The deadline for outlining a deal with Iran regarding the nation's nuclear weapons program has been extended. 

According to Grinnell College political sciencist Wayne Moyer, that deadline is important. "When it comes to international negotiations, it's only a deadline that causes anything to be done." 

Moyer talked with Iowa Public Radio's Ben Kieffer today during River to River. He also commented that in order for a deal with Iran to have any chance of winning over Congress, it's going to have to contain specifics. 

wintersoul2/flickr

The party may soon be over if you’ve been using a handicapped parking permit in your vehicle without being handicapped.  

The Iowa House voted unanimously to eliminate non-expiring permits and require drivers to reapply for them every five years instead.     

Moulton Republican Larry Sheets says some people are cheating:

Joyce Russell/IPR

An eleventh hour attempt is underway in the Republican-dominated Iowa House to delay Governor Branstad’s plan to close the mental health institutes at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda.

Republicans and Democrats alike want to keep the facilities open until alternative arrangements can be made for patients. 

Acute care at Mount Pleasant is scheduled to shut down next Monday and staff will be laid off.   A bill from the Democratic-controlled Senate has now cleared a three-member panel in the House to continue to accept patients through the end of the fiscal year. 

iprimages

A committee in the Iowa Senate today voted not to recommend the reappointment of Governor Branstad’s choice to head the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

Director Arlen Ciechanowski  was in charge when an assistant director was accused of sexual harassment.  

FLICKR / TOBIAS LEEGER

The state legislature yesterday sent a bill to Gov. Terry Branstad setting August 23 as the earliest date students can go back to class. The bill attempts to balance the interests of Iowa K-12 education and the state's tourism industry. Not everyone is pleased.

Lisa Riggs is president of the Travel Federation of Iowa and general manager of the Danish Windmill in Elk Horn. The windmill was shipped from Denmark to the west-central Iowa town in 1975.

Photo by John Pemble

McCoy, You’re Going Straight to Hell – that’s the title of State Senator Matt McCoy’s new book. In it, Iowa’s highest-ranking openly gay elected official shares personal stories and opinions sent to him on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

"Not only was I going straight to hell, but I was bringing the souls of innocent Iowans with me...all these souls that would be lost as a result of marriage equality," he says.

In this River to River interview, Ben Kieffer talks with Sen. McCoy about the book, as well as his future political ambitions.

Sadle Hernandez / Flickr

In 2015, nearly everyone has a camera in their back pocket. Is there still a need to employ photographers? 

David Guttenfelder, an Iowa native who grew up in Waukee and was named Time’s 2013 Instagram photographer of the year for his coverage of everyday life in North Korea, says 'yes.' Good photographers just have to integrate cell phone camera into their professional work.

“I started just carrying my phone as my second camera to be creative,”  Guttenfelder said. 

John Pemble

Iowa has a law mandating life in prison without parole for teen killers, but this law is deemed unconstitutional by both the U.S. and the Iowa Supreme Courts.

A proposal moving through Iowa’s legislature would modify the state’s current law mandating life in prison for juveniles convicted of murder. The legislation gives judges three sentencing options. One of those options is still life in prison without parole.

John Pemble/IPR

An executive with the alternative transportation company known as Uber was at the capitol today, lobbying for a bill the company says would help them expand to more Iowa communities.   

Uber offers rides like a taxi, except the drivers use their own cars and drum up business through a smartphone app.   

“This bill provides a uniform standard,” says Uber General Manager Pooneet Kant. “With Des Moines, there’s also West Des Moines a driver could be going through. We think having a uniform standard makes more sense.”  

Photo Courtesy of Ash Bruxvoort

One of the best ways to learn anything is through experience. Farming is no exception.

Over the course of the last year, Iowan Ash Bruxvoort has been traveling the country apprenticing on organic farms. She started out on a small CSA in Atlantic and says getting on farm experience has taught her more than anything else she could have done.

 

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers are facing another funnel deadline this week at the statehouse. Bills must have cleared one chamber and a committee in the other chamber in order to continue to be eligible for consideration. IPR's Julie Englander spoke with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about some of the bills facing this deadline. One would make it a primary offense to use your cell phone while driving. Another would make speeding tickets issued by traffic cameras more detailed.

Some Farmers Warming Up to the Affordable Care Act

Mar 30, 2015
file: Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Until the federal health insurance marketplace opened in late 2013, farmers and ranchers were more likely to be uninsured than many other occupational groups. The Affordable Care Act changed that by requiring them to buy insurance. But it also gave them coverage options they didn’t have before.  

Jon Bailey, of the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs, says it’s hard to make sweeping generalizations about how the health care law is working for farmers and ranchers.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Last night, swimming history was made in Iowa City. David Nolan of Stanford swam the fastest 200-yard individual medley in history. It took him only one minute and thirty nine seconds to swim eight lengths of the pool doing four different strokes. 

For the first time in decades, Iowa is host to the NCAA men's Swimming and Diving Championships. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Marc Long, University of Iowa's men and women swimming and diving coach about the significance of the event.

Nepal Gateway Trekking / Flickr

Marijuana is often branded as harmless by its proponents, but according to the 2012 Iowa Drug Report, 26% of Iowans seeking drug treatment cite the plant as their drug of choice. Ned Presnall, keynote speaker of the upcoming Governor's Conference on Substance Abuse, says decriminalization has led to decreased perceptions of risk.

TexasEagle / Flickr

Monarch butterflies, like a quarter of butterfly species in Iowa, are dwindling in numbers. In January, there was talk of placing the monarch on the endangered species list. 

Across the corn belt, Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says that there have been 125 million acres of milkweed habitat lost in the last few decades. He says individuals planting milkweed won't make up for the lost of all those acres, but it's a start. 

Emily Woodbury

March is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) awareness month. TBI has been called a silent epidemic. In many cases, resulting injuries are not visible to others, and it affects more than 95,000 Iowans.

Wikimedia Commons

The names of two of the four seasons we have in Iowa come from Germanic languages; such is not the case with “spring.”

That's according to Patricia O’Connor, author of the book “Woe is I." The word evolved in English and the story behind it is actually quite poetic.

 O’Connor says it’s a wonderful example of how a word develops.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A bill backers say would benefit African-Americans in the criminal justice system failed to advance in a Republican-dominated panel in the Iowa House today.    

The NAACP favors the bill to expunge the criminal record when charges against a defendant are dropped.  

Currently online court records don’t indicate a charge was dropped.    So an employer can go online and see only that a job applicant was charged with a crime. 

Clinton Democrat and defense attorney Mary Wolfe says she hears from young African-Americans who had unfounded charges dismissed.

Claudia McGehee / Sasquatch Books

Claudia McGehee uses scratchboard illustrations to bring her readers into nature.

"A picture of a heron is going to tell [children] one thing, but I can show the heron just about to eat a frog in a way that maybe they wouldn't see in a photograph," she says.

McGehee is an illustrator and author whose recent children's book My Wilderness: An Alaskan Adventure recounts the 1918–1919 winter spent on Alaska’s Fox Island from the point of view of nine-year-old Rocky, son of the painter Rockwell Kent.

Ready Campus

Mar 26, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

The University of Northern Iowa today hosted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Campus Fair. This event reached out to students, staff, and faculty and community members to encourage them to prepare for emergencies.

First in the state, FEMA’s disaster relief event featured other organizations such as the Iowa National Guard, Star One Search and Rescue, UNI student organizations, and more disaster-relief groups.

Jack Rubin / Penn State Special Collections via Flickr

50 years ago this week, Martin Luther King led a march from Selma to Montgomery to advocate for voting rights for disenfranchised African Americans. One Iowan was there.

Reverend Milton Cole-Duvall, then a senior at William and Mary, left school for a week to march in solidarity. On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Cole-Duvall about the Selma march. Dr. James Randall, professor emeritus of English and African American Studies at Coe College, also joins the conversation.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ted Cruz officially announced his presidential bid Monday.

"Over and over again when we faced impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain't all that tough," Cruz said.

Pages