River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury, @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

frankieleon / Flickr

The $10 bill, long inhabited by founding father Alexander Hamilton, will soon feature a woman. The decision will be made by the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who is asking the public for help in deciding which woman to include.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer discusses the criteria for our nation’s currency and the historical significance of American bills with two historians, Thomas Schwartz, director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum in West Branch, and Larry Adams, curator at the Higgins Museum in Okoboji. 

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

This summer at camps across Iowa, some kids are exploring the outdoors, some kids are crafting art projects, and some kids are designing hovercraft.

At the University of Iowa's Belin Blank Center, a group of preteens are working with Mark Ginsberg of M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art to make working hovercrafts with Computer Aided Design and 3-D printing. Ginsberg says this is the first step towards the technology of the future.

Photo by Tom Jorgensen / University of Iowa

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa-native, Ambassador Ron McMullen. He shares stories from his service in Burma, South Africa, Fiji, South Africa, and Eritrea. He also talks about the importance of keeping engaged with the world, something he hopes to impart on the University of Iowa students he teaches.

Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Caucuses have remained the same over time, but the media coverage has not. Butch Ward, a Senior Faculty Member at the Poynter Institute, says that since the advent of social media, campaigns have had an easier time reaching the public. That it makes it both easier and harder for reporters.

“Reporting the message from a speech may not be as useful as asking ‘is this consistent with performance? Has this candidate flip flopped overtime?’ I think of that as a sense maker, somebody who introduced a certain sense of understanding and meaning,” Ward says.

Alan Light / Wikimedia Commons

A decision on whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states under federal law is expected from the U.S. Supreme Court soon. In order to get this issue before the nation’s highest courts, advocates have been working for decades to create a change in public opinion.

MIKI Yoshihito / flickr

What do snakes, turtles, zebra fish, and a program called CRISPR have in common? They are all involved in genomic research happening right here in Iowa.

The new Jurassic World movie is now in theaters, and there’s also recent controversial news that for the first time, Chinese scientists have edited DNA in human embryos.

Courtesy of Tanya Keith

Though coverage of FIFA has been negative, run through with charges of corruption, fans at the FIFA Women's World Cup are trying to focus on the positive.

"I think most people are relieved that FIFA is finally getting called out on their corruption, [due to] the scandal we all kinda knew was taking place but no one could prove. Among the American fans, it's kind of funny, because there's no small amount of pride that it was the US Department of Justice that brought the charges against FIFA."

John Bollwitt

Traditional, big American breweries are in the midst of a global identity crisis. Meanwhile, craft beer microbreweries in the U.S. are flourishing like never before.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Planet Money, a twice weekly podcast from NPR, sprung from an episode of This American Life that explained the subprime mortgage crisis. For the past six years, they’ve covered everything from the history of light to toxic assets, all to make the economy and finance more understandable to the average person.

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Freda Sojka, CEO of Soothing Solutions, created Bug Soother in the wake of the 2008 floods, when gnats were bothering her five-month-old grandson. She had no idea that less than a decade later it'd be distributed throughout the world.

"If I'd known all that at the beginning, I might have named it differently. We're pretty stuck with the name now," she said with a laugh.

This Spring, Bug Soother launched in the UK. And Sojka is looking at other countries to introduce Bug Soother to; Panama is next on the list.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says the government’s top priorities in the ongoing avian flu outbreak are safe clean-up of infected sites and indemnity payments for affected farmers. But right behind those, he says, is a need to better understand what has happened.

"The next thing that is important in that list of priorities is to complete the epidemiology study, which is the study on how did this disease get here in the first place and how did it spread after it got here?"

Thomas Bresson / Wikimedia Commons

Late last month, the White House released a strategy to try to protect pollinators, aiming to grow bee populations across the country in the next 10 years. As a part of that plan, there’s been talk of limiting pesticide use and developing products to help beekeepers combat the varroa mite.

Brookings Institute / Flickr

When Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy, Hillary Clinton gained some competition. Sanders, who had only 8% support from Democrats in an April Quinnipiac poll, is now polling at 15%. 

While some believe Sanders' run may be harmful to Clinton's campaign, Dennis Goldford, Professor of Political Science and the Flansburg Fellow for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University, says the move could bode well for her.

courteney / flickr

Last month, a former Iowa high school athlete, who is now in a wheelchair, received nearly a million dollars in a football concussion case. It’s the first damage award of it’s kind in the state.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer finds out what questions the growing attention on concussions has raised about the future of football. Can school districts afford potential lawsuits? What can be done to make the sport safer for players?

woodleywonderworks / Flickr

According to the National Institute for Early Education, Iowa ranks 32nd in the nation for state spending on preschool.

Mark Shriver, President of the Save the Children Action Network, is working to try to change that. “Ninety percent of brain growth happens before the age of 5, but public investment is flat until that age. We spend billions of dollars trying to remediate. These kids are not entering kindergarten ready to learn,” he says.

Health and Human Services Department, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging / Wikipedia Commons

How many hours of sleep do you think you need a night? New research shows that you may want to err on the side of more, not less. Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have found that high amounts of the chemical amyloid are linked with disrupted sleep patterns.  

She was only one day away from going on maternity leave. On this news buzz edition of River to River, Omaha police officer Ken Fox remembers his fellow officer and Council Bluffs resident, Kerrie Orozco.

"We're grieving tremendously," says Fox. "I think that all we can take away from this is the support from the community, and also seeing what Kerrie did, what she lived every day. We can try to match up to what her vision was for this department."

Kotivalo

R.T., who hails from the East Central Iowa, hasn’t had a drink of alcohol since July 3, 1986. He got sober when he was 26 after binging heavily on a daily basis.

“My life was in shambles. The best way I could describe it was outer confusion and despair. I truly couldn’t imagine living my life any different but I couldn’t imagine living three days any different.”

After going to a rehabilitation clinic, he was directed to Alcoholics Anonymous. As someone turned off by religion, he says he didn’t think it would work.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, announced that he is running for President today. That brings the list of declared GOP presidential candidates to seven, with former New York Governor George Pataki expected to officially throw his hat into the ring tomorrow.  

Kedron Bardwell of Simpson College says that if any of those candidates want to win, they’re going to have to energize younger voters. “Young people are looking for someone new. From what I’ve heard around campus here, I don’t see a Rick Santorum or a Mike Huckabee catching fire in Iowa,” he says.

First-time Representative David Young, a Republican representing Iowa’s third district, stated in his campaign he wanted to ‘dismantle’ Obamacare. Now a looming Supreme Court decision could work towards that goal, by cutting Obamacare insurance for millions of Americans living in states without their own health exchanges.

Pan American Health Organization

Earlier this month, a team of researchers released a study that found one major difference between life and death for extremely preterm infants—those born from 22 to 26 weeks of gestation—was how aggressively the doctors attempted to save the babies’ lives.

Al Madrigal / (c) 2015 Steffen Schmidt

Clinton broke her media silence earlier this week when she took questions from reporters in a bicycle shop in Cedar Falls. Though she's had a consistent presence in Iowa, analyst Steffen Schimdt says the campaign has yet to truly kick off.

"There is no Clinton campaign. What there is is these little weird visits to New Hampshire and Iowa, meeting with people in bicycle shops with very carefully hand-picked crowds of individuals who are favorable to Hillary Clinton. These are not open events, they're not big events, she's not rolling out big themes."

hyoin min / flickr

Democratizing entrepreneurship and creativity

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with co-founder Amanda West and speakers of this year's EntreFEST, a three-day event promising game-changing training and inspiration, featuring over a hundred entrepreneurs. They discuss why co-working spaces are becoming more popular, how tech can help factories thrive in the 21st century, and how politics, art, and contemporary culture inspired a thought-provoking t-shirt line.

Photo by John Pemble

Sorting out Iowa’s state budget for fiscal year 2016 has been contentious, specifically where K-12 education is concerned. In Wisconsin, they’re facing the same issue, with a governor who is gearing up for a possible presidential run.

“That’s been a favorite line of state Democrats this session, ‘Well, we could ask Governor Walker about this if he were here,’” says Wisconsin Public Radio Statehouse Reporter Shawn Johnson.

University of the Fraser Valley / flickr

A jury has awarded a former Bedford High School football player nearly $1 million for the way the school handled the player's head injuries. The player, Kacey Strough, had a pre-existing medical condition, involving abnormally formed blood vessels in his brain, that bled after he suffered a head injury. Strough was allowed to keep practicing and playing through this injury.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, guest-host Ben Stanton interviews Dr. Andy Peterson of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to learn about the implications of this case.

Bob Elbert

Lake City is quickly recovering from an EF1 tornado that touched down Sunday night, tearing the roof off the community’s high school. Mayor Gary Fahan says around 25 percent of homes in the town are damaged, but clean-up is well underway.

Derell Licht / Flickr

The Obama Administration has lost ground in securing a pan-Pacific trade pact, after Senate Democrats refused to allow debate on a bill to grant him fast track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Jim McCormick, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, said the aspect of moving trade agreements quickly through Congress gives Obama increased foreign power.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Two years ago, Jennifer Marshall launched a project on Kickstarter to make it easier to talk openly about mental illness. “This is My Brave” was the product - a night of music, poetry and storytelling performed by and for people with mental illness and their advocates.

The event is coming to Iowa for the first time on Friday, May 15. Joseph Sorensen is a songwriter from Cedar Rapids who will be performing.

In 2009, Mark Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg head football coach Ed Thomas during a schizophrenic break. He is now serving a life sentence for first degree murder.

His mother, Joan Becker, writes about her son and her family’s struggle with his mental health in her new memoir Sentenced to Life: The Mark Becker Story.

Joan remembers when she first started noticing changes in Mark’s behavior.

John Pemble

What do honey bees, baseball fields and coin-operated laundries have in common? This year, their owners are being considered as possible recipients of new state tax breaks.

On this legislative day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by lawmakers and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss various tax bills being debated at the capitol.

Senator Joe Bolkom, a Democrat from Iowa City and Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, also talk about what could be done with any state budget surplus, including giving it back to taxpayers.

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