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Schools across Iowa are beginning classes this week amid concerns from public health officials about the drop in vaccination rates. At many schools, the percentage of students fully vaccinated is below 90 percent, and at a few around the state, it's below 50 percent. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says more families are seeking exemptions from vaccinations for a variety of reasons. 

"One of the reasons is that people no longer have seen these diseases and therefore don't realize how bad they can be," she explains. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A now five-year effort to beef up science and technology education in Iowa schools is paying off, according to a study by Iowa’s three Regents universities. The program is known by the acronym "STEM," which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Backers say boosting STEM fields will help Iowa companies find employees for good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, information technology, and other fields. STEM Advisory Council Director Jeff Weld says the results so far are encouraging. 

Photo by John Pemble

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld is beginning his first full school year at the helm in Iowa City. The former business executive took over the job in November of last year amid protests from some faculty and students over his lack of academic background. He says he hopes all that is behind him heading into this school year. 

"From my perspective, we're now hard at work on the real issues of moving the university forward. It feels like we're a lot calmer and much more focused in a lot of ways," he says. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed on Monday that the for-profit companies now managing Iowa’s multi-billion dollar Medicaid program did not follow the rules in the first two months of operation. But the governor also says the state issued no warnings or fees, in spite of complaints of late payments to health care providers and delayed care to patients.  

ep_jhu / Flickr

Donald Trump doesn't have time to read. As he puts it, that's always been the case.

“I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.”

But that doesn't stop presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Tim Walch from having some book recommendations for him and for his opponent Hillary Clinton. He puts a lot of presidential biographies from the days of our founding fathers on that list.

sarahchang.com

With school back in session and fall in the air, cultural events are revving up all across the state. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

·         Tim Ferry III premiering his new work at the Hearst Center

·         Maestro Mark Russell Smith filling us in on the QCSO’s outstanding 2016-17 concert line-up

·         Poet Bradford Tice, winner of the 2014 Trio Award, reading from his new book of poetry called “What the Night Numbered”

Amy Mayer/IPR

On a trip to the Midwest last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack offered some advice to the next presidential administration. As the candidates tour the country and remain largely silent on agriculture and food issues, the Agriculture Department’s purview remains important.

 

Amy Mayer/IPR

On a hot, July day in Boone County, farmer Brett Heineman shuttled a semi from one of his family's fields to the local co-op. He and his uncle were harvesting the first crop of oats on this farm in decades.

Before, corn and soybeans almost completely covered the landscape -- today, they account for 95 percent of crop acres in Iowa -- most Corn Belt farmers also grew oats or alfalfa. Now, the Heinemans are among the farmers taking a closer look at re-integrating the small grain into their operations.

Kim Weaver is the Democratic candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, challenging seven term incumbent Republican Steve King.     

Weaver is a state employee from Sheldon.    If elected, she would be Iowa’s first female member of the U.S. House.

Before a small crowd of fairgoers, Weaver called for a higher minimum wage, help for student debt, better mental health services for veterans, and immigration reform.   She says even the Farm Bureau agrees with her on immigration.

Dakota Access LLC

A pipeline company says a group of landowners challenging its use of eminent domain was too late in filing a motion asking the Polk County District County to temporarily stop pipeline construction. Therefore, Dakota Access LLC says the landowners’ motion should be tossed.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s one issue both major presidential candidates seem to be in agreement on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they’re opposed to President Obama’s multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the swing state of Iowa, many agricultural groups are in favor of the TPP for new markets it will open for exports like Iowa pork.

John Pemble / IPR

Ten Iowans have been honored at the Iowa State Fair with governor’s Lifesaving Awards.  Two of those recipients are Craig Smith and Steve Neal from Mount Vernon.  Last March they were sitting next to their friend Adrain Ringold during a coffee club gathering. Ringold suddenly passed out and had no pulse.  Smith and Neal took him to the floor and began performing CPR.

Neal sang the classic disco hit “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees, while Smith began applying chest compressions.

Dakota Access

A group of landowners will ask the District Court in Polk County this afternoon to stop the Dakota Access pipeline from beginning construction on their properties. They aim to hold off the condemnation of their lands until they have their day in court to challenge the company’s use of eminent domain.

ROB DILLARD/IPR & John Pemble/IPR

The latest Quinnipiac University poll finds Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading GOP nominee Donald Trump by 47 percent to 44 percent in Iowa.

Since Clinton’s three-point lead is within the margin of error, the poll suggests the candidates are effectively tied. But the same survey also find that 97 percent of Iowa Democrats say they are supporting Clinton, and only 85 percent of Republicans say the same of Trump.

Courtesy of Becky Herman

Iowa’s first cricket farm that’s producing crickets for human consumption is up and running. Becky Herman is a co-founder of Iowa Cricket Farmer, and she says right now, she’s got nearly 200,000 cricket living in blue bins at the farm. She’s a school teacher and said the idea came to her in the classroom.

Airing originally in December of 2014, this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" features Celtic-Soul group Switchback. 

Tune in below to hear the group showcase their uniquely Midwestern sound and learn about their creative process.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," originally aired in December of 2015, host Ben Kieffer chats with Greg Klyma. 

Listen in below for songs that will make you laugh and sing.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

After more than 10 years, Sean Moeller is leaving Daytrotter. He says it seems like the right time, and he’s ready for a new project. During this Talk of Iowa interview, he talks with host Charity Nebbe about why he’s moving on, what he’s built, and how Daytrotter began.

IPR/Tony Dehner

We add new music to our library at Studio One almost every week, and we're getting ready to enter one of the busiest times of year for new releases. Here are 12 albums coming in the next two months from some high-profile artists that we're especially excited about, and that you can pretty much count on hearing on Studio One Tracks. (Some of the songs included below include language that some listeners may find objectionable.)

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree - September 9th

Rob Dillard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Center for Lesbian Rights brought their Rural Pride Summit to Des Moines Thursday. It offered a chance for the rural LGBT community to talk about their economic, health, legal and social concerns.

Des Moines was the 13th stop in the series, which began in 2014 as a way to increase the visibility of the LGBT community in rural America.

It’s estimated that almost 10 percent of same-sex couples live in rural areas of the country.

Flickr / Roger W

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is holding a rural LGBT summit Thursday at Drake University.

Ashlee Davis is the director of the event, which is the 15th the USDA has held in the rural and southern U.S.. Davis says some there’s a widely-held myth that LGBT people don’t live in rural American, but data from the most recent U.S. Census shows that's not the case.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is expanding its support of new farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with more than a dozen young, beginning and military veteran farmers at Iowa State University in Ames. He listened to their start-up stories and announced another $18 million in grants to help new farmers get going. Vilsack says he has tried to connect government policy with on-the-ground needs for farmers.

Scott Murphy

IPR's Performance Iowa is excited to bring you a special program from the front lawn of Brucemore Mansion in Cedar Rapids. Orchestra Iowa's 95th season opener concert Brucemorechestra! With Mike Mass and Friends will be broadcast live on Saturday, September 17, at 7:00 PM.

John Pemble / IPR

A new work of art about the bond between horses and humans is at the Iowa State Fair in the century-old horse barn. Most of the 400 stalls are occupied by horses waiting for competitions, some with their human companions camping next to them, providing company and care.  At stall 406 is something different: a white fiberglass horse head hanging on a wooden mount illuminated by several work lights.

 

Louis / Flickr

From canvas tents to Class C motorhomes, how we camp is changing as technology improves and the outdoor industry adapts military technology for use by the average consumer. 

Recreational camping became a hobby in the United States after the Civil War when wealthy business owners would hire guides to take them up into the Adirondack Mountains. That’s according to Martin Hogue, who teaches landscape architecture in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York in Syracuse and is author of the forthcoming book Thirtyfour Campgrounds.

Sarah Boden/IPR

About 30 protesters gathered outside the Iowa Utilities Board offices on Tuesday morning. They want the IUB to install a Public Liaison Officer, who would address all complaints made about Dakota Access Pipeline construction and enforce the IUB rules.

A formal motion with this request was filed with the IUB jointly by the Science and Environmental Health Network and the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, alleging the current complaint process is in effective.

Pat Blank/IPR

The consistently high rate of suicide in the military has Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst on a mission to better address mental health care through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Dave Loebsack have asked for an Inspector General’s investigation into the death last month of U.S. Marine Corps veteran Brandon Ketchum of Davenport.  Ernst says Ketchum had reportedly been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, but was turned away when he asked to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

Rob Dillard

A 30-member advisory council looking into chronic absenteeism in Iowa schools held its first meeting Tuesday. The problem of students missing class is especially prevalent in the early grades.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days. A report issued in April by the Child and Family Policy Center indicates nine percent of Iowa’s kindergartners fit this pattern. A special assistant for education in the governor’s office, Linda Fandel, says this leaves them far behind when it comes to reading.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior US senator says the proposed mergers of major agricultural seed and chemical companies should get coordinated review from multiple federal agencies.

Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and often presses government agencies to make sure proposed mergers will not stymie competition. Right now, he says the Department of Justice is looking at the proposed Dow-DuPont merger. The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing ChemChina's bid to take over Syngenta.

GMD

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore features the wcfsymphony’s “Copland and Clarinet” concert. The concert includes pieces by Zhou Long and Aaron Copland, and features two Klezmer sets with virtuoso clarinetist, David Krakauer.

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