UK Department for International Development / Flickr

Governor Terry Branstad is one of more than 25 governors who have said no to helping Syrian refugees. That didn't stop Mayor Chris Taylor from proclaiming Wednesday that the eastern Iowa town of Swisher welcomes them.

National Weathe Service

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Zogg in Johnston describes the criteria for determining if weather events will be storms or if winter weather advisories are more appropriate. He gives advice about driving in the first snow and offers a look ahead to what travelers may expect for Thanksgiving.  


The federal government has reindicted three former Ron Paul staffers, in charges related to secret payments to former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson for his endorsement of Paul for president in late 2011, shortly before the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucuses. A trial last month ended in a hung jury and a new trial for the staffers is set for December 14. 

Iowa State Center

Ring in the holidays with the arts! This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

Kelly Cookson / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University about caring for plants indoors during the winter months.  They discuss holiday plants, traditional house plants and outdoor plants that can be over wintered in the home.  Bringing plants in from outdoors can pose some challenges.  

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

The Iowa Supreme Court on Thursday heard the appeal of an Iowa woman who was denied unemployment benefits after missing work and subsequently losing her job as a medical assistant because she was in jail. Sondra Irving missed more than three weeks of work after being held at the Johnson County Jail in late 2013, in part because she couldn’t make bail which was set at $17,500.

University of Iowa photo

Football fans attending this Saturday’s University of Iowa Hawkeye football game with Purdue will encounter security changes.            

The UI’s interim security director, David Visin, says items that had been permitted to be carried into the stadium are now prohibited.

Photo by John Pemble

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. River to River host Ben Kieffer spoke with him Thursday, November 19 in advance of a campaign trip to Iowa City.

BK: Senator Paul, welcome to our program.

RP: Glad to be with you.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the number of heroin overdose deaths in Iowa has increased from three in 2007 to 20 in 2013.

“Six years ago we didn’t see heroin cases, just didn’t see it,” says Nicholas Klinefeldt, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. “Now we have heroin cases; we have heroin overdose deaths. It’s here, and I think the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, many have been quick to condemn the group calling itself ISIS, and many have also been quick to condemn Islam.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with more than one billion believers worldwide. Imam Hassan Selim of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids  says it’s unfair to characterize all Muslims as terrorists.  

Photo by Amy Mayer

Many corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest are receiving their first government payments under the new Farm Bill enacted last year, and taxpayers are spending more than projected.


John Pemble / Terrace Hill

Plans are underway to recover a part of Iowa's lost history buried next to the governor’s mansion in Des Moines, known as Terrace Hill. Administrators are preparing to exhume the old swimming pool which was built long before Iowa's first families moved in. 

Several thousand visitors tour the Victorian mansion every year. Among the sightseers this fall was a group of students from Runnells, with a volunteer guide pointing out the highlights.

"Okay, this is the moose. We call him Fred. Now that’s a big moose isn't it?"

Steve Snodgrass / Flickr

Daniel Finney has struggled with depression for nearly two decades. In that time, his doctors prescribed the two stalwarts in the depression treatment stable: talk therapy and prescription drugs. When he went through a major depressive episode earlier this year, however, his doctor suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Flickr / much0

Teachers, parents, and students embraced and some cried moments after the Iowa Board of Education voted unanimously to de-accredit and close the Farragut Community School District. This is only the third time the state education board has dissolved a school district. 

More than 120 people are dead in Paris after a string of terrorist attacks late last week, including one American. The attackers have been identified as Muslim extremists, and one of the terrorists is said to have gotten into France by posing as a refugee.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A years-long battle between Iowa’s community banks and its credit unions flared up at the capitol today, where a legislative committee is conducting a routine review of tax credits.  

The financial institutions are taxed differently, and banks argue it’s an unlevel playing field.  

Kevin VanderLee with the Iowa Bankers Association describes a new community bank that was started in Johnston.

“There were individuals who made their investment to start a bank,” VanderLee says.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is suspending his campaign for president.   NPR reports Jindal made the announcement in an interview with Fox TV, saying "this is not my time."

Christopher Gannon

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim Davis, associate professor of information systems at Iowa State University, and two Iowa State University students, Steff Bisinger and Jason Johnson, about what it’s like to work in the booming field of cyber security.

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

President William Ruud has been president of the University of Northern Iowa since 2013. He's overseen projects he's proud of like efforts to curb sexual assault and One Is Too Many and a project to promote mental health. He still says the best part of the job is direct interaction with students.

"Nothing better than putting on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and going over to the student union and sitting down and hearing where the people that you ought to be doing what you're doing for are thinking, where they're going, what their excitements are, what their fears are."

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Monday night in the appeal of a 100-year sentence given to a Waterloo man in 2013. Donald Reed was convicted on drug-related charges and received an enhanced sentence because of a prior crime he committed when he was 17.  


Educators from the Council Bluffs School District joined the governor at his weekly news conference today with an enthusiastic report on the first year of Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program, known as TLC.  

Eventually schools will get 150 million dollars a year to promote teachers from the classroom into mentoring roles. 

Superintendent Martha Bruckner says the mentors are helping both new and experienced teachers.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Update at 5:00pm: Late this afternoon, Gov. Branstad ordered all state agencies to stop any work on settlement of Syrian refugees.  

Original story: Several states are rethinking plans to accept refugees after the terrorist attacks in Paris. So far, Iowa is not among them.

Investigators say at least one of the Paris attackers slipped through Europe’s immigration system. 

Iowa Public Radio / Clay Masters

Congressman Steve King (IA-4) is endorsing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination. The Iowa Republican said Cruz was a "constitutional originalist" and the answer to his prayers. King cited the Texan's views on faith, the military, and immigration policy in his endorsement speech. 

Both men are firebrands and often at odds with establishment colleagues in their own party. But King, who is well-liked among evangelicals and the tea party in his state, says the senator will be able to appeal to libertarian, evangelical, and mainstream Republican voters.

Wikimedia Commons

Time changes everything, and in Iowa, that’s glaringly apparent in many of the state’s communities with populations of less than 5,000 people. So the story goes, small towns are dying. But according to Iowa State Professor Terry Besser, that’s not exactly true. She has been monitoring Iowa’s rural communities  for more than two decades, trying to put her finger on what it is that keeps towns alive… and what contributes to the rural blight.

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

The immigrant workers who pick crops like cotton and melons in the U.S. can have a tough time finding a place to live. The rural areas where they can find work often lack social services and affordable housing. That means many farm worker families end up in dilapidated buildings, which can come with health risks.

Angel Castro's old road is muddy and covered with flooded potholes. He lived here during the 1990s just behind a large John Deere store in Kennett, Mo.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Carly Fiorina is a former executive at Hewlett Packard and she’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination. We reached her Friday morning at a campaign stop in Council Bluffs. 

Note: The conversation took place Friday morning before the attacks in Paris.

Clay Masters: There was a lot of momentum behind your campaign coming out of those first two debates. What are you going to do in next 90 days to make sure you can keep momentum going or build a little bit more moving forward?

Flickr / JOE GRATZ

The Iowa Supreme Court meets at Valley High School in West Des Moines tonight where it will consider whether an enhanced sentence is constitutional if the initial crime committed occurred when the offender was a minor.

In 2013, Donald Reed of Waterloo was given a 100-year prison sentence, with the possibility of parole after a third of the time served, for convictions on drug-related charges. This was an enhanced sentenced due to a previous drug offense he committed at age 17. 


A psychiatrist at Veterans Hospital in Iowa City says more training in pain management may be needed for doctors getting licensed to practice in Iowa.  

At a drug abuse symposium in Iowa City last week, Dr. Anthony Miller discussed the overprescribing of pain medicine that’s become common in American medicine since the 1990’s.      

Miller says the Iowa Board of Medicine has taken some steps to inform doctors of the risks of prescribing opioids.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A small group of students at the University of Dubuque is holding some difficult conversations about race. A new initiative there is designed to get young people thinking about racial differences in order to bring the campus closer together. 

At the start of a three-hour session on a Sunday afternoon, Roger Bonair-Agard reminds the dozen or so students what he expects from them as they begin a series of writing exercises.