News

Clay Masters / IPR

  The state’s largest water utility is restarting its nitrate removal equipment because levels of the pollutant are spiking in the rivers Des Moines uses for drinking water. 

The Des Moines Water Works recently sued three northwest Iowa counties (Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties) saying water from agricultural drainage districts contributes to the high level of nitrates. 

Sean Dreilinger / flickr

We all have chins, but why humans have chins when other species don’t, is controversial. It’s also the focus of research at the University of Iowa.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer discusses the great anthropological chin debate with Bob Franciscus, UI professor of anthropology.

“Natural selection is not an engineer, but a tinkerer," says Franciscus.

Ken_from_MD / Flickr

Walk into a garden center this time of year, and you’ll be greeted with row upon row of colorful flowers and other bedding plants. But all that variety can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, horticulturists Richard Jauron and Chris Curry of Iowa State University put your worries to bed when it comes to approaching your big trip to the garden center.

It all starts out with having a game plan before even stepping foot in the garden center, so you know what to look for.

reynermedia / Flickr

Evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to be climate change skeptics, according to a November 2014 report from the Public Religion Research Institute. But one Evangelical Christian disagrees. 

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She says it's frustrating that people see religion and climate science as mutually exclusive.

iprimages

Iowa drivers with handicapped parking permits are being warned of a safety hazard, and the head of the Transportation Committee in the Iowa House is taking steps to fix it.  

The House has approved a measure by Osage Republican Josh Byrnes that will redesign the parking placards so it’s clearer they should be taken down while driving.  

“It’s an obstruction to the vision of the driver,” Byrnes says. “It's been brought to my attention from bicyclists and motorcyclists. Because they're smaller than a car or truck, it’s harder to see those folks.” 

All photos are courtesy Roy R. Beherns

Camouflage. It has invaded our everyday wardrobe; from dessert tan, to jungle green and an array of bewildering designs. 100 years ago next month, a maritime disaster helped bring urgency to improving military camouflage and several Iowans were among those joining the cause. This Iowa Archives special was prepared by IPR’s Rick Fredericksen.  

Seventy years ago, Walt Disney was producing propaganda films during World War Two. This cartoon advocates a defensive tactic that goes back to the beginning of life. 

Join Suzanne Bona & Barney Sherman on Sunday starting at 11AM for an on-air Bach Party. They'll share some of their favorite Bach recordings - and also some of yours! For the broadcast, Suzanne will pre-empt the last hour of Sunday Baroque, and co-host with Barney until 1 PM; then he'll continue until 4. Do you have a special favorite Bach recording? Let us know what it is and why you like it. Email classical@iowapublicradio.org (put "Bach Favorite" or something like that in the subject line), or go to our Facebook post about the Bach Favorites Party and comment there.

Stephen Harris/Flickr

When Senator Bill Dotzler got food poisoning in Storm Lake, he decided to do something about it.

He introduced Senate File 256 to the legislature with intentions of funneling more funding into food inspections around the state. Traditionally in Iowa, restaurant inspections have been done by the counties, but increasingly counties have been looking to the state to take charge.

Aaron Hall

About half to two-thirds of adults in the U.S. use dietary supplements on a regular basis, contributing to an industry that generated more than $6 billion in 2013.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with experts about an investigation, led by New York’s Attorney General, which found that only 21 percent of common supplements actually had DNA from the plants advertised on the labels.

John Pemble/IPR

The head of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy was in charge when an assistant director was accused of sexual harassment.

Now a deadline has passed for the Iowa Senate to confirm ILEA Director Arlen Ciechanowski for another term.   

Problems at the agency surfaced during a Senate Oversight Committee hearing last year on the hiring and firing practices of the Branstad administration.     A 2012 investigation concluded assistant director Michael Quinn made offensive remarks to female recruits.   Quinn stayed in his position until Director Ciechanowski fired him last year. 

Photo Courtesy of Noreen Gosch

Noreen Gosch has been searching for justice for her missing son Johnny for more than 30 years. A new documentary about her battle to find her son makes its theatrical premier in Iowa next week.

Michael Galinsky, one of three filmmakers who worked on the film Who Took Johnny, says it was both a heartbreaking and compelling project.

Raymond Bryson / Flickr

What was it like to saw off dozens of legs a day during the Civil War?

  In the novel My Name is Mary Sutter, author Robin Oliveira explores an entirely new kind of medicine that emerged during the Civil War. She says the idea for the book originally came to her when she was cleaning her house. 

Linda Nebbe

Birth order has long been considered an indicator of personality, but the relationships we have with our siblings may have an even larger impact.

"Not only are siblings with us for the entire ride, [...] they're with us in our formative years. They're with us when our social software, our emotional software is still being booted up. And since they're there in those primal stages, they're also the people who help write those lines of code."

Photo by Amy Mayer

It’s planting time for Midwest farmers and much of the corn they grow will end up feeding livestock in China, which has become a huge importer of grain from the Corn Belt. That means the farmers can’t just select seeds based on which ones will get the best yield. They have to think about where their grain will be sold.

China has its own rules for the kind of crops it wants and when American farmers don’t comply, China can close off its market.

IPR's Pat Blank

The month of April means tax time and for the past 50 years, in one Northeast Iowa town there’s a tradition that’s almost as reliable. It’s the Shell Rock Spring Swing Show.

John Pemble/IPR

At least one school district in the state has notified teachers they’ll be getting pink slips while an impasse continues at the statehouse over how much money schools should get next year.     

Governor Branstad is downplaying the impact of the layoffs on schools.    

By April 30, schools must either renew contracts with teachers or lay them off at least temporarily  if they still don’t know how much money they’ll get from the state.   

Scott Beale/flickr

On a mostly party-line vote, by a slim majority, the Iowa Senate today approved a bill to authorize the production and dispensing of marijuana in Iowa for medical use.  

The bill goes now to the House, where leaders say it will not be taken up this year.  

The bill would authorize a highly regulated program to provide marijuana for medical conditions for which traditional pharmaceuticals have failed.   

Democrat Steve Sodders, a  Marshall County deputy sheriff, says a few years ago he would not have voted for  medical marijuana.   

Dean Borg / Iowa Public Radio

Two more candidates have entered the 2016 race for president. Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy on Sunday in an online video, and Marco Rubio, a one-term senator from Florida, announced his candidacy Monday at a rally in Miami. 

During this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg about Clinton’s first campaign stop yesterday in Monticello, Iowa.

Photo by Clay Masters

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished her brief two-day swing through Iowa today with a roundtable discussion with small business owners just outside Des Moines. Clinton is the only major Democratic presidential candidate to announce she’s seeking her party’s nomination. 

Journalists far outnumbered the handful of small business owners at this roundtable at Capital City Fruit in Norwalk. After a stop at a community college the day before, Clinton turned her attention to the job world.

Aaron Putze

Yesterday a strain of avian flu called H5N2 was confirmed on a commercial turkey farm in Buena Vista County. As those 27,000 birds are euthanized, the other roughly 130 turkey farmers around the state are taking bio security measures to ensure their farms avoid the same fate.

H5N2 presents a minimal risk to humans. It creates no food safety concerns but is financially devastating to farmers because once the virus is detected in even one bird the entire flock is eradicated.

Dean Borg / IPR

Hillary Clinton is choosing intimate, small group conversations as she begins campaigning in Iowa, seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination.

However, during a roundtable discussion in Kirkwood Community College’s auto mechanics shop-classroom outside Monticello, Clinton outlined big goals.

“We need to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday, she told a group of students and school administrators. “We need to strengthen families and communities, because that’s where it starts,” she added.

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad’s reappointment of the Iowa  Department of Human Services director gained the necessary 2/3 vote in the Iowa  Senate yesterday.  

Democrats argued against Chuck Palmer because of what they call the illegal closings of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo and the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant.  

Cedar Rapids Democrat Rob Hogg calls Palmer a capable administrator.

J. Stephen Conn

An unusual question is being asked this week in an Iowa courtroom in Garner. When is a previously consenting spouse who is suffering from dementia no longer able to say yes to sex?

After a four year battle with Alzheimer's, Donna Rayhons died in a nursing home last August. She was just a few days away from her 79th birthday. A week later her husband, Henry Rayhons, was arrested. He was charged with sexual abuse. State prosecutors accuse him of having sex with his wife while she was incapacitated by dementia.

John Pemble/IPR

A bill to get criminal records expunged for defendants charged with crimes that are later dismissed won unanimous approval in the Iowa House.  

That’s after lawmakers told stories about constituents who met with unfair treatment from the courts.

A woman in Democrat Sharon Steckman’s district was charged with dealing meth, but it was a case of mistaken identity, so the charges were dropped.

“You would think it would be over,” Steckman says. “For her it was not over.”

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio file photo

Under pressure from the courts, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a timeline for when it will finalize renewable fuel volume requirements. The agency has yet to finalize its 2014 proposed amounts, which disappointed many in corn country.

Corn growers and fuel manufacturers need to know what the government requires under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Two petroleum groups brought a lawsuit against the EPA because of missed deadlines for those announcements. The agency has now released its intended timelines for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Liz West / Flickr

There was the cabbage soup diet and the grapefruit diet, and more recently the paleo and gluten-free diets. Whatever way you slice it, most “fad diets” are just that: fads. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with three dieticians about fad diets over the years and how diet trends shape our thinking about nutrition. Joann Miller, University of Iowa Student Health and Wellness Dietician; Anne Cundiff, Registered Dietician at HyVee; and Sue Clarahan, Registered Dietician in Iowa City with her own nutrition consulting practice join the show.

Photo by John Pemble

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will launch her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president with two stops in Iowa this week.

Governor Branstad gives her the same advice he gives all the candidates, don’t be a stranger to Iowa.   

Clinton will meet with small groups in Monticello and Norwalk for her inaugural trip.   Branstad calls that a departure.

“Obama had the big rallies with thousands of people,” Branstad says.   “But every election is different.” 

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

When President Obama announced in late 2014 that he would work toward ending the embargo on trade with Cuba, it wasn’t just tourists perking up their ears. Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

One of those farmers is Paul Combs, a rice farmer from southeast Missouri. Cuba can be an important market for farmers like Combs, who already depend on exporting their products.

FREEFOODPHOTOS.COM

A father and son, who are former owners of Maine-based Quality Egg, were given a three-month jail sentence today in federal court for a 2010 salmonella outbreak originating from Iowa-produced eggs. 81-year-old Austin “Jack” DeCoster, and his 51-year-old son Peter pleaded guilty last year to shipping contaminated eggs across state lines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that outbreak likely caused more than 1,900 people to become ill.

Phil Romans / Flickr

Current Iowa law requires absentee ballots to be postmarked by the day before the election and received by noon on the following Monday. But what if the ballots aren't postmarked at all?

That's the question facing Iowa lawmakers. Some ballots aren't being postmarked and thus aren't being counted by county auditors. Wapello County was sued in 2010 over absentee ballots. County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon says the problem originates at the post office.

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