News

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Nearly 30 years after the founding of Burning Man, a week-long carnival in the Black Rock Desert, the event has morphed into a cultural movement that now sanctions regional events around the U.S. and around the world.

The Midwestern Burners Association has hosted one such event known as “Interfuse” since 2004.  About 300 Iowans ranging in age from 18 to 67 traveled to Missouri over the weekend to participate in this year’s “burn.”

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

The head of Iowa’s top job creation agency was in the hot seat at the capitol Monday. Lawmakers and union representatives grilled Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham about mass layoffs at the Iowa Fertilizer Company plant in Lee County.  But Durham says the  record-breaking incentives that attracted an Egyptian company to Iowa will not be scaled back.  

The pink slips last month took union workers and state lawmakers by surprise.  

Durham says she found out about them from Burlington Democrat and labor supporter Senator Tom Courtney.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

H5N2 has 

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad is asking the legislature for money to market Iowa’s Home Base Iowa program that provides incentives to attract retired military personnel to the state.      But budget-writers at the statehouse say in a tight budget year the new appropriation will be a heavy lift.   

At a statehouse news conference, Branstad announced that six more Iowa communities and schools have joined the program.

Jennifer Percy/Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

In novelist Benjamin Percy’s latest vision of the future, a super flu and nuclear fallout have turned the United States into a nightmarish wasteland. The apocalypse begins in Ames, Iowa.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Percy about his latest novel, The Dead Lands.  It takes place about 150 years after life as we know it has ended. Small outposts of humanity, disconnected from one another, struggle to survive in a harsh world.

Ray Bodden / Flickr

A bill that would restrict the use of eminent domain for the proposed Bakken Crude Oil Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Wind Energy Transmission Line was advanced by Iowa House and Senate subcommittees last week.

The proposed bill would mandate private, out-of-state companies acquire 75% of the land needed for their projects voluntarily from land owners before gaining the right of eminent domain from the Iowa Utilities Board. Eminent domain is the government's right to appropriate private land for public use, with compensation.

Photo by John Pemble

  

Legislators remain at odds over the main function of the Iowa General Assembly -- coming up with a state spending plan. For example, the two parties have been wrangling since January over how much state aid to forward to Iowa's public schools for the school year that begins in August

Dorret / flickr

Baltimore's top prosecutor announced criminal charges against six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with opinion writer Rekha Basu to get her thoughts in the aftermath of the protests and riots in Baltimore.

Lieutenant Rex Mueller, of the Sioux City Iowa Police Department, talks about the best methods of community engagement, as a way for police officers to build bridges within their community.

Photo Courtesy of the artist

Rocky Votolato is a Seattle Washington-based Singer and Songwriter. He got his start in music more than twenty years ago in a punk band with his brother Wax Wing. After it disbanded he started performing solo. He took a break from writing and his latest record, “Hospital Handshakes,” has a similar sound to his old material. 

A couple years ago Votolato thought he was done with music. He wasn’t very proud of his last record, Television of Saints, and he decided to get a job; that ultimately didn’t work.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa is in a state of emergency due to a highly contagious strain of avian flu called H5N2. Gov. Terry Branstad enacted the proclamation Friday after more than 20 confirmed or presumed outbreaks at commercial poultry facilities around the state.

This very contagious H5N2 has a high mortality rate among poultry, and therefore infection of commercial flocks is economically devastating to producers. So far roughly a quarter of Iowa's nearly 60 million laying hens have been affected by the virus.

IPR's Pat Blank

After being cooped up all winter, warm spring temperatures have invited many to venture outdoors into wooded and grassy areas. One group in particular is looking for morel mushrooms, a tasty treat for those who know where to find them.

This season, morel hunters are being asked to look out for another forest growth: the garlic mustard plant, which is a weed.

Alana Tamminga Photography

Students at Decorah High School have lost friends in recent years, some to accidents, some to suicide. Senior Rebecca Haars saw that her fellow students were hurting and vulnerable, so she decided to do something to help. She brought the Raw. Honest. Loved. project to Decorah.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Haars and Alana Tamminga, the woman behind this powerful project.

Fresh Mushrooms: Hold The Mustard

May 1, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

After being cooped up all winter, warm spring temperatures have invited many to venture outdoors into wooded and grassy areas. One group in particular is looking for morel mushrooms, a tasty treat for those who know where to find them.

This season, morel hunters are being asked to look out for another forest growth: the garlic mustard plant, which is a weed.

David Prasad / Flickr

Prairie rehabilitation has become an important part of restoring native plants and wildlife in many communities. One noticeable change in recent years is that many prairies are being grown on a smaller scale, in urban environments and backyards across Iowa.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A new museum exhibit opens this morning in Johnston, honoring veterans of the Vietnam War. It was financed by an appreciative Iowan who was unable to serve because of football injuries. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

Gene Gabus auctioned off his family’s antique cars in donating $250,000 for the Gold Star Military Museum’s Vietnam War display. Upset by the disrespect shown to returning veterans, Gabus says the exhibit is meant as a tribute.

John Pemble/IPR

The debate over a bill to strengthen Iowa’s school bullying law turned emotional at the statehouse Thursday.   

The Iowa Senate has passed a bill allowing schools to crack down on online bullying. But the House disagrees with a provision of the Senate bill that would let schools keep parents out of the loop if they judge that a child would be harmed if parents are informed of a bullying case.  

Donegal Racing

An Iowa-based thoroughbred partnership is setting a bit of horse racing history this weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Donegal Racing will have entries in all three of the track’s signature races, including the Kentucky Derby.

It’s only the second time in the 141-year history of Churchill Downs that one ownership group has qualified horses in the Kentucky Oaks, the Woodford Reserve and the Derby.

The 17 investors in Donegal will watch Keen Ice run the Derby. He’s the third horse owned by the group to reach the nation’s most prestigious race in six years.

TBEC Review / Flickr

A national survey confirms that e-cigarettes are increasingly popular among teens. Between 2013 and 2014, usage tripled among high school students. The Centers for Disease Control estimates there were 2.4 million e-cigarette youth users last year, and according to this year’s Iowa Youth Survey, e-cigarettes have overtaken regular cigarettes as a preference of Iowa teens.

Director for Tobacco Control and Lung Health for the American Lung Association in Iowa Megan Aucutt says that makes sense given what she’s seen and heard from Iowa teachers.

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Alec Whitters was in his last year of dental school when he dropped out and decided to make a change.  

“Both my parents are doctors. I was in my seventh year of college, and I decided to drop out and go after this idea,” he says. “Everybody thought I was nuts.”

His decision turned out to be a worthwhile gamble. Whitters is a co-founder and CEO of Higher Learning Technologies, a test preparation company that’s trying to make it easier for students to study for big exams.

Lisa L. Wiedmeier/flickr

Iowa dog breeders would undergo new inspections and pay new fees to cover the cost, under a bill advancing in the Iowa Senate today by critics of so-called “puppy mills.”   Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy says the United States Department of Agriculture is not keeping up with inspections of more than 200 Iowa breeders and more than 1,500 dogs.  He says nearly half of the operations the USDA inspects are cited for violations.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Four decades after the Vietnam War ended, a new exhibit opened this morning at the Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports. 

All of the icons are here: a Huey helicopter, Ho Chi Minh sandals, M-16 rifles, napalm, a captured North Vietnamese flag, and even a life-like patch of jungle. Former POW Brad Whitmore from Storm Lake was among the first veterans to see the exhibit.

John Pemble / IPR

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments this week over same-sex marriage, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she hopes the high court rules in favor of giving states the right to determine who can marry.

The topic of same-sex marriage came up last weekend when nine GOP presidential hopefuls made stump speeches at a church in Waukee. The freshman Iowa Republican says she didn’t hear all of the candidates this weekend but she says she is holding her position that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

Jason Hickey / Flickr

We all have those moments in life that we look back on with 20/20 hindsight and wish we could do differently. Author Cate Dicharry aims to make light of these life mistakes and times of regret with a tinge of humor in her new book “The Fine Art of F***ing Up.”

On this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dicharry about the inspiration for her new novel.

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harveset Public Media

Thousands of people get sick every year from E. coli bacteria in their food. While the beef industry has gone to great lengths to limit illnesses in meat, the industry has been slow to adopt an E. coli vaccine that could keep people from getting sick.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Web Extra: Reflections from Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, who recounts his prediction on the fall of Saigon soon after returning from an assessment in Vietnam; a time when many diplomats were in denial. His prophecy was validated on April 30th, 1975.  

Quinn, who is the former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, is now president of the World Found Prize Foundation in Des Moines. He is the only civilian to win the U.S. Army Air Medal. After the Vietnam War, he spearheaded Governor Ray’s campaign to welcome Southeast Asian refugees to Iowa.

IPR file photo by Kathleen Masterson

As the number of farms hit with avian flu grows over 100 nationwide, regulators are implementing containment plans meant to stop the virus’ spread, spare millions of at-risk birds and thousands of poultry farms.

Farms in many states, including Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, are struggling to contain an active outbreak.

“A rapid response is extremely important in an infectious disease outbreak like this,” said Jim Roth, head of the Center for Food Safety and Public Health at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

City of Concord NC / Flickr

The Arc of Southeast Iowa is in the process of building an inclusive playground in Iowa City. And though federal guidelines instituted in 2014 require newly built playgrounds to be ADA accessible, "accessible" and inclusive can be two very different things. Jorja Ludeking is one of the leaders on the project at the Arc. She says ensuring playgrounds are welcoming and accomodating to people of all abilities is essential.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over same-sex marriage yesterday, with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying that he’s not sure the court has the power to redefine an institution that has been around for “millennia.”

University of Northern Iowa associate political science professor Donna Hoffman says that at its core, it's a tricky statement.

John Pemble/IPR

Hundreds of union workers have been laid off at the giant Iowa Fertilizer plant in Lee County, and critics complain the company has hired a new non-union contractor to take their place with out-of-state employees.  

It’s a controversial project that the state spent millions of dollars in incentives to attract.  

Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) says he’s been advised that the main subcontractor has been fired and the union workers let go.    

He says an ad in Texas shows a non-union contractor is recruiting replacement workers to come to Iowa through December.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Republicans and Democrats joined hands at the Capitol Tuesday arguing for landowner rights in the face of two large energy projects, the Bakken crude oil pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Line,  a proposed 500 mile electric transmission line.  

 Lawmakers say Iowa’s law is out of date when it comes to condemning land for big private projects.     

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