IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. fuel supply will go up under new rules issued Monday.

In releasing the details of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the policy that sets the amount of biofuels oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it planned to continue to increase the proportion of renewable fuels, most of which is comprised of corn ethanol.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

‘Tis the season for sitting inside, which means it’s a perfect time to pick up a new book. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Kate Rattenborg from Dragonfly Books in Decorah and Barb Stein of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City about the best new books for young readers.

Barb’s List:

Board books:

Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks

“The illustrations are irresistible. They are just wonderful. “

The Napping House Board Book by Audrey Wood

Joe Gratz / Flickr

On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer talks with Judge Kevin McKeever, the newest Sixth Judicial District judge.

McKeever is the first African-American judge in the district that covers Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Tama counties. McKeever says his main goal is to "make people feel like they had their day in court.”

District Judge John Telleen also joins the segment to talk about Iowa’s business court pilot program, a new system built specifically for complicated business lawsuits. 

Photo by John Pemble

Gov. Terry Branstad says the state will move forward as planned with the January 1st deadline for Medicaid privatization in Iowa. That’s despite last week’s recommendation from Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase that the state dismiss one of four contracts it awarded to for-profit companies to manage Iowa’s Medicaid programs.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

An international meeting on climate change begins today in Paris and could have reverberations across Iowa and the Midwest.

A University of Iowa engineering professor says negotiators will have to push beyond the promises already made by the United States and other countries.

"All the pledges taken together that have been filed in advance of this meeting still do not even allow us to level off total greenhouse gas emissions for the planet," says Jerry Schnoor, who will attend the talks.  

Photo by John Pemble

The national tour of the musical The Bridges of Madison County launched last weekend at the Des Moines Civic Center.  The story is based on the popular novel published in the 90s about a traveling photographer who is sent to Winterset to shoot the bridges for a magazine. He meets a married farm wife and the two fall in love during a week long affair. 

George Kobreek at

Nicholas Roth - a professor of piano at Drake and a renowned recording artist - is performing Monday at 7:30PM at Sheslow Auditorium in Des Moines. You should definitely take the opportunity to hear this Yamaha Artist live! Meanwhile, you can hear his recent interview with Barney Sherman (and some samples of his playing) by clicking on the arrow below. The Monday-night recital is part of Drake's "Keys to Excellence" series; be there if you're nearby, but meanwhile, tune in to sample Roth's art!

Getting Homes Winter Ready

Nov 28, 2015
Pat Blank/IPR

People who need help with the cost of getting their home ready for winter can get it from Green Iowa AmeriCorps. Its programs help low income, elderly, disabled, and veteran households with such things as caulking, minor insulation, and eliminating drafts. Outreach coordinator, Brad James, says the program is about both education and assistance.

Daniel Filipe/flickr

Plant fossils at the Palenteology Depository at the University of Iowa are getting a new home and a new reorganization so they can be more useful to researchers around the world. 

Collections manager Tiffany Adrain says more than 20,000 specimens collected over the last ten years will be catalogued for the first time.  

They’re also being rehoused in a safer environment.

Flickr / Peter & Joyce Grace

The Friday after Thanksgiving can be a busy day for many of Iowa’s roughly 100 choose-and-harvest Christmas farms, as many growers sell their first trees of the season.

A number of Iowans still prefer buying a real tree, as opposed to an artificial one, though these trees require additional maintenance. One of the most important parts of Christmas tree maintenance is keeping the tree hydrated. 


It has been 30 years since a plane crash in a Des Moines neighborhood killed several members of the Iowa State University women's cross country team. Thursday, hundreds of people gathered at the crash site to remember those who were lost in that crash.  The team had just surprised even itself by placing second at the NCAA national championships in Milwaukee.

Officials at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown say a new World War II memorial now graces the grounds of the institution, following the earlier placement of monuments for other wars.   

The memorial was dedicated last month, less than a year after a Des Moines service group took on the project.  

Commandante Jodi Tymeson says a veteran at the home requested the memorial.

Jack Amick/Flickr

Mike Berners-Lee may not be an expert on the American Thanksgiving. A native of the United Kingdom, he's never actually had the pleasure of experiencing one. But as one of the world's leading researchers on the carbon footprint of—well—everything (he even wrote a book subtitled "The Carbon Footprint of Everything"), he's plenty familiar with the impacts of the foods that star in the traditional Thanksgiving Day spread.

Courtesy of the Museum of Danish America

When Danish immigrants settled in Western Iowa in the 19th century, they created two very different towns three miles apart: Kimballton and Elk Horn. Kimballton was composed of 'Happy Danes' and Elk Horn of 'Holy Danes.'

"One camp are the followers of a Danish theologian, N.F.S. Grundtvig" says Tova Brandt, curator of the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn. "He embraced a holistic approach to Danish faith and culture and community and he argued that those things couldn't be and shouldn't be separated." 

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Ted Cruz has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump according to the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Republican caucus-goers here in Iowa. Trump continues to lead the polls, even after suggesting that there should be a database keeping track of Muslims in America. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Hans Hassell of Cornell College and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell Colleg about the new polls and about GOP rhetoric regarding whether the United States needs more intense screening procedures before welcoming Syrian refugees. 

IPR/Tony Dehner

Christmas will be here before we know it, and we firmly believe it's not too early to celebrate. Join IPR at the Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club on December 3rd for A Conquered Christmas!

Iowa singer-songwriter Christopher The Conquered will be the host for this event, featuring classic songs of the season, along with new songs celebrating thankfulness, unity and love. There will be lots of surprises, including special guests that Chris hasn't even told us about yet!

On this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City's own Soul Phlegm takes the stage with their special brand of "blues roots outlaw funk." 

Listen in to hear host Ben Kieffer catch up with the band on their upcoming project, as well as tracks from their debut EP, "Phlourish." 

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Earlier this year, Des Moines, Iowa, made news when the city announced it would sue farmers in a legal battle over fertilizer. The city's water supply from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers often surpasses the legal limit for nitrates (10 mg/L), which commonly appear in water contaminated by runoff from farm fields.

Tim Sackton/Flickr

Despite the bird flu epidemic that devastated Midwest turkey farmers this spring, the price of a turkey this Thanksgiving is a little cheaper than last year.

This year's turkeys are ringing up one cent less per pound than in 2014, according to the USDA's most recent numbers.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Nancy Simpson-Brice,  associated with Book Vault in Oskaloosa about their favorite books of the year and recommendations for gifts this holiday season.

Paul’s Picks

Finials: A View of Downtown IC by Marybeth Slonneger

Photo by John Pemble / IPR

The Branstad administration is planning to shift Iowans who benefit from Medicaid to private management on Jan. 1, a move that would impact more than 560,000 recipients.

The governor contends that private management companies can offer more efficient service and save money, while those who rely on the program are worried, including Iowa City resident Heather Young.

“My husband and I are doing everything we can to keep the ship afloat," Young says. "Even with our best efforts, if this thing goes through, this ship is going to get torpedoed."

Clay Masters / IPR

A new poll suggests Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz is gaining support among likely Iowa caucus-goers.  Quinnipiac University poll results released Tuesday show Cruz passing retire neurosurgeon Ben Carson to claim second place behind Donald Trump.  The same poll had Cruz with 10-percent support a month ago.  It now gives him 23-percent.  That’s a statistical tie with Trump’s 25-percent showing.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

About 50 people rallied outside the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon, in response to Gov. Terry Branstad’s order blocking Syrian refugees from settling in Iowa.

"Mr. Branstad I ask you to find it in your heart, to find the courage, and to stop being afraid of people that are different from you," said Samantha Thomas, the one of the rally's organizers and executive director of Global Arts Therapy, which does work with youth and refugees.

Versaland /

In his new book, author Courtney White points to the seemingly intractable challenges faced on earth: the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rising food demands from a population that’s projected to rise from the current 7 billion to 9 billion people by 2050, and the dwindling supply of fresh water.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Iowa Turkey Federation wants consumers to know that it’s safe to eat their product.

This summer’s avian influenza outbreak wiped out about 25 percent of the state’s turkey production facilities. The USDA has declared the emergency over and producers have begun re-populating their barns.

Turkey Federation Executive Director Gretta Irwin says people were never in danger because sick birds never entered the food chain.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Iowa clergy submitted a letter to Gov. Terry Branstad’s office Monday afternoon, condemning what they call discrimination against Syrian refugees “on the basis of religion," and to "reject fear and cruelty" by welcoming them to the state.


Iowa Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer says the state is proceeding with a controversial plan to privatize the state’s health care program for the poor and disabled, in spite of a legal challenge by unsuccessful bidders for the contract. 

An administrative law judge will rule on complaints of irregularities in the choice of four companies to manage the more than four-billion dollar Medicaid program.     

Palmer says they’re proceeding with what they know.

“We'll operate from whatever we need to in response to that decision,” Palmer says.  

Taysaev / Wikimedia Commons

The terrorist attacks on Paris sparked an outpouring of support for people affected. The attacks in Beirut that day before did not. Why?

Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of social psychology and director at the Iowa Morality Lab at the University of Iowa, says it’s because we don’t respond to the people living in those places in the same way.

“We can imagine what its like to be someone in Paris going through this. It’s harder to think about what it’s like to be someone in Beirut,” he explains.

Rachel Knickmeyer/Flickr

If you receive a parking violation in Cedar Rapids during the next month, it could benefit a needy family or a homeless person. Cedar Rapids is now dismissing parking fines in exchange for gifts to homeless shelters and family service centers.

Downtown Parking Board Director, Doug Neumann, says the gifts should match the fine.


Governor Branstad Monday opened the door to the possibility of settling Syrian refugees in Iowa if a bill before Congress to tighten screening procedures becomes law.  

The bill would require that the director of the FBI and other top security officials approve all applicants from Syria and Iraq and assure they pose no threat.   

Otherwise, Branstad says letting the refugees in is not safe.

“If instead we're working as a country I'd feel much safer and more willing to do that,” Branstad says.