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Photo by Amy Mayer

The path to normalized relations between the United States and Cuba made a stop in farm country Friday.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his Cuban counterpart, Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, toured Aaron Lehman's corn and soybean farm in central Iowa. They talked about water, soil, and energy and compared strategies for managing hog manure, which has been a problem in Iowa.

 

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In 2009, 21 men were rescued from the abandoned Atalissa schoolhouse they inhabited since 1974. 

Their lives consisted of working for next to nothing at a turkey plant nearby in West Liberty, living together in the schoolhouse, and taking trips to the Atalissa Mini Mart.

Flickr / leah

Iowans voting absentee in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries have the option of hand-delivering their ballots on Saturday.  Sec. of State Paul Pate says the auditor’s offices in all 99 counties will be open for eight hours.

"Absentee ballots seem to be a trend where people are using it at high and higher volumes," says Pate. "And when you start mailing it on a Saturday or Sunday, there's a good chance we may not receive it in time, so we want to make sure we get their vote counted." 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A person in Iowa can’t be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if they lose their job because they’re in jail. That's according to a four-to-three decision from the state's supreme court.

In late 2013 medical assistant Sondra Irving of North Liberty spent nearly four weeks in jail, unable to post a bail of $17,500.

The charges were later dropped, but because Irving had been incarcerated for so long, she’d lost her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Jocelyn Kinghorn / Flickr

Vines can help spice up many gardens, but it is important to pick one that is going to thrive in its new environment.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, it’s Horticulture Day! Host Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of the Reiman Gardens, about vines. They discuss how to care for different vines and which conditions help ensure vines flourish.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer goes back to ska-llege with Quad Cities Ska group Fairhaven.

Listen in below to hear Kieffer chat with the group about their new split album and their upcoming national tour, as well as some raucus Ska numbers to get your energized. 

Photo by John Pemble

Des Moines artist Max Jury is living in London for most of this year promoting and touring his debut eponymous album that just came out.  Jury started recording music when he was in high school and pursued it further by attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

While he was in school, demo recordings of his music caught the attention of the label Marathon Artists in London, England.  They offered him a publishing contract.  Jury says he had every intention of graduating from college.

 

Courtesy photo

In advance of next Tuesday’s primary election, IPR is bringing you interviews and stories about the candidates and the issues. Here is a profile of Democratic candidate Monica Vernon, who’s in the First District Congressional race.

Monica Vernon has been here before. She ran for the Democratic nomination in 2014 in a five-way primary and came in second to former Iowa lawmaker Pat Murphy. She and Murphy are back on the ballot this time around.  Vernon says she’s ready to pick up where she left off, especially on the issue of increasing the minimum wage.

Melissa Wiese/Flickr

Food giant General Mills is recalling millions of pounds of flour milled in Kansas City, Missouri, on suspicions that the product is contaminated by a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria.

Thirty-eight people in 20 states have been infected in the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten have been hospitalized.

FREEFOODPHOTOS.COM

Agriculture commodity groups should not be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. That’s according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who opposes House legislation that allows these groups to keep their documents and data private.

Commodity industries have checkoff programs that are tasked with research and promotion of their products, such as pork or eggs. Checkoffs are funded through mandatory fees from producers and are overseen by the USDA.             

HomeSpot HQ / Flickr

There are many possible problems with indoor air quality, and the beginning of summer is a great time to tackle them.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about indoor air quality and how to identify and fix problems, along with other benefits to improving air quality.

Pat Blank/IPR

Two candidates who were in the 2014 Democratic primary for the nomination in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District are giving it another shot. Pat Murphy and Monica Vernon will face off in the June 7th primary. 

Pat Murphy of Dubuque served 12 terms in the Iowa House and ended his legislative career while he was Speaker of the House to run for Congress. He won the Democratic nomination in the 2014 U.S. Congressional race in a five-way primary. Murphy then lost to Republican Rod Blum in the general election.

KCCI.COM

Three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. And while Desmund Adams, Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan each have a compelling biography, when it comes to policy the differences amongst the trio are nearly nonexistent.

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District covers 16 counties in the southwest corner of the state. It includes both Des Moines and Council Bluffs, along with many rural communities.

Michael Vadon / Flickr

At a press conference yesterday,  ABC News’ Tom Llamas pressed Donald Trump for details on a discrepancy between charitable donations to veterans' groups he had claimed at a January rally in Iowa and actual records of those donations on the books. 

"Mister Trump, writing a million dollar check is incredibly generous, but that night of the Iowa fundraiser you said you had raised six million dollars," he said. "Clearly you had not. Your critics say you tend to exaggerate, you have a problem with the truth--is this a prime example?

Dakota Access map

The Iowa Utilities Board deliberated Wednesday on whether to allow Dakota Access to begin pipeline construction in areas where it does not need eminent domain or special permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Though board members indicated they were not opposed to Dakota Access starting construction, they worried they lacked the jurisdiction to grant permission, in light of current lawsuits pending in district court.

Iowa Public Television

Dan Wardell always wanted to host his own kids TV show, and now his dream is coming true. Iowa Public Television will air its new show, Kids Clubhouse, hosted by Wardell and co-host Abby Brown, for the first time this Friday at 7 a.m. as the start of a ten week series.  

On this episode of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Wardell and Brown, along with the show’s Senior Producer and Director Deb Herbold about their new show.   It's a rarity indeed that any local or regional station or network is starting a new children's program in this day and age.

Lou Gold / Flickr

A bill eliminating the terms 'Oriental' and 'Negro' from federal documents sailed through Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by President Obama last week. Now, official documents will use the words 'Asian American' and 'African American.' Mae Ngai, Lung Professor of Asian American studies and professor of history at Columbia University, says the move is long overdue.

"It's a welcome change. It's symbolic, of course, but nobody wants to be insulted, even if it's symbolically."

Wikimedia Commons

With businessman Donald Trump the apparent GOP nominee for President of the United States, Americans are anxiously awaiting what comes next.

Michael Lind, fellow at New America, author of Land of Thomas: An Economic History of the United States and columnist for Salon and contributing editor to Politico has called the 2016 election cycle an “earthquake.”

"The big news in this election is the policy realignment. There’s been a gap between the existing coalitions, and their party platforms," says Lind.

Beacon Press

We all may know the name Nancy Drew but females in detective work go much further than that. From Kinsey Milhone and Vi Warhawski to Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher, female detectives in fiction go back 175 years.  

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with historian and Wisconsin Public Radio Executive Producer Erika Janik author of Pistols and Petticoats, 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction (Beacon Press) about women in detective work.

Flickr/TimSackton

Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill. U.S.

Photo by Amy Mayer

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Senator Chuck Grassley's refusal to hold a hearing for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, has changed the landscape for Grassley's reelection campaign this fall. On June 7th Iowans will choose from among four candidates to determine which Democrat will face Grassley in the general election. 

Patty Judge is a former lieutenant governor, former secretary of agriculture for Iowa, and former state legislator. Judge spoke to Ben Kieffer on River to River.  Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity.

Cliff Jette

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features Orchestra Iowa’s Missa Solemnis concert. Orchestra Iowa will perform Beethoven’s Mass in D, Op. 123 “Missa Solemnis”, performed with the Simpson College Chamber Singers, the Simpson College Choir, the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, and guest vocal soloists Mary Wilson, Beth Lytwynec, Eric Barry, and Sumner Thompson.

Flickr/USDA

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, but data gathered by federal regulators doesn't capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers, according to a new government report.

Michael Leland/IPR

Visitors to Iowa’s Vietnam War Memorial had a chance to see something new at yesterday’s Memorial Day ceremony:  a granite marker was added near the wall last month to remember Vietnam Veterans who weren’t killed in battle, but who later died as a result of their service. 

Daniel Gannon of Ankeny is a Vietnam veteran who helped win approval for the marker. He says after the 867th name was added to the state’s Vietnam Memorial last year, several women contacted him about having their husbands’ names added to the wall, but they hadn’t been killed in combat.

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa remembered its war dead across the state today.  On the south side of the state capitol this morning, about 100 people gathered for a ceremony that had the familiar rituals of military observances: a firing salute, the playing of taps, and the laying of wreaths in front of war memorials.  

Daniel Gannon of Ankeny was a Marine Corps platoon leader in Vietnam.  He says it’s important for Americans – especially veterans – to take time to talk about the experience of war.

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

A group of Civil War patriots is re-marking U.S. Highway-6 in honor of soldiers who served in the Union Army. 

Running from Council Bluffs to Davenport, old U.S. Highway-6 was named the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" in 1947. Many of the road signs proclaiming the highway's tribute have vanished. Now more than 150 years since the Civil War, Iowans are working to save the memory. Dan Rittel is with the group Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The world’s three largest seed companies are in talks about possible mergers. That could result in a broader definition of what it means to be an agricultural business and would create a new landscape for farmers buying seeds, fertilizer, and even machinery.

"They’re selling the seed, the chemicals, the fertilizer," says Chad Hart, Extension economist and associate professor at Iowa State University. "We may even see some combination where we see some ag machinery companies merging with some seed companies or some fertilizer companies."

Liz West / Flickr

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and peonies are starting to bloom across the state.

Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, says you shouldn’t be worried if your peonies haven’t opened yet. If your peonies haven’t started blooming by the first week of June, she says you should double check that your plants are in the right conditions, with shallow soil and lots of sun.

UNI School of Music

In 2014, the inaugural Midwest International Piano Competition brought some of the world’s best young pianists to the Great Hall of UNI’s Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. As a prelude to the 2016 competition, Iowa Public Radio’s Performance Iowa will be airing selections performed by the three 2014 Senior Division finalists on Saturday, June 4 at 6 A.M. and 8 P.M., and again on Sunday, June 5 at 7 P.M.

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