courtesy of Katie Kovacovich / Luther College Active Minds

Early in high school, Katie Kovacovich struggled with anxiety, depression, and self-harm. By her senior year, she had gone to counseling, talked with her parents, and felt prepared for the next step. She said the transition to campus for her first year at Luther College was relatively painless.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

According to the National Retail Federation, 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this weekend. As a nation, we’re expected to spend more than $6.9 billion on the holiday, with most of the expense going toward costuming.

Author Lesley Bannatyne says costuming around Halloween has been growing in popularity since the 1880’s.

“When newspapers first started writing articles about the holiday, Victorian hostesses loved it,” she explains. “It has some spookiness. It was edgy. It was a little bit romantic.”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Republican congressional leaders and the White House reached a budget agreement earlier this week that would modestly increase spending over the next two years, cut some social programs, and raise the federal borrowing limit. The House passed the bill on a 266 to 167 vote late Wednesday and a Senate vote is expected soon to follow.

Many House and Senate Republicans contend that House Speaker John Boehner gave away too much in order to reach a deal, and there are critics of the fact that lawmakers met in private to discuss the agreement.

Olivia Godfrey

The 2015 high school cross country season is drawing to a close. The state meet will be hosted this weekend in Fort Dodge, and this marks the first year that girls and boys will race the same distance.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has slowly been increasing the distance high school girls race, at the dismay of some rural coaches who warned that the move to a 5k instead of a 4k could destroy the sport. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Two African-style hair braiders in Des Moines are suing the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

Hair braiders in Iowa are required to complete 2,100 hours at a licensed cosmetology school and pass an exam, even though these requirements generally don’t train or test the practice of African-style hair braiding. The lawsuit says Iowa code is burdensome, arbitrary and impair a hair-braider’s “constitutional right to economic liberty.”

Open Road Media

Iowan Ray Young Bear has been publishing poetry since 1968.  His new book, "Manifestation Wolverine" (Open Road Media),  is a comprehensive collection of his work, previously published and new--work that draws on ancient Meskwaki lore and modern popular culture.  He says his poetry is a link to the writings of his grandfathers.


The Iowa Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of a complainant in a sexual harassment case.  

The case alleges violations of Iowa’s Civil Rights statute by Iowa Senate Republicans.

Senate Republicans fired Kristen Anderson from her job as communications director in May of 2013 alleging poor job performance.   Anderson claimed she was fired for reporting sexual harassment on the job. 

Jesse Weiner

With the holiday season kicking into high gear, Iowa arts are heating up. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

•             The Grout Museum’s newest exhibit, “365 Days and Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War” with the Grout Museum District’s Historian Bob Neymeyer and Research & Programming Assistant Christopher Shackelford

•                    Michael Oxley, director of Marshalltown’s Orpheum Theatre, outlining several events and exhibits that will open on the weekend of November 13th

Photo courtesy of USDA

A senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a whistleblower complaint on Wednesday accusing the federal agency of suppressing research findings that could call into question the use of a popular pesticide class that is a revenue powerhouse for the agrichemical industry.

John Pemble/IPR

A Republican state lawmaker has called a hearing on what he calls obscene material presented at the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.   

The House Oversight Committee will examine whether tax dollars were inappropriately spent.

There’ve been complaints from lawmakers in the past about the conference which is sponsored by Iowa Safe Schools to address bullying and other issues of interest to LGBTQ youth. 

Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

Before the 1980s, we assumed that wrongful convictions were rare. Then came Peter Neufeld and the Innocence Project. Through DNA testing, Neufeld and his organization have helped to exonerate more than 300 people of crimes they were wrongfully convicted of committing.

“We thought we could look at old cases where people were tried on other evidence like eye-witness testimony and test the hypothesis of innocence,” he says.

Asia Society / Flickr

Louie Psihoyos first made waves in water and in cinematic circles in 2009 with his Academy Award-winning documentary about dolphins "The Cove." Now, the Dubuque-native is expressing his passion for protecting the Earth once again in his new film "Racing Extinction."

Wikicommons / Patsy Lynch, FEMA

The City of Waterloo has agreed to pay a total of $272,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act, pending a 30-day public comment period and approval by a federal court.

The city was accused of discharging untreated sewage into the Cedar River and its tributaries, which allowed repeated backups of sewage-laden wastewater into homes and other buildings. Waterloo was also accused of failing to properly operate and maintain its sewage treatment and collection systems.

Under terms of the settlement, Waterloo does not admit any wrongdoing.

Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

Americans eat more chicken than any other meat, an average of 89 pounds per year. That enormous demand for what's considered a relatively inexpensive protein source is feeding the $50 billion poultry industry. 

In recent years, consumer groups have pushed the industry to stop feeding antibiotics and move laying hens to cage-free pens. But while many people are concerned with the welfare of meat animals, there appears to be little consumer concern for how workers in the meat industry are treated.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

As Congress moves toward a budget deal, a $3 billion cut to crop insurance is now on the table. This comes after the money was approved as part of the 2014 farm bill, and the proposal is not sitting well with some Midwest senators. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says in a party caucus Monday, he and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) both expressed frustration over pulling more from farm programs. The current five-year farm bill, which includes crop insurance, other agricultural subsidies and many other programs like school nutrition and rural development, was passed early last year.

Two renowned musicians - violinist Sarah Plum of Drake and pianist Francine Kay of Princeton - are giving a series of concerts in Iowa this week. You can hear them live in Des Moines Wednesday at noon at St. John's Lutheran Church and at 7:30 at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake - but you can get a live preview at 1 PM on IPR! Barney will host them live, as they perform Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 10 and Bartok's Violin Sonata no. 2.

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q & A between audience members and Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox on August 22, 2015.           

All right good morning. No, no, speech from me this morning. I want your questions. I want all twenty minutes to be your questions, not you hearing some speech from me so let's get your questions…

Brittany Stevens / Flickr

Banned Books week was originally conceived around the titular bans. But Maeve Clark, Adult Services Coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library, says, in 2015, there are other issues of intellectual freedom to worry about.

One of those issues is "self-censorship," when librarians choose to solely stock shelves with non-controversial books. One rural librarian in Iowa, who declined to share her name, says rural libraries face different challenges than urban ones.

Governor Branstad has announced a new Wrongful Conviction Division in the Office of State Public Defender.  

Officials will conduct DNA analysis for many as 100 inmates who may have been convicted on what’s now called “junk science.” 

The state will work with an organization known as the Innocence Project, which has helped exonerate inmates in more than 300 cases on the basis of DNA evidence.     

State officials will review Iowa cases in which hair analysis played a major role in convictions.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

After some upheaval last week, the race for the Democratic nomination for President has mostly shaken down to a two-person contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.   And in Des Moines on Saturday, their supporters were among the thousands of activists gathered for the annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

College student Katya Wendt came down from Minnesota with the group Saint Olaf for Bernie Sanders.   She has her talking points down.

Wikimedia Commons

Denise Moore started using meth when she was 12 years old. She was arrested in her late 30’s, and nearly lost her children. Today, however, she’s sober and working to help other families recover from drug addiction.

Alfred A. Knopf

Jane Smiley, who grew up near St. Louis, graduated from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and taught English at Iowa State from 1981 to 1996, has completed her "Last Hundred Years" literary trilogy with the final volume "Golden Age" (Alfred A.

Michael Leland/IPR file photo

Corn and soybean crops in southwest Iowa are lagging behind the rest of the state because of too much rain falling too often throughout the growing season. But, Iowa State University agronomist Aaron Sauegling says yields are better than expected.  He has been monitoring fourteen counties in extreme southwest Iowa.

Courtesy of CROT

The final broadcast of the 2015 Opera in October series features the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It airs on Saturday, October 31 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 1 at 4:00 p.m.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A group of students in the Des Moines Public Schools are using art and poetry to address some of the nation’s most divisive social issues, such as racial divisions and immigrant rights. It’s in a course called Urban Leadership.

Sixteen-year old Jalesha Johnson has collected her thoughts on the plight of refugees in the form of a poem.

“This is us living the American dream.". she reads. "This is every migrant who never woke up, I wonder if the ships start sinking because they can’t hold all of that hope .”

Clay Masters/IPR

The three remaining Democratic presidential candidates rallied thousands of supporters in Des Moines last night, at the state party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner.  During the Saturday’s speeches, Senator Sanders drew contrasts to Clinton by talking about his early opposition to the war in Iraq, the keystone XL pipeline and the Defense of Marriage Act. Janice Payne is a retired lab tech from Des Moines. She attended a rally for Senator Sanders before the dinner. “He’s more for the middle-class and he’s not about being bought by the upper echelon.

Grinnell College

 In 2008, Grinnell's Jennifer Williams Brown won a major award from the American Musicological Society for her edition of Francesco Cavalli's 1651 opera La Calisto. Want to hear what it sounds like when performed using her discoveries? You're in luck! IPR will broadcast a recent performance from Simpson College Opera tonight at 7 PM and again Sunday October 25th at 4PM.  Brown, who chairs Grinnell's music department and directs its Collegium Musicum, served as scholar-in-residence, dramaturg, musicologist, and coach for this production.

Sioux City Schools

Latino activists in Sioux City are gathering signatures to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s appearance at West High School next Tuesday evening. They plan to present a petition to the Superintendent of Schools in Sioux City saying Trump should not be allowed to use school property.

David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen

A new Johnson County ordinance will raise the local minimum wage from $7.25 in $.95 increments, and this incremental rise will reach $10.10 by 2017. The first phase starts in a couple weeks, unless cities vote otherwise. The town of Swisher is set to do just that, as it is expected to vote down Johnson County’s minimum wage ordinance.

Eighth Circuit Bar Assocation

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments next month in Des Moines at Drake University.

Federal appeals courts are one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. The Eighth Circuit handles cases from Iowa and six other states. Usually the court only hears cases in St. Louis and St. Paul.