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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.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Hilda Rupp lived a tough life. She lost her own mother when she was only 17 and helped raised her 10 brothers and sisters through the Great Depression after her mother died. She went on to raise eight children of her own.

Hilda’s daughter, Joyce Rupp, writes about her mother and the lessons she learned from watching her resiliency in her new book Fly While You Still Have Wings and Other Lessons My Resilient Mother Taught Me.

John Pemble / IPR

    

Republicans who control the Iowa House and Democrats who control the Iowa Senate continue to be pretty far apart when it comes to state aid for school funding.  Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the difference in opinions of the two chambers and discusses a number of other issues facing the legislature in the week ahead. 

Julia Davis

U.S. Senator Rand Paul visited the University of Iowa today, in one of the first stops on his campaign tour after announcing his candidacy for president.

The Kentucky Republican made several appeals to millennials, whom he called the “Instagram generation,” by emphasizing his plans to end drug war policies, especially those that disproportionately affect minorities.

United Nations Photo / flickr

It's easy to forget about food safety when it comes to garden produce, because growing your own food is considered healthy. Dr. Angela Shaw, an assistant professor of food safety at Iowa State University, says cognizance is key when it comes to food safety in home gardens.

"The first thing is to consider where you place your garden. Thinking about soil: what was previously there? Was there heavy metal? What was your house grown on? We have a lot of swampland as well as chemical landfills that are now communities."

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Deborah Maynard, leader of the Cedar Rapids Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, became the first Wiccan Priestess to give a blessing before the Iowa House of Representatives yesterday. She says her goal was to show that freedom of religion exists in Iowa and in the United States.

Wikimedia Commons

Many of us have a clear idea about how we would like to be cared for at the end of our lives, but communicating those wishes to family members can be difficult.  A new campaign called, “Honoring Your Wishes” is designed to help people start important conversations about end of life care. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In her first speech on the Senate floor, Joni Ernst proposed the "Prioritizing Veterans' Access to Mental Health Care Act." It would allow veterans to immediately access mental health care from outside the VA if they have significant barriers to care through the agency.

Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for president this Sunday. David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, says she is wise to take some time to get her ducks in a row before announcing her campaign.

"You want to be prepared when you come out of the box. You want your campaign to be prepared in every aspect to move forward: from your communications and media to your fundraising to your nascent field operations."

He says now, though, that time has run out.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

The University of Iowa’s museum on wheels is gearing up for another summer on the road, this year with new exhibits.  

2014 exhibits focused on the natural history of Iowa and the human body. This year visitors will find exhibits about Iowans in space, World War II and water.

JC Gillett travels with the 38-foot converted RV.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Nate Storey’s greenhouse in west Laramie, Wyoming is packed with vegetables growing in long, upright plastic towers.

Storey’s set-up is an urban farmer’s dream: the waste from fish tanks fertilizes the crops through plastic tubing that drips water onto the vertical garden. The greenhouse is small, but produces a lot of food.

Like a proud father he shows off bok choy, butter lettuce and spinach.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Three potential Republican contenders for the White House spoke at the "Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate" today at the World Food Prize building in Des Moines. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania all say that regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hinders U.S. economic growth.

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