News

Jon Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior U.S. senator says his proposed gun-control amendment failed to reach the 60-vote mark Monday because of disagreements over the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

"Don't forget (the Second Amendment) is just as important as the fundamental rights of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment," says Sen. Chuck Grassley. "You can't compromise people's constitutional rights." 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The proposed takeover of a major seed company by a Chinese government business is getting some scrutiny on Capitol Hill. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) chairs the Senate Judiciary committee and says he's looking at state-owned ChemChina's plans to buy the Swiss company Syngenta.

Ted Polumbaum

Before the age of selfies and digital point-and-shoot cameras, photographers carried light meters strapped to their belts and spent hours processing negatives into prints.  Judy Polumbaum remembers those days. 

"Most of my friends had fathers who were engineers, and they would go to work in the morning and come home at night and put up their feet and watch tv," Polumbaum remembers.

A Linn County study commission is recommending increasing the county’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour by January 1st.

The county board of supervisors convened the study commission. Linn Supervisors chairman Ben Rogers says he’ll take the commission’s recommendation to the supervisors’ meeting tomorrow.

The study commission supports Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett’s motion for increasing Linn County’s minimum wage. Corbett says it’s needed to help workers and to prod Iowa legislators.

Andrea Joynt

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s “Symphonic Fantasies” concert. The program showcases works by Iowa composer Amy Dunker, Rachmaninoff, and Berlioz and spotlights Russian piano virtuoso Natasha Paremski.

U.S. Drought Monitor

While northwest and north Iowa farm fields are struggling with too much rain, a good share of southeast Iowa is too dry.   The USDA’s weekly update Monday afternoon lists more than 50-percent of south-central and southeast Iowa short to very short of top-soil moisture.

U.S. Army RDECOM / Flickr

Exhaustion, shock, panic, disease, extreme heat, and horrific noise -  these are some of the less talked about challenges of military combat.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with celebrated science writer Mary Roach about her new book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. In it, she explores the aspects of war no one makes movies about - the quirky but essential science behind staying alive in combat.

A description of Grunt from the publisher, W. W. Morton & Company, Inc.:

ForestWander / Wikimedia Commons

Little bluestems, black-eye susans and purple coneflowers used to cover Iowa’s landscape, and now they are making a comeback, not just as plants that thrive as a part of a reconstructed prairie but as garden ornamentals.

Judy Nauseef, a landscape designer and author of the new guidebook Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing Tallgrass Prairie Home, says native plants are becoming more popular in landscaping.

Pat Blank/IPR

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is one of ten nationwide chosen by the Justice Department to form an Elder Justice Task Force.

All levels of government officials are part of the group, including both advocacy agencies and law enforcement officials.

FBI Agent Gabriel Poling says the goal is to identify and prosecute crimes such as financial exploitation as well as physical or emotional abuse.

Iowa’s public safety commissioner is urging Iowans to contact law enforcement if they see something suspicious in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.

"When people are committing serious offense, they don't usually do it on the spur of the moment," says Commissioner Roxann Ryan. "They usually are making preparatory plans, they are conducting surveillance, they are collecting weaponry, they are practicing, doing trial runs, they are identifying victims or vulnerabilities."  

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Midwest farmers may be facing some of the toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades, largely thanks to low prices for some of the region's biggest crops.

The average net farm income for farmers in Kansas, for instance, plummeted in 2015 to just $4,568, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA). The figure is less than 5 percent of the previous year's average of $128,731.

John Pemple/IPR file photo

One of Iowa’s most influential faith leaders will be among a group of religious and social conservatives meeting tomorrow with Donald Trump in New York.  Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, says they want to know more about what kind of leader Trump would be, and who he’d choose for his administration.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with Bonne Finken

Download the podcast below, originally aired in September 2014,  to find out more about the powerful vocalist who was born and raised in Iowa.

Alan Light / Flickr

For many in the LGBT community, gay bars and clubs are safe harbors—spaces where they can take refuge from those who reject their identities, and be understood as who they truly are, surrounded by people who support them.

So when Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, the setting threw the tragedy into even sharper relief.

As the summer settles in, the bugs come out, and that includes ants. Iowa State University Extension entomologist Donald Lewis says there are more than 700 species living in Iowa. 

"If you combined all the ants of the world they would weigh about as much as the combined weight of all the humans," Lewis said. 

There are approximately 8,800 different known species that cover the terrestrial surface of the earth, Lewis says, but you need not worry that 8,800 different kinds of ants live in your backyard, as the majority of species live in limited areas of the tropics.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called "superbugs."

Researchers found E. coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin in a pig at an Illinois slaughterhouse, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said earlier this week. Colistin is often used against bacteria that fail to respond to more common antibiotics.

Majicdolphin / Flickr

What happened in Flint, Michigan is only one of several high profile incidents of public health crises arising from drinking water contamination. In fact, according to Siddhartha Roy, who was part of the team that discovered high lead levels in Flint, “There are millions of lead pipes,” and “we have them in virtually every city in the U.S.”

Gretchen Dehner

80/35 2016 is right around the corner, and project manager Amedeo Rossi says there's a lot of elements to the festival that attendees will remember from previous years - free water bottle filling stations courtesy of Des Moines Water Works, for one. What's different from past years? The festival is not over the 4th of July weekend. 

"Having it the next weekend made it a little bit easier to book," says Rossi. "It was one of the reasons to switch it off of the 4th of July weekend."

Some Blood Types Running Low in Iowa

Jun 16, 2016

Blood supplies often decline during the summer months, and a regional blood center says it has only a one-day supply of several blood types on hand. LifeServe blood center in Des Moines says it tries to keep more than a three-day supply on hand for the more than 100 hospitals it serves in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

The blood types with less than a two-day supply are: O positive and negative, AB positive and negative, and A negative.  Life Serve has about a two-to-three day supply of A positive and B negative.

Iowa Department of Public Safety

Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation is working with the State Patrol to help identify areas where deer and other wildlife are likely to cross the roadway.

Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says in 2014, more than a quarter of the damage done to their service vehicles came from animals.

Gage Skidmore

The U.S. House of Representatives erupted in shouting this week, after lawmakers held a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando mass shooting, and Democrats protested the Republican-led chamber’s refusal to consider tighter gun regulations.

Harvest Public Media file photo by Stephanie Paige Ogburn/KUNC

Hundreds of thousands of people go to work each day preparing the beef, pork and poultry that ends up on our dinner tables. Their workplace is among the most dangerous in the United States.

Photo by Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

The meatpacking plants that enable American consumers to find cheap hamburger and chicken wings in the grocery store are among the most dangerous places to work in the country. Federal regulators and meat companies agree more must be done to make slaughterhouses safer, and while there are signs the industry is stepping up its efforts, danger remains.

The rate of meatpacking workers who lose time or change jobs because they're injured is 70 percent higher than the average for manufacturing workers overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

On starry summer nights in rural Maquoketa in Northeastern Iowa, you can hear the sounds of bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Norah Jones and Conor Oberst wafting from inside an old implement barn built in the 1950s. The barn sits next to an original farmstead house turned art gallery that has been in Tiffany Biehl’s family for more than 150 years.

Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex / Wikimedia Commons

'Finding Dory,’ the sequel to the very popular ‘Finding Nemo,’ hits theaters this weekend. Lots of fans of the first movie are excited. For some scientists, it’s a different story entirely.

Dory is a pacific blue tang fish, and just like sales of clownfish skyrocketed after the first movie, pet stores are anticipating demand for the pacific blue tang. That demand, however, could have serious consequences for a fish that can’t be breed in captivity.

Meatpacking workers call it "the chain." Sometimes "the line," or "la linea." It sets the pace for all work done at meat processing plants, production rates that force workers to make in the tens of thousands of cuts, slices and other movements for hours at a time.

Those repetitions affect workers' muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves, causing what is called musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, and resulting in sprains, strains, pains, or inflammation. 

Rachel Bearinger

 The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s Young Artists stopped by Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One at noon yesterday to present highlights from the CROT’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s award-winning South Pacific. The CROT’s principal cast members soprano Erin Bryan appeared as the Navy nurse, Nellie Forbush; Baritone Kyle Roeder performed as the French Plantation owner, Emile de Beque; Mezzo-Soprano, Jessica Kasinski sang the role of Bloody Mary; and Tenor, Jack Cotterell executed the part of Marine Lieutenant Cable.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Hundreds of central Iowans held a vigil in downtown Des Moines to mourn the lost lives in the Orlando mass killings. They came in support of the LGBT and Hispanic communities, and to call for tougher gun laws.

One Iowa, the state’s largest advocate for LGBT rights, organized the gathering in the sculpture park downtown. 

Politicians, civil rights leaders and local clergy paraded to the mic to call for an end to what they called senseless violence in America.

Deanna Edwards of Des Moines had family reasons for being in the crowd.

Christopher Maharry

The Des Moines Symphony’s Yankee Doodle Pops concert returns to the West Terrace of the Iowa State Capitol again on Friday, July 1st for its 23rd year. Iowa Public Radio Classical will be there broadcasting the concert live, with a pre-show hosted by IPR producers Jacqueline Halbloom and Karen Impola starting at 8:00 p.m. The event features rousing marches, as well as a mix of show tunes and patriotic selections celebrating “The Sound of America.”

Photo by Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

The nights were often worse for Gabriel, even after long days working on the production line at a pork slaughterhouse in Nebraska.

He had nightmares that the line – what the workers call "the chain" – was moving so fast that instead of gutted hogs flying by, there were people.

"You've been working there for three hours, four hours, and you're working so fast and you see the pigs going faster, faster," he says. 

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