River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodburyLindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Ben Stanton @StantonRadio. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

This weekend, U.N. climate negotiations that were held in Bonn, Germany ended. The two-week talks were aimed at laying the groundwork for faster action to curb climate change and deal with its impacts. The first public draft of the 4th National Climate Assessment was also released earlier this month.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

Mazahir Salih, an immigrant from Sudan and resident of Iowa City is thought to be the first Sudanese-American elected to government in the United States. Earlier this month, she was elected to the Iowa City city council. She's a full-time community organizer and founder of the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City, and during this River to River interview, she talks with host Ben Kieffer. 

Neil Turner

On this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts conversations on various Iowa news of the week:

Georgi Anatoliévitch Zelma (Cassowary Colorizations) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

It was one of the defining moments of the 20th century with repercussions up to the present day. On this River to River program, we remember the Russian Revolution one hundred years ago. Drake University historian and native Russian Natalie Bayer and University of Iowa political scientist Bill Reisinger join the conversation.  They talk through the fall of the Tsarist autocracy and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.  It's a story that threads through to the present day in Putin’s Russia. 

Gage Skidmore

President Trump returns from Asia to political turmoil. 

On this edition of River to River, political analysts Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Scott Peters of the University of Iowa discuss: Republican efforts to stay focused on a tax overhaul; the House and Senate visions for tax reform and the latest effort as part of it to repeal the health insurance mandate; Jeff Sessions' testimony on Russia meetings; and the Justice Department weighing a Clinton investigation. 

bird flew / Flickr

Thomas Olander of Louisiana has been a shrimper and fisherman for about 40 years. He says his livelihood and way of life is dying out because of the growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The guys that drag across that area, they absolutely cannot catch anything alive,” he says. “Nothing lives in it.”

 

Alex Hanson/IPR

New technology has dramatically changed how we communicate and interact, and Michael Bugeja says that in doing so, it may slowly be eroding some of our core principles.  Professor Bugeja of Iowa State University's Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication joins host Ben Kieffer during this hour of River to River

City of Manchester

In this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the longest serving mayors in the country, Milt Kramer.  He was just reelected and has been elected 14 times since the early 1970s.

Also on this program, we hear about the theft of pension funds from Iowa's public employees retirement fund; the 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year Aileen Sullivan; a State Historical Society project gathering WWI photos; and the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.

Joe Hall/Flickr

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with University of Northern Iowa political science professor Chris Larimer about the results of Iowa's municipal elections that took place on Tuesday this week. Several larger cities in the state either have new mayors or will host run off elections. 

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

Scientists serving as advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency are finding out from news stories that they’ve been removed or demoted.

Many of these scientists come from academia, and they say they’re being replaced by scientists from industries regulated by the EPA

Professor Peter Thorne heads the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. Until recently, he also chaired the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, the agency’s most prominent advising body.

United States Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons

The first criminal indictments mark a new phase of the Russia investigation. It's not the first time a presidential administration has been touched by criminal activity or indictment.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Cary Covington, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, and Tim Walch, former director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and Library about other scandals throughout history. 

Walch says that Watergate was the turning point when the American public started to distrust politicians. 

It's been called the last great American witch trial: the story of journalist, muckraker and agitator Anne Royall. In 1829, she was convicted as a common scold, essentially for being critical and outspoken. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with author Jeff Biggers about Royall, and one of the most bizarre trials in our nation's history. 

Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, AmeriHealth Caritas, one of four private health care companies charged with managing Iowa's Medicaid system, announced they would be terminating their contract in Iowa. For a portion of Iowans who receive health insurance through Medicaid, that's a major headache. 

Beverly Louk lives in central Iowa and is the mother of a daughter who is disabled and receiving health care through AmeriHealth. She's very concerned about what happens now. 

Flickr Creative Commons

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act is open through December 15 of this year.

"There's lots of mixed messaging and we don't have the advertising dollars to set the record straight," says Nicole Kock, a health insurance navigator with Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. But, she adds, "The marketplace is here. We've got an insurer that's committed to Iowans for 2018."

Clay Masters / IPR

A terror attack in New York, new revelations about the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian officials, and a stalled plan for tax reform are all covered on this edition of Politics Day on River to River

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College, and Tim Hagle, University of Iowa Associate Professor of Political Science. 

Hagle says that even though George Papadopoulos may have been an unimportant figure in the Trump campaign, his guilty plea does not look good for the Trump campaign. 

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds has been in office for five months.  In the first half of this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer asks Reynolds about health care, opioid abuse, partisan politics, and the upcoming legislative session.

To start, Reynolds says she had a number of topics to offer Iowa's congressional delegation. 

She says that she thanked them for support of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and work on healthcare.  Her priorities for next legislative session are getting a water quality bill and having a competitive bushiness environment.

The Science of Fear

Oct 31, 2017

Halloween is here, and with it comes a number of frights and scares. This leaves many people wondering, what exactly happens in the brain and body when somebody experiences the sensation of fear?

On this River to River segmenthost Ben Kieffer speaks with Professor of Neurology & Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa Dr. Daniel Tranel, fifth year doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Iowa Kelsey Spalding, and owner/operator of Slaughterhouse in Des Moines Ian Miller.

In the 1500s, the largest settlement in the United States was in Northwest Iowa. It was a settlement of more than 6,000 residents from various Native American tribes. A new documentary Good Earth: Awakening the Silent City tells the story of the once great city in Lyon County. 

"It's part of a national historic landmark," explains the film's director Kelly Rundle. "If you think about the year that we are depicting in the film, which is around 1650, Boston had maybe 2000 residents, and Good Earth had between 6-10,000 residents 

Photo by John Pemble

This week, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that enforcement of a new Iowa law requiring a three-day waiting period for an abortion will remain on hold.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with law professor Todd Pettys, H. Blair & Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa, about what the court is considering.

He says that one of the issues before the Iowa Supreme Court is the question of whether the Iowa Constitution provides more protection for women than the U.S. Constitution.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa's U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she’s hopeful lawmakers will pass legislation she says will help people facing steep premium increases for individual health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.

About 72-thousand people in Iowa face increases of nearly 60% after the state withdrew its proposal for a stopgap plan that would have provided relief. In this interview with River to River host Ben Kieffer, Ernst says the current situation puts a lot of Iowans in a bind.

Madeleine King/Iowa Public Radio

What's the solution to Iowa water quality issues? One approach is to get cities, suburbs, and farms together to find solutions.  In this special edition of River to River, hear highlights from a recent panel discussion held at the Iowa Tap Room in Des Moines.  IPR's Clay Masters moderated the conversation.  

Get Better Sleep

Oct 24, 2017
Andrew Roberts / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

A seven-year-old Kentucky boy recently slept for eleven days straight. This hour, hear about the medical mystery that has doctors baffled. On this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talk with sleep expert and neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics about the boy's dangerous slumber. 

Dyken says there is limited information about this case, and he does not have the medical records that would allow him to know more.  But he compares this with a case he did see in Iowa which was a case of viral encephalopathy.

Christian Hornick / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

In response to accusations against Harvey Weinstein, women across the country and many in Iowa have expressed that they have been victims of harassment and assault through the "#me too" posts on social media.  We begin this River to River program with Katryn Duarte, who is Assistant Director of Sexual Assault Services at the University of Iowa's Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

Ben Terrett

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says it is difficult to govern with what he calls a president "zigging and zagging" on his support of bipartisan efforts to make changes to the Affordable Care Act. In this politics Wednesday edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by professor of political science at Iowa State University, Jim McCormick.

Image courtesy of Witching Hour Festival

Iowa City native Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, is the creator of This Modern World, a weekly political and satirical cartoon which has been a mainstay of the alternative press for more than two and a half decades. He says that the country's tense political environment lately has been challenging in many ways, and the speed at which news is made is particularly difficult. 

MitchellShapiroPhotography / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Can a cake baker refuse to make a cake based on a religious objection to the event it is celebrating? A case relating to that concept will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this term. 

In this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined for legal analysis by Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and University of Iowa Professor of Law, and also Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake University, James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law, and Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Here are the cases we review:

Mercy For Animals MFA / Flickr

This week, animal rights and free speech organizations filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa that challenges a state law from 2012, often referred to as Iowa’s ag-gag law or ag-whistleblower law.  The law  made it illegal to get a job at a livestock farm through misrepresentation in order to conduct an undercover animal cruelty investigation.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Between tragedy within the foster care system that has left two teenagers dead due to starvation, and a highly controversial shift from state management of the Medicaid system to a privately managed care system, Iowa's Department of Human Services has been in the news a lot this year.

Des Moines attorney and new DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven took over for former Director Charles Palmer in mid-June. During this River to River conversation, he talks with host Ben Kieffer.

On the transition to managed care: 

Photo Courtesy of Dan Manatt

This past weekend, the former Iowa State Penitentiary opened for tours to the public. Over its 177 years of operation, the prison has developed a storied history in conjunction with the Iowa legal system, including hosting a number of hangings, allowing inmates to have cameras in an attempt to promote transparency, and delicately balancing the treatment of prisoners to promote punishment without treating them inhumanely.

Gage Skidmore

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer asks analysts, Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College, how President Trump’s feud with senior Republican Senator Bob Corker could impact the GOP legislative agenda. They also discuss the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the rollback of the Affordable Care Act birth control mandate, and the ongoing Russian investigation.

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