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.

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John Norris is no stranger to politics. He worked as chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he was governor and secretary. Norris has also served as U.S. Minister Counselor for Agriculture to the United Nations in Rome and has served on the Iowa Utilities Board and on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Now, he’s running for Governor in Iowa.

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In this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Keiffer is joined by Steffen Schmidt, Lucken Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

The analysts cover recent political news including recent airstrikes in Syria, a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, and a remembrance of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

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On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Hans Hassell, assistant professor of politics at Cornell College and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University about this week's political developments. Stories include Paul Ryan’s planned retirement, the recent chemical attack on Syria, and Mark Zuckerberg's Congress hearings.

On this "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer co-hosts with Gazette investigative reporter Erin Jordan. They ask panelists to discuss the latest in national and state politics, including what is likely happen before the end of the Iowa legislative session.

"They're going to do tax cuts, they're going to do the budget, and that might be it." says panelist and politics reporter for The Gazette, James Lynch. "Usually the hundredth day, when their money runs out, is an incentive to wrap things up."

Harper Collins

Robert de la Rochefoucald was captured by the Nazis three times during World War II. He was an aristocrat, educated in Europe's finest schools, turned Special Operations Executive in the French resistance. The stories of his escapes sound like something straight from an Ian Fleming novel, except they're true.

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The Head of the Iowa Department of Human Services is defending the state’s privatized Medicaid system, after a scathing report last week by the state ombudsman.  

The report said complaints from patients and providers jumped by 157% last year, making Medicaid one of the top targets of complaints from citizens reporting difficulties with the government.

Since April of 2016, for-profit companies have managed the program for 640,000 Iowans who are poor or disabled.

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John Sachs www.tech-fall.com

The United World Wrestling Men’s Freestyle World Cup is this weekend.  Athletes from teams all over the world are descending on Iowa City for that event.  Noticeably absent is Russia. The U.S. embassy in Moscow was unable to expedite visa interviews, according to USA Wrestling.

Cedar Rapids Gazette wrestling reporter K.J. Pilcher says international politics play a part.

"If it were up to the wrestlers on both sides, everybody would be involved.  I just think politics got in the way of competition here and Russia unfortunately isn't going to make it," he said.

Public Domain

China has proposed tariffs on U.S. pork and soybeans, two of Iowa's major agricultural exports. In this politics day edition of River to River we talk about the potential political fallout of the brewing trade war between the U.S. and China. Dennis Goldford, professor and chair of political science at Drake University and Tim Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa share their thoughts about this issue and the week's other political developments. IPR's Ben Stanton hosts the conversation.

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The Iowa Department of Public Health has offered cannabis dispensary licenses to proposed stores in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, and Windsor Heights.

In this news buzz edition of River to River, Emily Woodbury talks with Des Moines Register Health Reporter Tony Leys about what that means for Iowans.

Katherine Perkins / Iowa Public Radio

Whether or not to expand, repeal, or restructure Iowa’s bottle bill, the legislation that created the bottle deposit in Iowa, has been a perennial issue at the state capitol. This year, the conversation surrounding the bill has been more serious. There have been bills introduced to repeal the bottle bill, bills to expand it, and now there’s ongoing discussion about creating an amendment to another bill that would move can and bottle redemption out of grocery stores across Iowa.

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Train derailments, oil spills, bankruptcies, medical errors, and data breaches - every week, the news gives us glaring examples of how mistakes in these complex systems can blossom into massive failures. 

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Chris Clearfield, the co-author of MELTDOWN: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It. In the book, he reveals the surprising ways in which these occurrences of modern life are connected, as well as how to prevent these sort of breakdowns. 

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In the aftermath of WWII, the court system in Germany underwent a dramatic shift as the Allies launched an initiative to rid German and Austrian society of any remnants of national socialism. This process was called denazification. 

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Judy Hamilton Crockett, whose father Clarence E. Hamilton was head of all civil courts and prisons in Nuremberg after WWII.

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A bill moving through the Iowa legislature would ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell and host Ben Kieffer explore various perspectives from Iowa lawmakers and advocates. 

This program originally aired 6-19-17.

Proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration have scientists at the Ames Laboratory on the campus of Iowa State University concerned. The smallest of the national laboratories receives 90 percent of its funding from the Department of Energy. The director of the Ames Lab, Adam Schwartz, says President Trump’s proposed budget would harm scientific research.

Phil Roeder

Students across the nation are taking to the streets Saturday for what they’re calling the March for Our Lives. The main event is in Washington, D.C., but satellite rallies are taking place in cities such as Des Moines.

In this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the Iowa organizers, Isabella O’Connor, a junior at Roosevelt High School. She says young people want changes made to the country’s gun laws.

In 2014, Bassem Yousseff, commonly described as the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was forced into exile after being accused of and arrested for criticizing the Egyptian government. His show "El Bernameg," which translates to "The Show" ran from 2011 to 2014; before that, he worked as a heart surgeon. 

Courtesy of Nate Weiner

Every year, thousands of fires destroy millions of acres of wilderness.

“It sounds like a freight train going through the woods,” says wildland firefighter Nathan Weiner, describing the experience of fighting one of his first wildfires.

“We get plugged in off the side of the road, we’ve got aircraft flying overhead, and there’s a hundred foot flames screaming up the hill. It’s just that wild moment where you realize how small you are in the world.”

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bill making its way through the Iowa legislature directs local governments and police departments to comply with federal immigration authorities or risk losing state funding.

On this edition of River to River, legislative day co-hosts Ben Kieffer and Joyce Russell talk with lawmakers, law enforcement, an immigration advocate, and the mayor of Iowa City about their views on the proposal and how it may impact Iowa communities.

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Gil Cranberg passed away on Sunday at the age of 93. His career as an editorial writer for the Des Moines Register spanned 33 years. He will be remembered as an ethical newsman whose work focused on civil rights, inequality, and criminal justice. 

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It's been another whirlwind week in politics. President Trump fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter, to be replaced with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The president is also backing off of his promise to have a conversation about gun control; and the Stormy Daniels saga continues.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Rachel Caufield, associate professor of political science at Drake University, and Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science at Iowa State University.

The White House

When polls rank America’s first ladies, the top spot often goes to Eleanor Roosevelt.

“She was the person who really embraced the role of the first lady and made it more public,” says political scientist Dianne Bystrom of Iowa State University. “She was the first first lady to give her own press conferences, she built the first lady staff […] and she was a spokesperson on African American and civil rights.”

Presidential historian Tim Walch adds, “She really was an exceptional individual – a real paradigm shift among our first ladies.”

John Pemble

Iowans say mental health services are among their top concerns when it comes to state-supported issues, and lawmakers’ comments on mental health make the issue appear bipartisan.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR reporter Joyce Russell talk with lawmakers about how they are working to address concerns regarding mental health care in Iowa, as well as fielding calls from Iowans who have tried to get themselves or their loved ones care.

John Pemble / IPR file

There has been lots of movement at the Iowa Statehouse this week. An omnibus energy bill that discussed earlier this week on River to River passed in the Senate and is now heading to the house. There's also a bill that would make it so the Iowa Supreme Court would require a super majority to vote a law unconstitutional that remains a live wire.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell and the Des Moines Register's Bill Petroski about what you need to know this week about what the legislature is doing. 

Clay Masters / IPR

President Donald Trump has announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Does that mean the U.S. is on the verge of a trade war? It's also been a week of departures for staffers at the White House, and Vice President Mike Pence visited Iowa.  During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick of Iowa State University and Dennis Goldford of Drake University about the week in politics. 

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The human brain has substantially different dietary needs than other organs, and new research suggests that diet may play a large role in the development of dementia, obesity, and even ability to sleep.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with neuroscientist and nutritionist Lisa Mosconi, whose new book, Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power, explains how diet affects brain power and health.

Mosconi says that if she had to pick one food that’s best for brain health, she would say caviar.

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A bill being discussed at the statehouse, Senate File 2311, could mean major changes in Iowa when it comes to energy. Opponents say it would end Iowa’s energy efficiency programs, the ones that provide rebates to customers for buying energy efficient appliances and doing things like energy audits and installing new insulation.

Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis

The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are heading into the seventh round of renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Donald Trump has called it “the worst trade deal in history” and has at times called for ending the program.

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Paul Connors, Canada’s Consul General, about Iowa’s trading relationship with Canada. According to Connors, 100,000 jobs in Iowa depend on a positive trade relationship with our neighbors to the north. 

Former Iowa Public Television director Dan Miller has died after a long illness. A statement from IPTV says Miller died this week at the age of 66.

Miller worked at IPTV for 37 years, serving in various production and leadership roles before becoming executive director and general manager in 2002. He retired in 2013. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with retired IPTV host Dean Borg about Miller's life and career. 

Borg says Miller was a leader not just for IPTV, but for the entire nation's PBS system.

John Pemble

Iowa Senate Republicans have been fast-tracking $1 billion dollars in annual income tax cuts, as Democrats warn that could force huge spending cuts on education and health care. 

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In the aftermath of mass shootings, we often hear about the importance of mental health diagnoses and treatment.

On this edition of River to River, we explore the services being provided in Iowa and as well as the mental health needs of the state in the near future.

A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows nearly three-quarters of Iowans believe the state’s mental-health system is in crisis or is a big problem.  

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