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, @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Wikimedia Commons

A space probe carrying an instrument from the University of Iowa goes into orbit around Jupiter Monday, July 4.  The NASA probe “Juno” was launched in 2011 on a mission to learn more about the solar system’s largest planet. 

Bill Kurth is a research scientist at the University of Iowa, and the lead investigator of the Waves instrument.  He says it will examine radio and plasma waves around Jupiter, to understand how the planet’s auroras are formed. 

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

In 1961, President Kennedy said the US needed to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Now, more than 50 years later, Vice President Joe Biden says the nation needs a cancer moonshot – with a goal of doubling the rate of progress to end cancer as we know it.

On Wednesday, he held a summit in Washington. Organizations in all fifty states and Puerto Rico participated to, as Biden puts it, "break down silos, seize the moment, and double the rate of progress."

threefishsleeping / Flickr

A terrorist attack in Turkey has left 42 dead and more than 230 injured.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts about why Turkey was targeted in the attack. Joining the conversation: Kelly Shaw, political science lecturer at Iowa State University, Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University.

Wikimedia Commons

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the biggest cases on abortion in a quarter century. The court also issued several other rulings, including a case about affirmative action in college admissions, and another regarding when people convicted of domestic violence can own a gun. What does it all mean for you, and how will these cases reverberate around Iowa and around the nation?

Tony Webster, Portland, Oregon / Wikimedia Commons

A landmark piece of legislation that assures public access to government documents turns 50 on July 4th. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation in 1966, without so much as a statement, just avoiding a pocket veto. That reluctance set the stage for a love/hate relationship between presidential administrations and the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.

Nancy Pelosi / Flickr

Early Wednesday, John Lewis, a Democratic representative from Georgia, asked his colleagues to join him on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and began to speak.

Dan Boyce / Rocky Mountain PBS for Harvest Public Media

Meat consumers in the U.S. enjoy relatively low prices and an array of choices, but there is a high human price tag. The more than 500,000 men and women who work in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have some of the most dangerous factory jobs in America.

"If you recall the publication of The Jungle back in 1906 - the meat packing industry is similar to that to this day," says Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media, referring to the conditions in the plant and circumstances of the factory workers. 

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.:

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.

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.”

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.

John Pemble

With the sun setting on a primary season full of surprises, Iowans can expect more of the unexpected as the nominees head towards the party conventions.

On this special edition of River to River, co-hosts Ben Kieffer of Iowa Public Radio and Jennifer Hemmingsen of The Gazette sit down in front of a live audience in Cedar Rapids with The Gazette’s investigative reporter James Lynch, and columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman.

They give their thoughts on Iowa races as well as the race for the White House. Below are some highlights from the discussion.

John Pemble

This week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made headlines after her victory in California led many to declare her the first female nominee of a major party for president.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer discusses the week’s political news with analysts Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa and Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University. They talk about how the general election battle is shaping up after the last big day of primaries, as well as what’s next for each of the remaining candidates.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Many Republicans rebuked presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his remarks suggesting that Latino and Muslim judges would be unable to rule fairly on a trial involving the candidate. State Senator David Johnson did them one better: he left the party.

Two baby eagles in Iowa town of Riverdale along the Mississippi have been removed from their nest to become part of a migration study. Two young eagles in Riverdale join a study to protect raptors from manmade hazards like wind turbines and power lines.

"Eagle populations have increased dramatically as of late, and increasingly eagles are moving away from large riparian corridors to interior portions of the state," says Drew Becker, fish and wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rob McLennan / Flickr

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is expecting another summer boating season full of toxic, blue green algae blooms. There were a record number of beach closures in 2015 in Iowa, and the DNR is expecting this year to be the same or worse. 

The blooms release microcystin, which is a toxin released by cyanobacteria. The toxin can kill pets and cause rashes and flu like symptoms in humans.

As the weather heats up this week, Mary Skopec, beach monitoring coordinator for the Iowa DNR, says that we’ll likely start to see algal blooms that lead to beach closures.

HarperCollins Publishers

In 2009, 21 men were rescued from the abandoned Atalissa schoolhouse they inhabited since 1974. 

Their lives consisted of working for next to nothing at a turkey plant nearby in West Liberty, living together in the schoolhouse, and taking trips to the Atalissa Mini Mart.

Michael Vadon / Flickr

At a press conference yesterday,  ABC News’ Tom Llamas pressed Donald Trump for details on a discrepancy between charitable donations to veterans' groups he had claimed at a January rally in Iowa and actual records of those donations on the books. 

"Mister Trump, writing a million dollar check is incredibly generous, but that night of the Iowa fundraiser you said you had raised six million dollars," he said. "Clearly you had not. Your critics say you tend to exaggerate, you have a problem with the truth--is this a prime example?

Lou Gold / Flickr

A bill eliminating the terms 'Oriental' and 'Negro' from federal documents sailed through Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by President Obama last week. Now, official documents will use the words 'Asian American' and 'African American.' Mae Ngai, Lung Professor of Asian American studies and professor of history at Columbia University, says the move is long overdue.

"It's a welcome change. It's symbolic, of course, but nobody wants to be insulted, even if it's symbolically."

Wikimedia Commons

With businessman Donald Trump the apparent GOP nominee for President of the United States, Americans are anxiously awaiting what comes next.

Michael Lind, fellow at New America, author of Land of Thomas: An Economic History of the United States and columnist for Salon and contributing editor to Politico has called the 2016 election cycle an “earthquake.”

"The big news in this election is the policy realignment. There’s been a gap between the existing coalitions, and their party platforms," says Lind.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Senator Chuck Grassley's refusal to hold a hearing for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, has changed the landscape for Grassley's reelection campaign this fall. On June 7th Iowans will choose from among four candidates to determine which Democrat will face Grassley in the general election. 

Patty Judge is a former lieutenant governor, former secretary of agriculture for Iowa, and former state legislator. Judge spoke to Ben Kieffer on River to River.  Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The world’s three largest seed companies are in talks about possible mergers. That could result in a broader definition of what it means to be an agricultural business and would create a new landscape for farmers buying seeds, fertilizer, and even machinery.

"They’re selling the seed, the chemicals, the fertilizer," says Chad Hart, Extension economist and associate professor at Iowa State University. "We may even see some combination where we see some ag machinery companies merging with some seed companies or some fertilizer companies."

Public Domain / Wikimedia

The Japanese surrender in WWII was official with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945. But for Jerry Yellin, the war ended with his last combat mission on August 14th, the same day his wing man, 19-year-old Phil Schlamberg from Brooklyn New York disappeared over Japan.

Yellin, who now lives in Fairfield was a Captain in the Army Air Corps and a fighter pilot who flew a P-51. He says he was never wounded and claims he never thought he would die, but he's still haunted by the deaths of every one of the 16 men lost from his squadron of 32. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

When U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley decided not to schedule confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the Democratic primary contest for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat became one to watch. Before the vote on June 7th, we’re airing interviews with all four candidates on that ballot. 

Rob Hogg is an attorney and state senator; he’s been serving at the Iowa statehouse since 2003.  On Monday, he spoke with IPR’s Ben Kieffer on River to River and began by distinguishing his fundraising from his opponents.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last Saturday at the Iowa Republican Convention, Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann enthused that support was building for Trump.

“Every time I speak, I’m seeing more and more and more unity. Which means, bottom line is, we’re going to really, for all practical purposes, be able to start the Hillary vs. Trump contest long before we actually go into Cleveland.”

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Senator Chuck Grassley, the longest serving member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, is up for reelection this November.  Four Democrats are running to be the party nominee to challenge him in November – and they face off in a primary election June 7th.   The Democratic race heated up a few months ago, after Grassley refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.  This week, we’re publishing interviews from all four Democrats on the primary ballot.  

courtesy of Paul Schaefer

 Four Democrats are on the June 7th primary ballot for the U-S Senate seat currently held by Republican Chuck Grassley.  He is the longest serving member of Iowa’s congressional delegation.  Grassley’s decision not to schedule confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee has attracted more attention to the Democratic primary contest.  This week and next, we’re airing interviews from all four candidates on that ballot. 

Pat Blank/IPR

This week, University of Northern Iowa President William Ruud announced that he will be leaving UNI this summer to become president of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with Ruud to find out why he is leaving Iowa, just three years after he interviewed for the position, when he implied that this would be his last job. 

"The opportunity to go to Marietta College is a great opportunity for me at this point in time in my career," says Ruud. 

Ryan's Uneasy Relationship with Trump

May 19, 2016
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Asked by a reporter about a poll that found people found Trump a more trustworthy figure to lead the GOP than himself, Paul Ryan responded magnanimously.

"I hope it's Donald Trump: he's getting the nomination. He's wrapping up the nomination. Good lord, I hope it is, because the person who's getting the nomination of our party is the person to lead our party."

Perspecsys Photos / www.perspecsys.com

After high-profile hacks in the private sector and an embarrassing theft of information from government personnel files, President Barack Obama set up a commission on enhancing national cybersecurity. The commission is due to make its long term recommendations by early December on tightening cybersecurity in the private sector and in the government. It's part of Obama's $19 billion proposal to boost defenses against hackers. 

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