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.

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.

foxhoven
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.

DACA's Effect in Iowa

Oct 10, 2017
Image courtesy of Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy created with an executive order of President Barack Obama in 2012.  It allows children of illegal immigrants to receive a two-year deferred action from deportation, and it grants them work permits.

The new Vietnam War documentary series on PBS, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik, is reopening a national conversation about the long, controversial conflict.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa veterans of Vietnam to get their reactions to the series and discuss the relevance it may have today, more than 40 years after the fall of Saigon. 

Downspec / Wikimedia Commons

The head of a mental health crisis center in southern Iowa says she expects it to close at the end of the month due to a lack of funding.

Jackie Sharp is executive director of Oak Place in Centerville. She says after a grant ran out, the regional mental health authority refused to fill that funding gap, and the state hasn’t set up rules that would allow Oak Place to bill Medicaid for services. 

"I don't put a lot of faith in us continuing after October 31. I think my alternate plan is to take care of the graduates that we've had and help my staff transition," she says. 

Courtesy of Tracy Peterson

Johnson County has declared that from now on, Columbus Day will be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Iowa City has also made the proclamation - joining dozens of cities across the U.S. in doing so.

In this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Stanton talks with Tracy Peterson, an Iowa City resident who has been pushing for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day since the 1990s.

Stephen Melkisethian

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments testing whether extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. It’s a case that could radically reorder our politics.

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer asks political scientists Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University to discuss the High Court’s new session.

They also discuss the political response to the Las Vegas shooting.

Abagnale & Associates/WIkimedia Commons

In his late teens and early 20s, Frank Abagnale cashed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and in 26 foreign countries. Today, he consults with the U.S. government on identity theft and fraud prevention. 

"I've worked with the FBI for 41 years now. I've taught at the academy for 41 years now. I've worked for some of the biggest corporations in the world, and I think I've come a long way since that 16 year old boy," Abagnale says. 

Courtesy of Essie Justice Group

One in four women and nearly one in two black women have a family member in prison; and while solutions to mass incarceration have largely focused on men, there are millions of women who have family members in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers.

Army National Guard photo by Sgt. José Ahiram Díaz-Ramos

Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, residents of the U.S. territory are still scrambling for all the staples of living – food, water, fuel, medicine, and currency.

First, Puerto Rico got clipped by Hurricane Irma, a huge Category 5 storm whose eye passed just north of the island in early September. That storm left 1 million people without power on Puerto Rico. By the time Maria hit nearly two weeks ago, tens of thousands were still without electricity, and many people on the island haven’t had power for three weeks.

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