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.

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. 

stu_spivack / Flickr

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.

Alan Levine/Flickr

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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Hey Paul Studios

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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The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but Iowa is one of a handful of states that does not mention this right in its constitution.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell talk with lawmakers for and against the proposal to add the right to bear arms to the Iowa Constitution. 

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Vladimir Tkalčić

For this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined for the hour by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll. His latest book is Directorate S. The book examines the CIAs role and America’s secret wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Coll's account offers a fifteen-year narrative which opens on the eve of September 11, and it takes the story up to the present. 

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Carol Browne

The mass shooting earlier this month at a Florida high school has inspired a youth-led protest movement across the country, including in Iowa, with students demanding changes to gun control legislation.

On this River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by Ryan Westhoff, a sophomore at Cedar Falls High School. Westhoff participated in a protest outside Congressman Rod Blum’s office in Cedar Falls on Friday.

Food Bank of Iowa

One in eight Iowans struggle with hunger. One in six of those Iowans are children, according to the nonprofit organization Feeding Hunger. The Trump Administration has proposed replacing SNAP benefits with blue apron style food boxes, and calls for cutting food assistance for Iowans drastically in his proposed budget. 

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Cory Doctorow

The Iowa Senate will take up a bill requiring all school districts to work with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to develop safety plans for an active shooter situation. The bill advanced out of committee the day after a deadly school shooting in Florida last week.

Manson Northwest Webster Community School District Superintendent Justin Daggett says his district has a protocol ready.

"It is something that we are trained and prepared for and we pray to God that we never have to do it," Daggett says.

Emily Woodbury

A long-time Iowa advocate and fighter for the rights of the disabled, Tom Walz, passed away this week. Walz was the director of the University of Iowa School of Social Work.

He was also friend of the late Bill Sackter, and he established Wild Bill’s coffee shop on the UI campus.  Sackter then became the proprietor of Wild Bill’s, allowing him to finally be independent, after having spent 44 years confined to the Fairibault MN State School for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with United States Ambassador to China Terry Branstad about a range of topics, including sanctions on North Korea, fentanyl regulation, and trade.

"Iowa as an agriculture producing state has had significant success marketing our agriculture products in all of Asia, but in China in particular," Branstad says.

The former governor of Iowa also discusses South China Sea territorial disputes, cyber security, censorship, and human rights.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

With a budget proposal, debate over a path forward on immigration reform in the Senate, a senior White House staffer being accused of domestic violence, and continued allegations about President Trump's so-called non-relationship with Stormy Daniels—there's much to discuss this week in political news.

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 THIS PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON MAY 23, 2017

Anonymous sources have played a big role in the flurry of reporting and rapid-fire revelations surrounding the Trump administrations and investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

John Pemble / IPR

Opioid use is a growing problem across the country, and Iowa is no exception. During this hour of River to River, we’ll hear about legislation being considered at the statehouse to curb issues created by the use of opioids in Iowa. 

Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell, Republican State Senator Dan Dawson, Republican State Representative Shannon Lundgren, Republican State Representative Dave Heaton, and Democratic State Representative Chuck Isenhart all join the conversation. 

Iowa Department of Transportation

This week, 70 vehicles crashed within seconds of each other near Ames during a snowstorm. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with accident reconstruction coordinator, Sgt. Chris Starrett of the Iowa State Patrol, about the work of investigating a pile up.

Philippe Roos

National politics have put coal in the spotlight. On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer talks with former coal miner, Nick Mullins, about his work and the misconceptions about coal country. They also discuss the dichotomy between jobs and the environment and the political motivations of mining communities.

Mullins is the author of the blog "The Thoughtful Coal Miner." He will speak at Iowa State University at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19. His talk is titled, “Coal, Climate and Environmental Backlash.”

Clay Masters / IPR

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dennis Goldford, professor and chair of political science at Drake University and Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University about the week's political news. Stories include last-minute federal budget negotiations, dueling memos in the Russia probe and Iowa's midterm caucuses.

Damon Taylor

In two out the past five presidential elections, the candidate who became president was not the one most Americans voted for. In this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer explores why our founding fathers created the Electoral College to elect presidents instead of relying on the popular vote.

Guests are presidential historian Tim Walch and University of Iowa political scientist Cary Covington. They examine the historical rationale behind the Electoral College and efforts to change its influence.

John Pemble

It’s been a month since the 2018 legislative session began. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with three statehouse reporters to discuss the many issues being debated at the capitol, including: changes to Iowa gun law, plans to get tough on so-called sanctuary cities, speed cameras getting the red light, and proposed budget cuts to Iowa’s judicial branch, state universities, and human services.

NASA/Van Allen Probes/Goddard Space Flight Center

60 years ago this week, the first U.S. satellite, Explorer One, launched into space. An instrument on the satellite, designed and built by University of Iowa physicist James Van Allen, discovered radiation belts around the Earth, a stunning discovery that made headlines worldwide.

On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa astrophysicist Allison Jaynes about how Van Allen’s discovery helps scientists today discover the dangerous areas for satellites and astronauts traveling in the near-Earth environment.

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The annual Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake and the Surf Ballroom, which commemorates the anniversary of a plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, "the Big Bopper," and Richie Valens, is this weekend. This year, it will be a special celebration Saturday night.

This is the first year in a long time that Dean Snyder, whose family saved the Surf from being demolished, and Darryl Hensley, aka The Mad Hatter, who founded the Winter Dance Party, won't be in attendance. 

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Proponents of solar energy in Iowa are worried about a proposal under study in both chambers of the legislature. They say it would deregulate the rate-making process for utility companies by allowing them to change rates for various classes of customers without receiving Iowa Utility Board approval. Former legislator Tyler Olson, now president of SiteGen Solar in Cedar Rapids, says that move would harm the state’s growing solar industry.

Derek Jensen

Traffic cameras are getting a red light from Iowa lawmakers as Republicans debate a total ban on automated traffic enforcement devices. During this hour of River to River Ben Kieffer is joined by Senator Brad Zahn, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, and Sergeant Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department.  We also hear background and an update on an Iowa Supreme Court challenge to traffic camera in eastern Iowa from Gazette reporter Brian Morelli.

At a recent Iowa high school basketball game, the visiting team had to endure racist chants by rival students in the stands. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with a school superintendent about how the immigration debate is impacting one of Iowa's most diverse communities. 

Iowa Public Radio

This hour of River to River is a "Pints and Politics" edition and includes panelists Gazette reporter James Lynch, and Gazette columnists Todd Dorman, Lynda Waddington, and Adam Sullivan. The discussion covers legislation about water quality and the state budget shortfall.  

The panel is joined by University of Northern Iowa political scientist Chris Larimer to talk through state politics and how social media and political polling shapes our politics.

Hosts and moderators are Iowa Public Radio's Emily Woodbury and The Gazette's Erin Jordan.

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The government shutdown lasted three days. What did it accomplish, and what will be the way forward on immigration? 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College and Rachel Caufield, associate professor of political science at Drake University about the shutdown, the Russia investigation, Trump's visit to Davos, and Vice President Mike Pence's trip the Middle East. 

Joseph Gruber

Millennials will oust Baby Boomers as the largest voting bloc as early as 2020. Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, joins host Ben Kieffer in this River to River segment to discuss how Millennial voters may change politics in the decades to come.

“They are going to shift the focus of how we talk about government,” Andersen says. “Millennials seem to want lower taxes, more government. They are really in favor of smart government that is more efficient. We haven’t really talked about that yet as a country.”

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