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NewLink Genetics

The Ames-based pharmaceutical company NewLink Genetics is reducing its workforce by around 50 percent as it focuses on a single cancer-fighting drug. The action comes as it prepares for some pivotal trials.

NewLink is pouring its resources into development of indoximod. The company’s chairman, CEO and chief scientific officer Charles Link says the drug is showing promise in strengthening immune systems to combat cancer cells.

Principal Financial Group

Des Moines-based asset manager Principal Financial Group is showing a solid second quarter for fiscal 2017. The company is also ending a long streak of quarters with positive cash flow.

Principal had gone 24 straight quarters with positive net cash flows until now. Company chairman, president and CEO Dan Houston says there were a number of primary contributors to this result.

“First and foremost, it reflects the volatility inherent in the global institutional asset management and retirement space as large deposits and withdrawals can occur unevenly over time,” he says.

Bryan McDonald/flickr

The Iowa Department of Public Health is advising families about a new vaccination requirement for students going back to school next month.  

Under a new state law, meningitis vaccine will be required for students entering 7th and 12th grades for the 2017-2018 school year. 

girl in helmet
Jim Araos / U.S. Air Force

Iowa is rolling out new guidelines for supporting students as they recover from concussions.

Maggie Ferguson is the brain injury and disability program manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says past concussion policies were focused on high school student-athletes and how long they should rest before playing sports again.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation is closing out fiscal 2017 with record profits and revenue. The media company is riding a strong year for political and digital advertising.

The owner of magazines and TV stations is reporting a four percent increase in overall revenue from a year ago to a record $1.7 billion. A key reason was the all-time high $63 million in political advertising. Meredith chairman and CEO Steve Lacy also credits rapidly growing digital and social platforms.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Election dates have been set in September and October for thousands of public sector workers in Iowa to recertify their unions, or to disband their bargaining units.    

It’s part of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law which critics say will make it harder for unions to continue to represent public employees.     

Currently unions representing public employees remain certified unless workers call for a vote to decertify their bargaining unit.

trump
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, President Trump said transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. He writes the presence of transgender people in the military would cause "tremendous medical costs and disruption." 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has made big changes to the state’s volunteer water quality monitoring program at the beginning of this month. This comes after statewide budget cuts, including a $1.2 million funding reduction to the DNR.

After providing initial training and resources, the continued administration and funding of the program is turned over to local government agencies and nonprofits that choose to take up the mantle of volunteer water monitoring. Previously the DNR was the program's sole administer. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

Mercy Children’s Hospital and Clinics in the Des Moines metro are the first in the state to offer something called Cinemavision for young patients undergoing MRIs. The children can now watch movies to distract them from the medical procedure they’re experiencing.

Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Christy of Johnston has been inside an MRI machine plenty of times since being diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was ten. Up until now, she’s relied on general anesthesia to ease her anxiety. The last 90-minute-long scan was different. She watched the movie “Pitch Perfect.”

Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Members of the All-Iowa Ag Trade Mission to China report getting a good reception from Chinese officials, and they say Gov. Branstad’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China has raised Iowa’s profile with Chinese leaders.   

Gov. Kim Reynolds is leading the 35-member delegation representing all major Iowa commodity groups. 

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the Branstad appointment has raised the profile of Iowa in China when compared to previous trade missions.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College are joining together to create what they call the Iowa Cyber Hub. Its aim is to increase the number of professionals working in the field of cyber-security.

ISU computer engineering professor Doug Jacobson will lead the effort known as the Iowa Cyber Hub.

“In this globally interconnected world, Iowans are not immune to these cyber-attacks," he says. "Cyber-security can only be solved with people and education. We need to grow local talent and we need to increase the cyber workforce.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

A Republican committee at the statehouse today heard from experts on IPERS, the Iowa Public Employee Retirement Fund.

IPERS has unfunded liabilities of $5.6 billion. 

But officials recently updated certain assumptions, including expected investment returns, that could push the projected shortfall higher.  

The new assumptions foresee a 7 percent return on investments, down from an earlier estimate of 7.5 percent.

That means unfunded liabilities in the pension fund could approach $7 billion.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

To some visitors, the corpse flower smells more like garbage than rotting mammal. The rare Sumatran plant, also known as Titan arum, is believed to be the first corpse flower of this variety to bloom in Iowa.

Titan arum was expected to blossom last week, but the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden says scorching temperatures of high 90s likely delayed the plant’s unfurling. Cooler weather has arrived and the garden's staff says the corpse flower opened and began emitting its infamous stench sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 am on Tuesday.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he plans to vote “Yes” on a motion to proceed with debate on a bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act. If it passes, this vote won’t repeal Obamacare, but it is a key procedural step towards what has been the goal of Republican senators for the past seven years.

Grassley says voting to proceed allows for a more inclusive process.

dakota access pipeline
Carl Wycoff / flickr

Two Iowa women are claiming responsibility for damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline multiple times while it was under construction.

Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya say they started a "peaceful direct action campaign" on the night of the 2016 presidential election. They say they burned heavy equipment in Buena Vista County. In the following months, they say they used welding equipment to damage valves along the pipeline throughout Iowa and part of South Dakota. 

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame.

This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures.

Michael Leland/IPR

This year’s RAGBRAI route includes six pass-through towns that have never before participated in the annual, week-long bike ride across Iowa. Those communities are Thornton, Lawler, Castalia, Postville, Waterville and Harpers Ferry. 

Lawler city council member John Ezer says he's excited that more than 10,000 RAGBRAI riders are biking through to his northeastern Iowa town on Thursday. Ezer calls it an opportunity for his community of fewer than 420 people to show off their businesses and nonprofits.

Dean Borg/IPR

The first renters are now moving into Forest City’s first market-rate housing to be constructed in the North Iowa community in more than 25 years. The project helps ease the housing shortage squeezing workers away from jobs in many communities such as Forest City.

The Westown Place three-story building results from the community’s economic development organization taking over when private developers passed over the community’s request for proposals to build.

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

mcgregor damage
Courtesy of Carrie Nolan

Residents of McGregor in northeast Iowa are cleaning up after an EF-1 tornado (peak winds 110mph) devastated the downtown area Wednesday night.

No major injuries were reported. Some historic buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed, and there were piles of bricks and glass in the street.

McGregor resident Anne Kruse was at a meeting downtown when a window blew in. After the tornado passed, she says she went outside and it was "absolute chaos."

Alex Hanson/flickr

President Trump today nominated former Morningside College professor  and Sioux City radio talk show host Sam Clovis to the top science position at the United States Department of Agriculture.     

Appointees to Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics have traditionally held advanced degrees in science or medicine.   

Clovis holds an undergraduate degree in political science, an MBA, and a doctorate in public administration.    

He was an advisor to President Trump’s Iowa campaign, and has been an advisor at the USDA since January.        

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower is blooming! The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will be open until 11:00 pm for visitors to catch a whiff of the Titan arum, arguably the stinkiest variety of corpse flower.

The Botanical Garden's Titan arum is the first variety of this type of corpse flower to bloom in Iowa. Its odor of rotting mammal attracts carrion beetles, which act as pollinators. 

Botanical Garden spokeswoman Kelly Reilly says Titan arum should unfurl and be in full bloom sometime tonight.

Steven Strooh/Flickr

The most recent billings report from the American Institute of Architects indicates it could be a busy year for construction activity. It shows the state's architectural firms have plenty of design work.

The AIA Architecture Billings Index provides a glimpse at construction spending nine months to a year down the road. The executive director of the local chapter, Jessica Reinert, says the index for the Midwest and Iowa shows a steady increase in design requests since the start of 2017. She says this has put a strain on architectural firms.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

The bench trial in the case questioning the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions in Iowa ended yesterday, but it will be more than a month before the district court rules.

The case challenges a new law that requires a woman have an ultrasound three days before terminating her pregnancy. This rule not only mandates a delay, but also forces a woman to attend two separate medical appointments.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowans with permits to carry handguns can now bring their weapons into the Iowa statehouse under a new state law that’s been in effect since July 1st.   

Statehouse security officers say so far enforcement has gone well.   

Only a few people have displayed their permits and been allowed to enter with a concealed pistol or revolver.   

Since shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, anyone entering the Iowa statehouse has been required to leave their guns or knives behind.  

Now with a permit to carry you can bring in a pistol or revolver.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she was not aware of instances of sexual harassment in the Iowa Senate during the years she served as a Republican state senator.       

A Polk County jury Tuesday awarded former Republican staffer Kirsten Anderson a more than $2 million judgment in her sexual harassment case describing vulgar, sexist language by male aides and lawmakers.

Anderson's testimony covered the years 2009 and 2010 when Reynolds represented Senate District 48.     

WIKICOMMONS / Iowahwyman

A nationally recognized gynecologist testified Tuesday at Polk County District Court. Dr. Dan Grossman of California is an expert witness in a trial that questions the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions.

Iowa’s new law requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before an abortion. Grossman told the court, in some cases, he believes this requirement is "cruel" and "unacceptable."

Mad Cow Disease Detected In Alabama

Jul 18, 2017

A case of mad cow disease has been found in a cow in Alabama.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed Tuesday that an 11-year-old cow found in an Alabama livestock market suffered from the neurologic cattle disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal “at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” according to the USDA.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

The medical director of Iowa’s largest abortion provider took the witness stand today in Polk County District Court. Dr. Jill Meadows of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa are suing the state, saying that new restrictions on abortion create an undue burden for women.

There’s currently an injunction on the new law which requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before terminating her pregnancy. Meadows testified this will increase costs for patients because now women would be billed for two medical visits instead of one.

stacey walker
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Linn County Board of Supervisors says it will honor the goals of the Paris climate agreement, even though President Donald Trump announced the United States will exit the agreement.

The supervisors voted unanimously Monday to approve a resolution to commit to energy efficiency, energy conservation, and sustainability.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker says the board recognizes international cooperation is necessary in addressing a changing climate.

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