River to River

A former Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush and current President of the non-partisan, not for profit International Republican Institute says America's role in the world should be one of engagement.

Ambassador Mark Green was in Iowa this week to speak to the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations. He told host Ben Kieffer on River to River that America needs to stand with its allies and help them achieve their goals, stabilize the world, and address conditions like destitution and absolute poverty that can be exploited by extremists.

Michael Luick-Thrams

An Iowa historian, running as an independent in the race for U.S. Senate, says he sees opportunity for someone outside the two-party system in this election cycle. He says every 30 years or so cultures open up, look around, and assess what's going well and what needs to be changed. Michael Luick-Thrams says now is that moment.


Congress returned to the U.S. capitol this week, but prospects for getting much done before the election are dim. In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Drake Political Science Professor and Chair at Drake University and Flansburg Fellow at the Harkin Institute, Dennis Goldford and Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa, Tim Hagle. In addition to unlikely congressional action, they also discuss the future of Fox News, given the departure of Roger Ailes as well as the latest developments in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Thirty opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline were arrested Wednesday and charged with trespassing for blocking construction vehicles from entering a construction site in Boone County.

La Homa Simmonds of Boone was one of the protestors arrested.

“It was really kind of surreal,” she says. “You’re looking out, and you’re seeing Dakota access workers standing there. You see the state patrol. You’re seeing the fields that are being torn up not even three miles away.”


As with most issues, republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton see the U.S. role in the world very differently. In this edition of River to River, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College about the foreign policy challenges likely facing the next President of the United States.

BuzzFarmers / Flickr

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced an initiative to end veteran homelessness.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with IowaWatch.org reporter Thomas Nelson about his latest reporting on homelessness within Iowa's veteran population; Mark Brown, an outreach veterans advocate for Willis Dady Prevention and Shelter; and an Iowa veteran who used to be homeless.

Photo Courtesy of Decorah Newspapers

Flood waters in Northeast Iowa have inundated homes, and for many of those families, they'll be forced to rebuild without the benefits of flood insurance. Josh McGrath and his family were asleep in Freeport, Iowa on Wednesday when flood waters came crashing into their basement. He and his wife Miranda escaped with their three children through waist deep water outside their home to get to safety while their basement filled with water.

Hail Merry / Flickr

This week, controversy swirled around allegations that special access was given to Clinton Foundation donors when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. 

Donna Hoffman, department head and associate professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, explains the emails show communication between the aides of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton as Secretary.

"There's no evidence that, 'Hey, I've given a donation so I must therefore be able to meet with Secretary Clinton,' but that's kind of the implication here, that there's the appearance of corruption."

John Pemble

On this special edition of River to River, presented in conjunction with The Gazette, Ben Kieffer and co-host Jennifer Hemmingsen discuss the latest news from the campaign trail with panelists: Gazette political & investigative reporter James Lynch, along with Gazette columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman.

Josh Davis / Flickr

Earlier this summer, the Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa received a grant of more than 46,000 dollars for a program called Coaching Boys Into Men. Over the course of this year, the program will help educators and coaches in the state teach young men how to intervene when they see a teammate behave abusively towards women and girls.

Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr

The ouster of Paul Manafort as campaign manager for the Trump campaign didn't come as a shock after Trump's sustained low polling numbers in the month of August. Dave Andersen, political analyst at Iowa State University, says the shakeup was necessary. 

"He's falling so far behind in the polls nationwide and on the state levels, that the campaign needs some fresh ideas and they need something to start working. I don't think the campaign has really been on the right foot since Corey Lewandowski left, and I'm kind of surprised they didn't consider bringing him back."

Daniel R. Blume / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Objectivity, fairness and balance are values that have long guided journalism. But in our rapidly changing media environment, where affirmation is only a click away, do readers, listeners and viewers really want news that adheres to those values? The leaders of three Iowa journalism schools say they do.

Photo by John Pemble

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld is beginning his first full school year at the helm in Iowa City. The former business executive took over the job in November of last year amid protests from some faculty and students over his lack of academic background. He says he hopes all that is behind him heading into this school year. 

"From my perspective, we're now hard at work on the real issues of moving the university forward. It feels like we're a lot calmer and much more focused in a lot of ways," he says. 

ep_jhu / Flickr

Donald Trump doesn't have time to read. As he puts it, that's always been the case.

“I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.”

But that doesn't stop presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Tim Walch from having some book recommendations for him and for his opponent Hillary Clinton. He puts a lot of presidential biographies from the days of our founding fathers on that list.

Zebby Wahls

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Zach and Zebby Wahls of Iowa City about a hugely successful deck of playing cards they designed inspired by the 2016 presidential campaign.  

Sarah Boden

The Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines is preparing for the birth of its first baby rhinoceros. Five-and-a-half-year-old black rhino Ayana is expected to give birth in late fall.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. June Olds, the senior veterinarian overseeing the birth of the rare baby rhino, as well as Lou Keeley, the large mammal area supervisor at Blank Park Zoo.

Keeley says this pregnancy is a big deal, simply because there are not many black rhinos left in the world.

Michael Vadon (Trump) and Gage Skidmore (Clinton)

Donald Trump and his campaign are responding to accusations that the candidate encouraged "Second Amendment people" to commit violence against Hillary Clinton during a rally Tuesday. The Trump campaign says the notion that Trump was suggesting violence is "ridiculous" and that he was referring to voting instead. 

Gage Skidmore

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, David Cay Johnston, whose latest book The Making of Donald Trump culminates nearly 30 years of reporting on the media mogul and reality TV start turned presidential candidate. 

Douglas Mills

Iowa has the second worst animal protection laws of all 50 U.S. states, a point highlighted by a recent case where a groomer kicked a corgi at the Creature Comfort Veterinary Center in Iowa City, causing multiple rib fractures and bruising of the lungs. 

The groomer, 22-year-old Lucas Van Orden V, told police he kicked the dog while grooming it, and he was initially charged with animal neglect, a simple misdemeanor. Since the initial charge, Johnson County Attorney's Office prosecutors added the charge of an aggravated misdemeanor.

Wikimedia Commons

Invasive plant species are becoming pervasive in Iowa’s woodlands.  State Forester Paul Tauke says a recent survey found invasives present in 95-percent of forest inventory plots studied.  He calls it a “shocking” finding.

“When you have exotic invasive species, they expand into an area and they tend to crowd out the native species, and decrease your diversity in the system," says Tauke

TeamFlyinKoat / Flickr

Following the deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history, balloons and balloon enthusiasts are braving the skies in Indianola for the National Balloon Classic this week.

“The mood here is positive,” says Captain Jeff Thompson.

“It’s been on everyone’s mind, but the best thing you can do is to be safe and continue to fly.”  

Ted Van Pelt / Flickr

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by a University of Iowa professor, may help explain the link between cleanliness and rates of asthma and allergies. Peter Thorne is a Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health. He says the study compared a group of Amish children to a group with similar genetics and lifestyles.

John Reese / Flickr

Nathan Gibson--gun owner, gun rights activist, and father of two girls active in shooting sports--and Ako Abdul-Samad--democratic legislator, gun control advocate, and father of one boy who died of gun violence--are sitting in a radio studio together. The mood in the room is not tense at all. Serious, thoughtful, committed: yes. But a far cry from tense. A better word may be congenial. Or even friendly.

niXerKG / Flickr

Recent videos of police shooting unarmed black men and recent shootings of police officers have led to increased unrest between two groups already used to tension.

On this edition of River to River, Joyce Russell hosts the final conversation of Iowa Public Radio’s “Beyond Iowa Nice” series by bringing black Iowans and police together to talk about what can be done to ease tensions between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. 

Disney ABC Television Group / Flickr

Dianne Bystrom, an Iowa State University researcher who has been studying Hillary Clinton for more than 20-years, says the Democratic presidential candidate must walk a fine line in Thursday night’s acceptance speech.

“Certainly she must come across that she can be commander-in-chief. That she’s got that experience as Secretary of State. But I think this time around-- One of the things she avoided doing in two-thousand-eight that she seems more amenable to this year is talking about herself  as not only a mom, but a grandmother.”

Courtesy of the ACLU of Iowa

Iowan Jesse Vroegh is a nurse with the Department of Corrections, and he recently filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, citing that he was being denied use of the men’s bathrooms or locker rooms at work, as well as medically recommended health care solely because he is transgender.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, guest host Clare Roth talks with Vroegh's attorney, ACLU of Iowa's Rita Bettis, about the potential for litigation in the case.

Ida Mae Astute / ABC

The Republican National Convention was meant to unify Republicans and spotlight the best parts of Donald Trump’s unconventional candidacy. Instead, the focus has been on rumbling feuds within the party and unforced errors by the campaign.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Hans Hassell of Cornell College about the convention being held in Cleveland, Ohio this week.

Pokemon Go, a new game and cell phone app, was released earlier this month and has quickly become one of the most played games across the United States. If you're not playing it, someone you know is.

Pete Zarria

Even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the founders of the United States established the post office as the circulatory system of America’s body politic.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with New York Times best-selling author Winifred Gallagher, author of How the Post Office Created America.

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump has picked Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a running mate. Will a Midwesterner help Trump win Iowa votes? Maybe. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer discusses Pence with Drake University's Dennis Goldford. Goldford is professor and chair of the political Science Department, and the Flansburg Fellow at the Harkin Institute.