River to River

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.

Andy G. / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services including using new technologies like video streaming. This method has been growing in use in recent years, and the topic was the subject of a panel discussion earlier this month at the Iowa Ideas Conference in Cedar Rapids. It was moderated by River to River host Ben Kieffer.

Keith Allison / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

When President Trump feuds with superstar athletes, what does the reaction reveal about our country’s deep political divisions? On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political analysts Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa.

In light of NFL players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, Goldford says that there is a complicated relationship with free speech.

USDA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that levels of nitrate in drinking water at or above 10 parts per million are unsafe, particularly for infants, who could develop a potentially fatal blood disorder called "blue-baby" syndrome.

The Interim Director for the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa, Pete Weyer, says that the latest research shows negative health impacts—particularly cancer—for infants and even adults at a much lower limit.

Silar

As a boy growing up in Czechoslovakia, Ivan Backer escaped the Holocaust. In this hour of River to River, Backer recounts how his family fled Europe during World War II.

Backer is the author of My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy’s Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism, in which he opens up about the day he fled Prague under Nazi occupation. He talks about Nicholas Winton, the man on who organized the Kindertransport trains that saved Backer and more than six-hundred other children.

This hour of River to River was recorded before a live audience at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Cedar Rapids. 

Columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch and Erin Jordan of The Gazette, join host Ben Kieffer to discuss President Trump and the leader of North Korea, the Republican’s latest bill to overhaul Obamacare, and the value of town hall meetings in 2017. 

Casey Reyner

This show originally aired on April 26, 2017.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on presidential power, recorded Tuesday, April 25 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. 

Opinions in the audience varied, but as one participant noted: "[I] can't remember the last time we were in an auditorium talking about politics and the entire crowd didn't think just like me. We had a civil discussion with those that think differently. It can happen. There is hope."

Joyce Russell/IPR

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Sara Mitchell, F. Wendell Miller Professor of political science at the University of Iowa, and Jim McCormick, a professor at Iowa State University, about President Trump's speech yesterday to the United Nations and the debate over the health care in the Senate. 

"Trump's doctrine is America first," says Mitchell. "His other doctrine is anything but Obama, and you see him moving away from anything that was worked on by Obama." 

International Writing Program Turns 50

Sep 20, 2017
Credit Ben Kieffer

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa is one of the university's signature programs, attracting notable authors from across the world and establishing both the university and Iowa City as paramount to the future of American literature. 

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have come to Iowa. International Writing Program director Christopher Merrill explains how the program came about.

Jeff Peterson / Flickr

Iowa Public Radio is airing several American Public Media documentaries in place of River to River, in the brief absence of the show's host, Ben Kieffer.

Courtesy of Deanne and Ron Mirr

As of early today, the death toll from Hurricane Irma stood at 82. More than half the fatalities occurred in several hard-hit Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Florida, 1.5 million homes and businesses remained without power yesterday, in sweltering heat, five days after the historic storm ripped through southeast U.S.

Residents who evacuated have been returning to their homes to survey the damage and start the process of recovering from this massive storm.

Phil Roeder

Voter turnout is typically low for school board elections. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says turnout is usually 4-7% of registered voters.

"We can do better," says Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, "especially when you think about how there are 480-thousand K-12 kids in our public schools and it’s 60 percent of our state budget."

The Science Behind a Good Night Sleep

Sep 12, 2017
Image courtesy of Claudio Scott

Tens of millions of Americans are impacted by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety.

On this edition of River to River, Dr. Eric Dyken, director of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center, explains some of the research that is being done on the science of sleep.

"They've sort of localized a little bit more that biologic clock that is responsible for having you wake up, and having you go to sleep," Dyken says.

Emily Woodbury

Research shows that roughly five percent of the criminal population is responsible for more than half of the incidence of crime. This same group accounts for between 50 to 90 percent of the most violent crimes, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer discusses the successes and failures of our criminal justice system with Iowa State University sociologist, Matt DeLisi. 

This show originally aired on April 4, 2017.

Distracted driving concerns everyone on the road – and it’s something lawmakers at the statehouse have maintained a focus on this legislative session.

Heather Mill, Penguin Random House

The author of a new book says the race to private space exploration began with Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. Julian Guthrie wrote How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race and the Birth of Private Spaceflight to tell the story of the Xprize and the teams competing for the $10 million prize.

Harrie van Veen / Flickr

Roughly 800,000 so called "DREAMers" came to the U.S. illegally as children. Now they face the possibility of deportation. On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts discuss the possibility of a solution from Congress.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Dave Andersen of Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College about the phasing out of DACA, as well as the international uproar over North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test, and efforts to avoid the gravest of scenarios.

In this edition of "Pints and Politics" on River to River host Ben Kieffer, and co-host Erin Jordan gather the thoughts and opinions of reporter James Lynch and columnists Todd Dorman and Lynda Waddington from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, while hoisting a pint or two with a live audience. Topics include the Trump administration's response to Hurricane Harvey and violence in Charlottesville as well as Governor Kim Reynolds' deal with Apple and the state of the Iowa gubernatorial race. The conversation takes place at the Cedar Ridge winery and distillery in Swisher.

Gage Skidmore

“Never ever lose your sense of outrage," said then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with the senator about the 2016 campaign, his plan to introduce a single-payer health care bill in September, and his new book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Sanders will speak in Iowa City August 31 at 7 p.m. at Hancher Auditorium.

Harper Collins

Author Adam Piore says he's always been interested in stories of resilience. As he was looking for the topic of his latest book, he says he realized some of the most interesting stories of resilience today are taking place through technology. The result is The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human.

Piore says technology has allowed for remarkable recoveries among people with once devastating injuries. "Now we have some of the best engineers turning their sights inward to see how the body and mind work."

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Nearly half of Republicans and those who lean Republican say they have mixed feelings about how Donald Trump conducts himself as president, and almost a fifth of the Republicans polled by Pew Research say they don’t approve of Trump’s conduct as commander-in-chief at all.

On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa navigate us through the latest on the political landscape, including the politics of disaster response and North Korea’s missile launch over Japan.

Image courtesy of Wokandapix

School districts across the country are struggling to adapt to growing school lunch debt. Many children who cannot afford their school lunches have been subjected to what is commonly referred to as "lunch shaming," which involves practices that can humiliate children in public schools who have unpaid lunch debts. One such method involves dumping a student’s lunch in the trash once they get to the cash register.

Ann Feilmann of Iowa's Department of Education says that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are working to curb this issue.

Courtesy of Terry Dvorak

Leaders from various faith traditions across the state are getting into the spirit of solar power.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a conversation on the process and impact of a solar project in Norwalk, where more than 200 solar panels were installed St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, with Father John Ludwig and Red Lion Renewables CEO, Terry Dvorak. It’s a move to renewable energy that Father Ludwig says was inspired by Pope Francis's campaign combating climate change.

photo submitted

David Cwiertny of the University of Iowa is an expert in water quality and water resources. He's also one of 35 science and technology experts who've spent the past year working in the U.S. Congress as part of a fellowship program through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the experience in this edition of River to River.

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