River to River

What is time? Why does it always seem to move forward? Why is the earth made of matter and not of anti-matter? Are there really just three dimensions? Are we alone in the Universe? How big is the Universe? 

The short answer is, "we have no idea," and that's the point of a new book by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Cham and Whiteson about their new book We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe. 

Night Owl? It's In Your Genes.

May 8, 2017
Ed Yourdon / Flickr

Deep sleep is something that is more and more important as we age. New research shows that it's an important part of keeping a healthy memory, and that listening to pink noise might help in that process.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Eric Dyken, a neurologist and director of the University of Iowa's Sleep Disorder Center. 

In addition to talking about pink noise, Dr. Dyken also talks about new research showing there is actually a gene that could determine whether you're an early riser or a night owl. 

Stanford EdTech / Flickr

Yesterday House Republicans, with the help of all three of Iowa GOP members (Rep. Rod Blum, Rep. David Young, and Rep. Steve King), passed a bill to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Pete Damiano, Director of the Public Policy Center and the Health Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa, about what the new healthcare proposal might mean for Iowans.

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad answered questions posed by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, moving one step closer to his confirmation as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds also inched closer to becoming Iowa's first female governor as Branstad's successor.

In this edition of politics day on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Chris Larimer of the University of Northern Iowa about the challenges facing Branstad and Reynolds as they make these transitions.

Kelli Andresen / UIPPC

In this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer co-moderates a discussion with Lynn Hicks of the Des Moines Register. The conversation features a panel of guests with expertise in U.S. China relations. The event, "China, Iowa and Diplomacy in the Trump Administration," was sponsored by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, IPR and the Des Moines Register, and came just a day after Governor Terry Branstad faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to China.

Johnathon Choate / UI College of Public Health

After a spike in gun violence in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines over the last few years, the state of Iowa is moving towards approaching violence as a public health issue, following the example of cities like Baltimore.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, who has been approaching Baltimore's issues with poverty, gun violence, and addiction as public health issues, rather than criminal justice problems. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

The Federal Communications Commission last week revealed a plan that would roll back net Obama era neutrality rules. These are the rules that make it illegal for internet service providers to slow down or speed up your access to a certain website. During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai about net neutrality and the role of the FCC in a changing media landscape. 

Pai says the rule change is necessary to encourage internet service providers to expand access to rural areas. 

Barry Dale Gilfry / Flickr

The 2017 Iowa legislative session was historic in the sense that Republicans held a state government trifecta for the first time in 20 years, and the session carried some major themes including labor issues and family planning services.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with statehouse reporters across the Midwest to see what plans and proposals are being considered in their neck of the woods, as well as the political dynamics of their chambers after the 2016 election.

Gage Skidmore

On this special "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River, Iowa Public Radio's Ben Kieffer co-hosts a discussion with Gazette opinion page editor Jennifer Hemmingsen.

Thursday evening, they gathered at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids to talk politics with columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch of The Gazette. They discussed President Donald Trump’s first one-hundred days, as well as the main takeaways of the 2017 Iowa legislative session.

Behind the Blots: Hermann Rorschach's Ink Test

Apr 27, 2017
Penguin Random House

We’ve all heard references to the “Rorschach test,” but when you hear that term these days, it’s more likely a cultural reference than a clinical one.  In his new book The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, award-winning translator and Guggenheim recipient Damion Searls tells us about the little known life of the man who created that test -- Hermann Rorschach.

Casey Reyner

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."

John Pemble

For the first time in 20 years, Republicans held majorities in the Iowa House, Iowa Senate, with a Republican in the governor’s office.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on what was accomplished this legislative session with panelists: Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register, James Lynch of The Gazette, Barbara Rodriguez of the AP, and Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent, Joyce Russell.

John Pemble / IPR

The launching of U.S. cruise missiles at Syrian air bases drew praise from U.S. Senator Joni Ernst at a constituent meeting in Elkader. But, should President Trump want to take further action, the message was clear - he needs congressional approval. "Anything further, if there were further actions that would happen, the president needs to come to Congress and explain that," says Ernst.

John Pemble / IPR

Former Iowa lawmakers are expressing dismay at the partisanship on display at the statehouse, although they say Iowa reflects a national trend.  Former Speaker of the Iowa House, Republican Brent Siegrist says the legislature has become much more partisan than during his time there.

"There's still 150 well-meaning people up there. Even when you disagree with them, they're there to do the job that they think they're sent to do, but it is more divided and more ideologically rigid than when I was there, and I think that takes a toll."

John Pemble / IPR

According to Dr. David Soll, who is Carver Professor of Biological Science at the University of Iowa, there's renewed hope for scientists to find a so-called "magic bullet" when it comes to looking for a cure for cancer. In a study published last week, he's documented the process by which cancer cells join together to form a tumor in 3-D. He modeled the way melanoma cells come together. 

United Nations Photo / Flickr

President Donald Trump has called the United Nations "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time," and he's calling for major UN budget cuts. The United Nations does much more than host meetings, and there are local organizations across the country meant to support and educate the public about its endeavors. 

During the second half of this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa's United Nations Association executive director Andrea Cohen about the UN's role globally and locally to promote international cooperation and peace. 

John Pemble

Mandatory minimum sentences require felons to serve a predefined term for certain offenses, and a proposal being considered at the Iowa Statehouse would lower mandatory sentences for certain, non-violent drug crimes.

Need a New Podcast to Binge? Try IPR's "Lit City"

Apr 7, 2017

The tenth and final episode of the first season of Lit City, Iowa Public Radio’s new book podcast, goes live next Thursday, April 13th. Co-hosted by IPR's Charity Nebbe and UI English Ph.D. student Anna Williams, Lit City revisits author interviews from Talk of Iowa while also exploring the sights and sounds of the United States’ only UNESCO City of Literature – Iowa City.

wellmark building
Tony Webster / flickr

This week, two of the four health insurers in the state that sell individual health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act state health exchange, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna, have announced they will no longer offer those individual plans. 

The University of Iowa's Public Policy Center's Pete Damiano says that while the exchanges are only a small part of ACA as a whole, this leaves only two insurers, one of which only sells plans to Iowans living in Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties. 

Emily Woodbury

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget calls for big cuts in a wide array of domestic programs, including agencies that fund the arts, humanities, and public media - funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would be eliminated under Trump’s proposal.

In this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Public Radio executive director Myrna Johnson to discuss what this might mean for the future of IPR and public media as a whole.

Former Ambassador Stephen Rapp served as United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice from 2009-2015. During his time in that role, he led a prosecution team to win the first convictions in history for sexual slavery and for the recruitment of child soldiers. 

Following possible sarin gas attacks in Syria earlier this week, he says a investigation is likely into Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. 

USDA Photo by Bob Nichols

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Ambassador Darci Vetter, Drake University alumna and former Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade, about how President Donald Trump’s new “America First” trade policy is likely to affect Iowa’s agriculture and other exports. 

Regarding the president's focus on renegotiating NAFTA, she thinks the trade agreement works fairly well and would like to see it updated, rather than dismantled.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

News that Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, is being removed from the National Security Council is a signal the NSC is being transformed back to a more traditional structure, according to two Iowa political scientists.

During this hour of River to River, Jim McCormick and Wayne Moyer join host Ben Kieffer. 

"I see it as moving away from more of a populist approach to foreign policy and much more towards a traditional security approach to foreign policy," says Moyer, who is Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

CGehlen / Flickr

The nation is battling a heroin and painkiller abuse problem. While Iowa’s fight has been less severe than some other states around the US, according to the Department of Public Health, opioid related emergency room visits in Iowa have more than doubled in the last decade.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Lori Peter, who lost her son Kelly to a heroin overdose in 2015.

Rebecca Pollard / Flickr

According to a new study of more than 13,000 adolescents, Iowa State University psychology professor Doug Gentile, along with a team of French researchers, finds a link between video game exposure and sexism.

Phil Roeder

The U.S. Supreme Court has operated with eight instead of nine judges for over a year now since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but that may change soon. Judge Neil Gorsuch could be confirmed to the High Court within a matter of days.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Tony Gaughan, professor of law at Drake University, and Todd Pettys, H. Blaire and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa, about what to expect if that occurs.

Farhad Sadykov / Flickr

In Russia, even peaceful, one-person protests are illegal, and protestors are regularly detained under the country's harsh anti-demonstration laws. Yet, on Sunday, tens of thousands of Russians protested to show their anger at high-level corruption. 

University of Iowa sociology assistant professor Marina Zaloznaya says she's not surprised to see Russians organizing in the way they did over the weekend. 

John Pemble

In all but four Iowa counties, employers must pay a minimum wage of $7.25/hour - the same as the federal minimum wage.

Recently, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello Counties struck out on their own and passed resolutions to raise their minimum wage above that level. Now, the Iowa legislature is in the process of reigning in those counties by passing a GOP-led measure that would ban individual counties from deciding their own minimum wages.

Anna Williams / Iowa Public Radio

Just after 7:00 p.m. central time on Monday, a civil emergency alert went out to cell phone users in parts of Eastern and Central Iowa. That message went out by mistake. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with John Benson, spokesperson for Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

Pages