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Women who use legal drugs such as alcohol during pregnancy could be reported for possible child abuse under proposed legislation state lawmakers may be considering in January.   

Currently, mandatory reporters of child abuse must speak up if it appears an infant is born with exposure to illegal drugs. 

However, mandatory reporting does not kick in if the baby is showing signs of withdrawal from other substances.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The corn and soybeans so abundant in Iowa could someday replace many of the plastic pots and flats at your local garden shop.

Researchers at Iowa State University set about to create pots for plants that were not made from petroleum products and that could biodegrade. They started with a corn-based bioplastic and tried a number of different formulas. Some of those included a polymer made from soybeans.

CREDIT BY LOLWHYNOT3498 - OWN WORK, CC BY-SA 4.0, / Wikimedia

We're not sure what to call them - "long-forms"? "essays"? - but some IPR posts take extra time to explore the landscape of classical music and what it tells us about our world. IPR's new Classical Barn page lets you find these posts quickly and easily. Click on the link to explore for yourself!

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines powerhouse Bonne Finken trades laid back acoustic arrangements for grand, sprawling electronic tunes. 

Download the podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with Finken on her decision to go electronic. 

Stuartia.com

Thousands of people across Iowa are starting their holiday shopping today, and many communities are hoping you’ll give locally-owned small businesses some attention tomorrow.  The annual “Small Business Saturday” campaign urges people to spend some of their shopping dollars in independent stores.  Jennifer Pruden of the Czech Village-New Bohemia Main Street District in Cedar Rapids says local businesses there are hoping a good holiday season will help them recover from September’s flood.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A workgroup studying how to protect drug-endangered children is considering changes in state law to address caregivers involved with illegal and legal drugs.   

The current law was designed to protect kids in homes where methamphetamines were being used, sold, or manufactured.           

Under a proposed bill, a wider variety of controlled substances could lead to a child abuse assessment.     

Janee Harvey with the DHS Child Welfare Bureau says currently cocaine, heroin, or opioids are treated differently from meth.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Americans may find more meat on their holiday tables this year, at cheaper prices.

U.S. livestock production is in full swing. Beef and pork together set a new record recently -- commodity analysis firm Urner Barry reported an all-time high of 1.0618 billion pounds of beef and pork produced in U.S. slaughterhouses the week that ended November 19. Meanwhile, Midwest turkey producers have recovered from a massive 2015 avian flu outbreak.

Holiday Volunteering

Nov 24, 2016
United Way of Central Iowa

During the holidays many Iowans seek out volunteer opportunities, but some aren’t sure where to start. Some ideas include organizing a food or clothing drive at your place of work, or spending time with an elderly person who doesn’t have family nearby. 

For those new to volunteering,  Shirley Burgess of the United Way of Central Iowa recommends asking yourself which people in your community are you most interested in serving?

Flickr / Selena N. B. H.

The delicious foods of the holiday season can wreck havoc on a person's health.

One or two days of over indulgence isn’t going to ruin anyone. But beginning with Halloween candy, and then going to Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies, cocktails on New Year’s Eve and then Super Bowl Sunday, and all the merriment in-between, a person can consume an astonishing number of calories this time of year.

Lulu Vision / Flickr

As we head into some of the biggest shopping days of the year, have you stopped to think about how the stuff you buy impacts your pocketbook, the environment and the people who make it? Most of us don't, but a class at the University of Northern Iowa asked students to give it some thought. It's called the un-shopping challenge, and students Alli Albright and Connor Tomke took part, and host Charity Nebbe talked with them about the experience on Talk of Iowa.

Flickr / TumblingRun

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s fuel supply under new rules issued Wednesday.

The EPA finalized the rules governing ethanol production, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), for 2017, adding about 1.2 billion gallons in total renewable fuel. That’s an increase of about 6 percent year-over-year.

ILEA

The director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy this week briefed Governor Branstad on morale at the school after the recent shootings of Des Moines area police officers Justin Martin and Anthony Beminio. 

The comments came as director Judy Bradshaw presented her agency’s budget request to the governor and his advisors.

Bradshaw says she gathered students together for a briefing shortly after the assault on the officers. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After choosing men for four of his first appointments to his Cabinet and advisers, Donald Trump appointed two women to positions today: Republican philanthropist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the ambassador to the United Nations. 

Haley, in particular, came as a surprise as she was a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign. Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science at Iowa State University, says this appointment could be seen as an olive branch.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A new program to get severely ill psychiatric patients into a hospital in a timely manner is working, according to a new report by the Iowa Department of Human Services.  

Officials say the 29 hospitals in Iowa that serve psychiatric patients are now reporting available beds into a statewide database, so law enforcement officers and others can know where there’s an opening in an emergency situation. 

“We now have 100% involvement of all the hospitals,” said DHS director Charles Palmer.  

The DHS director briefed Governor Branstad’s budget panel on the program.

Sarah Boden/IPR

A panel of local, state and federal law enforcement officials met in Urbandale Wednesday morning at the Westside Conservative Club meeting to discuss changes and challenges faced by law enforcement. One topic that weighed heavily in the conversation was recent fatal attacks against law enforcement both here in Iowa and nationwide. 

Chief Mike Venema of the Clive Police Department says his officers know police work comes with risk. But this year's unprovoked attacks have changed how he feels about his job.

file: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Can food be organic even if it's not grown in soil?

Many hydroponic growers in the U.S. want access to the $40 billion organic market, but a board that advises the U.S. Agriculture Department on organic industry policy signaled Friday it would recommend excluding produce not in grown in soil from the federal organic program.

Currently, fruits and vegetables grown using hydroponics – an artificial system with added nutrients carried in water, but without soil – can be labeled as organic.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The days surrounding Thanksgiving, especially the following Sunday, are the busiest travel days of the year for the Des Moines International Airport. The Transportation Safety Administration says the DSM airport sees 3,000-3,500 travelers on a routine day, but around Thanksgiving those numbers will be up to 4,500. 

The type of flyers are different as well. Airport Executive Director Kevin Foley says usually it’s about a 50-50 split between business and leisure travelers, though around Thanksgiving 90 percent of travelers are not frequent flyers. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Corn and soybeans weren’t the only bumper crops in Iowa this year.

State Agriculture Department officials say pumpkin production was the best it’s been for many seasons.

Specialty crops expert Maury Wills says the number of local growers who allow customers to pick their own produce has tripled.

“When you can go out and actually pick the pumpkin off the ground, put it in a wagon and haul it up to the apple barn and pay for it there," he says, “It gives the family really good experience up close on the farm."

Joyce Russell/IPR

A three-year-old state law to crack down on theft of public funds from Iowa’s smallest cities has not cut down on fraud.   

Six-hundred small towns are now getting surprise visits from the state auditor’s office.     

The law mandates an audit at least every eight years.   

State Auditor Mary Mosiman says so far city employees are stealing public funds at about the same rate.

“I have to say we haven’t seen any reduction,” Mosiman said.   “When people want to commit fraud they figure out a way to try to do it until it's brought to the attention.”

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

It’s 2007, “The World Spins Madly On” is a massive hit, and The Weepies are exhausted.

“We did a year of our car, coffeehouses, 180 shows in 190 days where we were at festivals in Europe and everywhere, and we were just exhausted. And we are like recluses,” says Steve Tannen, one half of the folk-pop/husband-wife duo.

So, after releasing and touring their second album, Say I Am You, he and Deb Talan escaped to a small cabin in a state park one hour outside of Los Angeles, to take a breath and regroup.

“For that time, it was a real refuge. Yea, we did run away a little bit. Partly in order to make our next record and not feel like we had something to prove, just to sort of get a little bit of a cave, where we could just sort of do what we do,” says Talan.

And while their move to Iowa City may make it seem like they’ve run away again, Tannen and Talan says it’s simply the right place for them and their three children.

“This felt more like a running to, to me,” says Talan. “We had two kids, we started looking outside LA. It was so expensive and so crazy, and we had really embraced the crazy for a bunch of years, and then we were just like, ‘I think we need to at least try to feel what it feels like to be outside.’”

“We’re vagabonds and we wanted to put roots down somewhere,” Tannen adds, “and every time we’d been through Iowa we’d say to each other, ‘This is amazing, we should buy a house here and raise a bunch of kids.’”

Their upcoming tour kicks off at the Englert Theater with “The Weepies: Completely Acoustic and Alone.” In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tannen and Talan about recording Sirens, living in Iowa, and how creating music and creating a family intertwine.

Four essentials and four bonus tracks to get acquainted with the folk-pop duo.

Somebody Loved

Tannen has said the key lyric at the center of this song--"You turned me into somebody loved."--is the Tannen-Talan family motto.

The World Spins Madly On

The song that catapulted them to folk-pop stardom.

"The record sold 238 copies the first week," says Tannen. "Then, three months later, it was the number one song on the folk charts of eight countries, including America, and it was on the strength essentially of people sharing that song. I didn't want it on the record, because it was my voice. I love Deb's voice. Mine is fine, I have a fine voice."

"You have a beautiful, emotional voice," Talan interrupts.

She continues, "We were very surprised with how it sort of caught. You put out music that you feel. You write songs that you feel and you produce them in a way that is 'feelingful' and you put them out in the world. And we have songs that are particularly personally resonate, but there's no saying what other people will sort of--what will resonate in their own lives."

Be My Thrill

In a Java Blend interview from May 2015, Tannen explained the origins behind this song were rooted in an argument he and Talan had.

"I just stormed out, I was like 'Fine!' in order to not admit that I was wrong. And I went out and I wrote a song about what I thought I wanted, and it was like the angriest song that I've ever-- and it was some of this song. And I played it for Deb, like 'Here, here's my apology.' [strums guitar angrily] And she said 'Oh my god, it's a love song,' proving what I thought, which is that she's insane. And then she took it and she fixed it and she made it like this, and she made it into an actual love song, and that is marriage as far as I'm concerned."

Sirens

The titular song from their latest album, Sirens was recorded in one take, in the midst of Talan's chemotherapy treatments.

"That was while Deb had chemo and we didn't know what was going to happen and she was extraordinarily tired that week and just impossible to live with, because she was like 'I'm getting into the studio today.' And she couldn't get up, so I helped her up the stairs, and we got one take. And that was that take. And it brought me right back there. And I think that that force of will is what got Deb through. I really do. Deb's ability to say 'This is what I'm doing with my life, whatever is happening.'"

"And your support through it," she adds. "It was a team effort. It was very much a team effort."

Bonus tracks

Jolene

From their first album, Happiness

Orbiting

From their third album, Hideaway

Can't Go Back Now

Also from Hideaway

No Trouble

This video for another hit off of Sirens features photos of the Tannen-Talans at home

U.S. Army photo/Patrick Bloodgood

To many homeowners, the feeling of not knowing what you're talking about when dealing with a contractor is all too familiar.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe sits down with home improvement expert Bill McAnally to decode the language of contractors. One thing to keep in mind, McAnally says, is that as the home owner, you are in control of the encounter.

Wellcome Images

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and producer Emily Woodbury talk with medical providers about how different medical robots work, as well as the pros and cons of working side-by-side with machines to provide patient care.

Robots at the bedside: Telemedicine and the stroke robot

Cliff Jette

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast features Orchestra Iowa’s Missa Solemnis concert. Orchestra Iowa presents Beethoven’s Mass in D, Op. 123 “Missa Solemnis”, performed with the Simpson College Chamber Singers, the Simpson College Choir, the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, and guest vocal soloists Mary Wilson, Beth Lytwynec, Eric Barry, and Sumner Thompson.

Recipes for Success: Students Growing in the Kitchen and School

Nov 21, 2016
regan76 / Flickr

When we think about homework, tutoring and test preparation, we don’t usually think food.  However, a few Iowans are combining great food and education in an innovative approach for children to get better at school, communication skills, and making well balanced meals.

Elliot Test Kitchen in Fort Madison is a place where young people can go to learn about food, but they can also learn a whole lot more. Elliot Test Kitchen gives students access to tutoring in many different subjects and also ACT prep. 

Bo Huang

Ring in the holidays and the New Year with Iowa arts! Tune in at 11 A.M. or 5 P.M. on Saturday, Dec. 3rd for the broadcast. The December and January Iowa Arts Showcase features:

·          Guest director & choreographer, Candace Evans, and artistic director and conductor, Daniel Kleinknecht, discussing the CROT’s upcoming January double bill productions of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci

Ben Kieffer

The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri and the unrest that followed sparked a vigorous debate in the country about the role of law enforcement.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and producer Emily Woodbury visit the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) at Camp Dodge in Johnston to find out how training is changing due to the national debate over the role of law enforcement.

The latest report by Iowa’s largest utility companies shows more than 40 million dollars in past due bills.  Iowa Human Rights Department spokesperson Jerry McKim says he’s troubled by other information contained in that document.

“Just for September and October, there were 8,896 disconnected, so going into November even though the weather was mild, (it doesn’t look like it coming out) we have nearly 9,000 households at least without power,” McKim says.

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

As another harvest season wraps up, Midwest farmers are once again facing low commodity prices amid enormous supplies. And when they recover from the long days bringing in the grain, they will eventually sit down with their books and try to figure out how best to farm again next year.

Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio

The Linn County Attorney is calling for a grand jury investigation into the shooting of Jerime (Jeremy) Mitchell by Cedar Rapids police officer Lucas Jones.

Jerry Vander Sanden says he has reviewed materials supplied by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and determined it’s in the “public interest” for a grand jury to look into whether criminal charges are warranted.

Mitchell was left paralyzed by the shooting.

Vander Sanden says he is in the process of selecting the seven-person panel.

It takes votes from five jury members to return an indictment. 

Iowa Home Prices Climb

Nov 18, 2016
Dan Moyle / Flicker

Home prices in Iowa are on the rise.

The monthly report from the Iowa Association of Realtors shows the median sale price in October was $145,000, 5.1 percent higher than a year ago.

Association president Cindy Miller says it’s a seller’s market at the moment.

“I think what we have right now is a lower inventory, which will drive supply-and-demand and drive the price up a little bit,” she says.

Miller sees that changing in the coming months.

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