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Sen. Chuck Grassley has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging the agency to keep a policy in place that requires private Medicare insurers to cover all antidepressant medications and all immuno-suppressant drugs used for transplant patients.

CMS is considering changing this rule. In a report last month, the agency reasons that medications in these categories include a number of generic options. 

But Grassley doesn’t agree.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other international trade deals may be to blame for some of the rift between the Republican presidential hopeful and his party's leaders, says Iowa's long-time Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

Grassley says Donald Trump's opposition to the 12-country trade deal resonates more with the rank-and-file.

"The populists within the Republican Party probably agree with Trump," Grassley says. "But establishment Republicans—that's one of the things that they find fault with Trump about."

The Elusive American Badger

Jul 5, 2016

The honey badger may be an internet sensation, but Iowa is home to an equally tenacious species of badger. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with wildlife biologist Jim Pease about the American Badger. 

Although badgers are rarely seen in Iowa, they do live here. Due to their independent nature it is hard to know exactly how many badgers are in state, but quite a bit is known about their lives in the Midwest.

Iowa’s senior U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says his senate colleague Joni Ernst would bring a lot to the GOP ticket as Donald Trump’s running mate.

Ernst met with Trump in New Jersey on Monday, and afterwards said she and Trump had, "a good conversation."

Ernst is reportedly being considered for the number two spot on the GOP ticket.

Grassley says Ernst’s military and legislative experience, and her expertise as someone from a rural, agricultural state would be assets to the New York real estate mogul. 

Visions Photography

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features Orchestra Iowa’s “A Hero’s Life” concert. The orchestra performs works by Sibelius, Wagner, Dvorak, and Richard Strauss.

Floods, tornadoes and other severe weather can cause chaos in a community. With the summer severe weather season under way, the Federal Emergency Management Agency hopes its smartphone app can help people prepare for and recover from all kinds of disasters.

The FEMA app lets you upload photos, find a shelter and check on conditions for up to five different zip codes. Brenda Gustafson, a public affairs specialist in the Kansas City FEMA office, says photos are authenticated before they are shared with first responders.

Former Democratic Governor Chet Culver says there are interesting races on the November ballot including the contest between his former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge and Republican incumbent Charles Grassley. 

But he says his new job as president of the Greater Des Moines YMCA will keep him from working to get Judge and other Democrats elected.  

Culver says working for the YMCA, he’ll have to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats.

“So I will take a step back from the political arena,” Culver says.  

Children living in homes where caregivers are using, selling, or manufacturing drugs may see new protections as a result of a working group convening soon in Des Moines. 

The group will study the issue after a bill filed this year on drug-endangered children failed to pass. 

Independence Day in Independence

Jul 4, 2016

Lots of Iowa cities and towns are celebrating Independence Day today, but only one of them is named “Independence.”  The community of about six-thousand people in eastern Iowa is one of only 12 communities in the U.S. named “Independence.” 

The one in Iowa is celebrating not only the nation’s birthday but also its own. Today it wraps up a two-day party, including a reading of the Declaration of Independence later this morning.

Twenty-eight immigrants will become naturalized U.S. citizens at the July 4th Iowa Cubs game in Des Moines. 

Iowa's newest U.S. citizens will line up along Principal Park's third-base line and take the Oath of Allegiance

They'll promise to support and defend the constitution, and also renounce loyalty to any foreign government. 

The Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival’s 2016 Season kicked off with a live Performance Iowa broadcast in Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One! This year’s festival takes on an Alice in Wonderland theme as the chamber players present timeless repertoire for their season entitled “Through the Looking Glass.” Hunter Capoccioni, the festival’s Artistic Director, gave us an inside view into what the season has in store. The group performed the first movement of Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale”, and more.

A space probe carrying an instrument from the University of Iowa goes into orbit around Jupiter Monday, July 4.  The NASA probe “Juno” was launched in 2011 on a mission to learn more about the solar system’s largest planet. 

Bill Kurth is a research scientist at the University of Iowa, and the lead investigator of the Waves instrument.  He says it will examine radio and plasma waves around Jupiter, to understand how the planet’s auroras are formed. 

A successful program in Michigan that helps hungry families buy more healthy food is expanding across the country.

This month, Iowa joins more than a dozen other states in offering Double Up Food Bucks. Although the programs vary a bit from state to state, the basic idea is the same: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) dollars are matched (usually up to a certain cap), giving the shopper more money to spend at farmers markets or other places where local fruits and vegetables are available.

In 1961, President Kennedy said the US needed to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Now, more than 50 years later, Vice President Joe Biden says the nation needs a cancer moonshot – with a goal of doubling the rate of progress to end cancer as we know it.

On Wednesday, he held a summit in Washington. Organizations in all fifty states and Puerto Rico participated to, as Biden puts it, "break down silos, seize the moment, and double the rate of progress."

Music lovers of Iowa unite! Iowa has a growing summer music festival scene. To get a handle on the happenings, we've compiled this handy guide. If you see something missing, tweet us @IPRStudioOne. TO learn more about these festivals, and to hear interviews with many of the organizers, check out The B-Side, IPR's music blog. 

On this sunny, summer morning in late June, Ronnie Russell is "windshield farming."

Driving from field to field in his Ford pick-up, he can see that his corn is about to tassel, his soybeans are mostly weed-free and white butterflies are floating above the alfalfa.

All three crops, adding up to about 1,500 acres, are grown with genetically-engineered seeds, a technology Russell views as a boon to farming.

Shoppers in parts of Warren and Taylor counties will be paying an extra penny of sales tax starting today.

In March, voters in several communities in Warren County approved the new one-cent tax known as the local option sales tax or LOST.

The vote covers portions of the cities of Des Moines and West Des Moines that reach into Warren County.   

Victoria Daniels at the Iowa Department of Revenue says the tax isn't in effect elsewhere in those larger communities.

If you watch television or movies, read magazines, or spend any time on the internet, you are going to encounter advertising or other imagery that features pictures of people with bodies that look, and often are, too good to be true.  

A handful of magazines and other brands have signed pledges that promise they will not alter the bodies of their models with Photoshop or other image software, and recently the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has moved to ban what he calls body-shaming ads on trains and buses in the city.

When Luther College students Laura Proescholdt and Amy Thor first watched An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary about climate change, they realized that their generation would face major environmental issues. And they wanted to do something about it, but what? 

“A lot of classes are all about the gloom and doom, but not many focus on solutions,” explains Thor.

This story updates a report from earlier this morning.

Iowans with felony convictions will continue to be permanently banned from the voting booth, after today’s 4-3 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

As a result, Iowa maintains its status as one of three states with lifetime voting bans for felons.

When I walked onto the floor of the JBS Marshalltown Pork Plant, I expected the sensory assault to hit my nose first. But turns out it was my ears that first felt the most severe impact. The processing line is noisy. It's also chilly, to protect the meat. That also prevents the sort of noxious smell I had anticipated. Instead of an animal stench, my nose mostly registered cleaning products and a raw meat smell as if I just opened a package of pork chops in my own kitchen.

Drake University

Some of the African continent’s most promising young professionals are in Iowa for the next several weeks picking up tips on how to run businesses. They are part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program run by the U.S. State Department.

The founder of Kemin Industries, R.W. Nelson, recently greeted the 25 young people from 19 countries at his corporate headquarters in southeast Des Moines.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines indie-pop band In Rooms enchants listeners with their blend of Latin rhythms and pop melodies. 

Download the podcast below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with the group about their wide range of influences. 

A terrorist attack in Turkey has left 42 dead and more than 230 injured.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts about why Turkey was targeted in the attack. Joining the conversation: Kelly Shaw, political science lecturer at Iowa State University, Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University.

The much anticipated ruling on felon voting from the Iowa Supreme Court will be released Thursday morning.

Iowa has one of the most restrictive felon voting policies in the nation.

It is one of three states that permanently disenfranchises someone if they commit a felony. 

That’s because Iowa’s constitution states anyone convicted of an infamous crime forever loses the right to vote. So what’s an infamous crime? The Iowa Supreme Court will likely tell us.  

Julianne Couch should have been happy staying in her native Kansas City, or even her adopted Laramie, WY.  But after a drive through Eastern Iowa, she and her husband couldn't resist the charms of a small Mississippi River town in Jackson County.

 

Peggy Fogle and her dog, Abe, walk among rows of aronia berry bushes on the family property outside Carlisle. Plants on the ends of rows are smaller from years of being nibbled by deer and rabbits. But on nearly nine acres, filling four separate fields, the bushes are reaching maturity, eight years after Fogle and her husband decided to put in their first ones.

A new study by the United Way says 31-percent of Iowa households are struggling to afford their basic needs.

The finding is part of a United Way-sponsored ALICE report. It stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.

The report says 12-percent of Iowans live in poverty and 19-percent cannot afford the basic cost of living in their areas, forcing them to make concessions in areas like food and health care.

Deann Cook of the United Ways of Iowa says many of those struggling are in service sector jobs.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the biggest cases on abortion in a quarter century. The court also issued several other rulings, including a case about affirmative action in college admissions, and another regarding when people convicted of domestic violence can own a gun. What does it all mean for you, and how will these cases reverberate around Iowa and around the nation?

Linn County’s Board of Supervisors wants more information before deciding whether to raise the minimum wage in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities.

That’s after the supervisors study committee recommended $8.25-an-hour, a dollar more than state law requires, but a dollar less than neighboring Johnson County.

Cedar Rapids mayor, Republican Ron Corbett, says the committee’s $8.25 recommendation is palatable, but warned that delays invited power struggles. But supervisors chairman, Democrat Ben Rogers, says ‘not so fast’.

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