River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury, @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

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

The Democratic candidate for U. S. Senate says efforts to improve Iowa’s water quality have been put off too long. Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge owns a cow-calf operation in Monroe County. 725 Iowa waterways are classified as “impaired,” according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Judge says it’s a huge issue.

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.

Schools across Iowa are beginning classes this week amid concerns from public health officials about the drop in vaccination rates. At many schools, the percentage of students fully vaccinated is below 90 percent, and at a few around the state, it's below 50 percent. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says more families are seeking exemptions from vaccinations for a variety of reasons. 

"One of the reasons is that people no longer have seen these diseases and therefore don't realize how bad they can be," she explains. 

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.

British Red Cross / Flickr

Pat Giorgio anticipated some problems with the transition of state-run Medicaid to three private management companies, but she didn't quite anticipate the breadth and depth of the woes the transition would cause for Evergreen Estates, residential communities she founded to serve the elderly in Cedar Rapids.

"Because I heard that it might be a difficult transition, I got a line of credit with my bankers of $100,000. I'm billing roughly $40-50,000 a month to Home and Community Based Services, and I've used up that $100,000 in my line of credit."

Photo by Clay Masters

With less than 100 days left until Election Day, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has flouted political conventions around religion, race, gender, and now military service. And he's refused to endorse fellow republicans John McCain and Paul Ryan. 

ABC News has been reporting that senior Republican officials are so confused by Trump’s behavior that they are exploring how they might be able to replace him.

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.

Michael Leland/IPR

A Democratic state senator says he’s hopeful the Iowa Legislature will take action next year to help make the state’s roads safer for cycling.  Nine people have died while biking in the state so far this year.  The latest death occurred last week, when a cyclist was struck from behind while riding in southwest Iowa.   Senator Joe Bolkcom of Coralville says he feels distracted drivers are part of the problem, and he thinks the legislature will consider ways to address that.

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.

K.a.zenz

Some state lawmakers are saying they’d like to see Iowa’s three state universities consider expanding alcohol sales at sporting events. One of them is State Senator Brian Schoejahn, who chairs the senate’s higher education committee. He says the matter should at least be studied.  But, Iowa State University President Steven Leath says he has zero interest in expanding sales beyond the few private areas where drinking is currently allowed. 

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. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

This election campaign of 2016 has seen attacks on Mexicans as criminals and rapists, as well as a call for a ban on Muslim immigrants.  This hour, we continue our summer series "Beyond Iowa Nice" with a look at the contentious issue of immigration and get the thoughts of a number of Iowans on the issues involved.  We hear from Iowans with contrasting perspectives and from communities in Iowa most impacted by immigrants, including Marshalltown and Perry.

Trump photo by Michael Vadon, Clinton photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

New swing-state polls released today show Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania and tied in the critical battleground state of Ohio.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Dave Andersen and Bruce Nesmith about results of the latest political surveys, Bernie Sanders endorsement of Clinton, and Donald Trump's announcement of his top three picks for a running-mate - Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa law enforcement officers are echoing comments made by Dallas Police Chief David Brown after last week’s shootings, saying, “Send us your applicants.”

Departments across the state have been actively trying to diversify their forces by reaching out to minority communities in the state, but they aren’t getting applications. Daniel Trelka  is Chief of the Waterloo Police Department.

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