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.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The president of Iowa’s Board of Regents is predicting policy changes that will further limit the manner in which contracts are awarded by the three state universities. Bruce Rastetter's comments come after Iowa State University and the University of Iowa both awarded contracts to individuals with Republican ties without taking bids on the work. 

Rastetter says that the individuals getting the state work are capable and qualified, but without taking bids on the work, "the optics are not pretty." 

Rand Wilson / Flickr

The moderators for the second democratic debate had been preparing for weeks. But when they heard news of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register one of the debate’s moderators, says they ripped up the entire debate script and refocused it on national security, terrorism, and foreign policy.

"We didn't actually see a complete script 'til one hour before air time. One hour."

Christopher Gannon

Iowa State University students have designed what they call a 21st century outpost, a barracks design created to alleviate post-traumatic stress in soldiers. 

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with ISU interior design professor Lee Cagley and graduate student Maricel Lloyd about the effectiveness and practicality of the designs. Iowa veteran Nathan Drake also joins the conversation.

John West / Wikimedia Commons

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie has returned to Iowa from Paris where he took part in the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as a representative for the U.N.'s Compact of Mayors.

He says in Des Moines, they’ve been trying to improve energy efficiency in city buildings since joining the effort.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The American Association of University Professors says its investigation of Iowa Board of Regents’ process in hiring University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld disserved the people of Iowa.

The AAUP, also a labor union, concludes the Board of Regents designed the presidential search process to prevent any meaningful faculty role in the process, acting in bad faith to other candidates. The report calls it an illusion of an honest search, manipulating to a pre-ordained result.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Millennials are projected to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest living generation this year, according to the Pew Research Center. And as they're between the ages of 18 and 34, they'll be eligible to vote in the upcoming caucuses and 2016 election. So, what do these young voters care about?

Rajesh Kumar / Flickr

The bulk collection of metadata from domestic phone calls by the National Security Agency in the U.S. has come to an end, but at the same time, France is stepping up its surveillance of citizens.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with two information technology experts from Iowa State University, Doug Jacobson and Brian Mennecke, to discuss the latest news regarding privacy, data collection, and cyber-security.

Christopher Gannon

Vincent is a 3-year-old domestic short-haired cat, and he has something that only a couple dozen animals in the world have - a certain type of titanium-alloy prosthetic hind legs.

Veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mary Sarah Bergh of Iowa State University worked with orthopedics company BioMedtrix to design implants to be inserted into the femur bones of Vincent’s legs and pass through his skin. She then attached Vincent’s prosthetic legs and has overseen his rehabilitation.

Flickr / Laura Taylor

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that for some patients with stage IV breast cancer, surgery can significantly prolong their lives. 

Once breast cancer reaches stage IV, the disease has spread to parts of the body beyond the breasts. Many doctors consider these patients incurable and won't operate as they don't want to incur the risks of surgery in an already terminal patient.

But it turns out surgery may be worthwhile. 

Bely Medved / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa Football hasn’t had an undefeated regular season since 1922… until now. Columnist Mike Hlas, who writes for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, says that the world of college football is drastically different today than it was then.

The Weekly Bull / Flickr

As President Obama attends the Paris climate talks, Republican presidential hopefuls are making waves with their statements about global warming back home. Earlier this week, Jeb Bush said he might not have attended the climate talks if he was president. Most other GOP candidates are falling into one of two camps.

"One position is that there has not been global warming and that's one particular position," says Dennis Goldford, professor of political science at Drake University and Flansburg Fellow at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

We’re just over two months out from the Iowa caucuses, and according to Republican strategist Joe Gaylord, we're going to see some sorting of the field between now and then. Outsiders like Donald Trump have been polling well, but Gaylord thinks that will change. 

Joe Gratz / Flickr

On this River to River segment, Ben Kieffer talks with Judge Kevin McKeever, the newest Sixth Judicial District judge.

McKeever is the first African-American judge in the district that covers Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Tama counties. McKeever says his main goal is to "make people feel like they had their day in court.”

District Judge John Telleen also joins the segment to talk about Iowa’s business court pilot program, a new system built specifically for complicated business lawsuits. 

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Ted Cruz has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump according to the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Republican caucus-goers here in Iowa. Trump continues to lead the polls, even after suggesting that there should be a database keeping track of Muslims in America. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Hans Hassell of Cornell College and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell Colleg about the new polls and about GOP rhetoric regarding whether the United States needs more intense screening procedures before welcoming Syrian refugees. 

Photo by John Pemble / IPR

The Branstad administration is planning to shift Iowans who benefit from Medicaid to private management on Jan. 1, a move that would impact more than 560,000 recipients.

The governor contends that private management companies can offer more efficient service and save money, while those who rely on the program are worried, including Iowa City resident Heather Young.

“My husband and I are doing everything we can to keep the ship afloat," Young says. "Even with our best efforts, if this thing goes through, this ship is going to get torpedoed."

Versaland / https://www.facebook.com/versaland/

In his new book, author Courtney White points to the seemingly intractable challenges faced on earth: the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rising food demands from a population that’s projected to rise from the current 7 billion to 9 billion people by 2050, and the dwindling supply of fresh water.

UK Department for International Development / Flickr

Governor Terry Branstad is one of more than 25 governors who have said no to helping Syrian refugees. That didn't stop Mayor Chris Taylor from proclaiming Wednesday that the eastern Iowa town of Swisher welcomes them.

Photo by John Pemble

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. River to River host Ben Kieffer spoke with him Thursday, November 19 in advance of a campaign trip to Iowa City.

BK: Senator Paul, welcome to our program.

RP: Glad to be with you.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the number of heroin overdose deaths in Iowa has increased from three in 2007 to 20 in 2013.

“Six years ago we didn’t see heroin cases, just didn’t see it,” says Nicholas Klinefeldt, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. “Now we have heroin cases; we have heroin overdose deaths. It’s here, and I think the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.”

More than 120 people are dead in Paris after a string of terrorist attacks late last week, including one American. The attackers have been identified as Muslim extremists, and one of the terrorists is said to have gotten into France by posing as a refugee.

Christopher Gannon

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim Davis, associate professor of information systems at Iowa State University, and two Iowa State University students, Steff Bisinger and Jason Johnson, about what it’s like to work in the booming field of cyber security.

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

  

President William Ruud has been president of the University of Northern Iowa since 2013. He's overseen projects he's proud of like efforts to curb sexual assault and One Is Too Many and a project to promote mental health. He still says the best part of the job is direct interaction with students.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Carly Fiorina is a former executive at Hewlett Packard and she’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination. We reached her Friday morning at a campaign stop in Council Bluffs. 

Note: The conversation took place Friday morning before the attacks in Paris.

Clay Masters: There was a lot of momentum behind your campaign coming out of those first two debates. What are you going to do in next 90 days to make sure you can keep momentum going or build a little bit more moving forward?

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Back in 2013, Joni Ernst was a little known state senator and a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. Today, she’s the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.

Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico, published an article yesterday detailing how the Koch brothers and their political network helped launch Ernst’s campaign. He says Ernst was a “beta test” for the Kochs.

CIA Operations Head Reflects on 30 Years

Nov 12, 2015
Secretive Ireland / Flickr

When Thomas Twetten graduated from Iowa State, he knew he was interested in foreign countries and psychology. When he graduated with a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University, he knew he wanted to serve his country. His only quandary was whether to join the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I joined there partly because of the aura of not knowing very much about it. There was much less information available about the CIA."

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

In a night full of sound bites, one candidate's lack of substance may have helped him stand out in a crowded field of candidates. Ben Carson, one of the 'outsider' candidates, didn't go into much policy in the third Republican debate.  Donna Hoffman, associate professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa, says that didn't hurt him.

"He has this huge likability factor but he's not being very specific in terms of policy, and so far that's working for him."

That's viable for Carson now, but Hoffman's unsure of its endurance as a long-term strategy.

Myfuture.com / Flickr

Iowa is facing a shortage of middle-skill workers, including those in the fields of nursing, welding, and manufacturing.

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with people pushing for more technical and career training from the high school level onward, including Waterloo Community School District Superintendent Jane Lindaman and Dave Bunting, a longtime educator at Kirkwood Community College.

Francis Hannaway / Wikimedia Commons

In Iowa, it takes more time to get a license to practice cosmetology than it does to become an emergency medical technician. That's part of the reason why two Des Moines women are suing the state's Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. Achan Agit is one of those women. 

Photo Courtesy of Johnny Case

Since the Ultimate Fighter debuted on mainstream television, watching Ultimate Fighting Championship fights has become increasingly popular across the country. Johnny Case, originally from Jefferson, will be taking part in Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night 77, to be held Saturday, November 7 in San Paulo Brazil.

Case says it was his background as a wrestler that led him to UFC fighting.

Tony Alter / Flickr

This week marks Paul Ryan's first week  as the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political experts Hans Hassell of Cornell College and Chris Larimer of the University of Northern Iowa. They share their predictions of how Ryan will fare in House leadership.

"You're going to end up with in-fighting among Republicans on how to proceed in the face of a veto threat from President Obama," says Hassell. "These structural differences and problems haven't gone away."

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