Univ. of Colorado

Nervous about how your son or daughter will do at the big university?  Now, what if she found this assignment on her syllabus: "Understand Batman as an historically and culturally specific character," with one lecture called "Batman: The Long Halloween."  Or how about this assignment: "Does Harry Potter have a role in shaping your decision-making?"  Or this essay assignment: "Loyalty and Wit: Friendship and the Formation of Dumbledore's Army."

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says he will not intervene in the controversial Bakken Pipeline project which is under consideration by the Iowa Utilities Board.  

And he is downplaying landowners concerns.    

Dakota Access wants to crisscross the state with a pipeline to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   

Some landowners have not granted permission.    But Branstad argues the company won’t be taking their land.

Boys Town National Research Hospital / Skip Kennedy

The greater degree a child’s hearing loss, the harder it is for that child to keep up with normal-hearing peers. But a new study by the University of Iowa, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, shows hearing aids can make a big difference.


The cost of a dozen eggs has dropped about a dollar since August, when the price was roughly double from the previous year as a result of the worst outbreak of avian influenza in the nation’s history. But bird flu is only part of the reason egg prices were so high this summer.

John Pemble

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, political opposites, conservative Christian activist Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader and Donna Red Wing of One Iowa, share their views on the 2016 presidential race.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

An Iowa man convicted of first-degree murder in 1992 will be resentenced. This comes as little surprise following the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling this summer in State of Iowa vs. Yvette Louisell

Eric Querrey was 15 when he shot and killed 16-year-old Stacy Halferty. He received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

JD Lasica, / Flickr

It is widely reported that there are three Democratic presidential candidates vying for the party's nomination, but there is another Democratic candidate many Iowans have never heard of. His name is Lawrence Lessig, and he is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Friends of Iowa Civil Rights

The 20th Annual Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Lifetime Achievement Award went to the World Food Prize Foundation. 

The president of the Foundation, Ken Quinn, quotes World Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug when he says “food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.”

“If people don’t have enough food and sufficient nutritious food, they are not going to be able to avail themselves of their civil rights," Quinn says. "So food is the foundation that has to be addressed.”

Photo by Amy Mayer

DuPont Industrial Biosciences has opened its cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada.

The company says when it reaches full capacity, the biorefinery will annually convert corn cobs, stalks and other waste left on fields after harvest into 30-million gallons of what is considered a "second generation" renewable fuel. Over the past decade, DuPont received more than $50 million in federal funds to bring its cellulosic technology to the marketplace.

Lori L. Stalteri / Flickr

Growing plants organically, whether done on acres of farmland or a backyard garden, can be tricky work. Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins Host Charity Nebbe on this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa. Delate explains what cover crops are and how they can improve soil quality by infusing it with nitrogen and carbon and preventing soil erosion, nitrate leaching, and ground water pollution. Delate also discusses the uses and benefits of composting.

Joyce Russell/IPR

There was emotional testimony at the statehouse today where the governor’s committee on racial disparities in Iowa’s criminal justice system was completing its work.   

The NAACP and others say the group’s recommendations do not go far enough to address the problem of disproportionate numbers of blacks in Iowa prisons.  

With a limited mandate, the committee recommends making jury pools more inclusive, keeping juvenile court records private, expanding drug courts, and cutting prison phone call costs.  

Four North Iowa school districts are being recognized by the State of Iowa today for leading the way in providing students with innovative opportunities to partner with local businesses and gain skills that will help them land careers in high-demand fields.  The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is awarding $25,000 to Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts.

A coalition of advocacy groups for children is urging presidential candidates to address issues of poverty in early childhood, especially among kids of color. 

A report from the philanthropic Annie E. Casey Foundation shows half of the nation’s children younger than five are either African-American or Hispanic.

In Iowa, it’s around 17 percent.

Advocates for children of color say many of these kids are living in poverty, and yet policymakers and presidential candidates are ignoring the problem.

courtesy of Katie Kovacovich / Luther College Active Minds

Early in high school, Katie Kovacovich struggled with anxiety, depression, and self-harm. By her senior year, she had gone to counseling, talked with her parents, and felt prepared for the next step. She said the transition to campus for her first year at Luther College was relatively painless.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

According to the National Retail Federation, 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this weekend. As a nation, we’re expected to spend more than $6.9 billion on the holiday, with most of the expense going toward costuming.

Author Lesley Bannatyne says costuming around Halloween has been growing in popularity since the 1880’s.

“When newspapers first started writing articles about the holiday, Victorian hostesses loved it,” she explains. “It has some spookiness. It was edgy. It was a little bit romantic.”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Republican congressional leaders and the White House reached a budget agreement earlier this week that would modestly increase spending over the next two years, cut some social programs, and raise the federal borrowing limit. The House passed the bill on a 266 to 167 vote late Wednesday and a Senate vote is expected soon to follow.

Many House and Senate Republicans contend that House Speaker John Boehner gave away too much in order to reach a deal, and there are critics of the fact that lawmakers met in private to discuss the agreement.

Olivia Godfrey

The 2015 high school cross country season is drawing to a close. The state meet will be hosted this weekend in Fort Dodge, and this marks the first year that girls and boys will race the same distance.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has slowly been increasing the distance high school girls race, at the dismay of some rural coaches who warned that the move to a 5k instead of a 4k could destroy the sport. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Two African-style hair braiders in Des Moines are suing the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

Hair braiders in Iowa are required to complete 2,100 hours at a licensed cosmetology school and pass an exam, even though these requirements generally don’t train or test the practice of African-style hair braiding. The lawsuit says Iowa code is burdensome, arbitrary and impair a hair-braider’s “constitutional right to economic liberty.”

Open Road Media

Iowan Ray Young Bear has been publishing poetry since 1968.  His new book, "Manifestation Wolverine" (Open Road Media),  is a comprehensive collection of his work, previously published and new--work that draws on ancient Meskwaki lore and modern popular culture.  He says his poetry is a link to the writings of his grandfathers.


The Iowa Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of a complainant in a sexual harassment case.  

The case alleges violations of Iowa’s Civil Rights statute by Iowa Senate Republicans.

Senate Republicans fired Kristen Anderson from her job as communications director in May of 2013 alleging poor job performance.   Anderson claimed she was fired for reporting sexual harassment on the job. 

Jesse Weiner

With the holiday season kicking into high gear, Iowa arts are heating up. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

•             The Grout Museum’s newest exhibit, “365 Days and Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War” with the Grout Museum District’s Historian Bob Neymeyer and Research & Programming Assistant Christopher Shackelford

•                    Michael Oxley, director of Marshalltown’s Orpheum Theatre, outlining several events and exhibits that will open on the weekend of November 13th

Photo courtesy of USDA

A senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a whistleblower complaint on Wednesday accusing the federal agency of suppressing research findings that could call into question the use of a popular pesticide class that is a revenue powerhouse for the agrichemical industry.

John Pemble/IPR

A Republican state lawmaker has called a hearing on what he calls obscene material presented at the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.   

The House Oversight Committee will examine whether tax dollars were inappropriately spent.

There’ve been complaints from lawmakers in the past about the conference which is sponsored by Iowa Safe Schools to address bullying and other issues of interest to LGBTQ youth. 

Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

Before the 1980s, we assumed that wrongful convictions were rare. Then came Peter Neufeld and the Innocence Project. Through DNA testing, Neufeld and his organization have helped to exonerate more than 300 people of crimes they were wrongfully convicted of committing.

“We thought we could look at old cases where people were tried on other evidence like eye-witness testimony and test the hypothesis of innocence,” he says.

Asia Society / Flickr

Louie Psihoyos first made waves in water and in cinematic circles in 2009 with his Academy Award-winning documentary about dolphins "The Cove." Now, the Dubuque-native is expressing his passion for protecting the Earth once again in his new film "Racing Extinction."

Wikicommons / Patsy Lynch, FEMA

The City of Waterloo has agreed to pay a total of $272,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act, pending a 30-day public comment period and approval by a federal court.

The city was accused of discharging untreated sewage into the Cedar River and its tributaries, which allowed repeated backups of sewage-laden wastewater into homes and other buildings. Waterloo was also accused of failing to properly operate and maintain its sewage treatment and collection systems.

Under terms of the settlement, Waterloo does not admit any wrongdoing.

Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

Americans eat more chicken than any other meat, an average of 89 pounds per year. That enormous demand for what's considered a relatively inexpensive protein source is feeding the $50 billion poultry industry. 

In recent years, consumer groups have pushed the industry to stop feeding antibiotics and move laying hens to cage-free pens. But while many people are concerned with the welfare of meat animals, there appears to be little consumer concern for how workers in the meat industry are treated.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

As Congress moves toward a budget deal, a $3 billion cut to crop insurance is now on the table. This comes after the money was approved as part of the 2014 farm bill, and the proposal is not sitting well with some Midwest senators. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says in a party caucus Monday, he and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) both expressed frustration over pulling more from farm programs. The current five-year farm bill, which includes crop insurance, other agricultural subsidies and many other programs like school nutrition and rural development, was passed early last year.

Two renowned musicians - violinist Sarah Plum of Drake and pianist Francine Kay of Princeton - are giving a series of concerts in Iowa this week. You can hear them live in Des Moines Wednesday at noon at St. John's Lutheran Church and at 7:30 at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake - but you can get a live preview at 1 PM on IPR! Barney will host them live, as they perform Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 10 and Bartok's Violin Sonata no. 2.

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q & A between audience members and Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox on August 22, 2015.           

All right good morning. No, no, speech from me this morning. I want your questions. I want all twenty minutes to be your questions, not you hearing some speech from me so let's get your questions…