River to River

Ben Kieffer co-hosts this "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River with Gazette investigative reporter Erin Jordan. They ask panelists to discuss the latest in national and state politics, including how the election match ups look in Iowa’s Congressional races.

Panelists joining the discussion include Gazette columnists Todd Dorman, Lynda Waddington, Adam Sullivan, Gazette reporter James Lynch, and special guest, Dianne Bystrom, who has served as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University since 1996.

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Liliana Moreno

Days after her son Sergei died by suicide, Mary Neubauer and her husband Larry Loss, decided to publicly share their story.

“It was just heartbreaking for Larry and me, as his parents, to watch this vivacious funny loving outgoing kid just disintegrate in front of our eyes,” says Neubauer, “and no matter how much we helped, or how much we loved him, we just couldn’t stop it from happening.”

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Neubauer about her family’s struggle to get Sergei the mental health care he needed.

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Don't call it weed. It's industrial hemp, and it may be making a comeback in Iowa.

The 2014 Farm Bill provided provisions for states to legalize the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes. During the 2018 legislative session, the issue was up for debate at the Iowa Statehouse, and a bill to create a pilot program passed in the Iowa Senate. 

Jacob Riis

What does it mean to be “an American?” How has that identity changed over the decades?

 

This hour, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch and Rene Rocha, director of the Latino Studies department at the University of Iowa, about the history of immigration policy in the U.S.

 

“[Throughout history,] there are periods of tension against every group that have arrived that are different from the model or the norm, which is White Anglo-Saxon males from Great Britain,” says Walch.

 

Charles Edward Miller / Wikimeda/Flickr - Creative Commons

In this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa and Donna Hoffman, associate professor and chair of political science at UNI about the public outcry over children being separated from their migrant parents at the U.S. border and the state party conventions for Democrats and Republicans over the weekend.

John Pemble/IPR

State representative Chip Baltimore says it's time to let someone else "take up the flag" at the Iowa legislature. The Boone Republican and former chair of the House Judiciary Committee is not seeking a fifth term.

He was convicted in January on charges of first-offense OWI and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the influence, but he claims he made the decision not to run long before he was charged with those offenses.

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At a time of rising tuitions and tight budgets at the state’s Regents universities, the president of the University of Northern Iowa is expressing some relief.

Mark Nook has been on the job in Cedar Falls about a year. Tuition at his school is climbing two-point-eight percent, a little more than $200. That's less than the three-point-eight percent increases at Iowa State and the University of Iowa. Nook says he understands why higher education is often on the chopping block during state budget considerations.

Congress.Gov

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Representative Dave Loebsack about the issues facing his constituents in Iowa's 2nd district, including flood risk, healthcare, employment, and trade tariffs. Later in the hour, Loebsack answers listener questions.

One issue that remains close to Loebsack's heart is the Cedar Rapids flood, which was 10 years ago on June 13th.

Twenty three years ago, Mason City TV news anchor Jodi Huisentruit disappeared. She would be 50 years old this month. To commemorate the anniversary, the group FindJodi.com has put up billboards outside Mason City. 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Beth Bednar, author of the book Dead Air and a member of the Find Jodi team, about Huisentruit's disapperance. 

AP

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University, and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College. They discuss the G7 Summit blowup, the showdown over immigration in Congress, and President Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. 

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A new Iowa law banning physicians from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected is being called the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer discusses the law with three state lawmakers who each have very different views, including a Democrat against the change, a Republican who voted for it, and a Republican who was one of six in his party who felt he couldn’t support the law.

Casey Reyner

Audiophiles and live music enthusiasts of Iowa, UNITE! This is your season. Summertime is for craft beer, silly love songs, and dancing around barefoot at concerts. Am I right?!

You have been hearing our Studio One hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner talk about which songs they're listening to on River to River lately. We also want to direct you to awesome live music happening this month around the state. Behold: The June Music Listical! 

Friday, June 8 --- Real Estate at Codfish Hollow

John Pemble / IPR

After a tense weekend of economic negotiations with the United States' closest allies at the Group of 7 Summit, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley is warning that President Donald Trump's tactics are threatening the state's farmers. At a tumultuous time in international trade relations, Grassley joined IPR's River to River to talk tariffs, North Korea and the Justice Department with host Ben Kieffer.

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Nine counties in southwest Iowa have been experiencing a drinking water crisis over the past 10 days after a filtration membrane malfunctioned at Creston Water Works. A boil warning was issued June 1st for the city and all the surrounding towns the water works supplied water for. 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Scott Vicker, managing editor for the Creston News Advertiser and Chris Gordy, store director for the Creston Hy-Vee. 

This week the Miss America Organization announced it would no longer include the swimsuit portion of the competition in the pageant. That decision marks the end of an era, given that Miss America orignally started as a swimsuit competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1921. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Nicole Kelly, who was Miss Iowa 2013 and is a current producer of the Miss Iowa competition. When she was crowned Miss Iowa, it was international news becuase she entered the pageant with a visible disability. 

Iowa Legislature

Back in 2016, when it was clear the Republican Party was warming up to the idea of having Donald Trump as its Presidential nominee, one state Senator from Iowa quit the Republican Party. Now, he's announced that he will not be seeking reelection as an Independent in the Iowa Senate.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan about this decision and how politics have changed in his nearly 20 years as a lawmaker in Iowa.

In recent years, Johnson says he has seen a definite political shift.

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The use of consumer fireworks was legalized in Iowa last year, sparking complaints from both citizens and local law enforcement. This year, many cities have set their own rules for firework use, with some prohibiting them completely.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Jeremiah Terhark, owner of Iowa Fireworks Company; Pat Treeloar, Fire Chief for the city of Waterloo; and Tom Daubs, Public Information Officer for the Marion Police Department, about the upcoming July 4th holiday and the patchwork of fireworks laws across Iowa.

 

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Democrats have nominated businessman Fred Hubbell to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the November gubernatorial election. Jake Porter will be the Libertarian candidate for governor.

Congressional matchups are set with two women earning Democratic spots on the ballot. Abby Finkenauer, the Democrat nominated in the first congressional district, would be the youngest woman elected to Congress if she is successful in her bit to oust incumbent Republican Congressman Rod Blum. No woman has ever been elected to Congress from Iowa. 

UIHC

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa has been approved to use a new therapy that harnesses the immune system to treat specific forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. George Weiner is director of the center and says the therapy shows great promise.

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

A new study from University of Iowa researchers shows the nitrate flowing from Iowa farm fields is a large part of the total load in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. 

During this episode of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the authors of the study, research engineer Chris Jones, about the devastating impact nutrients from Iowa farmland is having downstream.

Jessica Bolser/USFWS

Right around Memorial Day is the time of year that Iowans begin to see fawns out and about. This year, wildlife experts are asking people not to “rescue” fawns, even if they are alone.

This is because fawns are frequently on their own throughout the day, and this is natural. The mother almost always comes back. Another reason for not attempting fawn rescue is that wildlife rehabilitators will not be able to take in young deer this summer.

MEDION P61110_01 / Flickr

Use of smart speakers in the Unites States is growing rapidly. According to new research put out in January from NPR and Edison Research, one in six Americans now own a smart speaker, that's around 39 million people. It's an increase of 128 percent from January 2017. Predictions show 75 percent of U.S.

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision allowing states to legalize, tax and regulate sports betting. Until now, Nevada has been the only state with the right to allow fans to put bets on games and point spreads legally.

In Iowa, a bill was introduced that would allow casinos to run sports betting operations. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with State Representative Jake Highfill about the bill and what it does.

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Former Iowans John and Sue Little moved to Hawaii a couple years ago, and they live on the island where the eruption of Kilauea Volcano has been causing disruptions for residents there.  Little joins this River to River segment to explain what's happening, what the threat is, and whether he misses Iowa winters (spoiler: he doesn't).

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State Senator Nate Boulton has suspended his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the Iowa Governor's race in light of accusations of sexual misconduct.  In this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by IPR reporter and Morning Edition host Clay Masters to talk through the status of that race.

Da Capo Press

A former University of Northern Iowa English professor who recounted her 42-year friendship with the author Kurt Vonnegut in a 2009 memoir died May 8th at the age of 86. Loree Rackstraw taught English at the University of Northern Iowa for 30 years, was fiction editor of the North American Review and a well-known supporter of the arts.

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On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University, about President Trump's FBI spy claims, the campaigning ahead of Iowa's gubernatorial primaries, and updates on trade disputes with China.

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DayTrippin US

Dianne Bystrom is the Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. When she came to Iowa in 1996, she had been studying a big year in politics for women: the 1992 election, which brought a huge increase in women holding political office. 

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Carl Wycoff

The U.S. House's attempt to pass a farm bill failed this morning.  A number of Republicans were trying to leverage votes for a conservative immigration bill first.

Congressman David Young from Iowa's third district voted for the bill, and he says that he is confident that there will ultimately be a farm bill.  But he says it's tough for farmers especially in light of other trade policies.

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