voting sign
John Pemble / IPR file

On the heels of the June 2 primary election that saw record turnout during the COVID-19 pandemic with expanded mail-in voting, Iowa lawmakers passed two bills that have the potential to limit or slow the absentee voting process in November as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The first puts constraints on the secretary of state’s authority to change election processes during an emergency.

This program originally aired on May 9, 2017.  

What is time? Why does it always seem to move forward? Why is the earth made of matter and not of anti-matter? Are there really just three dimensions? Are we alone in the Universe? How big is the Universe? 

The short answer is, "we have no idea," and that's the point of a new book by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Cham and Whiteson about their new book We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe. 

nicoleleec / Flickr

We've reached the halfway point of 2020.  It's been a tumultuous year, but we have plenty of good music to encourage and inspire us.  Here are some of our favorites!

Tom Hermans / Unsplash

With kids out of school for the summer, there is no better time for them to kick back with a good book. Especially at a time when there are no longer in-person birthday parties or days spent lounging at the pool, these summer reads are a perfect way to let a young person escape into another world.

Tim Rawle / Flickr

On this podcast episode of River to River, some of our favorite stories from our archives. Our first is from October 25, 2019 when private military historian Brent Westemeyer uncovered an error in an iconic image from World War II. He discovered that one of the six Marines who helped raise the American flag on Mount Suribachi at the battle of Iwo Jima in the South Pacific was mis-identified. The soldier turned out to be a man from Brooklyn, Iowa. His name was Harold "Pie" Keller.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

As COVID-19 cases have increased across the country, some local public health officials are urging Iowans to take extra precautions.

Courtesy of Troy Stolp

This program originally aired on February 25, 2020.  

The relationship between Council Bluffs and Omaha goes back thousands of years. Evidence shows inhabitants of the region date as far back as 900 A.D. With such a long history of being joined across the Missouri River, Council Bluffs and Omaha have developed a complicated relationship.

R.K. Anderson

Some artists work well when they put constraints upon themselves. Ryne Doughty is one of those people. The Des Moines based singer-songwriter’s latest album, “Spring Done Sprung,” was recorded and mixed over the course of just two days.

Follow the latest Iowa news in our Daily Digest, a newsblog where you can catch up on all the headlines you'll hear about in our on-air newscasts.  

On this 'Newsbuzz' edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer gets a look at the guidelines just released by state education officials for school reopenings, followed by a conversation with an infectious disease specialist about the spread of the novel coronavirus and how the public can continue to protect themselves and slow the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Infections Surge In The Quad Cities

Jun 26, 2020
Madeleine King / IPR File

A sudden surge in coronavirus cases in the Quad Cities is scaring local health authorities. And they say most of the rapid increase in cases is occurring among teenagers and young adults.

Amy Thoreson, Deputy Director of the Scott County Health Department, says 40 new cases were reported in the county on Thursday, and some more possible infections are still being investigated.

Steve Richey / Unsplash

It’s not unusual to see strange bumps and growths on tree branches or leaves. Often, insects are to blame.

Four people stand in front of their cars holding up their right hand. A woman stands in front of the camera so you see the back of her head. She also holds her right hand up.
Kassidy Arena / Iowa Public Radio

The rain in Des Moines allowed just enough of a break for 100 people to become U.S. citizens Friday morning. Due to social distancing guidelines and the risk of COVID-19, their in-person ceremonies were postponed. They instead participated in a drive-thru naturalization ceremony.

Two people look away from the camera wearing face masks. On person holds a homemade sign that says "Protect 800,000 Dreams #AlientoAZ #EDUCATEDAF #InStatetuition
Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

With the Supreme Court upholding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), DREAMers can now renew their two-year permit for deferred action.

It costs $495 to renew a DACA application and during a time of job loss and a global pandemic, that amount seems increasingly more difficult to pay. The Ames Sanctuary Interfaith Partnership (ASIP) launched a social media campaign for their GoFundMe to help DREAMers pay the fees.

sorenly / Flickr

One unfortunate side effect of the pandemic is that group singing is not recommended, as it seems to be a very effective way to spread the virus. Like many others, my place of worship is now meeting on Zoom. Instead of singing together, we get to listen to solos from our choir director. I can sing along from the privacy of my couch and even experiment with inventing harmony parts, but it’s not the same.

I’ve been digging around YouTube looking for interesting examples of traditional group singing to enjoy vicariously. The world has an amazing variety of singing styles, and here are just a few to tide you over until we can sing together in person again.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in a Tyson meatpacking plant in Waterloo are suing the company. In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Black Hawk County, the families allege fraudulent misrepresentation, gross negligence and wanton disregard for worker safety.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs have suspended operations at Principal Park in Des Moines and have canceled two high school baseball games scheduled for Thursday night. That’s after a team employee tested positive for COVID-19.

I-CUBS Assistant General Manager Randy Wehofer said everything will remain closed until all staff members can be tested.

“Depending on the results of those tests, we will figure out how long we need to remain closed for hosting public events,” Wehofer said.  

Demonstrators in Des Moines hold signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement at a march on June 3, 2020.
John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Black Lives Matter activists say law enforcement officers boxed them in at a protest Monday night, preventing them from leaving, and then arrested 18 protesters for failing to follow orders to disperse.

“We were planning to do a nonviolent march downtown, then come right back up to our cars and go home,” said BLM organizer Jaylen Cavil at another protest outside the Polk County Jail Wednesday.

BLM activists said police pushed them off of their planned protest route Monday night and into a dark residential neighborhood.

Matthew Alvarez / IPR

This program originally  aired 1-23-20.

A lost millennial, an Instagram celebrity, an overgrown man-child, and a precocious toddler run headlong into issues of race, class and human folly are all themes in the new novel “Such a Fun Age.”

On this this edition of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe speaks with author Kiley Reid about her debut novel. 

Carter Parrish

With more than 800 million active users worldwide, TikTok is hugely popular and growing fast. This is particularly true among young people. Forty-one percent of all users are between the ages of 16 and 24. TikTok has taken over headlines in recent days as news broke of app users making and sharing videos encouraging others to claim tickets to President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma with no intention of showing up.

Long before more than two million women and allies gathered in Washington D.C. for the 2017 Women’s March, and before almost daily protests against the current presidential administration spalshed across national headlines, Americans were organizing and mobilizing acts of resistance, dating back to the very founding of the nation.

matthew bruce out of jail
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Prominent Black Lives Matter organizer Matthew Bruce has been charged with first degree criminal mischief after Des Moines police accused him of vandalizing a police car.

He turned himself in to police Wednesday morning, was booked into Polk County Jail, and got out on bail.

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

The Iowa Police Chiefs Association and the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP have announced a statewide task force dedicated to improving community and law enforcement relationships. 

Kevin Dietsch / Pool via AP

During this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political science professor Dennis Goldford of Drake University and political science professor Jonathan Hassid of Iowa State University. 

Here are some of the headlines discussed during the podcast. 

Courtesy of Richard Deming

On today's episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Dr. Richard Deming, an oncologist and medical director of Mercy One Cancer Center in Des Moines. Deming has made it his mission to go way beyond what is taught in medical school. His goal is to help his patients live each day to the fullest.

BRIAN SEIFFERLEIN / Harvest Public Media file photo

A new analysis of drinking water systems shows communities in five Midwest states have legal but potentially worrying levels of nitrates. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found nitrate levels in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma are trending up.

AP Photo / FILE

Even 50 years after their breakup, the Beatles still hold the distinction of "greatest band ever" for IPR's Mark Simmet. Here's why. 

Alyssa Leicht / Des Moines Music Coalition

The Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC), the nonprofit organization behind 80/35 and other area music festivals, has taken their annual summer music camps online this year. Registration is now open for their virtual hip-hop and rock band camps for students across Iowa ages 11-18.

abortion rights supporters
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block a mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period from taking effect.

In the final hours of the 2020 legislative session, the Republican-led legislature introduced and passed a bill requiring Iowans seeking an abortion to attend an extra appointment at least a day before the procedure.

John Minchillo/AP

Historically, faith and religion have played a significant role in major social justice movements, including the 1960s fight for civil rights. Decades later, the Black Lives Matter movement is at its strongest and religious communities continue to participate, even as movement leadership takes on a more secular, grassroots form.