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Afghanistan Violence; Vaccine Hesitancy; Upcycling; Le Mans: The Exchange

This week on The Exchange, we take a look at how international events and issues, like the US military pullout from Afghanistan and the resurgance of the coronavirus, are affecting Americans and Siouxland residents.

We also learn about the work of an Iowa State University professor who is trying to improve "upcycling" of the ocean of plastic bottles that dominate landfills around the country. And we find out how a northeast Nebraska community is joining with other cities and towns to use wind power and other clean energy sources. We talk with the mayor of Norfolk, Nebraska, Josh Moenning.  

Reign of Terror, by Spencer Ackerman

But first, we talk with Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Spencer Ackerman about his new book, Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized Americca and Produced Trump.

Spencer, who also publishes a SubStack newsletter called Forever Wars, says the United States needed to pull out of Afghanistan, even if the process is proving to be extremely painful. He also says America needs to take in perhaps 100,00o Afghan refugees who  are fleeing Kabul to safe their lives. 

Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

On this week's program we also talk about vaccine hesitancy in the United States, despite the rising number of coronavirus cases and the growing danger posed by the Delta variant.  We speak with Nobel Prize-winning  author Richard Thaler who talks about ways to "nudge" people into compliance. In fact, the newly revised version of his 2009 book, Nudge, with co-author Cass Sunstein, takes a deep dive into all the ways we have been nudged by the Coronavirus into new ways of living and working. 

Richard Thaler talking about Nudge and vaccine hesitancy

While the Coronavirus continues to be a blight upon the planet, it is far from the only offender.  The mounting numbers of plastic bottles that bloat landfills and oceans have been an ongoing environmental problem.  Many bottles that are not recycled because it is difficult turn them into new plastic bottles.  Once melted down, the carbon bonds of the plastic are too weak to take on their previous form.

However an Iowa State University professor of chemistry is working with other researchers around the country to upcycle plastic bottles into polymers. Those polymers can be turned into synthetic motor oil or surfactants included in most laundry detergants. ISU Professor Aaron Sadow explains his work in the following story.

We also talk with Norfolk, Nebraska Mayor Josh Moenning who is spearheading a statewide-effort to move to clean energy energy sources like wind farms. 

ISU Professor of Chemistry hard at work
Norfolk, NE mayor Josh Moenning

Aaron Shadow and Richard Moenning

UnityPoint Health-St. Lukes’s recently appointed a new regional president and CEO. Lorenzo Suter. He spoke recently with Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer. 

Lorenzo Suter, UnityPoint Health-St. Lukes


Lorenzo Suter

The 24 Hours of Le Mans runs this weekend in France. One Siouxlander has a deep history with the automobile endurance event, as Siouxland Public Media's Sheila Brummer reports.  

Dr. Quentin Durward


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