Sandhya Dirks arrived in Iowa in January of 2012 as a general assignment reporter. Since coming to Des Moines she has covered the Statehouse and traveled across Iowa to bring back stories for IPR. Sandhya was previously a reporter at KALW in San Francisco, covering education and criminal justice issues. Her work was awarded a SPJ Sigma Delta Chi and a regional Edward R. Murrow award.

Most recently, Sandhya earned her Master of Science from Columbia Journalism School in New York. Her master’s project was an investigative documentary about international adoption for which she was awarded the Pasty Preston Pulitzer Documentary Fellowship.

Sandhya’s favorite public radio program is Radiolab.

Around the Nation
4:57 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

A Century-Old Grotto That Might Out-Glitter Vegas

Father Paul Dobberstein began building the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, 100 years ago. It's covered with stones, rocks, petrified wood and seashells.
Denise Krebs via Flickr

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:11 pm

The Midwest is known for its roadside attractions — world's largest ear of corn, heaviest ball of twine, biggest truck stop.

But it's also home to one of the largest collections of grottoes in the world. Most of these man-made caves were created by immigrant priests at the beginning of the 20th century. And the mother of them all — encrusted in $6 million worth of semiprecious stones — is in West Bend, Iowa.

This weekend, the Grotto of the Redemption turns 100.

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Sports
4:47 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

40 Years On, Title IX Still Shapes Female Athletes

Michelle Marciniak (right) of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers attempts to elude the defensive pressure of Nykesha Sales of the UConn Huskies during the 1996 NCAA Women's Final Four.
Matthew Stockman Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:30 pm

Title IX, which turns 40 on Saturday, has helped reverse years of bias, banning sex discrimination in federally funded schools and colleges.

Its guarantee of equal access to sports was a small part of the original legislation. But it's become the most recognizable part of Title IX. That guarantee has not always played out, and the law has its critics. For four decades, however, it's played a huge part in shaping lives.

'I Can Handle This World'

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It's All Politics
4:12 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Obama Basks In Latino Politicians' Love After His DREAM Moves

President Obama returned a young fan's salute at the conference of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Orlando, Fla.
Brendan Smialowski AFP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 2:55 pm

Coming a week after President Obama announced that he would defer deportation proceedings for many young illegal immigrants, it was safe to predict that he'd get an appreciative response from an audience of Latino leaders. They didn't disappoint.

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Movie Interviews
3:57 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Digital Domain Grapples With Fur, Feathers

Gesundheit: Kichaa is the name of one of the animated characters causing consternation among the animators at Digital Domain. He's featured in the upcoming film The Legend of Tembo.
Digital Domain

Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 4:42 pm

You may not have heard of the special-effects studio Digital Domain, but you've probably seen their work. They sank the Titanic for James Cameron; they aged Brad Pitt backward in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Most recently, their virtual likeness of the late Tupac Shakur performed in concert.

Having worked those wonders, they're tackling thornier challenges: fur and feathers.

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Politics
3:57 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Candidate Accidentally Uploads Four Reaction Videos

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Call it being prepared. Call it a blunder. Whatever you call it, a dirty little campaign secret is out. Politicians sometimes pre-tape supposedly instant responses.

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Business
3:56 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

The Downside To Owning Your Own Island

It's great to have your own private island like this one in the Caribbean, unless there's a hurricane bearing down.
Christian Wheatley iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 4:41 pm

Who hasn't dreamed of having their own coral-fringed island, lounging on its sandy beach, coconut daiquiri in hand?

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The Two-Way
3:51 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Germany Knocks Greece Out Of Euro Championship

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:11 pm

Germany scored three goals in the second half to knock Greece out of the European Championship, today.

As we reported, it was a match dubbed the "debt derby," because it pitted the Eurozone's weakest economy with its paymaster.

The AP adds:

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Shots - Health Blog
3:39 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Drug-Resistant Germ In Rhode Island Hospital Raises Worries

Pretty to look at, almost, but Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria these are a common cause of infections in hospitals.
CDC

A highly resistant form of a common bacterium recently popped up in two Rhode Island patients, only the 12th and 13th times it has been spotted in this country.

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Business
3:24 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

A Week Of Near-Calamities Erodes Confidence

Vanessa Loren shops in Miami. An index of consumer sentiment dropped more than expected in June.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

When Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of most major U.S. banks on Thursday, you'd have thought Friday would be a tough day for bank stocks.

But bank stocks ticked up — largely because investors were relieved. They had feared the downgrades would be worse. The Dow Jones industrial average was recovering from Thursday's 250-point drop, the second-worst of the year.

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