Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Slowing Down to Save Money and Oil

In the annals of "things that would never happen in America," Spain has decided to temporarily knock 10 km/h (8 mph) off speed limits on certain roads in order to decrease the country's energy use. This action has kicked up some opposition, as the BBC reports : The main opposition Popular Party has labelled the idea as "absurd" and "improvised", recalling that the last time Spain reduced the speed limit in such a way, dictator Gen Franco was in power. "This measure is restricting the freedom of people who are not harming others," agrees [economist] Ismael Sanz, who believes the best way to reduce a driver's fuel consumption is to put the price up. Cutting speed limits is actually a good regulatory response to oil shortages, though, and one case where taking government action is more effective than relying on cost-pressures to modify consumer behavior. I doubt that most drivers consider the cost they pay for decreased fuel efficiency at higher speeds. Americans, at least, don't drive...

Subsidizing O'Keefe's Pranks and Koch's Yacht

For James O'Keefe, " defunding NPR is obvious ." He hasn't expanded on his reasoning, but the Republican line on NPR funding, in general, is that our deficit-ridden nature can't afford these kind of luxuries. What we can afford, apparently, is to subsidize O'Keefe's work. He's applied for a 501(c)3 designation for his organization, Project Veritas, which would make all contributions to the group tax-deductible. Abstaining from tax revenues to fund an organization is not the same as giving tax revenues to an organization, of course. But tax exemptions still cost the government money, and the IRS hands them out to all sorts of causes that are less clearly in the public interest than journalism, like, for instance, Bill Koch's yachting habit . Back in the 1990s, Koch contributed $10 million to a foundation that funded, primarily, his ambition to win America's Cup, the premier race in international sailing. That contribution to his own greater glory (he won the race in 1992) also saved...

LA Could Be the Next Great Cycling City

Los Angeles doesn't have a reputation as a great biking city, even though, unlike Portland, Minneapolis, or San Francisco, it's warm year round and generally pretty flat. But (transpo geek alert!) if you look at this fantastic reference guide that the National Association of City Transportation Officials put out this morning, as part of its new Urban Bikeway Design guide, you'll see that LA's Bicycle Master Plan handbook covers more ground than New York's or San Francisco's. And Long Beach, which is part of the greater LA metro area, is working to become "the most bicycle friendly urban city in the nation." The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is also getting attention for its advocacy work. The bike advocacy community is in D.C. this week for the National Bike Summit , and as part of the festivities, last night, the Alliance for Biking & Walking gave its best practices award to LACBC for its work to involve underrepresented immigrant (mostly Latino) cyclists in planning and...

Losing Vivian Schiller

What most people heard about Vivian Schiller 's tenure at NPR was that she let Ellen Weiss fire Juan Williams and, now, that her head of fundraising doesn't feel too warmly toward the Tea Party . But Schiller's most important and less-juicy contribution as the organization's leader was to transform NPR's clunky digital presence into a more vibrant Web destination. It's a shame that, in an industry sorely lacking in female leadership , NPR has let go two high-ranking and, by all accounts, highly competent women, both of whom were trying to clean up after messes made by men who put NPR's reputation at risk.

Belief v. Science on Climate Change

Climate change–denying Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are taking this morning's hearing on climate science as an opportunity to compare themselves to Copernicus and Galileo. Like these visionaries of the past, Republicans and who don't believe in climate change and their few allies in the scientific community are, apparently, brave geniuses using their vast intellects and scientific training to speak truth to power. Or, as Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia put it, "Just because you might be in the minority doesn't always mean you're wrong." No. Galileo and Copernicus weren't just arguing against fellow scientists who had turned up conflicting data. They were fighting against an entrenched, religious system of belief that declared the Earth was the center of the universe. Their opponents, like House Republicans, were operating more on faith than science. Rep. Henry Waxman, bless his heart, is still trying to reason with his esteemed colleagues. Urging them to...

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