Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

Peter King Doesn't Care What Washington Thinks

As Aswini wrote this morning , Rep. Peter King's hearings on radicalization are a jarring contrast to the images that have flooded in over the past few weeks of peaceful, democracy-seeking Muslim communities around the world. But King doesn't seem to care, and I think it's because he believes his constituents don't care. A few weeks back, Capital New York (to which I contribute) published this long story by Steve Kornacki on King's rise to power. It's a fun piece, full of local political intrigue, and it shows how King has long been caught up in the hustle of making his constituents happy, whatever the political trends in Washington. To maintain his seat during Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution, for instance, King had to chart his own path: He didn’t share his Republican colleagues’ blind devotion to free markets; how many times as comptroller had King defended the county’s high taxes as essential to providing quality services? His was more a conservatism of the gut: reverence for...

Food Fight

The beef and pork industries are making extra efforts to hawk their products. For the beef industry, this makes sense: their two-year old effort to create "Masters of Beef Advocacy" is meant to reverse losses in market share driven in part by negative perceptions of their products (i.e. beef is fatty and leads to heart attacks, high cholesterol, etc.). This great Wall Street Journal chart , using USDA data on per capita meat consumption, shows clearly that the beef industry started losing ground in the mid-1970s, just as these sort of health concerns emerged: For the pork industry, on the other hand, believing that a new slogan—in particular, one as vague as "Pork: Be Inspired"—will change the fate of products that have been consumed at more or less the same rate for decades seems foolish. This new slogan replaces the more aspirational "Pork: The Other White Meat," which didn't do much for pork sales, apparently, but at least made sense. According to the USDA figures, the real success...

Troubling over Tim DeChristopher

Yesterday, a jury decided when Tim DeChristopher, an environmental activist, bid almost $2 million that he didn't have on oil and gas leases being auctioned off by the government in 2008, he broke the law. His crimes were making a false statement to the government and disrupting the auction. Since the judge ruled out a defense based on DeChristopher's motive—staking a stand against federal energy policies and their contribution to climate change—the legal question was simple enough. But the trial has troubled those involved with it: The Salt Lake Tribune reported that jury struggled with the decision, and one juror told the paper, "There were some tears. There were some watery eyes." Kirk Johnson, who covered the trial for The New York Times , wrote today that the trial pushed him to consider "a pretty deep question": "In assessing offenses driven by environmental concerns, is an understanding of the “why” crucial to the truth?…Would the jury have assessed things differently if the...

Rush Holt (D-Humanity)

Fundraising is one of the least savory parts of a politician's job. Leave it to New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt to find clever ways to bring in cash. Holt's making the most of the attention showered on him this week after he held his own against IBM's Watson computer in a game of Jeopardy. After the game, the congressman sent e-mails to supporters, titled "I'm not a supercomputer," that asked for small dollar donations to support his work on technology and science education. In return, Holt promised, "I’ll continue to do my best to stand up for humans." More from his letter below: "So, when the answer is, 'He beat a supercomputer in a round of Jeopardy!,' you’ll know the question: 'Who is my congressman?' Last night I was invited to play Jeopardy! against IBM’s Watson and I approached it with appropriate caution. You might know that I was a 5-time winner on Jeopardy!, but that was over 30 years ago, back when Watson was just a little Atari. He’s all grown up – just ask Ken Jennings and Brad...

Getting Cozy with Big Coal

Whenever I read a bit of news like this one -- that Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, is co-sponsoring a bill that would keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions -- my first instinct is to look at who's been funding the offending politician. Since Rahall is from West Virginia, I expected to find a pile of money from Big Coal behind him. But that turned out not to be the case, exactly. Over the course of his long career, the largest chunks of Rahall's campaign money have come from transportation, industrial, and public sector unions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics . Among his top five contributors are companies like UPS and Fedex. These numbers line up, to a certain extent, with the picture of his political career that Rahall wants to paint for himself: his official bio highlights his "dedicated efforts to promote the diversification of the economic base of southern West Virginia through his "three Ts" agenda (transportation, technology and...

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