Is Free Coffee Against the Law?

This is an Explainer piece I worked on as part of the 2008 Election coverage:

Starbucks announced Saturday that stores would be offering a free “tall” coffee to anyone who voted today; Krispy Kreme promised a doughnut with red, white, and blue sprinkles. USA Today compiled a cheat sheet keeping track of other swag offers on Election Day, including chicken, beer, and sex toys. Wait a second, isn’t this voter bribery illegal?

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Does Congress Always Take Off for Rosh Hashanah?

The House of Representatives is taking two days off this week for Rosh Hashanah in the midst of an unresolved financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Senate is still in session. Do members of the House take off for every religious holiday?

No. Representatives get a break for Easter, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Christmas Day. The Senate operates according to a very similar schedule, except it remains in session for Yom Kippur and, at least in 2008, for Rosh Hashanah.

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Banks, Firms, and Houses: Deciphering the terms in the financial crisis coverage.

This is the first Explainer piece I’ve done for Slate:

On Tuesday, the U.S. government announced that the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, would loan $85 billion to American International Group, an insurance firm, for fear that other financial institutions, such as investment banks and securities firms, would go belly-up in its wake.

What are all these banks and other financial institutions in the news?

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