Olga Khazan

Olga KhazanOlga is a second-year graduate student in Online Journalism at the University of Southern California. For the past year she has served as special projects editor for NeonTommy.com, the student-run Web site of USC's journalism school. As part of this role, she has edited and created content for projects that examined air pollution in Long Beach, detailed the L.A. Urban League's revitalization of a Crenshaw neighborhood and profiled Los Angeles' swine flu victims, among others.

Olga has experience interning for the Washingtonpost.com, for which she wrote an 1800-word story featured on the front page of the site. Last summer she interned for News24, the largest news site in South Africa, where she wrote stories for the news and health sections.

Outside of journalism, Olga has also served as a program assistant with Physicians for Human Rights, where she helped craft legislation to protect female refugees in Darfur and managed a blog advocating for the release of political prisoners in Iran. She received her B.A. in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. in May 2008.

Recent stories by Olga Khazan

Ryan's Plan Unpopular With Voters, Not With Industry

Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC 2011. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)Paul Ryan's budget plan may have spooked both moderate Democrats and Republicans with its steep Medicare cuts. The Senate rejected the plan just last week.

But while the House Budget Committee Chairman's proposed voucherization turned off many of his constituents and fellow lawmakers, it didn't staunch the money flowing in from industry donors.

Ryan, R-Wis., received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from corporate interests while he was drafting his proposal, Federal Election Commission records show.

Will Revolving Door Staffers Impact Planned Parenthood Funding?

(Ennuipoet/Flickr)With its federal funding already threatened and congressional budget negotiations still under way, Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides health care and abortions at reduced prices, faces an uncertain future.

The organization came under fire last month with a House budget proposal that would have withdrawn its federal funding. Although the Senate defeated the resolution on March 9, Congress may press forward with the issue in the next version of the budget.

"We've gained a lot of momentum. We expect that in whatever budget measure comes up next, defunding Planned Parenthood will be in it," said Wendy Wright, CEO of Concerned Women for America, a socially conservative organization that has been lobbying for federal defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Wright has at least one reason to be optimistic. Michael Schwartz, the former head of government relations at Concerned Women now serves as the chief of staff to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Although he hasn't yet taken sides in the current budget battle, Coburn is a staunch conservative who serves as one of the "Gang of Six," a group of Democratic and Republican senators who are involved in long-term budget negotiations. Coburn is also an influential Republican and member of the Senate Finance Committee who many Washington observers say has significant sway within his party leadership.

Opposition to Oil Tax Includes a Rainbow Coalition

Gregory Brown from BreitBurn Energy speaks for No on Prop O. (Photo: Olga Khazan)The L.A. City Council is looking to make a quick $4 million by imposing new taxes, and they seem to have found a relatively easy target to pin them on: the much-maligned oil industry.

After all, who would support the same industry that brought us the BP oil spill? Not just the wealthy oil companies, it turns out, but also a surprising coalition of small minority organizations.

Industry-Backed Congressional Reps Target EPA

Much of the country is projected to become several degrees warmer if emissions trends continue. Graphic from U.S. Global Change Research Program.With the federal government looking for places to cut spending, Republicans in Congress seem increasingly intent on targeting climate legislation.

The GOP-controlled House just last week passed a budget that would, among other things, greatly limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

And recently, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) each introduced legislation that would tie the federal government's hands when it comes to carbon pollution, while Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a companion bill shortly thereafter.

Perhaps it should be no surprise then that all three — Inhofe, Barrasso and Upton — received a large chunk of their campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.

Why Do Oil And Gas Interests Oppose Healthcare Reform?

Ever since the healthcare reform bill was passed last spring, conservatives have vowed to undo the law, and it has turned out to be a classic case of strange bedfellows looking for strength in numbers.

Last month, House Republicans pushed through a largely ceremonial repeal bid, which never made it through the Senate. The individual mandate has been highly contested in courts, with judges across the country in dispute about the mandate's constitutionality. Now, some states, Florida in particular, are eagerly claiming that they can exempt themselves from enacting the law.

With all the invective floating around about the healthcare reform law, it can be hard to remember who was behind — and against — the law to begin with. There are the obvious opponents — the pharmaceutical manufacturers, HMOs and insurance companies. But when you follow the money behind the original opposition to healthcare reform, you find it's not the interest groups you'd think it would be.