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Strike Debt pays off $3.8 million in student loans

Strike Debt, a movement to raise funds to pay off student loans, has raised $3.8 million to release over 2,700 students from their debt, according to the UK-based Guardian.

The group chose to pay off loans for students at Everest College, owned by Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit institution that chases down its students with debt collectors and garnishes their disability or wage checks if they can’t pay back loans, according to NBC News.

UC spent $4.5 million for defense in UCLA lab death case

The Los Angeles Times reported on October 16 that UC hired top-tier law firms to defend chemistry professor Patrick Harran – and the university itself – against felony charges in the death of UCLA lab worker Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, at a cost of nearly $4.5 million.

Sangji died in 2009, 18 days after being burned in a fire in Harran’s lab. In late 2011, the Los Angeles County DA charged Harran with three felony counts of willfully violating state occupational health and safety standards, claiming he failed to provide proper training and safety gear. Harran struck a deal with prosecutors, admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to develop and teach a course for inner-city students for five summers, perform community service, and pay $10,000 to a burn center.

The Times obtained the figures through a California Public Records Act request, which show that “nearly five dozen defense attorneys, paralegals and others billed for work on the case,” and that one attorney “charged $792,000 in fees,” all of which came out of public funds.

UCLA management said in a statement that the expense was justified. Sangji’s sister, Naveen, is quoted in the Times as saying the $4.5 million could have bought 86,000 protective lab coats. “Had UCLA spent even a tiny fraction of this money and effort on laboratory and chemical safety training and fire resistant gear…Sheri might still be with us,” she said.

Preserving Social Security and Medicare

Members of CWA – UPTE’s national union – including retirees, joined dozens at a US Capitol rally this fall to tell Tea Party Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare and to protect the programs from benefit cuts, privatization and being vouchered.

CWA members in the capitol

“The last thing we need to be talking about is cutting Social Security,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told an energized crowd at the “Hands off Social Security and Medicare!” rally.

“Two thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for most of their income. For 15 million people, Social Security is all that stands between them and poverty. The benefits are modest, about $1,200 a month....Social Security is what people work a lifetime for.”

Besides Warren, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other members of Congress addressed the rally, which was sponsored by a coalition of groups, including CWA, the Alliance for Retired Americans, National Education Association and Social Security Works. – CWA News


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