tv Democracy Now LINKTV August 10, 2021 8:00am-9:01am PDT
amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> we need to keep our children safe and in school. get out of -- get everyone in your family over the age of 12 facts and please wear in school -- age of 12 vaccinated and please wear a mask in school. amy: as schools begin to reopen, there has been a surge in children becoming infected with covid, especially in florida and texas where vaccinations are low and the republican
governors oppose mask mandates in schools. we will speak to a houston pediatrician, as well as randi weingarten, president of the american federation of teachers. she is now backing mandated covid-19 vaccines for teachers. then new york lawmakers are moving ahead with impeachment plans for governor andrew cuomo for sexually harassing at least 11 women in violation of the law. >> as i stated last week, the governor has clearly lost the confidence of the majority of members of the new york state assembly. amy: we will speak to new york state senator alessandra biaggi. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. coronavirus cases continue to rise exponentially in the united states. they have soared to their highest levels of the pandemic in some states with low vaccination rates.
the number of confirmed u.s. cases has passed 36 million, with hospitalizations soaring, and covid-19 deaths once again on the rise on monday, defense secreta lloyd austin said all u. militaryersonnelould be reired to t vaccined septemb 15th or earlr, if e fda gran final proval tthe pfiz vaine befo then. pentagonpokeerson john kiy urged litary mbers to get shots immediately. >> this isn't just about you. it is about your ship, your platoon. it is about your squadron. it is your opportunity to contribute to the health and readiness of your teammates, and thereby the nation. amy: about 1 in 5 u.s. coronavirus cases is in florida, which is reporting a higher per-capita infection rate right now than any country in the world. florida public health officials are warning of skyrocketing levels of virus found in waste water
, indicating high levels of community spread. more than half of florida counties start school today, even as florida leads the u.s. for the number of children hospitalized with covid-19. about 1 in 5 young children tested for coronavirus over the last week in florida had an infection. even so, republican governor ron desantis is not only threatening to withhold funds from school districts that impe mask mandates, but is now threatening to withhold the salaries of school officials who require masks. in texas, the dallas independent school district on monday ordered everyone on public school grounds to wear masks, defying a ban on mask mandates by republican governor greg abbott. we will go to houston to speak to a pediatrician after headlines. canada has reopened its border to u.s. travelers for the first time since march 2020.
visitors will need to show a recent negative coronavirus test result and must prove they're fully vaccinated against covid-19, with exemptions for unvaccinated children under the age of 12. california officials say it could be several more weeks before the largest single fire in the state's history is contained. the dixie fire has already burned nearly half-a-million acres, sending a pall of smoke into the skies more than a thousand miles east of the flames. in russia, meteorologists say smoke from massive wildfires in siberia has reached the north pole, for the first time on record. in greece, firefighters are battling wildfires in the suburbs of athens for the fifth straight day. on monday, hundreds of protesters gathered under smoky skies outside the greek parliament to protest the government's handling of the blazes. >> we are protesting against
the government that has put profits before people. we are protesting because they spend millions on warplanes and police not the fire brigade. amy: greek prime minister kyriakos mitsotakis apologized for his government's failures responding to the fires, and promised compensation to victims. in germany, officials said up to $35 billion would be needed to repair damaged buildings and infrastructure after deadly flooding last month killed nearly 200 people. july saw the heaviest rainfall many european countries have seen in at least a century. meanwhile dozens of small island states said monday that the accelerating climate crisis threatens their very existence. their warning came as the u.n.'s noble prize-winning -- nobel prize-winning intergovernmental panel on climate change issued its gravest warning yet on the climate crisis.
in a statement, the alliance of small island states said quote "the stark fact is that if we keep warming to 1.5c we are still facing half a meter of sea level rise. but if we stop warming from reaching 2c, we can avoid a long term three meters of sea level rise. that is our very future, right there." in afghanistan, the taliban captured t provincial capital of aybak monday, overrunning the northern city without meeting any resistance. it's the sixth provincial capital captured by the taliban in just four days. taliban fighters are reportedly moving in on northern afghanistan's largest city, mazari sharif. meanwhile the united nations said monday the fighting in afghanistan has killed at least 27 children since friday, with over 1,000 civilians killed in the last month. a coalition of indigenous
groups from brazil is asking the international criminal court to investigate far-right brazilian president jair bolsonaro, accusing him of carrying out an explicit, systematic and intentional anti-indigenous policy. in a statement the , articulation of indigenous peoples of brazil said quote "we believe there are acts in progress in brazil that constitute crimes against humanity, genocide and ecocide. given the inability of the justice system in brazil to investigate, prosecute and judge these conducts, we denounce them to the international community." bolsonaro has consistently supported mining, agriculture, and oil and gas projects on indigenous lands, and has repeatedly made racist comments about indigenous people. back in the united states, the u.s. senate is voting on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that would see major investments in road, public transit, clean water and green
energy. critics say it is far short of what is needed to tackle the climate crisis. on monday, senate democrats released a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that contains many priorities left out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, including funding for civilian climate corps that would provide millions of jobs while imposing a minimum tax rate on the richest u.s. corporations. the legislation would also lower the medicare eligibility age, expand the child tax credit, fund paid family and medical leave, universal pre-k, and provide tuition free community college. vermont independent senator bernie sanders, who chairs the senate budget committee, compared to the package to reforms used to battle the great depression in the 1930's. >> this is a budget resolution that will allow the senate to move forward on a reconciliation bill
that in my view, will be the most consequential and comprehensive piece of legislation the working people -- legislation for working people, the elderly, the sick, and the poor that this body has addressed since franklin delano roosevelt, the new deal in the 1930's. amy: democratic leaders hope to pass the legislation through a process known as budget reconciliation, that allows them to bypass the filibuster by minority republicans. the legislation would also strengthen labor laws and open a path to citizenship for millions of a document it immigrants, but it is unclear if those provisions would be allowed in the bill under senate rules. house speaker nancy pelosi has indicated she will not bring the bipartisan bill to the house floor unless the reconciliation bill is also
considered at the same time. here in new york, state lawmakers are moving ahead with preparations for impeachment proceedings against democratic governor andrew cuomo. the new york state assembly judiciary committee has begun collecting thousands of pages of documents and testimony used as evidence in the new york attorney general's report that found governor cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women in violation of state and federal law. the judiciary committee chair promised a swift impeachment probe. >> we anticipate that this process will be concluded very soon. when i say very soon, i'm speaking about several weeks. amy: in related news, the prominent report -- the prominent lawyer roberta kaplan has resigned from the times up group.
times up is the organization that helps women who have been sexually harassed, abused or assaulted. meanwhile, the human rights campaign has launched an internal probe into reports that its president, alphonso david helped cuomo discredit a woman who accused him of sexual harassment. david is a former legal advisor to cuomo. we will have more on this story leader in the broadcast with alessandra biaggi. a competition program for the survivors of convicted predator and sex trafficker jeffrey epstein has finished its claims process. the epstein victims compensation program said monday it had awarded $125 million to about 150 people out of 225 people who filed claims. in related news, in new york, virginia giuffre, one of epstein's accusers, has filed a federal lawsuit against prince andrew, accusing the british royal
of sexually abusing her at epstein's mansion in manhattan, and other locations in 2001 when she was a minor. giuffre also accuses prince andrew of intentional infliction of emotional distress. prince andrew was a close friend of epstein's and has been accused of being involved in epstein's sex trafficking crimes. he is the son of queen elizabeth. in new york, jury selection in r. kelly's sex trafficking trial began monday, more than two years after he was charged with sexually abusing dozens of women and underage girls for nearly two decades. the singer faces multiple federal criminal charges including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and forced labor. cases against r. kelly have also been filed in illinois and minnesota. if convicted, he faces decades behind bars. in brooklyn, community organizers led a rally over the weekend urging the new york state public service commission not to hike the
monthly gas bill for or a million state customers to pay for the controversial north brooklyn pipeline. the commission is expected to vote on the rate increase thursday. the national grid-owned pipeline would carry fracked gas through mostly black and brown neighborhoods in brooklyn, despite bans on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure in new york, as well as significant community opposition. activists rallied against the plans over the weekend. >> this is a continuation of colonialism. this is a history that they do not want to acknowledge, but we do. we see it and we are calling it up for what it is. we don't need any more toxic infrastructure. we cannot heal in the same environment that is making us sick. >> our fight for enviroental justice goes beyond ending frank gas. we demand power and duty to transform our own community.
amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. i am joined by cohost glenn gonzales -- juan gonzalez in new brunswick. juan: welcome to all of our viewers and listeners across the country and around the world. amy: many schools reopening this week. we begin today's show looking at the rise of covid-19 infections in children as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread. many hospitals across the country are reporting record numbers of children being hospitalized, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. the new york times reports in a single day last week, arkansas children's hospital in little rock had 19 hospitalized children. johns hopkins all children's hospital in st. petersburg, florida had 15. children's mercy kansas city in missouri had 12.
some of the children were in the intensive care unit. this is dr. mark kline, physician in chief at children's hospital new orleans. >> i have to tell you that i am as worried about our children today as i have ever been. this virus, the delta variant of covid, is every infectious disease specialist's worst nightmare. as the governor mentioned, there was a myth that circulated during the first year of the epidemic, that children were somehow immune. i think there were people who said children can't get the disease or transmit the disease. we know those were fallacies all along but securely now that the delta variant has emerged, it has become clear that children are being heavily impacted by this organism and this pandemic at this point. perhaps more than ever before. amy: in florida, where many schools reopen today, the sharpest spike in covid cases recently has been in
children under the age of 12. as of sunday, florida had 172 children being treated in hospitals for covid, the highest number in the country. this comes as florida's republican governor, ron desantis is threatening to defund the salaries of school officials who mandate mask wearing in schools. several counties have announced mask mandates in schools, in defiance of desantis. a similar battle is brewing in texas, where school authorities in dallas and austin are requiring masks in defiance of republican govenor greg abbot's order. this comes as pediatric wards in houston are nearing or at capacity. one 11-month-old baby in houston was recently airlifted to a hospital 170 miles away because there wasn't enough space to get treated in a houston hospital. that is where we are going,
and, -- where we are going, to houston, where we are joined by dr. christina propst. she is a pediatrician at a private practice and a member of the american academy of pediatrics council on children and disasters. she is also a member of the texas pediatric society committee on infectious diseases and immunizations. dr. propst, thank you so much for being with us. can you start off by explaining what the derrick -- with the delta variant has to do with this increased number of children being hospitalized? why are they so vulnerable right now? dr. propst: right now, we are in an unfortunate situation where the delta virus prevalent. the delta variantf covid-19 is the prevalent circulating variant in this country. it is more easily transmissible and notably it is more easily transmissible to those who are unvaccinated.
as 'm sure you and your listeners know, children under age 12 are currently still l -- still ineligible to be vaccinated agnst covid-19. they are currently our most vulnerable population, just as this highly transmisble varianis surging across the country, notably in texas and florida and louisiana and many other states. juan: doctor, could you talk about the sue of lg covid in children? there have been reports that many children are suffering from lingering physical, mental and neurological symptoms as a result of an infection th is very mild or asymptomatic. dr. propst: that is one of the greatest concerns for pediatricianand it suld be for parents across the
country right now. there is the condition many people havheard called long covid. it was originally identified in adults mostly because adults were getting tested. from day o, childr have been under tested in this country. long covid, now also knn as post acute covid-19 is a condition that can arise, a week to months later and generally involves a constellation of symptoms, including brain fog, aches, low-grade fever, a malaise that won't go away, a lack of energy. unfortunately, we are seeing more and more long covid which can be truly debilitating, in young children. we are seeing that as the incidence among the pediatric population increases and we are starting to see those long
covid cases. the malaise and fatigue that does not go away, six to 10 weeks after a covid infection, which might have even been a mild infection. the majority of children do not require hospitalization for covid-19. however, that does not mean they are safe or somehow immune from long covid or from multisystem inflammatory conditions that can occur post-covid infection. juan: could you respond to texas abbot having issued a ban on school masking mandates? dr. propst: it is so frustrating, as a pediatrician and as a parent. i feel for parents who are mang these difficult decisionright now, wther to homeschool. ma school districts do not
offer a virtualption this year. many have done away with the plexiglas and other covid mitigati modalitiein their classroom. our governor, unfortunately has taken our children's lives and is using it in a political game of chicken. that is the best way to describe it right now. i am thrilled to see houston independent school district, our new superintendent last week announced intentions to issue a mask mandate in our huge public school system in houston. dallas has followed and austin has followed. other districts are starting to try to come up with a virtual option. masks are the last best hope of defense for children who are vulnerable, and that includes every child under age 12 right now.
unfortunately it also includes a huge proption of our population of school-aged children who are eligible, between ages 12 and 16. currently only 30% of kids in that age group are fully vaccinated. pediatricians across the country and the american academy of pediatrics are begging parents to get their children vaccinated before the start of school. amy: would you say, dr. christina propst, that the governor is threateninghe health of the children of texas? dr. propst: i would say what he is doing is a direct threato the alth and well-bng of the children of texas. unfortunatel we need to ke in mind that for some xans who can afford to send their children to private school, this might not be problem
ivate schools ve issued ma mdates. ivate schools are doing testing and screening for symptoms. this will disproportionately affect in every way, the health, ntal well-being, education of the mos lnerable students among the most vulnerable of our population. that includes our unvaccinated children under age 12 who are in the poorest performing schools with the most overcrowding, with the oldest school buildings in the poorest ntilation. those children have a disproportionately high incident of some comorbidities that put them atigher risk. asma, obesity. those children absoluty will be disproportionately affected by this purely political and unfortunate decision by our governor. amy: dr. christina propst,
we are going to break and thenome back to this critical discussion about children and covid and why it is not only surging in the united states among children and also the unvaccinated, but around the world as well. dr. christina propst is a pediatrician at a private practice in houston. a member of the american academy of pediatrics council on children and disasters. member of the texas pediatric society committee on infectious diseases and immunizations. we will be back with her in a moment. ♪ ♪ [music break]
amy goodman. we now turn to top white house adviser dr. anthony fauci speaking on nbc about the rise of covid infections in children and what can be done to protect them from the virus. >> you have to separate and make sure you get the facts. the likelihood of a child getting serious disease compared to an elderly person or someone with an underlying condition is absolutely less, but less does not mean zero. there are a lot of children. all you need to do is do a survey of the pediatric hospitals throughout the country, and you are seeing a considerable nber of young people who are not only infected but who are seriously ill. the numbers compared to the elderly are ss but that is false comparison. these kids are getting sick. we have to make sure we protect them. there are two things you do with children who are unvaccinated, and that is the recommendation. you surround them with those who can be vaccinated, whoever they are
teachers, personnel in the school, anyone, get them vaccinated. protect the children with a shield of vaccinated people. we are having a strong recommendation that in the schools, everybody should wear a mask, whether or not you are vaccinated. amy: that is dr. anthony fauci. we are talking to dr. christina propst. she is a houston pediatrician. she is a member of the american academy of pediatrics council on children and disasters. a member of the texas pediatric society committee on infectious diseases and immunizations. in houston, you have hospitals filling. in austin, in dallas. an 11 month old is taken on a plane 150 miles away because there wasn't room for them in the houston hospital. can you talk about what parents have to look for, what are the symptoms? are they different in
infants or young children? also texas, arkansas, florida. huge unvaccinated populations, but in places like new york, the vaccination rate is very high. how concerned should parents be here? dr. prst: to address yo first qution, t presenting signs for covid in children can really vary. i have treated children as young as five weeks old and i have treated teenagers, 16, 17 and 18-year-olds. obviously there is a huge range of how those individuals -- for some children it can be abdominal pain and i have seen school-age children have -- for whom severe abdominal
pain was the presenting signs and then they developed fever. many developed upper reps -- upper respiratory symptoms. congestion, cough, sore throat, low-grade fever, elevating fever a few days in. some pediatric patients do lose their sense of smell and taste as well. it is really a variety of symptoms and pents and pediatricians need to have a very low threshold right now for testing, and for getting a quality test. there are still widely circulating tests that have a high false negative rate. that is not helpful to anyone. getting tested frequently, certainly as soon as symptoms are setting in. we know there has been exposure, getting tested several days out, if you are
asymptomatic and getting a quality test is important. there are parts of the country where the vaccination rate is significantly higher. we need to remember, co-hoarding among a group of adts in new york city where the adults have a very high vaccination rate and possibly even the teens and between's -- teens and tweens, it is not enough to protect our young children under age 12 from the delta variant of covid-19. it is simply not going to do it. there is enough travel. there is clear data showing vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus to the unvainated. if you have an adult who is vaccinated in new york city who hopped on a plane, where somebody with the delta variant took their mask off to eat or drink, that person could be harboring the
virus, they could be asymptomatic or have a very mild infection, and pass it on to their child. even a mild infection in children, we need to remember this. even a mild or moderate infection of covid-19 still puts that child at risk for long-haul covid and multisystem inflammatory issues. even areas with high vaccination rates among adults, children are still incredibly vulnerable. juan: dr. propst, i would like to ask you about a surge in another virus, called rsv. could you tell us what you have seen of that virus? is there a connection between it and covid? why has there been a sudden sue in r? dr. propst: v is a virus that many parents are not familiar with.
it stands for respiratory -- viru in the pediatric community, it is notorious. it tends trun in tandem with flu season and that predominately incts youn peop, babies, particularly -- ty could have reiratory distress and failure. here in the state otexas, typicall the sta stops monitoring, stops even counti cases of rsv in late may or june. this year, they didn't stop. in fact, our surge occurred ter. the surge has beejune, july and august which is precedented for this virus, at let for e 20 years i have been in practice here at houst. there does noappear to be a direct relation between covid-19 and rs. the respiratory syncytial rus by far predates covid,
which is a novel or new coronavirus. it is unclear w rsv is suing righnow. it is also notable that in an aa such ahouston, where rsv is rampant, flu really i not,nd inocked on wood as i say that. however, the vaccine efficacy fm last season would have waned significantly by n. with these viruses running in tandem, one wou expect flu to be ineasing if not surging. we are really in a perfect storm down here. other stes are facing this as wl. certainly rsv hospitalizations are at level i've never seen at this time of yr. i've psonally had to hospitalize re babiewith
rsv, respiratory distress and some who developed respirory failure had to be intubated in the intensive care unit r over a week,ue to rsv, more in the past two nths than i have in the previo three or four years. amy: finally, do you have school-aged kids or younger? dr. propst: i have college-age kids. amy: if you had younger kids, whether in texas or new york, would you send them to school? dr. prop: if my children were under aged 12, in a schooling situation such as public schools in texas, where our governor has banned mask mandates in school setting against the recommendation of the american academy of pediatrics and center f disease contl, i would be seriously looking at other options, whether that is homescoling, virtual options. for those who can't affo it, a privateption.
unfortunately that is not reality for the majority of udents. amy: we want to thank you for being with us, dr. christina propst, pediatrician at private practice in houston. member of the american academy of pediatrics council on children and disasters. as we continue on the issue of schools, now we are going to talk about teachers. this is democracy now! . i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we will take a look at how the highly contagious delta coronavirus variant is impacting plans to open schools. we are joined by randi weingarten, president of the american federation of teachers. randi weingarten, thank you for joining us. why have you changed your mind on this? randi: i actually said, on meet the press, that i think
employers, this work now on vaccines, i have been pro vaccines. we have been pro vaccine and the union has been around for 100 years and we have been pro vaccine this enre time and 90% of our -- we thought it would be better initially because of the polarization to do this in a volitional way. you say -- you see because there is disinrmation about young people and whether or not there are fertility issues, all of it is wrong. vaccines are safe and effective. we thought we could get through this but what has happened is that -- and the doctor before me was saying it, there is this delta
variant that significant lead changes the circumstances, particularly for young people and particularly for kids who under 12 cannot get the vaccine. what i saion meet the press was that my personal conviction is that we should be working with, not opposing our employers on vaccine policies, including vaccine mandates. we should be making sure there is medical and religious exemptions and i said that i would bring my leadership together this week, which we are in the midst of these conversations, about that kind of position. i've always been for vaccines in the issue becomes what mandates or strategies are not the issue. the issue becomes how do we protect people, how can we
protect people in texas? how can we protect our kids and educators in florida, and how do we have this broad-based fascination -- vaccination which is the most effective to will to getting to herd immunity and herd immunity will help us put covid in the rearview mirror. juan: randi, could you talk about the $5 million back-to-school vaccine campaign you are hoping to launch? randi: we have launched it already. in may, we said that the vaccines gave us enough confidence, plus the layered mitigation that showed you could actually stop transmissibility of the viruses today. it gave us enough confidence to say we need to have schools reopen fully, five days a week in the fall. we pushed very hard to have
all sorts of summer programs. you see summer camps and programs, but we said we are going to put our money where our mouth is, and we found -- it is not easy to find $5 million for our union, but we knew it was really important to run back to school like you would run a get out the vote campaign. we said to our locals across the country, here is $5 million, we're going to make it real easy to apply for a grant, but it has to be about getting everybody back to school and not just our members but our kids and parents. so we have given out 65 grants already, totaling about $4.8 million. people join together on grants. the scope is about 1800 of 35 locals in places that if
you aggregate, effectively about 20 million kids, and we have been standing up vaccine clinics. i was in st. louis and we stood up a vaccine clinic in st. louis, the district and us together. rio rancho in new mexico, we are doing billboards and ads in newspapers. in indiana this week, they have gotten back 90% of the kids who were not there last year, and we are talking to parents and kids and we are talking to our members because the northstar has to be safety. the delta riant has thrown us a curveball, but at the end of the day, in person schooling is really important for kids, but we have an obligation to the entire school to make it safe. i want to say one more thing. it is time to stop state --
scapegoating my members. you tell me another profession that has 90% vaccinated. teachers in the country understand the importance of being back in school and th importance of vaccation. juan: randi, i wanted to ask you about the long-term effects onducation, of the pandemic. clearly this has upended education worldwide. the times reported that the united states saw a 10% drop in kindergarten enrollment and even as public schools reopened, online, pre-k to 12th grade education has exploded. do you see the pandemic as allowing changes that those seeking privatize a dictation have long for? randi: i would say two things about that --
privatize education have longed for? randi: i would say two things about that. they have been looking for opportunities like that which is morally wrong. look what has happened. we have done remote education because we had to. look how much clamoring there has been for in school education. even conservative media, people want our kids to be in school, because, i hope because it is important for our kids. socialization, relationship building. but it is also really important for communities and so i think we have seen that in this last 18 months. number two, i think we have seen that remote education works for some kids and i do think because of the delta variant and what will probably happen unfortunately, we have to be understanding that there will soon be remote
education issue -- remote education this year. i hope there is no hybrid. that was one of the worst things that happened. we either have to have in school, and for those limited people who need their kids -- whose kids are immunocompromised or cannot take the vaccine, we have to have some remote education. the privatizers are going to do what the privatizers want. the miami archdiocese has said they will have masks for all of their kids. they have gotten that flexibility to dthat, and yet governor desantis refuses to allow local districts to have mas in florida, even though we have seen a huge increase in covid for kids in florida, and kids under 12 cannot get the vaccine. i do think that desantis and
abbott and these folks are trying to destabilize public schooling, but that is not my issue right now, as much as i care about it. my issue right now is how do we help get kids a safe and welcoming environment, and how do we make the public schools bk and how do we keep them open and that requires as many people as possibleo get the vaccine and that also requires layered mitigation of masks, good ventilation and testing. amy: randi weingarten, as president of the american federation of teachers, what do you say to governor desantis, who is now threatening to stop paying school officials who support mask mandates? randi: don't be polical. stop being political. your job is to protect people's public health. that is what i say to him. juan: one question for you
that is not covid related. there was a report that came out of the harvard kennedy school last month, on assessing the state common core standards, testing across the country. it hasn't gotten much attention but it reported that not only have achievements in reading and math not improved significantly over the last decade of these common core standards but that achievement levels in science and social studies have dropped significantly as all these school systems focused on testing. coulyou comment on what you think where it is now? randi: your question, you just answered it. what doomed common core around the country was that it went immediately to testing instead of using common core as a vehicle, as
a curriculum to actually try to help create lesson planning, and work with kids so that they become critical thinkers and worked in a deeper way in mathematics and literacy, but because the scores were more important than the actual work, why also did was it squeezed out subjects like science and my passion, which is social studies. part of what it squeezed out, it is project-based instruction that we do in an age-appropriate way all throughout the coury in terms of social studies. looking at current events and civics, making it interesting. we're looking at what to learn about the history of our country, the good, the bad, assess it, and be able to see what is happening,
through the eyes of what it means to be a multiracial democracy. do we need an accountability system in thisountry? of course we do, but it has to be based on what kids know and are able to do and what happens in classrooms, and figuring out how to link what happens in classrooms to accountability is far better than having a single test, and that is what is showing. amy: randi weingarten, we have 30 seconds, but the senate is expected to vote today on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. house speaker nancy pelosi says they won't even consider it unless the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill is also weighed at the same time. among the things in that
bill include universal pre-k. your response overall? randi: both of these bills are really important. as much as i am a big believer in both human infrastructure and traditional bridges, roads, and for church or bill that is in the bipartisan one, what is important about what the senate is doing. people think washington is broke, and we need to find ways to have some bipartisan compromises, to be able to move an agenda for the american people. i think that majority leader schumer and senator sanders, who have been working in tandem on the reconciation bill, that is going to be the next piece in the senate, after this bipartisan info structure bill, but as much as i may disagree with sever republicans, several
senators on other things, it is important to celebrate that they are getting to a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will repair electric grids, bridges, that will do the kinds of things that we need to do, to move our physical infrastructure and create jobs in the country, and that is good. amy: randi weingarten, president of the american federation of teachers. thank you for joining us. when we come back, new york lawmakers are weighing impeachment of governor andrew cuomo. we speak with the new york state senator. stay with us. ♪ ♪ [music bak]
amy: "the beast" by johann johannsson. this is democracy now! i am amy goodman with juan gonzalez. state lawmakers in new york are moving ahead with preparations for impeachment proceedings against democratic governor andrew cuomo after an explosive report from the new york attorney general's office found cuomo harassed at least 11 women in violation
of the law, including unwanted touching and kissing, and inappropriate remarks. the new york state judiciary committee is wrapping up its own impeachment investigation. last week, cumo's former executive assistant, brittany commisso filed a criminal complaint against him. other lawsuits are expected. we are joined by alessandra biag, new york state senator representing the bronx and parts of westchester. she called for andrew cuomo to resign in february. the circle is closing very quickly, state senator biaggi. can you talk about what is happening in the state legislature and what you are demanding of governor cuomo now sen. biaggi: -- demanding of governor cuomo now? sen. biaggi: thank you very much for having me. what is important to know is that right now, the governor of new york, who has been found to havviolated both state and federal law, not
only for sexual harassment also for retaliation amongst other things including a toxic workplace environment is in a position where those around him, those closest to him are starting to resign. he has not resigned. many other lawmakers and myself are calling on impeachment to begin immediately. why do i say immediately? because the moment on which the assembly begins the impeachment process, and w votes on the artles of impeachment, the moment they do that, and they hand those articles of impeachment to the senate is the moment that governor cuomo has to step aside and the lieutenant governor has to step in until the end of the proceedings. that is very important, because as evidenced by not only this rept but probably many other reports,
the governor is unfit to lead. to delay any impeachment proceedings which we are seeing happen in the assembly right now is just delaying the accountability of governor cuomo because the ag report is not full accountability, it is simply a set of findings. it is a very important set of findings, but it is only findings, not a method of accountability, so it is our job as legislators in new york to move forward as quickly as possible because the harm that governor cuomo is causing every day that he is in office does go beyond the 11 women he sexually harassed. it extends into things like covid relief, like our nta -- mta, nursing home deaths. there are 70 things this governor has been involved with that need -- lead us to
understand he is no longer fit to hold office. that is why it is important that we act with a serious sense of urgency. juan: senator, i wanted to ask you about the issue, that you worked in the governor's executive chamber at times and you describe it as quote, the most dark per iod i've ever lived through in a workplace setting. you also mentioned resignations, the importance of melissa derosa, the top aide to the governor, suddenly resigningver the weekend. could you comment on both of those? sen. biaggi: i would like to begin by commenting on the resignation of melissa derosa, who i'm sure you know but maybe your folks don't know as somebody who has really been an enabler of the governor. the governor has not acted alone. he has acted with impunity with the help of people closest to him, and melissa derosa is one of those people.
her name appears in the ag report any times. you see her trying to not only make efforts to retaliate against one of the 11 accusers but what you see her do is make comments that are t only outside of the realm of public service but absolutely answer -- absolutely antithetical to public service. my experience in the chamber from day one was one where it was very clear to me that the executive chamber was run solely to serve the needs of andrew cuomo. it was not to serve the needs of new yorkers. this was carried out in a way, undermining staff, yelling at staff. it felt like a whiplash between you have value but you are valueless. that was an experience of
gas lighting that made many people leave -- live in a constant state of fear that you would lose your job, a fear that you would be embarrassed, i fear that you would do something wrong and be sidelined. that collective experience is what is part of the toxic workplace environment, but really what it lends itself to is the point that the executive chamber is run where the loyalty to the governor is the currency that is most important in the chamber. amy: you have your own exterior answer with governor cuomo outside of working for him, when you saw him after you worked for him and you talk about his actions to you, as continually trying to show who has power. can you describe that briefly? sen. biaggi: i saw governor cuomo during the 2018 election cycle at a wedding. when i went to say hello to him, he pulled me in and kissed my forehead twice, my eye twice.
while he was holding onto me, he turns to my fiance at the time and said to him, are you jealous? that was not him sexualizing me, that was him asserting power over me and trying to make it clear not only to me but to my fiance that he was in control and that he was in charge. that kind of behavior is exactly the kind of behavior described amongst the 11 women and other people who have been inside his exec it of chamber and beyond. i think what this is clearly demonstrating is that this pattern of abuse of power is sunday that has been going on not just now in 2019 or 2017, but for decades. this is the thing that i believe not only will lend itself to accountability but it is important because anus we do not hold this person accountable, effectively what we are saying is that there are no standards for sexual harassment in the state of new york. and that is absolutely
unacceptable. amy: and you have said if he goes through these impeachment proceedings in does not resign before, and he has three daughters in their 20's, they will widen the investigation to include covering up nursing home deaths. we have 30 seconds. sen. biaggi: yes. there are things beyond sexual harassment claims, which are serious and efficient in their own right, but the nursing home deaths where he covered up the debts, the number of deaths, so that he could -- number -- covered up the deaths, the number of deaths so thahe could make $5 million and profit during a time when the state of new york was the state with the largest number of deaths but the greatest among of lead -- greatest amount of need with a leader more concerned with serving his own needs,
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