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DNC week: On Thursday, August 20 Axios co-founder Mike Allen hosted a conversation on the future of broadband access featuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Microsoft President Brad Smith and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Randi Weingarten discussed coronavirus' impact on education and the necessity of expanding broadband access across America.

  • On remote education becoming a fact of life: "In a global pandemic where you have a virus that is very contagious and spreads asymptomatically, we have an obligation to make remote [education] better because, until we can decrease community spread throughout the United States, distance learning and distance working is going to be a fact of life."
  • On equitable broadband access: "A hotspot does not substitute for connectivity into a home or into a school. A hotspot does not substitute for reliable high speed Wi-Fi...We should be thinking about connectivity like we think about radio waves. It should be free to everyone."

Highlighting how public education now depends on not just hardware but internet connectivity, Brad Smith underscored the necessity of prioritizing broadband access as a critical part of infrastructure.

  • On the challenge of bridging the digital divide: "The kids that lacked a broadband connection in May are probably going to lack it in September as well...[they'll] be facing that same problem as they start school in a couple of weeks. For a country for whom I think universal public education has been a defining value and attribute of our society, we have a huge problem."
  • On the social responsibility of the tech sector: "We were born as an industry free of regulation. But given the impact of technology on society today, we need to step up and recognize we need to exercise more responsibility ourselves, and we need to help governments move forward and create a regulatory floor."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar discussed the security challenges of the fall election, unpacking her views on the Trump administration's efforts to suppress voter turnout.

  • Her view on the chaos created by the Trump administration: "When it comes to what [the Trump administration] is doing on the postal service, what they are doing when it comes to not adequately funding and helping our states during the pandemic with elections...it feels like they're trying to foment chaos. Every one Democrat, Republican, Independent has a right to vote. And I would rather put ballots in the mail box and voters in the hospital."
  • Her view on voting by mail versus voting machines: "For right now, at least, the mail in ballots can't be hacked into like the voting machines. It's another reason to vote by mail."

Thank you Microsoft for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Nov 23, 2020 - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

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