The Sunday Subject – January 2, 2022

Welcome to Subject’s weekly news roundup. We present you the essential headlines, local and beyond.

Last Sunday the Bills won 33-21 against the Patriots, putting them back at first place in the AFC East.

The Bills can secure the division by winning their last two games against Atlanta and the New York Jets. “I think it was the Christmas presents I got them,” Josh Allen joked after the game, referring to the nice watches he gifted his offensive linemen.

President Biden signed a $770 billion defense bill on Monday.

The National Defense Authorization Act passed Congress with bipartisan support, over the opposition of liberals pushing for more social spending. Lawmakers increased spending in almost every aspect of the military, including new funding to counter China’s military expansion and initiatives to bolster the defense of Ukraine in the midst of a potential forthcoming Russian invasion. The bill, which included $24 billion more than Biden had requested, is seen as a setback for anti-war liberals whose efforts to expand social spending have been blocked by Democratic moderates in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Last Sunday South African leader Desmond Tutu died at age 90.

Archbishop Tutu’s moral and spiritual leadership helped abolish apartheid in South Africa and usher in a peaceful period of democracy. A vocal advocate for non-violence and peaceful reconciliation, Archbishop Tutu guided South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was aimed at beginning to heal the wounds of apartheid through restorative justice. He used his position as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “to reckon with oppressive pasts but also to hold the new democratic government accountable,” said the Nelson Mandela Foundation in a statement. “His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.”

Erie County officials have stated that cloth masks may not be good enough to fight against the Omicron variant of the virus.

Omicron, which is two to three times more transmissible than Delta and earlier variants, is “one of the most transmissible virus positions ever seen,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Amid a record high number of new covid cases in Erie County, county officials are now recommending high quality masks, such as KN95 masks. In an effort to slow the spread, Erie County will distribute 400,000 KN95 masks at Health Department sites, including vaccine and testing sites, along with libraries, social service and senior centers.

The Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy case will soon head to mediation.

As legal fees grow beyond $7 million, the diocese will begin a new phase of its Chapter 11 reorganization. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York has ordered the diocese to begin mediated negotiations with its insurers, parishes and schools, creditors, and the rest of the 900 people who have filed claims against priests for sexual abuse. Bucki said he was pushing the parties to the table to avoid full-scale litigation that would “take years if not decades to complete.” He wrote in a decision late Monday, “Tremendous complexity suggests a need for mediation. But any mediation must be fair to all parties and protective of due process.”

For the second time in three weeks, President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone about the tensions at the Ukrainian border.

The call, which took place on Thursday, occurred amidst growing suspicions that the Kremlin is planning to invade Ukraine in the coming weeks. It is unsure whether Putin sought to de-escalate the situation, or discuss demands that, if left unfulfilled, might provide him with a justification for carrying out the military escalation.