The Sunday Subject – April 3, 2022

The Bills have struck a deal with New York State officials for a new $1.4 billion taxpayer-funded stadium.

The agreement provides $850 million in state and local funding, making it the largest ever taxpayer contribution for a NFL stadium. The announcement comes after months of secretive negotiations among Governor Kathy Hochul, Erie County officials and team owners. The new stadium will be built across the street from the current stadium in Orchard Park and will hold over 60,000 fans.

Amazon workers in Staten Island have voted to unionize.

Staten Island marks the first successful unionizing effort in Amazon’s history, despite intense lobbying efforts by the company. Workers voted in favor of unionizing by a wide margin, signaling a rebuke of harsh working conditions.

President Biden has signed a historic anti-lynching bill.

After two hundred failed Congressional attempts over the course of 120 years to make lynching a federal crime, Biden signed the Emmitt Till Antilynching Act this week. The law allows for hate crimes to be prosecuted as lynchings in federal court if they result in death or serious injury. Family members of Ida B. Wells and Emmett Till were in attendance at the signing ceremony, an acknowledgement that the scars of racial violence are still painfully present. “From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to countless other acts of violence — countless victims known and unknown — the same racial hatred that drove the mob to hang a noose brought that mob carrying torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years go,” President Biden said. Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “Lynching is not a relic of the past. Racial acts of terror still occur in our nation, and when they do, we must all have the courage to name them and hold the perpetrators to account.”

Russian troops have pulled back from around Kyiv.

After being forced to rethink its military strategy after plans to quickly capture Kyiv and subjugate Ukraine failed, Russia has turned its focus to eastern Ukraine. Following the withdrawal of troops from the Kyiv region, Russian generals stated that their aim had always been to liberate Donbas, the two Russian speaking provinces in the east of the country. They claim the assault on Kyiv was merely a ruse designed to distract Ukrainian forces from Donbas. However, abundant evidence from a range of sources, including Russian media reports erroneously published, indicate that Russia actually intended to not only capture Kyiv, but do so swiftly.

Pope Francis has apologized to indigenous communities in Canada for the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools.

From the 1880s to the 1990s the Canadian government operated a system of compulsory boarding schools that severely abused indigenous children, in what an investigation has revealed to be a “cultural genocide.” During this period, about 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to schools where neglect, disease and physical, verbal and sexual abuse were widespread. The Catholic Church operated about 70 percent of the schools in the system. In an address to Canada’s indigenous communities, the Pope stated he felt “sorrow and shame” for the role Catholics played in “the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.” Pope Francis’ apology comes just several months after the revelation that more than 1,000 indigenous children were buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools.

Ukraine dominated the agenda at this week’s China-EU summit.

Experts have argued that both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s lack of condemnation have exposed the limitations of Europe’s old trade-first China policies. In her sixteen years as Germany’s chancellor and de-facto leader of the EU, Angela Merkel pushed for an accommodating approach to China (and relatedly, Russia) despite its human rights abuses. Under Merkel’s leadership, the bloc rejected America’s aggressive approach and instead treated China as an invaluable source of economic opportunity and a potential partner on issues such as climate change – showing that it was willing to overlook human rights violations under the notion that economic unity and interdependence would eventually discourage such acts. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has forced advocates of Merkel’s approach to rethink their China policy, and more broadly, the idea of “change through trade.” One diplomat stated, “China is watching our Russia policy closely: how much pain we are willing to suffer. Europe is demonstrating that it is united and willing to pay a price.”