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Atlanta Opens A Confederate Cyclorama Exhibit

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Confederate Cyclorama Exhibit

Atlanta History Center has unveiled today Cyclorama: The Big Picture that featured the fully restored panoramic oil painting, The Battle of Atlanta. The cyclorama depicts one of the significant turning point in the civil war, the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. It is a 360-degree cyclorama that stands 49 feet tall, stretching longer than a football field and weighing 10,000 pounds. It is one of the world’s largest oil painting.

Multimedia storytelling enhances the visitor experience in the show. It includes a 12-minute, larger-than-life presentation projected onto the painting. It is now housed in the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building at the Atlanta History Center, a newly erected, custom-built 25,000-square-foot space. The Battle of Atlanta is one of the only two cycloramas in the United States. The other one is The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama. This makes the Atlanta History Center home to one of America’s most significant historical treasures.

Cycloramas were 1800’s version of IMAX and one of the most effective tool in providing viewers with immersive storytelling. The new exhibit was opened to give visitors an experience that was created in 1866 and was never experienced by anyone for 100 years.

Restoration highlights include:

  • Re-creation of three missing sections, adding 2,908 square feet to the painting to return it to its original size of 14,952 square feet
  • Erection of a 15-foot stationary platform upon which visitors can view the composition at eye-level
  • Re-creation of a 120-foot, custom-made diorama landscape, including 128 original restored diorama figures from 1936
  • Corrected hyperbolic shape through re-tensioning, conveying the originally intended 3D effect

The painting was created by the American Panorama Company in Milwaukee by 17 German artists in 1866, 22 years after the Battle of Atlanta took place.

With this new exhibit, the Atlanta History Center aims to encourage unique and varying viewpoints about the painting and channel them into a more in-depth conversation.

In an era where Confederate symbolism is being removed from public places around the country, the Cyclorama itself has come under criticism during its 127-year history. Some see it as a symbol of Atlanta rising from the ashes after it was burned during the war, but it’s also been interpreted as yet another glorification of the “lost cause” of the Confederacy, which saw Southern states secede from America to maintain slavery.

“History is messy. And it has a lot to teach us – if we let it,” AHC President and CEO Sheffield Hale said. “Facts are facts, but the way we view the past varies widely. Visitors to the Cyclorama exhibit will be encouraged to think critically about how art, entertainment, and popular culture influence their interpretations of history.”

One of the most debated iconographies are the ones from the Confederate regime in the USA. Statues of Confederate leaders are put up in different monuments in the country, and although the intention of these statues is to honor the ‘heroes’ of confederate USA, for black people who have been enslaved by these men for generation, these statue serve as a reminder of their unfortunate past and a display of racial dominance amongst the whites.

In 2011, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board unanimously voted against the proposal of the Confederate battle flag onto the license plates. This is the second time the plate with the Confederate flag design has been brought to the TxDMV Board for voting. The Confederate flag remains as a symbol of hate and slavery.

Guests enter the painting rotunda through a 7-foot-tall tunnel – passing underneath the diorama – before ascending an escalator to the 15-foot-tall stationary viewing platform. Here visitors immediately experience a full 360-degree view of the painting, enhanced by technology and a 12-minute theatrical, larger-than-life presentation projected onto the painting. Visitors will also have a chance to see the newly-restored Texas locomotive, famous for its participation in the “Great Locomotive Chase” during the war.

The conservation of the cyclorama was funded by a seeding fund of $10 million from Atlantans Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker. The Atlanta History Center raised $35.78 million for the project, including $10 million for an endowment that will ensure the ongoing care of The Battle of Atlanta painting and related objects, including the locomotive Texas, during the 75-year license agreement with the City of Atlanta.

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New York Moves To Rule Out Religious Exemption For Vaccines

New York will no longer allow parents to cite religious beliefs to opt out their children for measles vaccines Click To Tweet

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In the face of the worst measles outbreak in the country within the past 25 years, New York has decided to make necessary immunizations in schoolchildren, citing that religious exemption to vaccinizations can no longer be accepted.

In the past, legislation has allowed parents to reason against vaccines due to religious reasons. They have cited that it is their religious freedom to opt out of the science-based system in exchange for their beliefs.

The decision was made Thursday with a Democrat-led Senate and Assembly. The decision has made all schoolchildren take the first round of immunization shots—for those who have opted out—as a requirement before enrollment.

Furthermore, schoolchildren wishing to enroll in the upcoming school year are given up to 30 days to complete the first dose of each required immunization.

The newly-signed measure was met with mixed reactions from the hundreds of people who flocked the streets of New York. Some expressed that it was about time that the government had taken legislative action towards addressing the measles outbreak given that the problem is spiraling out of control. Moreover, some cited that religious beliefs have been used as a counter-action to opt out from vaccinations, which are due to rampant misinformation regarding the vaccine to cause other side effects.

Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers have complained against the measure citing that their religious freedom is being taken away by the vague impression that public health is in a state of fear due to measles.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who signed the measure told reporters that he believes public health — and the need to protect those who cannot get vaccinated because for medical reasons — outweighs the concerns about religious freedom.

“I understand freedom of religion,” he said. “I have heard the anti-vaxxers’ theory, but I believe both are overwhelmed by the public health risk.”

Bronx Democrat Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill’s Assembly sponsor added, “I’m not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or anything else that suggests you should not get vaccinated.” Moreover, “If you choose to not vaccinate your child, therefore potentially endangering other children … then you’re the one choosing not to send your children to school.”

On the other hand, New York is not completely absolving reasons to opt out of vaccinations. Particularly, the government will still allow children to skip taking the required shots for reasons citing medical concerns (some people are medically compromised and cannot take vaccines or immunizations due to risks from detrimental side effects.) These people can be those with compromised immune systems such as HIV or those who are allergic to said medications, to name a few.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported an alarmingly increasing number of measles cases in the United States — gaining the highest incidence for the past 25 years.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about 971 cases of measles in 26 states in the US from January 1 to May 30 of this year — threatening the nation’s elimination status.

The report also indicated that the spike in measles outbreaks was centered in hotspots such as Washington and New York. Also, since the disease is common among children, most of the cases reported are from unvaccinated school-age children.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told BBC that “If these outbreaks continue through summer and fall, the United States may lose its measles elimination status. That loss would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health.”

The issue is also magnified with misinformation that is being widely spread against the measles vaccine—which prompted Facebook to finally take action and try to mitigate false information that is widespread across its platform.

“These Groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or predictions when you type into Search,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, said in a statement. She added that when ads that include misinformation about vaccinations are found, “we will reject them.”

With New York’s move, similar exemptions are still allowed in 45 states, though lawmakers in several of them have introduced their own legislation to eliminate the waiver.

California removed personal belief vaccine exemptions for children in both public and private schools in 2015. Maine ended its religious exemption earlier this year. Mississippi and West Virginia also do not allow religious exemptions.

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13 Police Officers Sue San Francisco For Racial and Gender Discrimination

Police officers from San Francisco are suing the state for implementing a system that discriminates white people against promotions Click To Tweet

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Twelve white police officers and a white lesbian former police officer are suing the state of San Francisco for cases involving gender and racial discrimination against white police officers applying for promotions. The argument is led by a lieutenant whose similar suit 16 years ago netted a $1.6 million settlement.

The case is alleging that the current selection process is discriminatory against white police officers. Specifically, it is accusing the test-scoring and “banding” method of the San Francisco police force to determine eligible applicants for promotion.

All thirteen officers are alleging that they were denied opportunities for promotions due to the current system unfairly favoring minorities such as people of color, women, and other minorities.

The lawsuit reported Wednesday was filed Tuesday at a federal court accusing the city of San Francisco, the Police Department, the Police Commission, Mayor London Breed, former Mayor Mark Farrell, Police Chief Bill Scott, and former Chief Greg Suhr.

The lead plaintiff, Lt. Ric Schiff is leveraging the latest discrimination case against San Francisco with a 2003 lawsuit that he also led in behalf of twelve sergeants who accused the police force of discriminating in favor of black candidates for lieutenant. Schiff was denied a promotion to captain in support of women and minority candidates with lower scores, the suit said.

The 2003 lawsuit was settled by the city for $1.6 million, giving $200,000 to Schiff, who was later promoted to lieutenant. However, the city did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Historical Context

The 2019 case, which is seemingly rooted from white privilege, stands on the basis of a 1979 settlement over a racial discrimination suit filed by the Black Police Officer’s Association.

In 1973, a group called the Officers for Justice with almost all members were black, filed a lawsuit against the SFPD alleging that it has engaged in a pattern of employment discrimination based on race, sex, and national origin.

“As the suit dragged through the courts, it picked up support from the National Organization for Women, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the League of United Latin American Citizens. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the quit soon after it was filed, and the United States Department of Justice filed a separate action, which was merged with the original suit for trial,” reported in a 1979 article from The New York Times.

Consent Decree settled the lawsuit—a litigation remedy past discrimination cases—in 1979 declaring that the then rules and selection criteria for employment at the SFPD were illegal which included written examinations, minimum height requirements, and the strength test.

Moreover, the 1979 ruling included provisions such as: “Promotion policies will be changed to facilitate [the] movement of minority members and women into command positions” and “in recruiting women and minority members, the city must take advice from organizations that represent them and must advertise in media directed at these recruits.”

As a result, “the court upheld banding as a psychometrically sound procedure and [is] valid as a matter of constitutional and federal law,” cited from Test-Score Banding in Human Resource Selection by Herman Aguinis.

Banding allowed the SFPD to employ and promote individuals by ‘banding’ or grouping promotional test results so that all candidates who scored within a specific range were treated the same, allowing them to be judged on other factors such as experience and language skills.

However, with the current provision emphasizing on the prioritization of applicants from minority groups has left an unfair advantage against white police officers.

Aguinis in his book notes on banding says that “cases typically involve plaintiffs who sue because they believe testing is unfair either to a minority group or individuals. On occasion, majority-group members sue because they do not see an attempt to reduce [the] adverse impact as fair to majority-group applicants. It is an anomaly that banding is proposed as an alternative selection procedure that benefits minority plaintiffs, but in some cases, minority-group members actually object to banding and view it as discriminatory.”

“The city — to this day — has a long-standing practice and custom of discriminating against white males in SFPD promotions to the rank of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain,” M. Greg Mullanax, the officers’ attorney said in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, John Coté, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the Police Department “uses lawful, merit-based civil service examinations in making promotions.” The system, he said in a statement, is “designed to provide qualified individuals with the chance for advancement while ensuring fair treatment without regard to race, gender, religion, age or other status.”

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Adani Mine Plans Receive Queensland Government Approval

Queensland approves Adani to proceed with Carmichael mine amidst environmental concerns Click To Tweet

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The Queensland environment department has officially signed on Adani Mine’s plans to manage groundwater on and around the company’s Galilee Basin mine site amidst on-going issues regarding safety end environmental concerns.

The latest decision comes after massive public outcry against Adani’s plans of constructing a coal mine in central Queensland. Environmentalists and water experts pointed out that the mine could result to permanently drying up an ancient springs complex, and have dire effects on the health of the Carmichael River. Moreover, the approval comes after intense pressure on the Queensland government after the public addressed that it was a rushed decision before federal elections.

In a statement, however, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said its decision had been based on a “rigorous” assessment. “Adani submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the department’s feedback, yesterday,” the department said. “The assessment has been based on the best available science,” they added.

Queensland granted Adani a water license that allows its mine unlimited access to groundwater for 60 years.

Adani will now begin construction on its future mine site. Particularly, land-clearing and road access development. But Adani will still need to secure other federal environmental approvals before it can begin extracting coal from the location. At the moment, Adani still needs to obtain eight more compliance from different sectors.

Australia is no stranger to coal mining corporations, especially Queensland, who’s abundant with coal resources within its domain. Specifically, Carmichael is the most viable source of coal in the Galilee Basin.

The Galilee Basin is about the size of Victoria and contains one of the world’s largest untapped deposits of thermal coal — the type used to make electricity.

The mine, which is proposed by Adani Mining (a subsidiary of India’s Adani Group), is meant to establish its coal mine but poses environmental concerns such as the impact on water at the Doongmabulla Springs, a wetland desert oasis.

The fundamental concern involves contamination of nearby rivers, lakes, and aquifers by what comes out of a coal mine—usually highly acidic water containing heavy metals like arsenic, copper, and lead. Particularly for Andani, it could seep through nearby aquifers supplying the springs.

Water is an essential resource during coal extraction; in fact, it ensures a safe extraction process. According to mining industry data, companies use 800-3000 gallons of water to mine and process and transport one ton of coal. According to the US Geological Survey, 410 billion gallons of water are withdrawn from rivers, lakes, streams, and aquifer each day in the U.S.

Specific in Australia, such supplies account for nearly a third of our total water consumption, according to Geoscience Australia. Competitors for the water to be used by the Adani mine include local towns and the region’s farmers.

“The state government notes that [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation] CSIRO and Geoscience Australia both raised concerns about the groundwater impacts. (The state government had been asking their federal counterparts for the CSIRO report for a month – only to receive it less than half an hour before Minister Price announced her approval,” says The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Adani Abbot Point coal terminal and the Caley Valley Wetlands, February 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Supplied by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Gary Farr) Source: AAP Image/Supplied by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Gary Farr

Adani is set to take immediate actions towards the recent approval. However, hydrologists from four Australian universities issued a joint report earlier this week, saying Adani’s water science was “severely flawed”.

According to their analysis on Adani’s water solution, it could potentially lead to permanently drying the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, 8km from the edge of Adani’s mining lease.

Tom Crothers, a former general manager for water allocation and planning in the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, also emphasized that the state government had no clue what the cumulative impact would be if the Adani mine and eight others planned for the Galilee basin went ahead.

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