The United States and Cuba have agreed to open embassies in each other’s capitals, the biggest tangible step the countries’ historic bid to restore ties after more than a half-century of hostilities.
President Barack Obama is expected to announce the agreement Wednesday at the White House. The U.S. Embassy in Havana is scheduled to open later this month.
The U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the re-establishment of embassies following a surprise December announcement that secret talks had led to an agreement to restart diplomatic relations.
For Obama, ending the U.S. freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the U.S. embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective.
Having just watched this (in the UK), if you didn’t I hope you have a chance to catch up. POTUS did good.
(Link updated. It is not easy getting Google to show TV links from other countries!)
Long history and sheer beauty give this place a special feeling. One can imagine the migrations of the indian tribes up for the summer and down onto the desert floor for winter. They thrived in this area. Now its reservations and casino resorts for how the tribes make do. Modernity came at a cost. You can literally see the way down. That green strip down the middle is also where the mules once brought the mail up.
But please let me share the scene with you. It was interesting enough I offer 3 takes on the shot.
Where was i exactly? Charles is kind enough to auto strip metadata from images to protect our privacy. So Lightroom has this map feature that is pretty accurate with the in camera GPS. This way I can share the data on a map for anyone who might want to visit these interesting places.
This last image was shot with my telephoto lens but i cropped way the heck in for this image. Thats less than 25% of the original image.
The U.S. Supreme Court just made it easier for Christians to be persecuted, the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court said Sunday.
Speaking before the Kimberly Church of God congregation, Chief Justice Roy Moore told congregants that the justices in the highest court erred, just as they did when they allowed slavery, according to a report from The Associated Press.
“Just who do they think they are when one person can reverse 200-and-something years of precedent in our country and thousands of years of precedent in western civilization,” Moore reportedly said, adding, “Welcome to the new world. It’s just changed for you Christians. You are going to be persecuted according to the U.S Supreme Court dissents,” Moore said.
“Is there such a thing as morality anymore? Sodomy for centuries was declared to be against the laws of nature and nature’s God. And now if you say that in public, and I guess I am, am I violating somebody’s civil rights? Have we elevated morality to immorality? Do we call good, bad? What are we Christians to do?” Moore asked parishioners, according to the report.
What are you Christians to do? Well, like I said in my page about Bristol Palin yesterday…
Okay folks the saying goes “see something, say something”. It’s not “see something, shoot it”. If you destroy a drone, you get to replace it. Or at least pay for it. Shooting at any aircraft, including drones is a crime that can get you a maximum of 20 years.
There have been multiple stories of drones getting shot out of the sky with shotguns in the past couple of years. Last November, we reported that a New Jersey man was arrested after shooting down a camera drone that was taking pictures over his property.
Now another drone pilot, Eric Joe, has just won a lawsuit against a disgruntled neighbor who blasted Joe’s hexacopter out of the sky with a shotgun.
VICE reports that a judge has ordered that Brett McBay cough up $850 for Joe’s custom-built drone. McBay originally had to pay $2,500 bail after being charged with possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and criminal mischief.
Joe notes that he initially tried to settle the issue outside of court, but it did not work out. The emails below showcases Joe attempting to resolve the matter civilly via email with McBay:
Then ya got these guys…
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
Judge Jim Hansen, Lubbock Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, has decided to quit performing marriages altogether after the Supreme Court decided to legalize same-sex marriage three days ago.
In an open letter, Judge Hansen writes that he has no anger, fear, or hatred toward any person or party, he is simply guaranteed his religious rights under the United States Constitution.
But one same-sex couple in Lubbock was outraged by the announcement. Eddie Sanchez and Chris Covarrubio have lived together for about 13 years, and they are no strangers to adversity.
When Covarrubio heard about Lubbock County Judge Jim Hansen’s decision not to perform anymore marriages because of the Supreme Court’s decision, he was extremely disappointed.
“If you’re a state employee then you should be required to officiate under the letter of the law, and this is the law, whether he likes it or not,” he said, “so abide by it or step aside and let somebody else who will honor the law.”
As the ayatollahs hijacked the 1979 revolution in Iran, it ushered in what Khomeini and his supporters promised would be an Islamic democracy, but what in reality quickly revealed itself to be a repressive dictatorship.
The outline for Khomeini’s philosophy of government was no secret. In 1970, he published a book, Hokumat-i Eslami (“Islamic Government) which fleshed out the parameters and workings of a government based on the idea of absolute rule of clerics. He infused his reading of Islamic history and philosophy with religious hatred. Hence, he declares in just the second paragraph of the book, “From the very beginning, the historic movement of Islam has had to contend with the Jews, for it was they who first established anti-Islamic propaganda and engaged in various stratagems, and as you can see, this activity continues down to the present.” Later in the text, he declared, “If the rulers of the Muslim countries truly represented the believers and enacted God’s ordinances… then a handful of wretched Jews (the agents of America, Britain, and other foreign powers) would never have been able to accomplish what they have.”
His castigation of Jews was little compared to his hatred of Baha’is. “In our own city of Tehran now there are centers of evil propaganda run by the churches, the Zionists, and the Baha’is in order to lead our people astray and make them abandon the ordinances and teachings of Islam. Do we not have a duty to destroy these centers that are damaging to Islam?” American pastor Saeed Abedini continues to be held hostage in Iran; he was imprisoned because of his unapologetic embrace of Christianity.
While apologists for Iran like to praise the regime’s protection of minorities—here’s The New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink and here’s Roger Cohen, also in The New York Times. To cite 20,000 Jews living in Iran is one thing; to fail to acknowledge that population has declined more than 80 percent since the 1979 revolution suggests quite another. Many Jews fled to Israel or the United States, but the Baha’is had nowhere to go. Upon seizing the reins of power, Khomeini and his band of clerics were merciless to the Baha’is. Many were imprisoned, and some were executed. All were fired from government jobs, and their private employers were pressured to fire them. Baha’i students were forced from universities. Today, Baha’is are subject to arbitrary arrest, and even Baha’i children find themselves imprisoned.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry justify their outreach to Iran in the belief that they can moderate the ayatollahs and nudge the regime into the community of nations. But will the vision of the regime leadership really change? If the latest from Saham News, the newspaper of the so-called reformist National Trust Party s any indication, then the answer is no. This article entitled “A Secret Order from the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution: Progress and Advancement of the Baha’is Must Be Blocked” details the priority the regime continues to place on suppressing if not murdering Baha’is to the current day. Thirty-six years of the ayatollahs’ rule has not moderated the extremist fervor of those who craft the regime’s policies. Religious persecution in Iran is on the rise.
As the United States abandons moral clarity and its traditional support for the Iranian people in favor of an unpopular regime that represses them, then the White House must recognize that it will be standing witness to the suppression of human rights and religious freedom in Iran to a degree not seen since the chaotic months following Khomeini’s 1979 return.
War Is Boring
by DAVID AXE
A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can’t turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy’s own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January.
“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the unnamed pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief that War Is Boring has obtained. The brief is unclassified but is labeled “for official use only.”
The test pilot’s report is the latest evidence of fundamental problems with the design of the F-35 — which, at a total program cost of more than a trillion dollars, is history’s most expensive weapon.
The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — not to mention the air forces and navies of more than a dozen U.S. allies — are counting on the Lockheed Martin-made JSF to replace many if not most of their current fighter jets.
And that means that, within a few decades, American and allied aviators will fly into battle in an inferior fighter — one that could get them killed … and cost the United States control of the air.
After having had my first DSLR (an entry-level Canon with an APS-C sensor) for about 18 months, I finally decided that I prefer prime lenses to normal or telephoto zoom lenses. The main reason is because it enables me to afford faster lenses (lenses with a larger maximum aperture) and therefore take sharper photos in lower light. The secondary reason is because the higher end telephoto zoom lenses are super heavy—for me, anyway—especially if they have image stabilization, which is pretty much a must unless you’re using a tripod.
So I needed one more prime lens, something wider than my 40mm pancake lens. Luckily, towards the end of last year Canon introduced the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM with a price tag under $200. To make sure it would work for me I used my 18-55mm kit lens to take photos at both 24mm and 40mm. It did indeed work for me, so I ordered one.
I love it—almost as much as my 40mm, but not quite.
Once it arrived, I decided to take out all my prime lenses (except the 50mm f/1.8 II, otherwise known as the “plastic fantastic” or “nfity fifty”, which I hate). I lined them up and proceeded to do some tests. For readers who may not know, the “effective” focal length is what it would be comparable to on a camera with a full frame sensor (for Canon cameras with APS-C sensors you multiply the focal length by 1.6, so 24 * 1.6 = 38.4 (rounded down to 38mm). The minimum focusing distance (MFD) is how close you can get to your subject and still be able to focus on it clearly, and the angle of view (AOV) is exactly what it sounds like.
Since this was just a practice exercise for me to understand the differences in the focal lengths, I wasn’t concerned with lighting and didn’t drag out the tripod until I used the macro lens, so some images are less than razor sharp. Most of the images were shot in AV (aperture priority) mode.
The following is a list of what I tested and the results.
EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM: 38mm effective, AOV 59° 10’, MFD 6.30 in
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM: 64mm effective, AOV 57° 30’, MFD 11.81 in
EF 85mm f/1.8 USM: 136mm effective, AOV 28° 30’, MFD 2.79 ft
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM: 160mm effective, AOV 24°, MFD 1 ft
The general rule of thumb is that you use extension tubes with wide/normal lenses and close-up lenses with telephoto lenses: 250D (+4 dioptres) with 30 to 135mm lenses, 500D (+2 dioptres) with 70 to 300mm. Both extension tubes and close-up lenses can be stacked. With close-up lenses you might lose a bit of sharpness, especially if you use cheap ones (which is why I opted for the Canon brand), but you don’t lose any light. With extension tubes you don’t lose any sharpness but you lose some light (how much depends on how many you stack). With some of the cheap extension tubes your auto-focus won’t work because the necessary electronics aren’t present (again, I opted for Canon—the build quality is great).
Here’s a reference image of the paw print motif on my coffee cup for the close-ups:
Here’s the same 24mm lens with a 24mm extension tube added to it. As you can see, it’s a bit blurry due to the slow shutter speed, but it’s even larger than 1:1 life size (as with the macro). I don’t know what the actual ratio is because I hate math and was too lazy to look up the formula to calculate it. BTW, that shadow you see on the left side is actually the camera lens—yes, it was that close.
Please ignore the dust on the phone!
100mm Macro Lens
Best for actual macro work as there is no loss of sharpness or light. Nice bokeh, good for portraits (but the 85mm is better, IMO). Also good as a short-medium telephoto lens, but it is heavy and has no image stabilization (IS), so plenty of light will be the best bet (so faster shutter speeds can be used to compensate for shake). Forget trying to do handheld video with it.
There’s not a significant difference between the results of the 85mm with the 250D close-up lens and the 24mm lens at MFD, so I think the 85mm will be best reserved for portraits, as originally intended, or for skittish creatures who don’t like you getting too close. As with the 100mm macro above, the lack of IS means it’s not suitable for video, but the wider f/1.8 aperture allows for more light & faster shutter speeds in overcast or nighttime photo situations, so that’s another plus. It has a nice bokeh.
Still my favorite. Decent bokeh, nice walking around/street lens. Also good as a portrait lens (remember, I’m on ASP-C sensor). To be honest, I’ve never attempted to do video with it—maybe that needs to be my next test. Using the 25mm extension tube makes close-ups almost life size—another plus, in a pinch.
Very nice nice walking around/street lens—AOV is similar to that of the human eye. Nice close-ups, but you need to get in really close, so only if you’re shooting something that’s inanimate or not skittish. The 25mm extension tube makes you get too close, so maybe the 12mm one would work nicely in a pinch. I haven’t tested this one for video yet either as that’s not really my thing. My understanding is that with wider angled lenses like this, IS isn’t as critical. I guess I need to find out if that holds true with an APS-C.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the same jerk who prayed for President Obama’s death, and whose followers showed up at one of Obama’s speeches toting AR’s in an open carry demonstration that just happened to occur shortly after that prayer...
In his Sunday Evening Service streamed live on Jun 28, 2015, Anderson called for the stoning to death of ministers who performed same-sex marriage ceremonies and repeated his Bible based call for the execution of all LGBT people.
Demonizing the LGBT community, equating pedophillia and homosexuality, and insisting that LGBT people be referred to as “filthy sodomites,” Anderson’s sermon is two hours of obnoxious Christian hate.
However, much of Anderson’s sermon is directed at other Christian leaders who do not do enough to oppose “the homos.” Anderson railed against any clergy member who would dare to perform a same-sex marriage, declaring:
Anybody who performs the ceremony should be stoned!