Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The "Terrafugia Transition" Makes Flying Cars Closer to Reality with FAA Clearance

Weird-looking cars are a dime a dozen. Far less common are weird-looking cars that can also fly AND have approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Indeed, as far as we know, there's only one of those babies: The Terrafugia Transition.

The private aircraft/funky-looking car has been in the news before. But the recent announcement that it's going into production sparked mega-searches on the Web. Almost immediately, online lookups for "terrafugia transition" and "terrafugia transition pictures" both, well, took off.

A popular article from the UK's Daily Telegraph explains that the FAA's special exemption allows the vehicle to function as both a "light aircraft" and a car. Normally, for a plane to meet the "light aircraft" designation, it can weigh no more than 1,200 pounds.

The Terrafugia Transition weighs 1,320, due primarily to the number of car-related safety features, like airbags and crumple zones. The "light aircraft" designation is key, because licenses for planes with that label require only 20 hours of flying time. Fewer hoops to jump through means more potential sales.

So, how does the plane/car work? Check out the flying car's official video below. So far, 70 people have placed a deposit. The total retail cost: $194,000. Expensive, but really, can you put a price on skipping commercial flights?

Terrafugia, Inc. Press Release:
 FAA Grants Terrafugia Extra Takeoff Weight for Road Safety Features


Sunday, June 27, 2010

About Dr. Ludwik Kowalski's book, "Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist"

"This personal history [or autobiography] traces my evolution from a dedicated Stalinist in Poland to an active anti-Stalinist in the USA. Affairs of the heart and scientific preoccupations are not ignored. Spanning the years from 1946 to 2008 [the author was born in 1931], this story is based mostly on diaries stored in an old, green, metal trunk. In late 2009 I decided to open the green coffer. Up to then, I had never re-read the diaries..."  ~Dr. Ludwik Kowalski

The author of this autobiography is one of many deceived communists who abandoned their former ideology. Born in 1931 in Poland, Ludwik Kowalski lived in the Soviet Union up to age 15. His undergraduate and graduate education was completed in Poland and France. After returning to Poland in 1963 with a French Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, he was invited to a scientific conference in the US, and became a research associate at Columbia University. His teaching career began in 1969, at Montclair State University, in New Jersey. After retiring in 2004, he wrote “Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under The Stalinist Regime,” a short and easy-to-read book for those Americans who know very little about Soviet history.

Kowalski's autobiography is based on his diaries, starting in 1946; it is a fascinating story of one man's struggle to clarify his political identity. But this is not all; some readers might be interested in other aspects of his story, such as scientific work, affairs of the heart, religious belief, etc. After re-reading his voluminous diaries (written in Polish), Kowalski realized that they contained enough substance to be of interest to others. Seeking editorial help, the author asked his wife “Are you going to be embarrassed to read descriptions of episodes from my sexual life?” The answer was “we are senior citizens now.”

“Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist” can now be purchased at (enter Ludwik Kowalski into their search box and click the red GO button. Then click on the book picture and scroll down to read the editorial review).

By the way, anyone can post a short book review, or a comment, at amazon, in the box provided. If you ever purchased a book on amazon (not necessary the one you are writing about) then they know your email address. Find the "create your own review" button and click on it. In the next window enter your email address and click on the "forgot my password." They will at once send you a form to declare a new password. Any amazon book can be reviewed by entering the email address and the password.

Click here to reach "Tyranny to Freedom" at

The first chapter of the book is a brief summary of what is in the remaining fourteen chapters.

Royalties will be donated to a Montclair State University scholarship fund.

Private comments and reviews will be highly appreciated. Contact the author by e-mail:

Share the above information with others who might be interested (for example, by forwarding this message to a friend). A self-published author needs help to make the book known to potential readers. What can be done to accomplish this? Suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Important details for bookstores:

1) The book is carried by Ingram and any bookstore can order books through the Ingram's system.
2) Ordered books are returnable; there should be no problem with ordering and returning unsold books (without charge).
3) Each book is small and light (6.6 ounces); 10 books take only 3 inches of shelf space.


Stalin's Hometown of Gori Removes His Statue from the Town's Central Square

Authorities removed a towering statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin from the central square of his native city in the dead of the night on Friday, carting away the monument to Georgia's most famous native.

The 6-meter-high bronze statue will be replaced by a monument to victims of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia and of Stalin's repression, officials said -- a rebuke to Moscow.

In an unannounced operation that began after midnight and was over before dawn, municipal workers and police took the statue down from its stone pedestal in the small city 80 km (50 miles) west of the capital, Tbilisi.

The statue's removal drew a mixed reactions in Gori, where it was erected a year before Stalin's death in 1953.

"How could they remove it? ... Stalin was a great individual and the most famous Georgian in the world," Irina, who gave only her first name, told Georgian public television.

"Stalin's monument was a symbol of our town," she said.

Outward signs of Stalin's pervasive personality cult were swept away after his death across Georgia and the rest of the Soviet Union, but he is revered by many in Gori.

Another resident, who identified herself as Maya, called it "the right decision. It's more logical to have a memorial to victims of war than a huge Stalin monument."

Widely reviled as a dictator responsible for millions of deaths, Stalin is held up as a hero by supporters across the former Soviet Union who say the country could not have defeated Nazi Germany or become a superpower without his leadership.

For many Georgians including pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili, the monument was a symbol of Moscow's lingering influence two decades after the small nation gained independence in the 1991 Soviet collapse. Resentment of Russia flared with the five-day war in August 2008.

"There is no place for such an ugly idol in Georgia," Culture Minister Nika Rurua said.

Officials said, however, that the monument would be moved to the courtyard of Gori's Stalin museum -- not discarded.

"A new monument dedicated to victims of the Russian aggression will be erected at this place," Zviad Khmaladze, a city council leader in Gori, said in televised comments.

Gori was the hardest-hit Georgian city in the 2008 war. Bombs hit the main square near the statue and buildings nearby.

The new monument will also commemorate victims of Stalin's repression, Rurua said.

The Kremlin is likely to bristle at a monument equating Russia's current leaders with Stalin, and the 2008 war -- which Moscow says was a morally justified response to Georgian aggression -- with the dictator's crimes.

Saakashvili praised the statue's removal when asked about it at a news conference.

"I support the decision of the municipality and the Culture Ministry completely, as a museum of occupation and monuments to those who orchestrated that occupation cannot exist in this country at the same time," Saakashvili said
He was referring to a museum that opened in Tbilisi during his presidency on the years when Georgia was a Soviet republic.

Russian troops occupied Gori for two weeks after the 2008 conflict, which erupted when Georgia tried to recapture the Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia, just north of the city.

Russia recognized South Ossetia's independence after the war and has strengthened its grip on the rebel region.

Gori hosts some smaller statues and busts of Stalin as well as the museum dedicated to the late leader, who was born in Gori in 1879 and ruled the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death.

Mainly elderly supporters gather outside the colonnaded museum twice a year, on his birthday and the day of his death.

(Editing by Steve Gutterman and Myra MacDonald)

See also:  About Dr. Ludwik Kowalski's book, "From Tyranny to Freedom: Diary of a Former Stalinist"


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Austrian Catholic Church Membership Rapidly Declining Over the Vatican's Deaf Ear to Modernity

"You can't redesign a religious community every day but you also can't pretend as if nothing has happened in 2,000 years..."  ~Parishioner, Erwin Bundschuh


Historically a potent symbol of Catholicism in Europe, Austria has in recent years been known more as the center of a taboo-busting movement to liberalize the church.

Now, reformers here are ramping up their campaign for change amid worldwide outrage over the priest sex abuse scandal.

And while much of the push comes from the grassroots, the country's powerful cardinal recently caused a stir with strong gestures in support of reform, raising the stakes in the confrontation between the Vatican and dissidents pushing to allow priests to marry and women to be ordained.

What is particularly troubling for Rome is that Austria - which in past centuries was famous for being a bulwark against the Protestant Reformation - is losing worshippers in record numbers as calls for reform grow stronger.

Tens of thousands of Austrian Catholics - many of whom still consider themselves devout believers - are leaving the church each year, disgusted by the priestly sex abuse scandal and frustrated by what they see as the Catholic hierarchy's outdated ways.

For 76-year-old Erwin Bundschuh, who left the church about six weeks ago, the main problem today is an ivory tower mentality that rejects dialogue and cuts itself off from the realities of the modern day.
"You can't redesign a religious community every day but you also can't pretend as if nothing has happened in 2,000 years," said Bundschuh as he strolled past Vienna's famous St. Stephen's Cathedral. "There should be an open dialogue about certain things but it's always choked off."
Story continued here.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dear President Obama, Happiness is a Powerful Force!

Dear President Obama,

I worked to elect you. I made calls to Montana, Pennsylvania, and to other states, to convince people to vote for you. I'm a gay man who's had to live separated from my European partner for years, because I have no legal familial rights under federal law to sponsor him to come to the United States to live with me.

I'm not the only LGBT American who's literally being torn apart, attacked and extinguished by laws that bigots made to deliberately harm LGBT Americans.

Please take a look at the horrible predicament faced by the lady in this story, who was trying to go through ROTC.  And listen to "Excluded", a video about the lives of Tony, an American, and Thomas, a German - a devoted gay bi-national couple who has held onto their relationship for 16 years despite having to go through  and loss and inconvenience, and living a nomadic life, because they're excluded as a family for immigration rights in the United States.  Then there are the estimated 36,000+ other American gay bi-national couples who are still split apart by country, living in exile, or seeing being forcibly split apart by immigrations officers, because they are not given the same familial rights as American heterosexual bi-national couples.

Don't you believe it's time for this kind of disgraceful hypocrisy and dishonesty to stop, Mr. President?  When are you going to forcefully defend our rights?  We are suffering incalculable harm because we are not even treated as human beings in the United States.  We know it is within your power to issue a Presidential Executive Order to change the status quo.  How can you allow the assault against the American LGBT community to continue for even another week?

Happiness is a powerful force!!!   America needs more happiness!!!  Help us.  Think about it.

Madison Reed


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Mormon State of Utah executes Ronnie Lee Garder by firing squad

Another reminder of America's spiritual cancer metastases.  I was thinking about the irony of Ronnie Lee Gardner's execution this morning.  He was executed in Utah, a Mormon state!  The entire system involved; the lawyers, judges, police and executioners, are likely Mormons, or other Christians.
The LDS Church promotes itself as the modern  day "corrected and cleansed from error" church of Jesus Christ, but the Gospel Jesus was clearly an opponent of capital punishment.  So how can they justify executing this man?

Read what Associated Press writer Jennifer Dobner writes about Gardner's execution just after midnight this morning:  Firing squad execution sobering, but dramatic

Jerry Givens, a correctional officer and retired executioner who gave it up, talks about how wrong execution is, and call's for its ban:


Friday, June 11, 2010

Alexander Lukashenko Trades Belarus for Luxury Holiday in Austria....

"Belarusian analysts are certain that the scandal will not lead to any direct consequences for the nation’s administration. There was enough evidence to prove Lukashenko’s implication in disappearance of his opponents in 2001."

Prosecutors of Salzburg, Austria, have filed investigation into circumstances of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s holiday in the Alps in 2002. It turns out that his visit (he was vacationing in Austria with his family and officials of the Belarusian administration) to the European country was illegal. Lukashenko was not allowed to enter the European Union. In addition, the Austrian law-enforcement agencies are interested in 200,000 euros, which Austria had spent on Lukashenko’s Alpine holiday. The Belarusian president reportedly paid his vacation with shares of a cellular operator and several Belarusian factories.

Prosecutors of Salzburg said that they had obtained financial documents to prove that Alexander Lukashenko and other people accompanying him in the trip were spending a lot of money during their stay in Austria.
The administration of Belarus was invited to visit Austria by then-chairman of the Austrian National Olympic Committee Leo Wallner, a co-owner of Casinos Austria.

Lukashenko’s sons Viktor and Dmitry, the chairman of the House of Representatives of the Belarusian Parliament Vladimir Konoplev, the mother of president’s younger son Irina Abelskaya, then-chairwoman of the presidential administration Galina Zhuravkova, sitting head of the presidential administration Vladimir Makei and his deputy Natalia Petkevich were very happy to partake of the Austrian hospitalities.
In 2002, when the Belarusian delegation were enjoying themselves in Austria, Alexander Lukashenko was barred from entering the European Union. It turned out that the organizers of the trip had invited Lukashenko as the chairman of the National Olympic Committee, not as the President of Belarus. However, the Austrian Committee was in no way involved in the intrigue. story continues here.

Other related stories:
U.S. Extends Sanctions on Belarus  (
Belarus Regrets Having No Nukes  (


Ordinary Gazans Hurt Most by 3-Year Old Israeli Blockade

By Karin Laub and Diaa Hadid

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Three out of four factories in Gaza have closed because they can't import or export. Legitimate businesses have been replaced by a Hamas-controlled black market economy. Millions of gallons of sewage are pumped into the sea every day because a lack of spare parts holds up infrastructure repairs.

Three years after Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza in hopes of squeezing the territory's Islamic militant Hamas rulers, those suffering most are ordinary Gazans.

They include tens of thousands who lost their jobs, among them 49-year-year old Mohammed Maadi whose family of 15 scrapes by on U.N. rations and whose teenage sons risked their lives digging smuggling tunnels to help put food on the table.

Karin and Diaa's story continued here.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leader of Iran's opposition green movement was involved in the massacre of more than 10,000 political prisoners in 1988, according to a report.

By Con Coughlin

Mr Mousavi, the defeated candidate in last June's presidential election, served as Iran's prime minister when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime's spiritual leader, issued a fatwa that sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death without trial, according to the report by one of Britain's leading human rights lawyers.

Mr Mousavi is one of several prominent Iranian politicians who are accused of implementing the order. According to a detailed report published by Geoffrey Robertson QC, who specialises in human rights law, the prisoners were executed for refusing to recant their political and religious beliefs.

"They were hung from cranes, four at a time, or in groups of six from ropes hanging from the stage of the prison assembly hall," the report states. "Their bodies were doused with disinfectant, packed in refrigerated trucks, and buried by night in mass graves."

Mr Robertson compares the mass executions in Iran with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian civil war, in which an estimated 8,000 people died.

Con Coughlin's story at the Telegraph, continues here.