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'Real Plan' a bit short (Web) sited

By JOHN BALZ and PAUL DELA GARZA

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000


Next time George W. Bush wants to change his campaign slogan, he might want to buy the domain name as well.

Following a rough couple of weeks on the trail, the Bush camp announced a new aphorism Thursday, "Real Plans for Real People." But no one bothered to register the phrase on the Internet.

Virginia resident Patrick West, who describes himself as a "Ken Starr Democrat," heard about the slogan change and quickly attempted to register the phrase as a domain name.

"I was so surprised that it hadn't been taken," said West. "I thought, "Oh, how could they mess up?' "

West, who is not affiliated with the Gore campaign or the Democratic National Committee, snatched up the phrase in the .com, .net and .org formats.

"This is just a political statement as to who has the real plans for real people," said the editorial consultant whose only previous political experience came working on George McGovern's 1972 presidential effort.

He said he would turn them over to the DNC or the Gore campaign if they want. No one has called so far.

Patrick Kennedy stirs Liberian crowd

Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy knows how to fire up a crowd. Too much, maybe.

The son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was nearly trampled Thursday by a mob of jubilant Liberian immigrants protesting the deportation of Liberians to their war-ravaged homeland.

Kennedy pledged to make the trip with any Liberian who is sent back to the West African nation.

"If any one of you is ever deported to Liberia, I will be on that plane with you," Kennedy yelled into a microphone.

The crowd immediately erupted into a ear-piercing cheer as two dozen people stormed the platform where Kennedy was speaking. The swarm pulled him down, hugging and kissing his face, eventually dragging him into a dance circle. Kennedy was returned to the lectern a few moments later by the swarm, unharmed, but a bit red-faced.

Roughly 250 members of Liberian community groups attended the Capitol Hill rally to press for permanent U.S. citizenship. Tens of thousands were given temporary asylum in the United States in March 1991 after the breakout of civil strife. About 15,000 Liberians live under temporary resident status, which is to expire on Sept. 28.

Guesswork taken out of catching the bus

The No. 1 question at bus stops across America: When's the next bus coming? But not anymore.

In San Francisco, riders know the exact amount of time until the next bus arrives thanks to digital displays mounted inside bus stop shelters. The displays are linked to Global Positioning Satellites that track outfitted buses along their routes.

The technology comes from public transportation's digitally hip, California start-up friend, NextBus, which showed the product to lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill at the kick-off for the Congressional Wireless Caucus.

The system, NextBus reps say, is 95 percent accurate within one minute and costs about $3,000 to install per bus, which is paid for by local public transportation agencies. Riders can also keep track of where buses are on the Internet and wireless devices, such as cell phones. The company said it plans to offer the service in the top 10 U.S. markets by the end of the year and hopes to use it on light rail trains and ferries.

-- Staff writers John Balz and Paul dela Garza contributed to this column.

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