News Hits

Dec 22, 1999 at 12:00 am


The Internet is full of unauthorized sites that use the names of politicians in their URLs. There is, for example, which takes pointed jabs at the presidential hopeful. Closer to home, there's the domain, owned by this paper, which proudly offers a host of unflattering stories we've done on the guv over the years.

But it appears some of our pols can take neither a joke nor the truth, and are poised to strike back, according to information found on a Web site created by Flint-area inventor Ronald J. Riley. The reason for his site,, is a story in itself. Seems that Riley feels betrayed by Michigan Sen. Spence Abraham's support of legislation Riley says gives a huge advantage to corporations when patent disputes arise with independent inventors. To make matters even worse, Abraham (pictured above) then supported a little-noticed section of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999. The legislation, posted in full on Riley's site, instructs the Secretary of Commerce to provide Congress with "recommendations and procedures for resolving disputes" regarding domain name registration. Among the issues to be studied is a specific reference to sites that include the personal names of government officials, official candidates and potential candidates for federal, state or local political office.

In other words, just the kind of site Riley created with the intent of "helping ease (Abraham) into retirement" when he defends his Senate seat against Rep. Debbie Stabenow next year. Stay tuned. The domain name issue is sure to be a hot one. Also hot is www., which has nothing to do with the executive mansion and everything to do with virtual sleaze that makes Bill Clinton's real-life Oral Office adventures seem tame.

Or so we've heard.

Bombs and blackouts

If you pay attention to the mainstream media, you may think that the only problem with Iraq is that Saddam Hussein is still in power. In reality, U.S. bombs continue to fall there and 200 children die each day due to sanctions we imposed nearly a decade ago. A 13-person delegation, sponsored by Metro Detroit Against Sanctions!, returned from Iraq last week and gathered at Central United Methodist Church for a press conference — sans press, except, of course, for an MT lefty — to describe the ongoing devastation.

"I saw Iraq when it was fully functioning," said delegate Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who first visited the country before the Gulf War. "Every time I go back, I can't believe that it could be worse than the year before, but it always is," he said.

Children die of diarrhea, malnutrition and other ailments because food and medical supplies are scarce. Water is contaminated with typhoid, cholera and other diseases because bombs destroyed treatment facilities.

To aid Iraq, U.S. Rep. John Conyers is introducing the Humanitarian Exports Leading to Peace (HELP) bill, which would allow the exportation of food and medicine to Iraq and establish a formal process for documenting the Iraqi people's suffering. For more information on how you can help: 248-548-3920 or 313-297-8808.

Holding on to the outrage

You no doubt saw the massive coverage given to the alleged rapes of eight girls attacked while walking to school this year. What you probably don't know is that the number of sexual assaults this year is actually lower than in 1998, when the number of reported attacks was 2,822, compared to 2,240 (as of last Monday) for this year. According to Althea Grant, director of the Rape Crisis Center, a unit of the Detroit Police Department, two-thrids of those sexually assaulted in 1997 and '98 were 15 or younger. The difference this year is the number of schoolgirls attacked on the streets. Usually these crimes take place in the home, says Grant, and the media pay scant attention. This, of course, is not to say that the community should not be outraged by the recent rapes. Far from it. The point is, the problem continues to exist even though the headlines have now disappeared.

"The public gets panicky… but after the person is caught then they think everything is over and go back to their old habits," says Grant. "We need to always be vigilant about this and not forget.".