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New pope triggers website-name rush

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Pope Francis, Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio, leading a mass at the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on March 14. AFP PHOTO/OSSERVATORE ROMANO-/AFP/Getty Images
The Port Authority of Allegheny County board member Joe Brimmeier Friday February 1, 2013. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Secretary of State John Kerry pauses during his joint news conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, March 12, 2013, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

It didn't take long for Pope Francis to become an Internet sensation.

Within hours of the white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina ascending to the Roman Catholic papacy, hundreds of people registered domain names playing off the new pope and his choice of pontifical name. Web hosting and domain registration site GoDaddy told CNet there were more than 100 such domain registrations within 10 minutes of the announcement, nearly 500 within an hour.

“The election of Pope Francis is causing hundreds of new domain name registrations,” a GoDaddy spokesperson said. “Technology and religion came together ... following the announcement of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I.”

The newly registered domain names contained keywords such as “pope,” “Francis,” “Bergoglio” and “ Habemus Papam ,” Latin for “We have a pope.”

Curiously, though, some prescient GoDaddy customer already had registered the domain name — all the way back in April 2010. A Vatican insider, perhaps?

Last laugh — at Fitz's expense? Somewhere, Steve Bland has to be laughing uproariously.

In January, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald forced Bland out as Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO. Fitzgerald's first choice to replace Bland was authority board member Joe Brimmeier, who was among those voting to oust Bland.

Fitzgerald eventually went in another direction after public outcry over his intentions. But he still has considerable egg on his face now that Brimmeier, the former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO, is among eight people charged on Wednesday in an alleged pay-to-play turnpike corruption conspiracy.

Brimmeier has resigned from the transit agency board and Fitzgerald looks foolish indeed. No reason why Bland shouldn't be howling hysterically over Brimmeier and Fitz having to board the bus to karmic payback.

TEDIOUS IN EVERY TONGUE. Secretary of State John Kerry's multilingual abilities are attracting notice. Unfortunately for Kerry, husband of Pittsburgh's own Teresa Heinz, that notice comes from the folks at Comedy Central.

The cable channel mocked Kerry — who already had a reputation for his prowess at speaking French — for his less-than-eloquent excursions into the German and Norwegian languages.

Shortly after being introduced to dignitaries on a recent trip to Germany, what Kerry told them in German translates to English as, “Very good, thank you. All is well. Your shoes are fantastic, yes?”

Kerry provided further proof of his international oratory skills when he told reporters following a meeting on Tuesday with his Norwegian counterpart, “ Jeg snakker ikke norsk. ” Before you reach for the Babelfish, we'll translate. Kerry said, “I don't speak Norweigan.”

To Comedy Central, it wouldn't have made much difference if he did. Describing him as “human Ambien,” the channel concluded: “Kerry is boring in any language.”

NO RUN AFTER ALL. Tom Murphy, former Westmoreland County recorder of deeds, had courthouse watchers on edge last week, waiting to see if the deposed Democrat was readying an attempt to return to public life.

Murphy, who held office for 12 years, had picked up blank nominating petitions from the county Elections Bureau in a move that invited speculation he was about to run for office again.

Voted out in 2011's county-office sweep by Republicans, Murphy was rumored to be a candidate for clerk of courts or even for a council seat in his new hometown of Lower Burrell.

But when the petitions were filed last week, Murphy was not among the candidates seeking office this year.

MORE LATER. Political observers were somewhat surprised when a vacancy left by Senior Judge John Driscoll on the Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court bench drew only three candidates.

They are attorneys Bill McCabe, Meagan Bilik DeFazio and Harry Smail Jr. All have cross-filed to seek both parties' nominations in the May 21 primary.

McCabe is the lone Democrat among them, although DeFazio ran four years ago as a Democrat.

In the next election cycle, when as many as three Westmoreland Common Pleas judgeships could be open, a larger field is expected.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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