Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "TNIV makes its debut," Feb. 23, 2002

The tattered flag that flew at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 made an appearance at the Winter Olympics-no thanks to the International Olympic Committee, which at first had rejected the 9/11 flag as too political. Thanks instead goes to New York Port Authority officer Curt Kellinger, who made an issue of the IOC rejection and shamed committee members into reversing course. Officer Kellinger, a WTC rescue hero who spared the flag's destruction so it could be kept as a national symbol, called Sean Hannity's radio show to explain what was happening. Matt Drudge was listening and immediately posted the story on his website. The Associated Press picked up the story as thousands of angry Americans deluged the IOC with calls and e-mails of protest. After the IOC quickly reversed its decision, Kellinger and his colleagues were assigned to take the flag to Salt Lake. But Kellinger was inexplicably rebuked the next day by his supervisor for taking the case public without permission, and told not to go to Utah. Hannity then told callers to flood the Port Authority headquarters with calls, faxes, and e-mails demanding that Kellinger be allowed to represent the flag and his fallen colleagues. It worked. The Port Authority's website crashed and the decision was reversed. The photo of Kellinger and the flag landed on the front page of newspapers across the country, including The New York Times.

Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, the Christian aid workers rescued from Afghanistan, want the same kind of media spotlight that kept their plight before the public to shine on missionary hostages now held in the Philippines. Mercer and Curry told 200 journalists at the Media Fellowship Dinner the night before the National Prayer Breakfast that they survived their ordeal because the media turned its spotlight on them and triggered a worldwide movement of prayer. Now they want the same to happen for Martin and Gracia Burnham, missionaries with New Tribes Mission. ABC's Good Morning America carried a story in early February, on the heels of a CBS 48 Hours story in January. But the Burnhams' story is still barely known. Mercer and Curry also spoke to a packed Thursday Bible Study at the White House and before several Washington-area church services, asking people to use their political and diplomatic influence to secure the Burnhams' release. New Tribes Mission officials believe the Burnhams were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization, which U.S. officials believe is linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. The Burnhams have three children-Jeff, 15; Mindy, 12; and Zach, 11.

Sports Illustrated's 2002 swimsuit issue is hot off the presses-but supermodel Kim Alexis, who appeared in those annual issues throughout the 1980s, is now busy as a "regular mom" of five and a promoter of local conservative causes around Jacksonville, Fla. Alexis, who turned to Christ in 1990 after a difficult divorce, is pro-life, pro-abstinence, and a self-described "educated conservative" Republican. She's a big fan of President Bush and fasted and prayed for him during the Florida recount. "I voted for Bush and I know I voted correctly," Alexis, 41, told WORLD. "I like Bush's style, his family, his values, and his calm and grace" under fire. "He's doing a great job with the war right now, protecting his flock. I really trust him and I think he's got great people around him.... He also has the humbleness to acknowledge his need for people to pray for him. I think that makes him stronger, not weaker." Alexis praises Bush's tax cut plan. "I would love a tax cut," especially, she says, "so families can save some money and maybe moms don't have to work outside the house." Alexis began modeling at 18 and says she was soon surrounded by a life of drugs and immoral living and made choices she would later regret. She eventually remarried to former NHL player Ron Duguay, also a Christian. Alexis gives speeches to young people about purity and holiness. "I'm not really a political person. I care about moral and social issues.... Mainly I try to teach my kids to live pure. I pray for my children, for their future spouses.... Ron and I don't go out to a lot of parties. We try to be home with our family and set a model for our kids."

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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