U.S. to Stockpile 2 Million Doses

Of Experimental Bird Flu Vaccine

The government plans to buy 2 million doses of an experimental vaccine against the bird flu to stockpile. The $13 million purchase, from Aventis Pasteur Inc., is part of work to prepare for the next flu pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services said yesterday.

Flu specialists say it is only a matter of time before one occurs, and there is concern that the recurring bird flu in Asia could be the trigger if it were to mutate to spread easily among people. The new vaccine is designed to match the H5N1 bird flu strain, which has killed 28 people in Asia this year, as well as infected millions of poultry. Testing of the vaccine should begin this year, HHS officials said.

Domenici Introduces Legislation

To Require Identification at Polls

Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) introduced legislation to require all new voters who did not register in person at their local election offices to produce identification at the polls this November, saying change is needed to prevent "possible voter fraud nationwide."

Domenici said his push to amend the Help America Vote Act was prompted by what he called the "questionable tactics" of Democratic groups registering new voters in presidential battleground states. A GOP lawsuit in New Mexico seeks to accomplish through the courts what Domenici would do legislatively.

The GOP has charged that Democratic-leaning groups are turning in thousands of questionable registrations. Election officials from both parties attribute problems to voter error and overzealous workers who get paid by the registration, and they say they see no evidence that fraud is the motive.

Democrats argue that additional at-the-poll identification requirements disproportionately disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have the type of ID that is needed.

For the Record

* Federal judges voted to delay court construction projects across the country to save $225 million and avoid laying off as many as 3,500 employees. The decision by the Judicial Conference of the United States shuts out planned projects in 42 cities and comes after 1,000 jobs were cut in the last year because of money woes. Even with the construction savings, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Carolyn Dineen King said as many as 4,800 court clerks, probation officers and other support staff could lose their jobs in the next year.

* The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 7 to pass a five-year, $1 billion bill that would provide greater access to DNA testing in rape cases and for convicted felons who claim innocence. The bulk of the funding in the bill would provide grants to clear the backlog of about 350,000 untested DNA samples in rape evidence kits nationwide.

From staff writer Jo Becker and News Services