Delivering Medicine

In a Flu Pandemic

In the event of a flu pandemic or a bioterrorism attack, help could arrive via door-to-door mail delivery or from the fire station down the street, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said yesterday.

He said it is "in some ways an absolute certainty" that a flu pandemic will occur. "If it happens anywhere, there is risk everywhere," he said.

The federal government is particularly concerned about bird flu, which since 2004 has sickened 109 people, 55 of whom have died, because people lack immunity to the virus. Leavitt said the federal government is considering stockpiling 20 million doses of a bird flu vaccine and another 20 million doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication.

Leavitt said that the government's goal is to have the medicine delivered within 12 hours of any decision to deploy, but that exercises have revealed flaws in the delivery system.

"We're finding that the distributions systems are not adequate to put medicines in the hands of people fast enough, so we're beginning to look at alternative ways to speed that up," he said.

Frist Is Not Invited

To Evangelical Rally

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) spoke by video to the first "Justice Sunday" evangelical rally in April, but he was not invited to address "Justice Sunday II," even though it will take place in his home state.

Since the first rally, the potential 2008 presidential candidate has angered the events' organizers by stating his support for expanded human embryonic stem cell research. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) will address the Aug. 14 rally.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said on the group's Web site that Frist's stem cell stance "reflects an unwise and unnecessary choice both for public policy and for respecting the dignity of human life." Perkins has also been annoyed with Frist for allowing a compromise on President Bush's judicial nominations.

The Aug. 14 gathering -- titled "Justice Sunday II: God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!" -- is the second in a series of televised church demonstrations. The organizers hope to voice support for Bush Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. and bring attention to judicial matters of importance to evangelicals, a spokesman said.

Pentagon Official Given

Recess Appointment

President Bush again invoked a constitutional provision enabling him to bypass the Senate and directly install a nominee who had been blocked in the Senate. This time, he named Peter Flory to be an assistant secretary of defense.

The move came a day after Bush used the same powers to install John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Flory was first nominated to the post on June 1, 2004, but the nomination was blocked by Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a dispute over the release of intelligence-related documents that Levin sought from Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Flory, who can serve until January 2007, has been the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. His new title is assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. He succeeds J.D. Crouch, who left more than a year ago to take another position.

-- From News Services