USA

President Bush presided at ceremonies for the unveiling of the official portrait of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, that will hang in the White House. For the rest of this week, Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, will return to the campaign trail after suspending overt politicking during services for the late President Reagan. Kerry began by releasing a report on the state of middle-class America. Bush is scheduled to focus on his efforts to help generate new jobs and fight terrorism.

The phrase "one nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance will continue in school classroom use, at least for now, after the Supreme Court ruled that California atheist Michael Newdow cannot sue in behalf of his daughter to ban it. Newdow is in a battle with his former wife for custody of the child, and the court ruled he does not have the legal authority to speak for her.

Whether Roman Catholic politicians who are at odds with church teachings should receive Communion is among the issues US bishops are taking up at a weeklong retreat in Englewood, Colo. Meanwhile, many Baptists are in Indianapolis for Tuesday's opening of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. Southern Baptists are expected to consider dropping their membership and financial support of the more liberal Baptist World Alliance. The meeting also may consider a call to boycott public schools and endorse home-schooling.

A bipartisan group of 26 former diplomats and senior military officials plans to issue a statement Wednesday, urging the defeat of President Bush in the Nov. 2 election. The signers, who include appointees of former presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, are not aligned with Kerry, their spokesman said. But they maintain an alternative is needed to avoid policies that, they claim, isolate the US internationally.

Despite new questions about how Halliburton Inc. landed a $7 billion oil-services contract in postwar Iraq, the staff of Vice President Cheney, its former boss, denied Sunday he had influenced the decision. Helping to fuel the controversy is a letter sent to Cheney Sunday by US Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California claiming that Pentagon officials have acknowledged that Cheney's chief of staff and other administration appointees were involved in the no-bid contract.

Retail sales rebounded in May, the Commerce Department reported. Its data showed that sales inched up 1.2 percent, following a 0.6 percent dip in April. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, experienced their first nationwide decline this year, dropping 6-1/2 cents to an average of $2.04 per gallon Friday for unleaded regular, according to the latest Lundberg Survey.

Peter Ueberroth, the chief organizer of the successful 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games, was expected to be handed the reins of the US Olympic Committee at the group's Colorado Springs, Colo., headquarters.

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