USA

The $2.5 trillion budget President Bush sends to Congress Monday will be the tightest his administration has yet submitted, Vice President Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday." Cheney said the administration carefully evaluated programs before seeking savings in about 150 of them, including Amtrak, environmental protection, and the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled. The budget plan is designed as a response to a string of record federal deficits, but Democrats blame the cuts on tax reductions.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's first whirlwind diplomatic trip calls for meetings Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who, in turn, are to hold their first summit Tuesday. The goal, she said, is to help "sustain the momentum" toward peace between the two sides - an objective she called on Turkey and other countries to assist in on Sunday following meetings in Ankara. Before returning home, Rice will swing back through Europe, where her stops are expected to pave the way for President Bush's own trip later this month.

According to a new poll, Americans are largely divided over the type of Social Security reform President Bush has called for, in which workers could shift part of their payroll taxes into private stock and bond funds. Fifty-six percent of respondents told Newsweek magazine they think the stock market is too risky for Social Security funds, while 36 percent said such investing was a necessary risk to improve the rate of return. The president pitched his plan last week during a five-state tour.

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said he hasn't decided whether to run for president in 2008. But his visit to New Hampshire Saturday was interpreted by analysts as a possible early sign of his aspirations. Edwards used the visit to speak about his fledgling Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, a program based in his native North Carolina. The center gives Edwards, who left the Senate last month, both a public platform and a cause.

Actor and longtime civil rights activist Ossie Davis, who died Friday in Miami Beach, joined his wife, Ruby Dee, and other cultural luminaries last month in receiving Kennedy Center honors for their lifetime achievements. A stage and screen star for 50 years, Davis was in Florida shooting a new movie, "Retirement." Below, he and Dee are shown arriving for the Kennedy Center gala dinner.

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