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Associated Press

News briefs

Black leader defends affirmative action DETROIT - The NAACP's national chairman on Sunday offered a vigorous defense of affirmative action, saying "as long as race counts, we've got to count race."

Speaking at the 47th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner, Julian Bond told the crowd of about 10,000 that "affirmative action is under attack not because it failed but because it succeeded."

Proceeds from the dinner, billed as the largest of its kind in the United States, help pay for civil rights and youth programs sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The NAACP was founded in 1909, but its goals still haven't been reached, civil rights leaders said.

"There is a chilly head wind coming from the White House," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said at a news conference before the dinner. "The tension is that we have a very anti-civil rights president. … The struggle is clearly in front of us and not behind us."

Actor Harry Belafonte received a lifetime achievement award for his civil rights activism. Other awards were presented to Leon Atchison, 74, who has worked with the NAACP Detroit chapter for 40 years, and Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The dinner highlighted three days of activities called Freedom Weekend. The Detroit chapter is the NCAAP's largest with about 50,000 members.

Barbie's creator dies at age 85 LOS ANGELES - Ruth Handler, who created Barbie, the world's most popular doll and an American icon that helped shape girls' dreams while infuriating feminists, has died. She was 85.

Handler, who also co-founded the Mattel toy company, died at Century City Hospital Saturday morning of complications from colon surgery she underwent three months ago, said Elliot Handler, her husband.

Since Handler's creation, named for her daughter Barbara, was introduced in 1959 it has become a touchstone of cultural politics.

The impossibly well-endowed doll - her original figure would be about 39-18-33 if she were human - has drawn the ire of feminists, inspired artists and intrigued academics around the world. Barbie even was placed in the official "America's Time Capsule" buried in 1976.

The original blue-eyed, blonde fashion model has morphed over the decades into a variety of ethnic looks and has had many careers, from astronaut to veterinarian.

More than 1 billion have been sold in 150 countries.

"My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be," Handler wrote in a 1994 autobiography. "Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices."

Russian immigrants rally to support Israel NEW YORK - Thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants rallied Sunday in support of Israel, holding signs in Russian and English and chanting "Terrorism nyet! Israel da!"

The rally was among the largest held in New York during the current wave of suicide attacks against Israel and its military reprisals. It was held in Brighton Beach, where thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union have settled.

Gov. George Pataki, among those to address the crowd, decried Saturday's attack in the West Bank in which Palestinian gunmen killed four Israeli settlers.

"I am appalled that there hasn't been an outcry of world opinion denouncing the PLO, because it's clear that Yasser Arafat and the PLO have supported, helped, aided and abetted terrorists in their actions to kill innocent civilians in Israel," he said. "The world must speak out against this."

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Meanwhile, protesters in Florida rallied for both sides. More than 40 Israel supporters in Miami held signs reading "Israel forever, Palestine never," while in Orlando about 600 pro-Palestinian protesters chanted "Free, Free Palestine."

Some of the pro-Palestinian marchers held signs that said "Stop Israeli occupation" and "End the massacre."

Armed volunteers ride with deputies BAYTOWN, Texas - A local sheriff is being criticized for letting armed civilians ride on patrol with deputies.

"The days of the Wild West are over," said Larry Watts, chief of staff of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. "To deputize citizens who've had no training is a poor police policy. Taxpayers should insist this does not happen. The sheriff should be ashamed."

"Why would they take a civilian and put him on the street and threaten his life?" said Chambers County Commissioner Bill Wallace.

Chambers County Sheriff Monroe Kreuzer defends the program he created, saying that while the volunteers are not law enforcement officers, they are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

"It's an added advantage to have that civilian with the officer," Kreuzer told county commissioners last week. "If the officer gets in trouble, it's another warm body there."

There are no rules prohibiting citizens, armed or unarmed, from riding with police officers, said Steve Myers, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

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