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Hooks retiring as NAACP chief

Benjamin Hooks said on Saturday he plans to retire at the end of the year after 15 years as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Hooks, 67, made the announcement at a meeting of the NAACP's national board of directors. Jim Williams, chief spokesman for the organization, said: "I think it was a surprise, although they knew that he'd been talking about planning to leave." Hooks took over as executive director and chief operating officer of the nation's oldest civil rights organization in 1977. He planned a news conference this week to discuss his decision, Williams said.

VA speeding up

dividend payments

WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration is speeding up distribution of more than $500-million in dividends to veterans' life insurance policyholders. Those affected will be about 1.6-million veterans with U.S. Government Life Insurance and National Service Life Insurance who receive annual dividends under a cash option. "Accelerating these payments means that veterans won't have to wait until the policy anniversary dates to get their dividends," VA Secretary Edward Derwinski said. It is the first time since 1977 that the payment of annual dividends has been accelerated.

Haley buried

in Tennessee

HENNING, Tenn. _ Alex Haley was buried Saturday a few paces from the front porch where he listened as a child to the family stories that inspired his monumental search for his roots. "He made grandfathers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers superstars," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told mourners Saturday. "Alex Haley resurrected the generations of the connecting points." Haley's novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 and was the basis of a TV miniseries watched by 130-million viewers. He died of a heart attack Monday at 70.

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