MARIANNA, Fla. – University of South Florida researchers began exhuming dozens of graves Saturday at a former Panhandle reform school where horrific beatings have been reported in hopes of identifying the boys and learning how they died.
The digging and work at the site of the former Dozier Boys School will continue until Tuesday, with researchers hoping to unearth the remains of four to six boys before resuming at a later date, said Erin Kimmerle, the USF anthropologist leading the excavation.
Former inmates at the reform school from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings in a small, white concrete block building at the facility. A group of survivors call themselves the White House Boys and five years ago called for an investigation into the graves.
In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff. USF later began its own research and discovered even more graves than the state department had identified.
The university worked for months to secure a permit to exhume the remains, finally receiving permission from Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet.
Obama seeks raise for federal workers
President Barack Obama told congressional leaders that he intends to give federal employees a 1 percent pay raise starting Jan. 1 because Congress has taken no action on the issue.
Obama had announced in his budget plan in April that he wanted to end a nearly three-year pay freeze for the federal workforce. But since Congress has not passed a spending plan for fiscal 2014, the president is required by the end of August to come up with an alternative pay plan to avoid a legal trigger that would automatically raise federal pay in line with private-sector salaries.
That trigger could, in theory, give federal workers a raise of about 34 percent.
Yosemite obscured by wildfire smoke
Dense smoke from a wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park on Saturday hampered both suppression efforts and the prized views sought by holiday weekend tourists.
For the first time since the blaze began in a neighboring forest two weeks ago, smoke obscured Yosemite Valley, home to the parks most popular landmarks, spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
Im in Yosemite Valley right now, and I cannot see the cliffs around me, Cobb said. The wind has shifted and smoke is impacting the entire park. We have been lucky until now.
Addiction clinic ties into ‘Breaking Bad’
A mental health clinic in Albuquerque, N.M., is using hit show Breaking Bad and its methamphetamine trafficking theme to help fight addiction.
KRQE-TV reports that Sage Neuroscience Center has partnered with HealthShire.com to give away two addiction-treatment scholarships at the end of the AMC television series.
The Breaking Addiction awards are open to residents older than 18 who cannot afford treatment. Applicants have to submit their story of addiction, which will be compiled into a collection and posted online.
Vigilantes killed on hunt for Islamists
Suspected Islamic sect members ambushed and killed at least 24 members of a youth vigilante group who were on a mission to find and fight the sect in northeast Nigeria, a security official said Saturday.
Those who returned from Fridays attack told officials that 36 other vigilantes were missing, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak to the media.
The vigilante group, the Civilian Joint Task Force, has recently become a target for Boko Haram, an armed Islamic group that has been waging a bloody war in Africas most populous nation.
Tracking device gets bird treated as spy
In a case that ruffled feathers in Egypt, authorities have detained a migratory bird that a citizen suspected was a spy.
A man in Egypts Qena governorate, some 280 miles southeast of Cairo, found the suspicious bird among four others near his home and brought them to a police station Friday, said Mohammed Kamal, the head of the security in the region. There, officers and the man puzzled over the electronic device attached to the suspected winged infiltrator.
On Saturday, a veterinary committee called by concerned government officials determined the device was neither a bomb nor a spying device – it was a wildlife tracker used by French scientists to follow the movement of migrating birds, said Ayman Abdallah, the head of Qena veterinary services.
Tunisians march for new government
Thousands of Tunisians marched through their capital Saturday, calling for the Islamist-led government to resign as the nations political crisis deepens.
The assassination of an opposition politician in July, the second in six months, has sharply polarized the country and prompted a walkout by some 60 allied legislators.
The march was the culmination of a week of protests calling for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the assembly elected in 2011.
That election followed Tunisians overthrow of their dictator, which kicked off pro-democracy demonstrations of the Arab Spring around the region and began a difficult transition to democracy.