Bodies likely of Iowa cousins

EVANSDALE, Iowa - Investigators are confident that human remains found by hunters are those of two young Iowa cousins who vanished in July, authorities said Thursday.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner's office were under way, but the remains are believed to be those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, who were 10 and 8. They went bike riding July 13, Black Hawk County Sheriff's Capt. Rick Abben said.

Hunters found the bodies Wednesday about 25 miles from Evansdale, the city of 4,700 where the girls were last seen. Their disappearance sparked a massive search and kidnapping investigation involving the FBI and state and local police. - AP

NAACP acts on public schools

WASHINGTON - The NAACP is going on the offensive on education, deploying volunteers across the country in its biggest push for a public education overhaul since the nation's classrooms were ordered desegregated in 1954, the civil rights group said Thursday.

The volunteers, who have been trained for the last two years, will lobby at the state and county levels for four educational priorities: extended school hours and years in school; improved teacher training; improved preschool programs; and better targeting of spending to the neediest of students

Such changes for all children, not just minorities, are the only way to ensure an educated American workforce and a thriving economy, said NAACP president and chief executive Ben Jealous. - AP

Mormons to gays: Keep faith

SALT LAKE CITY - Mormon leaders unveiled a new website Thursday encouraging church members to be more compassionate in discussions about homosexuality.

Church officials insist they haven't changed the Mormon teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful. However, the website includes an appeal to gay and lesbian Mormons to stay in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma," church leaders wrote on the website. "But with faith, love and perspective, it can be done." - AP

Elsewhere:

George Zimmerman

is suing NBC, claiming he was defamed when the network edited his 911 call after the shooting of Trayvon Martin to make him sound racist. The suit, filed Thursday, seeks an undisclosed amount of money. Three employees of NBC or an NBC-owned TV station lost their jobs because of the changes.

A thief who made off with cash from a Salvation Army kettle at a northern Ohio mall this week apparently has had a change of heart. Police near Youngstown say that two days after the kettle was emptied, someone left $130 and an apology at the Salvation Army.