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Victim of 1994 serial killings remembered as execution nears
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON | 03:19 EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Milton Bradley was a 72-year-old World War II Navy veteran living in Savannah, Georgia, in May 1994 when he met Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who had already taken the lives of two men and was looking for his next victim.
Bradley had suffered a severe head injury when his ship sank in the Pacific Ocean, and later had a partial lobotomy. He was well known around Savannah as a kind, gentle soul who gave whatever he could to those in need. It was a shock when his bludgeoned body was found behind a golf course shed, leaves and dirt stuffed down his throat.
Bowles confessed to the killing but was never tried or convicted for it. He was, however, convicted of murder for the November 1994 slaying of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Attempts to reach relatives of Hinton for comment were unsuccessful. Now 57, Bowles is scheduled to be put to death for that killing on Thursday at Florida State Prison.
“It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it?” said Milton Bradley’s nephew Mark Bradley. “People knew Milton. It’s amazing the outpouring that I still hear to this day when people say, ‘Oh! So sorry to hear that your uncle got murdered.’ … They’ll say how kind of a person he was, and it was a shame that it happened.”
Bowles began his killing rampage in March 1994 and ended it eight months later with the murder of Hinton, his sixth and last known victim, prosecutors have said.
The killings were sensationalized in part because Bowles targeted older, gay men. He has maintained he is straight but has acknowledged that he let gay men perform sex acts on him for money. Prosecutors said it was how the self-described hustler survived. They said he often used his targets for money or a place to stay, but eventually snapped and killed them.
Bradley didn’t quite fit the mold of Bowles’ usual targets. Yes, the two met at Faces Tavern, a now-closed gay bar in Savannah’s historic district, but Bradley liked to pop into a lot of bars in a city that has many, said John Best, a former Savannah police detective who investigated Bowles’ death.
Best believes Faces was just another stop for Bradley, who stopped driving after his head injury but enjoyed walking through the historic squares and parks around the city.
“I used to sit next to him at a bar. He used to like to go in for the happy hours,” Best said. “He liked to go have a beer at different locations.”
Best described Bradley as naive and perhaps asexual, but was he looking to pick up men?
“Hell no!” Best said.
Instead, he thinks Bradley’s friendly, trusting nature and his naivete led to his interaction with Bowles.
“I think Bowles thought Milton Bradley was an easy target and maybe thought he was gay,” Best said.
Mark Bradley also believes his uncle’s kindness may have opened him up to being a victim.
“He would talk to anyone,” Bradley said.
Bradley and his family were well known in Savannah: The family has run a lock and key shop downtown since 1883.
The shop was Milton Bradley’s base during the day, his nephew said. The elder Bradley also made regular stops at nearby restaurants and he was known for his generosity.
“People would approach him, they would need money, and he would just lend it to them never expecting it to be paid back,” Mark Bradley said. His uncle also helped people who lived thousands of miles away, “adopting” a family from Sri Lanka to whom he sent money “religiously,” receiving photos and letters in return, Bradley said.
“Sometimes I would joke with him, ‘They’re going to put a statue up for you in Sri Lanka because you’re so good to these people,'” Bradley said.
Bradley’s heart of gold and his gentle nature made his killing that much more horrifying to people in Savannah.
The fact that it has taken 25 years to carry out Bowles’ death sentence has been frustrating for the family.
“They just need to do what they need to do,” Bradley said. “Maybe the world will be a better place, I don’t know. It won’t be any worse, right?”
EarthLink – News
Australian court upholds Cardinal Pell child sex convictions
By ROD McGUIRK | 07:59 EDT
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian court by a 2-1 majority ruling Wednesday upheld convictions against Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of children sex abuse.
The Victoria state Court of Appeal rejected Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of the unanimous verdicts a jury issued in December finding Pope Francis’ former finance minister guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.
At the time, Pell had just become archbishop of Australia’s second largest city and had set up a world-first compensation arrangement for victims of clergy sexual abuse.
His lawyers are expected to appeal the decision in the High Court, Australia’s final arbiter.
Pell, 78, showed no emotion when Chief Justice Anne Ferguson read the verdict to a packed courtroom but bowed his head moments later. He wore a cleric’s collar but not his cardinal’s ring. Pell had arrived at the court in a prison van and was handcuffed as he was led away by a guard.
The Vatican, which is conducting its own investigation into sex abuse allegations against Pell, is expected to comment on the court’s ruling later Wednesday.
Pell is no longer a member of Pope Francis’ council of cardinals or a Vatican official.
Clerical sexual abuse and the Catholic church’s handling of such cases worldwide have thrown Francis’ papacy into turmoil.
In a little more than a year, the pope has acknowledged he made “grave errors” in Chile’s worst cover-up, Pell was convicted of abuse, a French cardinal was convicted of failing to report a pedophile, and a third cardinal, former U.S. church leader Theodore McCarrick, was defrocked after a Vatican investigation determined he molested children and adults.
Pell’s lawyers had to prove to the appeals court that the jury that unanimously convicted him in December must have held a reasonable doubt about his guilt. An earlier trial had ended in a deadlocked jury. An 11-to-1 majority decision to either convict or acquit could have been accepted, but at least two jurors held out.
Prosecutors replied that the evidence of more than 20 priests, choristers, altar servers and church officials showed there were “possible hindrances” to the prosecution case, but did not preclude the jury from being satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Pell’s guilt.
Pell’s lawyers argue the events in 1996 as described in the prosecution case were “improbable and even impossible” to have happened quickly and in part of the cathedral where altar servers and priests were likely to walk in at any moment.
One of the choirboys, identified by the sentencing judge as J.J., was the key prosecution witness. His friend, identified as M.R., died of a heroin overdose in 2014 at the age of 31 without ever complaining he had been abused.
The father of the dead choirboy, neither of whom can be named, attended the court hearing on Wednesday, the father lawyer’s Lisa Flynn said before the hearing.
Flynn said a Pell win would be “devastating” for the father, but the father would continue with a civil suit against Pell and the church regardless of the outcome.
“Survivors and victims of child sex abuse all over the world will be watching with bated breath this morning as this decision is handed down,” Flynn told Nine Network television outside court.
“I do think it’s one of the most important legal outcomes for survivors of abuse in recent history and I think that the outcome will have an impact right around the world,” she added.
Pell did not testify at either of his trials. But both juries saw a video of a police interview of him in Rome in 2016 in which Pell rejected the allegations as “absolutely disgraceful rubbish” and a “deranged falsehood.”
When sentencing Pell to six years in prison in March, the trial judge accused Pell of showing “staggering arrogance” in his crimes.
Pell was ordered to serve a minimum of 3 years and 8 months before he was eligible for parole.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
EarthLink – News
Police, protesters fill French beach resorts for G-7 summit
BIARRITZ, France (AP) — Thousands of French police are setting up checkpoints and combing Atlantic beaches to secure the southwestern coast for the world leaders who are coming for the G-7 summit this weekend.
Protesters, too, are setting up camp in towns near France’s border with Spain to prepare for protests during the Aug. 24-26 gathering of major world democracies.
More than 13,000 police are taking up their posts for the summit, and French and Spanish intelligence officials are coordinating against any threats, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump will join host French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Britain, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy in the elegant resort town of Biarritz.
Authorities are closing all air, train and road traffic to Biarritz to clear the way for the leaders. That’s frustrating local businesses, since this is happening at the height of Europe’s summer travel season. The city’s biggest beach will also be closed.
Blocked from Biarritz, activists are planning events down the coast in Hendaye and Urrugne, and in the Spanish town of Irun, to protest economic injustice, climate change and other concerns.
Castaner said he expected the planned protests nearby to remain peaceful, but emphasized that security forces will be present in case demonstrations turn violent, as they have in previous international summits.
EarthLink – News
Guidelines say more women may need breast cancer gene test
By LAURAN NEERGAARD | 11:18 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — More women may benefit from gene testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, especially if they’ve already survived cancer once, an influential health group recommended Tuesday.
At issue are genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. When they’re mutated, the body can’t repair damaged DNA as well, greatly increasing the chances of breast, ovarian and certain other cancers. Gene testing allows affected women to consider steps to lower their risk, such as when actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive mastectomy several years ago.
Most cancer isn’t caused by BRCA mutations — they account for 5% to 10% of breast cancers and 15% of ovarian cancers — so the gene tests aren’t for everyone. But mutations cluster in families, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has long recommended that doctors screen women who have relatives with BRCA-related cancers and refer those who might benefit from gene testing to a genetic counselor to help them decide.
Tuesday, the task force expanded that advice, telling primary care doctors they should also assess women’s risk if:
—they previously were treated for breast or other BRCA-related cancers including ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancers, and now are considered cancer-free.
—their ancestry is prone to BRCA mutations, such as Ashkenazi Jewish women.
Why screen breast cancer survivors? After all, they already know there’s a risk of recurrence.
Take, for example, someone who had a tumor removed in one breast in their 40s a decade ago, when genetic testing wasn’t as common. Even this many years later, a BRCA test still could reveal if they’re at risk for ovarian cancer — or at higher than usual risk for another tumor in their remaining breast tissue, explained task force member Dr. Carol Mangione of the University of California, Los Angeles. And it could alert their daughters or other relatives to a potential shared risk.
“It’s important to test those people now,” Mangione said. “We need to get the word out to primary care doctors to do this assessment and to make the referrals.”
Private insurers follow task force recommendations on what preventive care to cover, some at no out-of-pocket cost under rules from former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The recommendations were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Cancer groups have similar recommendations for BRCA testing, and increasingly urge that the newly diagnosed be tested, too, because the inherited risk can impact choices about surgery and other treatment.
Identifying BRCA mutation carriers “can be lifesaving, and should be a part of routine medical care,” Drs. Susan Domchek of the University of Pennsylvania and Mark Robson of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who weren’t involved with the new guidelines, wrote in an editorial accompanying them.
But too few high-risk women ever learn if they harbor BRCA mutations, they wrote. For example, cancer groups have long recommended that all ovarian cancer patients be tested, but several studies have found testing is done in less than a third.
Don’t skip the genetic counseling, said the task force’s Mangione. BRCA testing can cause anxiety and sometimes gives confusing results, finding mutations that might not be dangerous — things the counselors are trained to interpret. There’s a shortage of genetic counselors, particularly in rural areas, and she said counseling by phone can work.
There’s a wide array of gene tests, some that search just for BRCA mutations and others that test dozens of additional genes at the same time. There’s even a direct-to-consumer kit sold by 23andMe — but Domchek and Robson warned it only detects the three mutations found most in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, not dozens of other mutations.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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Germany’s Merkel dangles possibility of negotiated Brexit
By FRANK JORDANS | 04:04 EDT
BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the possibility that a negotiated departure for Britain from the European Union might still be possible even as the clock is ticking on a deal that would satisfy both sides.
Speaking Wednesday alongside U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the two leaders held bilateral talks in Berlin, Merkel indicated that a solution for the contentious Irish border issue might yet be reached before the Brexit date of Oct. 31.
“(We) might be able to find it in the next 30 days, why not?” Merkel told reporters.
Her comments marked a departure from the pessimism that’s prevailed on both sides of the English Channel in recent months. The EU has ruled out renegotiating the Brexit agreement hammered out with Britain last year. Johnson, for his part, says he will take Britain out of the bloc at the end of October without a deal unless the EU scraps the contentious backstop clause designed to prevent customs checkpoints along the Irish border.
Johnson, on his first visit to Germany since becoming prime minister last month, welcomed the “blistering timetable of 30 days” Merkel suggested, but appeared to acknowledge that the ball is now in Britain’s court to avert an economically devastating no-deal Brexit by proposing a viable solution to the Irish border issue.
“There are abundant solutions which are proffered, which have already been discussed,” Johnson said, without elaborating. “I don’t think, to be fair, they have so far been very actively proposed over the last three years by the British government.”
“You rightly say the onus is on us to produce those solutions, those ideas, to show how we can address the issue of the Northern Irish border and that is what we want to do,” he said.
Johnson had insisted Monday that the Irish border backstop clause must be scrapped and replaced with “alternative arrangements” to regulate cross-border trade.
The EU says the backstop is merely an insurance policy meant to avoid checkpoints between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which were a flashpoint for sectarian violence in the past, and won’t be needed if other solutions are found for goods moving across the border.
The backstop was part of the withdrawal agreement former British Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU, but it was rejected by the U.K. Parliament three times.
Johnson’s stance, that Britain will leave the EU with or without a deal, has alienated many in Europe.
The EU’s agriculture chief warned that if Britain crashes out without a deal on Oct. 31, it would create a “foul atmosphere” that would spill over into any negotiations on a future trade deal between the two sides.
Speaking in his native Ireland, EU Farm Commission Phil Hogan said the remaining 27 countries would ” hold the line” and had made “detailed contingency plans for every outcome,” echoing the view of many on the continent that a no-deal Brexit is now the most likely outcome.
“Contrary to what the UK government may wish, the EU will not buckle,” he insisted.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier went so far Wednesday as to question whether Johnson was serious about seeking new Brexit talks or whether he was planning to blame the EU if they failed.
Yet Johnson appeared emboldened Wednesday as he and Merkel faced reporters before holding talks over dinner — where tuna tartare, saddle of venison and chocolate tarte were on the menu.
“We seek a deal. And I believe that we can get one,” he said, before quoting one of Merkel’s trademark phrases — “we can do it” — which the German chancellor repeatedly used when insisting that her country could cope with the migrant influx of 2015-2016.
After meeting with Merkel, Johnson goes to Paris on Thursday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, then on to a three-day summit of G-7 leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, which begins Saturday in Biarritz, France.
The withdrawal agreement is just the first step in Britain’s exit from the EU and will be followed by negotiations on future relations likely lasting years.
Merkel on Wednesday cited the need for a new air traffic agreement between the EU and Britain as one example of the kind of deal that still needs to be agreed, noting that as a third country, the U.K. can’t expect to enjoy the same benefits as an EU member state.
Danica Kirka in London, Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit