4th Time's The Charm: Tex. Executes Killer

Posted: September 26, 2012

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A former Army recruiter was executed Tuesday night in Texas for participating in the shooting death of a woman whom he and a buddy met 10 years ago at a Fort Worth bar.

Texas prison officials gave Cleve Foster a lethal injection at 6:43 p.m., shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to postpone his punishment for a fourth time. Once previously he was moments from the death chamber before the justices intervened.

His attorneys argued that he was not guilty in the slaying of Nyaneur Pal, 30, an immigrant from Sudan They claim he had deficient legal help at his trial and in early stages of his appeals, and that his case deserved a closer look.

In the seconds before the single dose of pentobarbital began, Foster expressed love to his family and to God. "When I close my eyes, I'll be with the Father," he said. "God is everything. He's my life. Tonight I'll be with him."

He did not proclaim innocence or admit guilt. He did turn to relatives of his two victims, saying: "I don't know what you're going to be feeling tonight. I pray we'll all meet in heaven."

The victim, known as Mary Pal, was shot in the head and dumped in a ditch on Valentine's Day 2002.

Three of the nine Supreme Court justices - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor - would have stopped the punishment, the court indicated in its brief ruling less than two hours before Foster was taken to the Texas death chamber.

NEW YORK - U.S. airlines collected more than $1.7 billion in baggage fees during the first half of the year, the largest sum ever collected in that six-month period.

Delta Air Lines Inc. once again claimed the title as the airline collecting the most in baggage fees: nearly $430 million from January through June. The slightly larger United Airlines followed with $351 million in bag fees, according to a report from the Bureau of Transportation statistics released Tuesday.

Airlines started charging for a first checked suitcase in 2008 and the fees have climbed since. Airlines typically charge $25 each way for the first checked bag, $35 for the second bag and then various extra charges for overweight or oversized bags.

The nation's 15 largest carriers collected a combined $932 million in bag fees in the second quarter, the BTS reported. That's in addition to the $816 million collected in the first quarter of 2012. The third quarter, which includes the busy leisure travel months of July and August, is traditionally the highest of the year but figures aren't expected to be reported by the government until December.

The airlines also collected an additional $1.3 billion in fees during the first six months of the year through canceled or changed reservations.

Without the fees, many airlines say that they would struggle to remain profitable. Many of these fees were introduced to allow airlines to offset rising fuel costs. In 2007, the airlines paid an average of $2.09 a gallon for jet fuel. The next year, prices spiked 46 percent to $3.06. During the first seven months of this year, airlines have paid an average of $2.96 a gallon.

Airfares have climbed in recent years but not as fast as the cost of fuel. Passengers have shown reluctance to book tickets if the base fare is too high, hence the introduction of the fees.

DETROIT - The National Fair Housing Alliance and five affiliated organizations announced on Tuesday the filing of a federal housing-discrimination complaint against Bank of America for the way it maintains and markets bank-owned houses in minority neighborhoods in eight cities.

Shanna Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said that the groups had conducted an investigation to determine if Bank of America is maintaining the properties it has obtained through foreclosure in white neighborhoods equal to its properties in black and Latino neighborhoods. The complaint, which is being filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, follows complaints by the alliance against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp.

"We found significant racial disparity," Smith said during a conference call Tuesday.

At one house in Grand Rapids, Mich., a dead dog was found among the trash and leaves of a Bank of America property in a black neighborhood.

According to the investigation, the company's properties in minority areas were more likely to be poorly maintained, with issues such as yards filled with trash, broken gutters and overgrown grass, than those in white neighborhoods, the alliance found. The company's homes in white neighborhoods were also more likely than those in minority neighborhoods to be marketed for sale with professional signs in front of homes.

SPOKANE, Wash. - A human finger found inside a fish at Idaho's Priest Lake has been traced to a wakeboarder who lost four fingers in an accident more than two months earlier.

Fisherman Nolan Calvin found the finger while he was cleaning the trout in early September. He put it on ice and called the Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff's office.

Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off the severed digit. They matched it to a fingerprint card for Hans A. Galassi, 31, who lost fingers from his left hand in a July 4 accident on the same lake where the fish was caught.

The three other fingers have not been recovered.

- Daily News wire services

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