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Briefs

2 missing after fire on oil platform

– The Coast Guard was searching Friday for two workers missing after a fire erupted on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sending a black plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The fire, begun while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line, critically injured at least four workers who had burns over much of their bodies.

The images were eerily similar to the massive oil spill that killed 11 workers and took months to bring under control. It came a day after BP agreed to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the 2010 spill and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties.

There were a few important differences with the Deepwater Horizon explosion: Friday’s fire was put out within hours, rather than burning for more than a day and causing the rig to collapse and sink. It’s a production platform in shallow water, rather than an exploratory drilling rig looking for new oil on the seafloor almost a mile deep.

NYC man gets life in terror conspiracy

A New York City man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for conspiring to form a three-man terror cell with two of his former high school classmates and spread death on the subways as suicide bombers – a foiled plot that authorities called one of the closest calls since the 9/11 attacks.

Adis Medunjanin, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen from Bosnia, was convicted this year of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempting to commit an act of terrorism and other terrorism charges.

At trial, defense attorneys had admitted that Medunjanin wanted to fight for the Taliban, but they insisted he never agreed to spread death and destruction in the city where his family put down roots.

Indy blast damage reaches $4.4 million

The damage estimate from the deadly Indianapolis neighborhood explosion increased by about one-fifth to $4.4 million, investigators said Friday.

Inspectors were able to check out more of the properties in the south-side subdivision that were damaged in Saturday night’s explosion, thus raising the estimate from the previous $3.6 million, city fire Capt. Rita Burris said.

Officials have classified 32 houses as unsafe; five others were destroyed and 10 had major damage. City inspectors might order the demolition of up to five more houses, and insurance companies might have others torn down, Burris said.

Slaughterhouse abuse case settled

A landmark $500 million agreement was reached to settle a slaughterhouse abuse case in California that led to the biggest meat recall in U.S. history in 2008, an animal welfare group said Friday.

The civil settlement with the owners of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. is the largest-ever penalty for an animal abuse case, and the first time federal fraud statutes have been used, according to the Humane Society of the United States, the lead plaintiff.

The settlement is largely symbolic because the company is bankrupt.

“It’s a deterrence judgment,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the Humane Society. “It informs other federal government contractors that when your contract says you provide humane handling, if you don’t do that you’re likely to end up bankrupt as well.”

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