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CALIFORNIA

State contractor, farms sued in human trafficking case

LOS ANGELES | A federal agency has sued a California-based labor contractor and farms in Washington and Hawaii, alleging discrimination against more than 200 Thai workers in what was called its largest human trafficking case in agriculture.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits Tuesday against Beverly Hills-based Global Horizons Inc. and six farms in Hawaii and two in Washington.

Global Horizons lured workers from 2003 to 2007 with promises of steady jobs and agricultural visas but confiscated their passports and threatened to deport them if they complained, the agency said in a statement.

It said workers faced abuse and threats while being provided dilapidated housing.

The agency is seeking back pay and damages.

GEORGIA

Police: 20-25 teens storm train, attack riders

ATLANTA | A group of 20 to 25 youths boarded a public train bound for Atlanta's airport and attacked a couple of passengers, authorities said.

Police said Wednesday one of the teenagers hit a rider in the face with an aluminum can, pushed him down and stole his wallet. Another passenger on the MARTA train was punched in the face.

Police say the riders attacked workers for Delta Air Lines, who have been staying at a hotel near the Atlanta airport.

The Delta workers were from Gig Harbor, Wash., and New York City. The attack happened late Saturday night south of downtown.

MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris said no arrests have been made.

MISSOURI

Settlement reached in Busch girlfriend's death

ST. LOUIS | Former Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. CEO August Busch IV has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit over his girlfriend's accidental drug overdose death, Mr. Busch's lawyer said Wednesday.

A motion seeking approval of the settlement from Cape Girardeau County Circuit Judge William Syler was filed Friday.

"We believe the settlement is very fair and even generous, but in an effort to ensure Blake's future, we are hopeful the court will approve," Mr. Busch's attorney, Art Margulis, said.

Adrienne Martin, 27, a one-time aspiring model, died Dec. 19 at Mr. Busch's sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis. An autopsy concluded she overdosed on oxycodone and also had a significant amount of cocaine in her system.

Dr. Kevin Martin of Cape Girardeau, her ex-husband, filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of the couple's 8-year-old son, Blake Martin.

OKLAHOMA

Abortions banned after 20 weeks

OKLAHOMA CITY | Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Wednesday signed into law a prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making it the fourth state to ban such late-term abortions.

She also signed a law preventing health insurers from covering elective abortions.

Mrs. Fallin, a Republican serving her first term, said both laws are important measures that safeguard life.

"Together, these two pieces of legislation will expand protections for unborn children and ensure that Oklahomans are not forced to unknowingly or unwillingly help to pay for procedures that run contrary to their values," she said.

Barbara Santee, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America's Oklahoma office, called the two laws "a frontal assault" on the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

"This is just chipping away at a woman's right to choose," she said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Drilling fluid gushed from gas well

ALLENTOWN | A natural gas well in rural northern Pennsylvania spilled thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water Wednesday, forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. lost control of the Marcellus Shale well site near Canton, in Bradford County, at about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials said. Tainted water continued to flow from the site Wednesday afternoon, contaminating a nearby stream.

No injuries were reported, and there was no explosion or fire.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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