- - Thursday, February 17, 2011

FLORIDA

Father accused in toxic assault

WEST PALM BEACH | A man accused of dousing his 10-year-old son with a harmful chemical and loading his dead daughter in the back of his exterminator truck was held Thursday on $1 million bond and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Jorge Barahona, 53, is charged with aggravated child abuse for critical injuries to his son, Victor, and he is expected to face more charges. The boy was found Monday in the truck parked along Interstate 95; his twin sister’s deteriorated body was later found in the enclosed truck bed. The father was discovered near the pickup, lying on the ground, unresponsive and doused in gasoline in what he later told police was an attempt to kill himself.

When Mr. Barahona was told to get ready for the court hearing, he tried to injure his head and became uncooperative, authorities said. Circuit Judge Ted Booras decided he didn’t have to come to the hearing, and the father was later taken to a hospital for observation.

MISSISSIPPI

Family maid sues author of ‘The Help’

JACKSON | A black woman who once worked as a maid for a relative of novelist Kathryn Stockett is suing the author of the best-selling book “The Help,” claiming she was the basis for a black servant character who she thought depicted her in a poor light.

The novel is based on relationships between white families and their black maids in the segregated South of the 1960s, and a driving character in the book is a woman named Aibileen.

Now, a real-life woman named Ablene Cooper, who said she worked for Ms. Stockett’s brother, is claiming Ms. Stockett used her name and likeness without permission and with embarrassing results.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 9 in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, Miss., where Ms. Stockett grew up. It asks for $75,000 in damages, an amount chosen to keep the litigation from ending up in federal jurisdiction, where larger actions are often decided.

Penguin USA Publisher Amy Einhorn said she doesn’t think there’s any basis for the lawsuit.

NEW YORK

Cargo handler gets life in JFK plot

NEW YORK | An aging former cargo handler was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for hatching a plot to make John F. Kennedy International Airport go “up in smoke” by attacking jet fuel supplies with the help of a notorious al Qaeda explosives expert.

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