MAN WINS $8K AFTER DISNEY 'SMALL WORLD' BREAKDOWN: LOS ANGELES (AP) — An attorney says a disabled man was awarded $8,000 by Disneyland after the "It's A Small World" ride broke, stranding him for three hours while the theme song played continuously.
Lawyer David Geffen says Jose Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, and staffers failed to call the fire department to free him.
The ride's familiar song couldn't be turned off the entire three hours Martinez was stuck.
Geffen says Martinez uses a wheelchair, suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure, and needed to urinate for much of the time he was stranded.
Geffen says half the award ordered Friday is for pain and suffering, and the other half for disability law violations.
SINGER DIONNE WARWICK FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY IN NJ: NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Singer Dionne Warwick claims in a recent bankruptcy filing that she owes nearly $10 million in back taxes and her monthly expenses exceed $20,000.
The South Orange resident and singer of classics such as "Walk On By," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" filed a Chapter 7 petition in U.S. bankruptcy court in New Jersey last Thursday.
In the filing, the 72-year-old Warwick listed liabilities that include nearly $7 million owed to the Internal Revenue Service for the years 1991 to 1999 and more than $3 million in business taxes owed to the state of California.
Warwick, a cousin of the late Whitney Houston, also listed $20,950 in monthly income from royalties, retirement income and a contract with Culver City, Calif.-based Star Girl Productions. Her monthly expenses total $20,940 and include $5,000 for housekeeping/housesitting.
Warwick's publicist said that the singer was victimized by bad financial management in the 1990s and that she has paid back the actual amount of the taxes, but penalties and interest have accumulated over the years.
OBAMA GIVES SECRET SERVICE ITS 1ST FEMALE DIRECTOR: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency's first female director, signaling his desire to change the culture at the male-dominated service, which has been marred by scandal.
Pierson, who most recently served as the agency's chief of staff, will take over from Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement last month. The agency faced intense criticism during Sullivan's tenure for a prostitution scandal during preparations for Obama's trip to Cartagena, Colombia, last year.
The incident raised questions within the agency — as well as at the White House and on Capitol Hill — about the culture, particularly during foreign travel. In addition to protecting the president, the Secret Service also investigates financial crimes.
"Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day," Obama said in a statement announcing Pierson's appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also praised Obama's "historic decision" to name Pierson as the service's first female director.
Pierson, 53, has held high-ranking posts throughout the Secret Service, including deputy assistant director of the office of protective operations and assistant director of human resources and training. She has served as chief of staff since 2008.
NJ POLICE: EMACIATED BOY, 4, FOUND WITH DEAD MOM: UNION, N.J. (AP) — Police in northern New Jersey found an emaciated 4-year-old boy in an apartment Tuesday morning with the body of his mother, who appeared to have been dead about five days.
The boy told police he tried to get food from the refrigerator but couldn't open the door, Union Police Director Daniel Zieser said. The boy also had rubbed lotion on his mother in an apparent attempt to help her, leaving behind his handprints, Zieser said.
"He made a statement to the officer that 'There's plenty of food in the refrigerator, but I couldn't open the door,'" Zieser told New York radio station WCBS. "So that's kind of sad that nobody checked on him, no family members. It's sad, very sad."
The discovery was made Tuesday after a maintenance worker reported a bad odor coming from the apartment. The door was ajar but locked with a chain.
Once police forced their way in, they found the woman's body in a bedroom. Police don't suspect foul play.
TEEN STABBED IN TARGET STORE RECOVERING: PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 16-year-old girl who was used as a shield and stabbed by a homeless man who fled into a downtown Target store after a fight was visiting Pittsburgh with her family while on spring break from her school in Tennessee, authorities said Tuesday.
Allison Meadows, who attends Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., is expected to fully recover from a collapsed lung and other wounds, the school said on its website. She was grabbed by her attacker Monday and stabbed, along with two men who were chasing him, as she stood in the checkout lanes with her family, police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Tuesday.
Police said Leon Raymond Walls, 41, ran into the store wielding a knife about 5:30 p.m. Monday after a fight nearby. Walls at first headed toward the restrooms in the back of the store in the East Liberty neighborhood and at least two men entered the store searching for him, police said. Witnesses said one of the men had a baseball bat.
FEMA HEAD: FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE TO COST MORE: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says people who buy federal flood insurance need to plan for big rate hikes. FEMA director Craig Fugate says some people now paying hundreds of dollars a year could wind up paying thousands because Congress says the program must at least pay for itself.
He said Tuesday that the increases will be phased in over three to four years.
His comments came at the National Hurricane Conference. The National Hurricane Center's Rick Knabb said the center will start providing three more days of notice about where tropical systems are likely to develop for the hurricane season that starts June 1. The tropical weather outlook has covered two days; now there will be a five-day forecast.