Flooding in Tri-state

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Walking outside of my office yesterday, it looked like the sun had gone down.  The air was thick with humidity, and dark clouds had gathered over the sky.  It rainstormwas one of those moments you knew it was about to pour.  And sure enough, pour it did.  Last night, severe thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain plagued the area.  The National Weather Service issued several weather alerts for the area, including Flash Flood Warnings and Watches, due to the heavy rainfall from powerful thunderstorms.  The Flash Flood Watch will still be in effect for certain counties until Friday at noon.

The storms knocked down trees and electrical lines in the tri-state, which in turn caused thousands to lose power.  PSE&G reported that 1,400 customers remained without power on Friday.  The majority of the outages were in Essex County. 1 World Trade was even struck by lightning, and a portion of a will in an underpass below the Brooklyn Bridge collapsed, and five people suffered from minor injuries.  According to a fire department spokesman, the collapse involved a roughly 25-foot wide section of the facade.  The Dept. of Transportation claims that the collapse didn’t cause any structural damage to the bridge, and there is as of yet no word on what caused the collapse.

As “Tropical Storm Arthur” moves northward, rough surf, heavy rain and even more thunderstorms are expected to hit the tri-state region.  Just today, the storm became a hurricane, although it is not expected to make landfall.  A cold front will approach today before slowly moving through the area Thursday night into Friday morning.  This front will in turn interact with some tropical moisture streaming in from the south, which will result in heavy rainfall.  Last night, the air temperature and high humidity made it feel like it was 100 degrees.  New York City officials urge residents to guard against heat-related illness as the summer moves into full swing, and the Health Department says that more than 80 percent of heat stroke deaths in recent years have involved victims who were in homes without air conditioning.



Asbestos Trust Suit

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I recently came across an article about an upcoming lawsuit, in which six different insurance companies are now suing an asbestos personal injury trust set up by an American unit of Philips.  The insurers suspect that the trust has been making millions of dollars in fraudulent payments to parties that are unable to prove whether or not they were harmed by the company’s asbestos products.  In the lawsuits, insurers are seeking access to trust records.  The insurers, however, claim that the asbestos personal injury (PI) trust set up during the 2008 bankruptcy of T H Agriculture & Nutrition LLC had been paying significantly more claims that originally planned.

In the Middle Ages, asbestos was used to create fireproof cloth. Now, however, it’s known to cause cancer.

This lawsuit is the latest in a long list of legal and legislative actions aimed at shedding information on the trusts, which have been in use for decades now to compensate people injured by exposure to the cancer-causing element.  Dozens of companies have already filed for bankruptcy in the wake of thousands of lawsuits, and then went on to set up trusts that collectively control tens of billions of dollars.  The six insurers were looking to conduct an audit of trust records as part of a bankruptcy agreement with T H Agriculture & Nutrition (THAN), Philips Electronics North America and the asbestos trust.

An attorney that represented THAN, as well as the asbestos trust, says that the lawsuit didn’t have any merit, since the insurers were offered the opportunity to audit the trust’s claims in compliance with the bankruptcy plan.  According to Sander Esserman, a partner of Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka, they want to conduct a different audit than the one contemplated by the agreement, and therefore the lawsuit will most likely not receive any traction in the courts.  So far, Philips Electronics hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

THAN filed for bankruptcy back in 2008, in the wake of thousands of lawsuits by people claiming that they were made sick by the asbestos the company distributed until 1980.  In exchange for setting up the $900 million trust, all future asbestos-related claims against THAN were then directed to the trust.  The six insurers then agreed to make installment payments to Philips Electronics North America based on the distributions by the asbestos trust.  In their lawsuit, they said that they may have paid $25 million more than they should have due to the suspected fraud.  The insurers are AIU Insurance Co, American Home Assurance Co, Birmingham Fire Insurance Co of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co, Lexington Insurance Co and National Union Fire Insurance Co of Pittsburgh.


David’s Brisket House

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New York is truly a unique place in the world, a location where almost anything can happen.  One example of this is a little place in Bedford-Stuyvesant known as “David’s Brisket House”.  It’s a Jewish deli run by Muslims.  Yes, you heard that right.  The deli itself is pretty old, opened up by Yemeni and Russian Jewish immigrants back in the era when Bedford-Stuyvesant was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.  During the 1980s, however, ownership of David’s passed to a Yemeni Muslim employee.  The new owner, who inherited the name David, turned it into a family business, and the majority of the employees are now related to one another.  The deli has since expanded to two locations, both in Brooklyn.  I recently came across a video that interviews Riyadh Gazali, the manager of the Bed-Stuy location.  Riyadh, with a smile on his face, starts the interview out by saying, “you’ve never seen a Jewish deli run by Muslims” in his Brooklyn accent.

David's pastrami
A stacked pastrami sandwich from David’s.

If it weren’t for the tall sign with “David’s Brisket House” painted on it in faded green paint up above the deli, David’s would be pretty hard to miss.  It’s a small joint, just a 2-minute walk from the Nostrand Ave station on the C line.  There are only a few chairs and tables on the inside, and it’s never that crowded, giving the place a real hole in the wall feel.

When it comes to New York’s well-known Jewish delis, names like Carnegie, Katz’s and Barney Greengrass come to mind.  However, that’s not to say that David’s can’t easily go toe-to-toe with these hard hitters.  While the pastrami at Katz’s has few contenders in Manhattan, its counterpart at David’s may very well be the in Brooklyn.  I’ve been to David’s twice so far, and both times I’ve ordered the same thing: a brisket and pastrami sandwich on a hero with mustard and gravy.  Both times, the sandwich did not disappoint.  The sandwich is stacked high with meat, and brisket frequently falls out of it when you try to take a bite.  And what’s even better, the meat is delicious.  It’s tender, juicy and practically falls apart when you try to bite into it.  There are, without a doubt, few sandwiches better than David’s.  And if there are, then I haven’t tried them.