Limousine accident, October 6, 2018

Shahed “Malik” Hussain testified in several high-profile terrorism cases.

limousine
NOT the actual vehicle
You may well have heard about the limousine accident in upstate New York in October 2018 that killed 20 people.

Seventeen were friends and family including four sisters, young parents, and newlyweds, celebrating a birthday. One was the driver, and the other two were pedestrians struck by the vehicle as it careened off the road.

The terrible accident on the intersection of routes 30A and 30 in Schoharie, about 20 miles from Albany, was national, even international news.

A couple of narratives have emerged. One is that the vehicle should not have been on the road. It had failed a state Department of Transportation inspection the previous month. A total of five inspections were done of the company’s vehicles over the previous 25 months, and four were taken out of service as a result.

One of the victims texted the limo was in ‘terrible condition’ minutes before the crash. The driver in the fatal crash was ticketed in August for having improper license, driving 11 people in that same vehicle.

Other “major issues cited were rear emergency exits that weren’t operating properly, and the fact that the modified Excursion didn’t have the proper federal certification label that should have been affixed after the SUV had been altered by a third party.” The brakes were also problematic.

For a time, National Transportation Safety Board investigators were frustrated over their inability to fully examine the limousine, first because of the pending criminal case, and, for a time, because of the 35-day partial government shutdown.

The insurer of the stretch Excursion, Global Liberty Insurance of New York, canceled the insurance policy on the limo six times between January and September. Prestige Limo tried to sell vehicle days before the fatal crash, listing it on Craigslist for $9,000.

The other narrative was that, while day-to-day operation of Prestige Limousine day-to-day operation of the company was run by his son, the owner is Shahed “Malik” Hussain. Malik testified in several high-profile terrorism cases. Malik “became an F.B.I. informant after being charged in 2002 with a scheme that involved taking money to illegally help people in the Albany area get driver’s licenses” and other crimes.

The “con man and career criminal” was given the kind of second chance most criminals only dream of. By his own telling, Shahed Hussain’s journey to upstate New York began with a murder charge.

The elder Hussain worked in an undercover role, posing as an arms dealer, to help federal authorities snare two immigrants with no criminal backgrounds at the time: Yassin Aref, an Iraqi refugee and imam of a Central Avenue mosque, and Mohammed Hossain, a Bangladeshi immigrant who owned a pizza shop.

“Aref and Mohammed Hossain were both arrested in 2004 and accused of laundering money in connection with a fictitious terror plot set up by the FBI’s informant. They were convicted in 2006 and both sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Aref was recently released from prison and is being held in custody pending his deportation to Iraq.”

“During the Albany trial, there was testimony that the informant’s recorded conversations with the Albany targets were in Urdu. The informant would then translate those conversations for FBI agents, who later learned that the translations were not always accurate…” And there were other irregularities.

Critics said that the FBI and Hussain entrapped Muslims who otherwise would never have been involved in terrorism in other cases as well, one highlighted in “The Newburgh Sting,” an HBO documentary.

How can we ensure stretch limos are roadworthy? How does one prevent an owner from circumventing the state’s inspection process repeatedly?

In January 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to include a ban on “stretched” or remanufactured limousines in New York, as well as sweeping measures to expand regulation of the limousine industry. Limo firms wary of Cuomo’s plan.

As of March 2019, New York lawmakers are only now talking about holding hearings on what further regulation limousines might need.

For ABC Wednesday

Recovery of Leslie Green, post bike accident

One surgery that IS scheduled is to remove the metal hardware from Leslie’s left arm/wrist on October 1 as an outpatient.

lesliesbikeOne of the many things I’d been planning to write about has been the recovery of my sister Leslie. She wrote this on Facebook on September 30, and I have purloined some of it. OK, all of it.

“As many of you know, I was in a serious bicycle crash on June 4th and was in the hospital until July 4th. I was riding downhill, was only a block left to my destination, avoided traffic, lost control, hit the curb and flew over handlebars to face plant into a hillside. Certainly not one of the most gracious things I have ever done!”

Yes, I visited the crash site the week I was out in San Diego the week after she got out of the hospital. Her friends found some eyewitnesses who thought she wouldn’t survive.

“I broke my nose, left arm/wrist and the surgeons had quite a task of putting together the pieces. (ME). They did a great job and are amazed at how quickly and well I am healing!”

Yes, even in week two, she was almost unrecognizable, but a month later, she started looking like herself.

“I give thanks to God for healing and keeping me. I thank all of those who showed the outpouring of love, support and prayers. It has been amazing. Especially from my kid!”

Her daughter Rebecca Jade and her many friends, especially a tigress named Leilani (hope I spelled her name correctly!) were great, even by the time I got there. Also thanks again to my friend Carol from Texas, who was able to visit my sister a month before I was.

“When I am thankful for the medical team, and thankful for purchasing a bicycle accident two days before the ordeal. It truly was a ‘helmet of salvation’ and helped save my life.”

Without the helmet, she had about a zero percent chance of avoiding severe brain damage or, most probably, death. Not so incidentally, when I got back to Albany, I bought a new helmet, one that fit my large head better.

“I feel ok and am doing ok, thanks be to God.

“There are a couple of surgeries I may need, but MDs want to wait and see, as I may heal without surgery. Time will tell.

“One surgery that IS scheduled is to remove the metal hardware from my left arm/wrist. It’s on October 1 as an outpatient. It will be so nice to have an increased range of motion again!”

That’s today! She has, if memory is correct, three metal rods in her wrist area. Not incidentally, Leslie is left-handed so this will be extremely beneficial.

“Please keep me in prayer for a successful surgery and healing, which I trust it will be.

“Thanks for all your love, prayers and support. It means a lot.”

Spare a good thought for Leslie today, if you would.

My sister Leslie Green in hospital

Rebecca had posted requests for prayers for her mother on Instagram and Facebook.

Rebecca Jade, Leslie Green – May 2018
Coming home from work Monday night, I received a call from my sister Marcia asking if our niece Rebecca Jade had called me. Turns out she had left a message on the answering machine.

As best as we can figure out, Rebecca’s mother, my other sister, Leslie Green, was going to work, riding her bicycle to a light-rail station in the San Diego, California. Whether she hit a pothole or another impediment, we don’t know.

What we do know is that Leslie arrived at a hospital by an emergency vehicle. I get the sense she didn’t realize how injured she was; adrenaline will do that. Fortunately, she had her helmet on, because she might have suffered brain damage, or worse. But her sunglasses probably helped to break some bones in her face.

She was in the trauma section, but she didn’t have surgery until that night because she wasn’t as bad off as other patients, which I suppose is positive news. She had a “temporary” tracheotomy; I do not know what that is. She’s breathing well.

I called a nurse early Tuesday morning, who said Leslie looked remarkably well. The swelling has largely subsided.

She had some plastic surgery on her face Wednesday night, which went well. I’m mentioning all this, despite hating to write extemporaneously about fluid situations, because Rebecca had posted requests for prayers for her mother on Instagram and Facebook, and one of Leslie’s friends IMed me on FB:

“Is [Leslie] going to be OK? We had no idea last I heard she was on a cruise with her daughter.” And that is true. From Rebecca’s newsletter from a little over a week ago re: touring on two weeks of cruises with Dave Koz and his band:

“It was an incredible experience! From Copenhagen, we cruised to Stockholm, Sweden; then to Tallin, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and finally to Helsinki, Finland before heading back to Copenhagen. And this year, my mom was able to join me!

“We had a great time, shared some amazing moments together, and she became a bit of a celebrity on the boat, both for singing in the ‘So You Think You Can Jam’ talent contest and for an impromptu jam with the legend himself, Larry Graham, where she and I got to sing together while Larry Graham thumped his bass! It made Larry emotional, as it reminded him of performing with his mom when he was growing up.”

If memory serves, Monday was supposed to have been Leslie’s first day back to work and they were concerned when she didn’t show up. As it stands now, she still has a broken left hand and left wrist – her dominant side -as well as four broken ribs (3 through 6).

She’ll be having more procedures, I imagine, but the Wednesday surgery was two days earlier than I was originally told, so I take that as a good sign.

But it kind of sucks being roughly 2,879 miles away. One of my oldest friends will be in San Diego this weekend, as it turns out, and she will visit Leslie Green and Rebecca Jade. This is some small comfort.

Noisy neighbors

It’s 10 p.m. The Daughter and I are watching JEOPARDY! when the doorbell rings.

neighbors2You may recall an incident involving the second floor apartment of our next door neighbors. It’s been more fun.

OCTOBER 1 – it’s a three-day weekend for the college students on the second floor next door. The noise from the music was so loud, i went over there to ask them to turn it down around 11 p.m. It was so loud that when I was POUNDING on the door, it took about three minutes to be heard.

The music returns. Continue reading “Noisy neighbors”

February Rambling: niece Rebecca Jade in a movie

My niece, Rebecca Jade, appears as a singer (typecasting, that) in a film called 5 Hour Friends, starring Tom Sizemore,

autocorrectFrom Jeff Sharlet, who I knew long ago: Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia. In 2010, Jeff wrote about the American roots of Uganda’s anti-gay persecutions. He notes: “Centrist media sources dismissed my reporting as alarmist; The Economist assured us it would never pass. [This week], Ugandan President Museveni is signing the bill into law.”

There was no Jesse Owens at Sochi.

Arthur’s letter to straight people: why coming out matters; read the linked articles therein, too. (Watch that Dallas sportscaster on Ellen.)

So Dangerous He Needs a Soo-da-nim. Racist homophobes who comment on Sharp Little Pencil’s blog.
Continue reading “February Rambling: niece Rebecca Jade in a movie”