PAKET UMROH BULAN FEBRUARI MARET APRIL MEI 2018




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Kejaksaan Agung mulai menyelidiki kasus penggelembungan dana pengadaan bus Transjakarta. Penyelidikan ini telah didahului oleh laporan dari Pemprov DKI Jakarta beberapa waktu lalu.

"Penyelidikan ini berdasarkan Surat Perintah Penyelidikan Nomor: Print-43/F.2/Fd.1/02/2014, tertanggal 26 Februari 2014 lalu ," tutur Kepala Pusat Penerangan Kejaksaan Agung, Setia Untung Arimuladi, Kamis (13/3).

Kendati surat perintah penyelidikan telah keluar, penyidik Kejaksaan Agung belum memanggil satu pun pejabat terkait dalam kasus tersebut. Penyidik juga masih mendalami apakah kasus pengadaan ini bisa naik statusnya menjadi penyidikan.

"Semua pihak yang terkait dengan permasalahan tersebut akan dimintai keterangan. Tim jaksa penyelidik masih mencari dan menemukan suatu peristiwa yang diduga sebagai tindak pidana guna untuk menentukan dapat atau tidaknya dilakukan penyidikan menurut cara yang diatur dalam UU," tukas Untung lagi.

Seperti yang telah diketahui, LSM FAKTA telah melapor ke KPK terkait adanya indikasi korupsi dalam proyek pengadaan 656 bus TransJakarta tahun anggaran 2013 oleh Dinas Perhubungan Pemerintah Provinsi DKI Jakarta.Menurut Ketua FAKTA, Azas Tigor Nainggolan, pihaknya juga menemukan beberapa keganjilan dalam pengadaan itu.

Di antaranya, bus TransJakarta yang didatangkan seperti terlihat bekas dan banyak karat, tidak adanya serah terima barang, pemenang cenderung mengarah hanya ke satu pabrikan, serta spesifikasi tabung bahan bakar gas (BBG) yang tidak sesuai rekomendasi Badan Penerapan dan Pengkajian Teknologi (BPPT). Azas sendiri telah menduga ada permainan antara PT San Abadi selaku Agen Pemenang Merek (APM) bus Ankai di Indonesia dengan Pejabat Pembuat Komitmen di Dishub DKI.

Kepala Dishub DKI saat itu dipegang oleh Udar Pristono yang oleh Gubernur DKI Joko Widodo sudah dilengserkan belum lama ini. Selain itu, FAKTA juga telah menemukan indikasi kerugian negara yang mencapai Rp 3,8 miliar dalam proyek pengadaan bus Transjakarta.

Kejaksaan Agung selidiki mark up pengadaan bus Transjakarta

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Rasulullah SAW meletakkan batu pertama Masjid Quba tepat di kiblatnya.

Semua masjid yang berada di Makkah, Madinah, dan Palestina selalu istimewa bagi umat Islam. Masjid-masjid ini punya nilai yang lekat dengan sejarah peradaban Islam. Begitupun dengan masjid Quba.

Menilik dari sejarahnya, Masjid Quba punya nilai historis yang sangat tinggi. Masjid ini adalah masjid pertama yang dibangun Rasulullah SAW.

Masjid Quba dibangun pada awal peradaban Islam. Tepatnya, 8 Rabiul Awal pada 1 Hijriyah. Lokasinya berada di sebelah tenggara Kota Madinah, lima kilometer di luarnya.

Dulu, masjid ini dibangun dengan bahan yang sangat sederhana. Seiring berjalannya waktu, renovasi banyak dilakukan Kerajaan Arab Saudi.

Masjid ini juga mengalami perluasan. Dalam buku berjudul Sejarah Madinah Munawwarah yang ditulis Dr Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, dijelaskan masjid ini direnovasi besar-besaran pada 1986.

Kala itu, Pemerintah Arab Saudi bahkan mengeluarkan dana hingga 90 juta riyal Saudi untuk memperluas masjid ini yang nantinya bisa menampung 20 ribu jamaah yang mengunjunginya.

Dalam sejarah yang dituliskan, tokoh Islam yang memegang peranan penting dalam pembangunan masjid ini adalah Sayyidina ‘Ammar Radhiyallahu lanhu.

Ketika Rasulullah SAW berhijrah dari Makkah ke Madinah, pria ini mengusulkan untuk membangun tempat berteduh bagi sang Nabi di kampung Quba yang tadinya hanya terdiri atas hamparan kebun kurma.

Kemudian, dikumpulkanlah batu-batu dan disusun menjadi masjid yang sangat sederhana. Meskipun tak seberapa besar, paling tidak bangunan ini bisa menjadi tempat berteduh bagi rombongan Rasulullah. Mereka pun bisa beristirahat kala siang hari dan mendirikan shalat dengan tenang.

Rasulullah SAW meletakkan batu pertama tepat di kiblatnya dan ikut menyusun batu-batu selanjutnya hingga bisa menjadi pondasi dan dinding masjid.

Rasullullah SAW dibantu para sahabat dan kaum Muslim yang lain. Ammar menjadi pengikut Rasulullah yang paling rajin dalam membangun masjid ini.

Tanpa kenal lelah, ia membawa batu-batu yang ukurannya sangat besar, hingga orang lain tak sanggup mengangkatnya. Ammar mengikatkan batu itu ke perutnya sendiri dan membawanya untuk dijadikan bahan bangunan penyusun masjid ini.

Ammar memang selalu dikisahkan sebagai prajurit yang sangat perkasa bagi pasukan Islam. Dia mati syahid pada usia 92 tahun.

Pada awal pembangunannya yang dibangun dengan tangan Rasulullah sendiri masjid ini berdiri di atas kebun kurma. Luas kebun kurmanya kala itu 5.000 meter persegi dan masjidnya baru sekitar 1.200 meter persegi. Rasulullah sendiri pula yang mengonsep desain dan model masjidnya.

Meskipun sangat sederhana, Masjid Quba boleh dianggap sebagai contoh bentuk masjid-masjid selanjutnya. Bangunan yang sangat sederhana kala itu sudah memenuhi syarat-syarat yang perlu untuk pendirian masjid.

Masjid ini telah memiliki sebuah ruang persegi empat dan berdinding di sekelilingnya. Di sebelah utara dibuat serambi untuk tempat sembahyang.

Dulu, ruangan ini bertiangkan pohon kurma, beratap datar dari pelepah, dan daun korma yang dicampur dengan tanah liat. Di tengah-tengah ruang terbuka dalam masjid yang kemudian biasa disebut sahn terdapat sebuah sumur tempat wudhu.

Di sini, jamaah bisa mengambil air untuk membersihkan diri. Dalam masjid ini, kebersihan selalu terjaga, cahaya matahari dan udara pun dapat masuk dengan leluasa. – (jurnalhaji.com)

Sumber : http://saharakafila.com

Baca Artikel Lainnya : PERLUASAN MASJIDIL HARAM

MASJID PERTAMA YANG DI BANGUN RASULULLAH

Penerjemah Online adalah sebuah situs lembaga penyedia jasa translate dokumen resmi perusahaan dan individu yang menawarkan solusi tepat bagi Anda pengguna jasa terjemahan selama 24 jam nonstop. Dengan berbekal sarana dan prasarana yang memadai dan didukung penuh oleh staf-staf penerjemah terampil yang kaya akan pengalaman menerjemahkan berbagai dokumen dari dan ke bahasa Jepang, Inggris, Belanda, Arab, Mandarin, Korea, Jerman dan Perancis, lembaga jasa Penerjemah Online sudah sejak tahun 2010 tetap berkomitmen hanya memberikan yang terbaik bagi pelanggan-pelanggan pengguna jasa kami, khususnya dalam penyediaan jasa translate bahasa Jepang, Inggris, Mandarin, Korea, Arab, Belanda, Jerman dan Perancis untuk semua dokumen resmi.

Sebagai sebuah lembaga penyedia jasa terjemahan dokumen, tentunya kami selalu berupaya hingga ini untuk bisa menjembatani perbedaan bahasa yang masih menjadi kendala bagi klien-klien kami dalam kaitannya dengan komunikasi, alih teknologi dan sebagainya, dimana ditengah semakin derasnya arus globalisasi saat ini menuntut pelaku bisnis menjajakan produk dan jasanya kepada calon-calon konsumen dari luar negeri. Dari situlah Penerjemah Online hadir untuk tujuan membantu para pengguna jasa yang  saat ini didominasi oleh para pelaku bisnis di Indonesia, dalam menerjemahkan berbagai dokumen mereka.

Upaya demi upaya terus kami lakukan untuk terus meminimalkan kemungkinan adanya kekeliruan persepsi, kesalahan pengetikan dan sebagainya yang bisa merugikan pengguna jasa terjemahan di Penerjemah Online. Sebagai salah satu langkah awal kami dalam menciptakan hasil terjemahan yang terbaik adalah dengan mempekerjakan staf-staf penerjemah reguler dan penerjemah tersumpah yang berpengalaman. Sehingga dengan demikian diharapkan mampu secara terus menerus tercipta perasaan terpuaskan bagi semua pengguna jasa terjemahan yang menggunakan jasa translate kami

 

JASA PENERJEMAH ONLINE

Skype adalah sebuah program komunikasi dengan teknologi P2P (peer to peer). Program ini merupakan program bebas (dapat diunduh gratis) dan dibuat dengan tujuan penyediaan sarana komunikasi suara (voice) berkualitas tinggi yang murah berbasiskan internet untuk semua orang di berbagai belahan dunia. Pengguna Skype dapat berbicara dengan pengguna Skype lainnya dengan gratis, menghubungi telepon tradisional dengan biaya (skypeOut), menerima panggilan dari telepon tradisional (SkypeIn), dan menerima pesan suara . Teknologi skype ditemukan oleh wirausahawan Niklas Zennström dan Janus Friis, orang yang sama yang menemukan Kazaa dan Joost (P2P untuk televisi). Skype lalu berkompetisi dengan protokol terbuka VoIP yang sudah ada seperti SIP, IAX, dan H.323. Grup Skype yang dibentuk pada bulan September 2003 lalu dibeli oleh perusahaan lelang internet raksasa di Amerika e-Bay pada bulan September 2005 dan bermarkas di Luxembourg, Jerman dengan kantor-kantor di London, Inggris, Praha, Rusia dan San Jose, California, A.S.

Sejak diluncurkan skype telah mengalami pertumbuhan pesat baik dari penggunaannya yang populer maupun pengembangan perangkat lunaknya, jasa yang ditawarkan pun menjadi beragam mulai dari penggunaan gratis maupun berbayar.

Hanya dalam beberapa tahun saja pada bulan April 2006 Skype memiliki 100 juta pengguna.

 

 

Keunggulan

 

  1. Komunikasi global dan lokal yang lebih ekonomis melalui suara atau konferensi video. Sebagai ilustrasi pada tahun 2007 perbandingan menelpon ke Amerika dari Indonesia adalah Rp.6,640,-/ menit.    sedangkan dengan menggunakan skype, aktivitas ini didapatkan gratis (untuk sesama pengguna skype) dan berbayar bila skype digunakan untuk menelpon ke pesawat telpon genggam: Rp. 1,593/ menit atau pesawat telpon rumah: Rp. 423/ menit . Komunikasi menjadi lebih murah dan terjangkau. Konferensi bisa dilangsungkan antar pengguna (dua orang) sampai dengan lima pengguna sekaligus.
  2. Penggunaannya yang mudah. Untuk pengguna yang telah biasa menggunakan pengirim-penerima pesan instan internet, perangkat lunak skype akan dirasakan mudah. Pengguna hanya diharuskan untuk memiliki komputer dengan spesifikasi teknis tertentu, headset (yang memiliki mike dan speaker), serta sambungan internet.
  3. Kualitas suara yang lebih baik dibandingakan VoIP pendahulunya. Kegunaan dasar pembicaraan telepon melalui komputer di mana pun pengguna berada (dengan koneksi internet) secara gratis.

Kualitas suara yang lebih baik

Dalam hal kualitas suara yang lebih baik, hal ini mungkin terjadi karena tim kerja Skype telah berhasil mengontrol sumberdaya- sumberdaya yang tersedia pada jaringan. Sehingga meningkatkan keberhasilan panggilan dan kualitas pada jaringan Skype melebihi tingkat POTS (Plain Old Telephony System: Sistem Telepon Tua Biasa) tanpa menggunakan pemusatan sumberdaya yang mahal. Dengan menyederhanakan perangkat lunaknya, sistem ini memungkinkan pengaplikasian yang mudah oleh siapapun.

Traversal Firewall dan NAT (Network Address Translation)

Klien-klien yang tidak menggunakan firewall dan klien-klien yang sudah berada pada alamat-alamat IP publik yang terarah dapat membantu “ujung- penghubung” dari NAT berkomunikasi dengan mengarahkan panggilan. Hal ini memungkinkan dua klien yang awalnya tidak bisa berkomunikasi untuk berbicara satu sama lainnya, karena sinyal panggilan di terjemahkan pada pengguna akhir yang satu dan pengguna akhir lainnya, sehingga kekhawatiran akan risiko keamanan atau privasi dapat diatasi. Bersamaan dengan hal ini, hanya proxi-proxi yang memiliki “jatah” berlebih yang dipilih sehingga performa pada penggunanya tidak terganggu. Beberapa teknik baru telah dikembangkan untuk menghindari konfigurasi firewall dan gateway pada pengguna akhir, dimana setting konfigurasi yang tidak sensitif biasanya menghambat mayoritas pengguna dalam berkomunikasi. Singkatnya, Skype bekerja di belakang mayoritas firewall dan gateway tanpa menggunakan konfigurasi khusus.

Data dan Alat Pencari Pengguna Global Terdesentralisasi

Kebanyakan dari pengirim- penerima pesan instan (Instant Messenger) atau perangkat lunak komunikasi memerlukan bentuk data pencari terpusat yang bertujuan agar hubungan antar pengguna akhir berhasil dilakukan, dimana para pengguna akhir ini memiliki nama pengguna statis karena alamat IP-nya cenderung berubah. Perubahan ini terjadi saat pengguna berpindah lokasi atau mencoba menghubungkan diri kembali ke dalam jaringan dengan menggunakan alamat IP dinamis. Kebanyakan dari alat komunikasi yang berbasiskan internet, mencari dan menemukan penggunanya menggunakan sentral informasi (central directory) dimana setiap nama pengguna dan nomor IPnya tercatat dan mencari tahu apakah setiap pengguna sedang dalam jaringan (online) atau tidak. Sentral informasi ini amatlah besar biayanya ketika penggunanya bertambah hingga jutaan, dengan mendesentralisasikan infrastruktur yang memakan banyak sumberdaya ini, skype berhasil memfokuskan sumber dayanya untuk mengembangkan fungsi. Teknologi jaringan P2P yang digunakan oleh aplikasi “berbagi berkas” (file-sharing) sebenarnya hampir cocok untuk digunakan pada jaringan desentralisasi yang digunakan oleh skype, namun jaringan-jaringan ini secara alamiah telah terbagi-bagi. Pencarian tidak dapat menghubungkan seluruh “ujung” yang terdapat di jaringan. Sehingga untuk dapat berkomunikasi dengan kualitas telepon yang baik dengan biaya serendah mungkin, diperlukan pengembangan generasi ketiga dari teknologi P2P (“3G P2P”) atau dikenal juga dengan Indeks Global (Global Index) disingkat IG – hal ini membuktikan sekali lagi pergeseran paradigma pada istilah “jaringan yang mungkin” . Teknologi IG adalah jaringan berlapis-lapis dimana antara penghubung-super (supernones) saling berkomunikasi dengan cara tertentu sehingga setiap penghubung dalam jaringan memiliki pengetahuan penuh akan setiap pengguna yang ada dan sumberdaya yang digunakannya dalam selubung (jeda panggilan) seminimal mungkin.

Pengarah lalulintas yang pintar (intelligent routing)

Dengan menggunakan seluruh sumberdaya yang ada, Skype mampu mengarahkan dengan pintar panggilan panggilan yang terkode melalui seluruh jalur efektif yang mungkin dilalui. Skype bahkan memastikan berbagai jalur-jalur penghubung tetap terbuka dan secara dinamis berpindah memilih jalur yang terbaik pada saat itu. Hal ini membuat Skype langsung menjadi perhatian orang karena dampaknya dalam mengurangi jeda sambungan dan peningkatan kualitas panggilan dalam jaringan.

Keamanan

Setiap panggilan dan pesan instan dikodekan oleh Skype pada ujung satu dan lainnya untuk melindungi privasi pengguna. Pengkodean ini perlu karena seluruh panggilan/ pertukaran informasi disalurkan menggunakan fasilitas Internet untuk publik.

Mudah digunakan

Dengan perangkat yang mudah digunakan dan bukan mempersulit pengguna, skype dibuat sesederhana mungkin – semua orang yang dapat menggunakan aplikasi Windows dan telepon karena perangkat lunak ini dapat bekerja dengan baik dengan sistem operasi komputer saku (pocket PC), Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Pocket PC, Mac OS X and Linux .

Kekurangan

  1. Penipuan. Layaknya seluruh hubungan yang dilakukan melalui internet, skype juga memiliki masalah yang sama dengan registrasi identitas penggunanya. Registrasi dapat dilakukan tanpa menyerahkan identitas diri yang sah sehingga sebagai pengguna kita dapat memilih untuk tidak meggunakan nama asli dan di pihak yang sama kita berisiko untuk berkenalan dengan orang tanpa tahu identitasnya. Hal ini rentan terhadap penipuan dan kejahatan-kejahatan lainnya.
  2. Kapasitas yang besar. Skype memakan 23MB kapasitas harddisk ketika dipasang, dibandingkan dengan pengirim pesan instan lainnya seperti Yahoo Messenger yang memakan kapasitas lebih kecil sekitar 10-15 MB.
  3. Terhalang oleh waktu dan kesediaan orang yang memanggil dan yang dipanggil. Penggunaan skype dengan metode suara harus dilakukan dengan rencana sebelumnya seperti membuat janji dengan orang yang dituju, karena apabila orang yang dituju tidak siap (terhalang oleh perbedaan waktu atau kesulitan sambungan Internet) maka niat untuk melakukan komunikasi langsung melalui suara bisa jadi sia-sia.
  4. Tidak ada panggilan darurat dengan Skype. Skype tidak dapat digunakan untuk panggilan darurat.


    Sumber: wikipedia bahasa indonesia
SKYPE

Pemerintah Provinsi DKI Jakarta saat ini sedang merumuskan tes kemampuan bagi 6.800 Pegawai Negeri Sipil (PNS) golongan eselon III dan eselon IV di lingkungan Pemprov DKI Jakarta. Perumusan tersebut tengah digodok Badan Kepegawaian Daerah (BKD), Sekretaris Daerah dan Asisten Gubernur Bidang Kepegawaian.

"Seleksi itu sudah ada instruksi lisan dari pak gubernur. Kemudian akan saya terjemahkan dan implementasikan seperti apa, tapi kami kumpulkan pejabat yang terkait dulu," ujar Kepala BKD I Made Karmayoga di Balai Kota DKI Jakarta, Jumat (14/3).

Made juga menegaskan BKD juga akan menggandeng pihak luar yang kompeten serta telah melibatkan konsultan dalam proses seleksi tersebut. Namun, lanjut Made, saat ini BKD masih fokus dalam penyelesaian lelang kepala sekolah.

"Kita juga akan cari narasumber bagaimana menerjemahkan atau menindaklanjuti dari instruksi lisan itu. Harus ada saran juga dari para ahli. Tapi harus menyelesaikan lelang kepala sekolah dan lelang kepala Puskesmas dulu. Kan itu belum dilantik," kata dia.

Made juga menambahkan saat ini BKD belum menentukan waktu pelaksanaan seleksi tersebut. Namun, gubernur dan wakil gubernur telah meminta pelaksanaan tersebut dilakukan bulan depan.

"Waktu pelaksanaannya belum diputuskan. Kalau pimpinan sih pengennya cepat kalau bisa April sudah mulai. Tapi kami juga harus perhitungkan kesiapan segala macamnya. Akan diupayakan April sudah mulai. Tapi jangan sampai mengganggu kinerja PNS yang melakukan tes," ujarnya.

Menurut Data BKD, pejabat eselon III di DKI Jakarta berjumlah 862 orang, yang terdiri dari 615 orang golongan III A dan 247 orang golongan III B. Kemudian untuk pejabat eselon IV berjumlah 5.942 orang, terdiri dari 3.758 orang golongan IV A dan 2.184 orang golongan IV B.
"Seleksi itu sudah ada instruksi lisan dari pak gubernur. Kemudian akan saya terjemahkan dan implementasikan seperti apa, tapi kami kumpulkan pejabat yang terkait dulu," ujar Kepala BKD I Made Karmayoga di Balai Kota DKI Jakarta, Jumat (14/3).

Made juga menegaskan BKD juga akan menggandeng pihak luar yang kompeten serta telah melibatkan konsultan dalam proses seleksi tersebut. Namun, lanjut Made, saat ini BKD masih fokus dalam penyelesaian lelang kepala sekolah.

"Kita juga akan cari narasumber bagaimana menerjemahkan atau menindaklanjuti dari instruksi lisan itu. Harus ada saran juga dari para ahli. Tapi harus menyelesaikan lelang kepala sekolah dan lelang kepala Puskesmas dulu. Kan itu belum dilantik," kata dia.

Made juga menambahkan saat ini BKD belum menentukan waktu pelaksanaan seleksi tersebut. Namun, gubernur dan wakil gubernur telah meminta pelaksanaan tersebut dilakukan bulan depan.

"Waktu pelaksanaannya belum diputuskan. Kalau pimpinan sih pengennya cepat kalau bisa April sudah mulai. Tapi kami juga harus perhitungkan kesiapan segala macamnya. Akan diupayakan April sudah mulai. Tapi jangan sampai mengganggu kinerja PNS yang melakukan tes," ujarnya.

Menurut Data BKD, pejabat eselon III di DKI Jakarta berjumlah 862 orang, yang terdiri dari 615 orang golongan III A dan 247 orang golongan III B. Kemudian untuk pejabat eselon IV berjumlah 5.942 orang, terdiri dari 3.758 orang golongan IV A dan 2.184 orang golongan IV B.

BKD rumuskan tes kemampuan PNS eselon III dan IV

Ms. Rendell was a prolific writer of intricately plotted mystery novels that combined psychological insight, social conscience and teeth-chattering terror.

Ruth Rendell, Novelist Who Thrilled and Educated, Dies at 85

THE WRITERS ASHLEY AND JAQUAVIS COLEMAN know the value of a good curtain-raiser. The couple have co-authored dozens of novels, and they like to start them with a bang: a headlong action sequence, a blast of violence or sex that rocks readers back on their heels. But the Colemans concede they would be hard-pressed to dream up anything more gripping than their own real-life opening scene.

In the summer of 2001, JaQuavis Coleman was a 16-year-old foster child in Flint, Mich., the former auto-manufacturing mecca that had devolved, in the wake of General Motors’ plant closures, into one of the country’s most dangerous cities, with a decimated economy and a violent crime rate more than three times the national average. When JaQuavis was 8, social services had removed him from his mother’s home. He spent years bouncing between foster families. At 16, JaQuavis was also a businessman: a crack dealer with a network of street-corner peddlers in his employ.

One day that summer, JaQuavis met a fellow dealer in a parking lot on Flint’s west side. He was there to make a bulk sale of a quarter-brick, or “nine-piece” — a nine-ounce parcel of cocaine, with a street value of about $11,000. In the middle of the transaction, JaQuavis heard the telltale chirp of a walkie-talkie. His customer, he now realized, was an undercover policeman. JaQuavis jumped into his car and spun out onto the road, with two unmarked police cars in pursuit. He didn’t want to get into a high-speed chase, so he whipped his car into a church parking lot and made a run for it, darting into an alleyway behind a row of small houses, where he tossed the quarter-brick into some bushes. When JaQuavis reached the small residential street on the other side of the houses, he was greeted by the police, who handcuffed him and went to search behind the houses where, they told him, they were certain he had ditched the drugs. JaQuavis had been dealing since he was 12, had amassed more than $100,000 and had never been arrested. Now, he thought: It’s over.

But when the police looked in the bushes, they couldn’t find any cocaine. They interrogated JaQuavis, who denied having ever possessed or sold drugs. They combed the backyard alley some more. After an hour of fruitless efforts, the police were forced to unlock the handcuffs and release their suspect.

JaQuavis was baffled by the turn of events until the next day, when he received a phone call. The previous afternoon, a 15-year-old girl had been sitting in her home on the west side of Flint when she heard sirens. She looked out of the window of her bedroom, and watched a young man throw a package in the bushes behind her house. She recognized him. He was a high school classmate — a handsome, charismatic boy whom she had admired from afar. The girl crept outside and grabbed the bundle, which she hid in her basement. “I have something that belongs to you,” Ashley Snell told JaQuavis Coleman when she reached him by phone. “You wanna come over here and pick it up?”

Photo
Three of the nearly 50 works of urban fiction published by the Colemans over the last decade, often featuring drug deals, violence, sex and a brash kind of feminism.Credit Marko Metzinger

In the Colemans’ first novel, “Dirty Money” (2005), they told a version of this story. The outline was the same: the drug deal gone bad, the dope chucked in the bushes, the fateful phone call. To the extent that the authors took poetic license, it was to tone down the meet-cute improbability of the true-life events. In “Dirty Money,” the girl, Anari, and the crack dealer, Maurice, circle each other warily for a year or so before coupling up. But the facts of Ashley and JaQuavis’s romance outstripped pulp fiction. They fell in love more or less at first sight, moved into their own apartment while still in high school and were married in 2008. “We were together from the day we met,” Ashley says. “I don’t think we’ve spent more than a week apart in total over the past 14 years.”

That partnership turned out to be creative and entrepreneurial as well as romantic. Over the past decade, the Colemans have published nearly 50 books, sometimes as solo writers, sometimes under pseudonyms, but usually as collaborators with a byline that has become a trusted brand: “Ashley & JaQuavis.” They are marquee stars of urban fiction, or street lit, a genre whose inner-city settings and lurid mix of crime, sex and sensationalism have earned it comparisons to gangsta rap. The emergence of street lit is one of the big stories in recent American publishing, a juggernaut that has generated huge sales by catering to a readership — young, black and, for the most part, female — that historically has been ill-served by the book business. But the genre is also widely maligned. Street lit is subject to a kind of triple snobbery: scorned by literati who look down on genre fiction generally, ignored by a white publishing establishment that remains largely indifferent to black books and disparaged by African-American intellectuals for poor writing, coarse values and trafficking in racial stereotypes.

But if a certain kind of cultural prestige is shut off to the Colemans, they have reaped other rewards. They’ve built a large and loyal fan base, which gobbles up the new Ashley & JaQuavis titles that arrive every few months. Many of those books are sold at street-corner stands and other off-the-grid venues in African-American neighborhoods, a literary gray market that doesn’t register a blip on best-seller tallies. Yet the Colemans’ most popular series now regularly crack the trade fiction best-seller lists of The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. For years, the pair had no literary agent; they sold hundreds of thousands of books without banking a penny in royalties. Still, they have earned millions of dollars, almost exclusively from cash-for-manuscript deals negotiated directly with independent publishing houses. In short, though little known outside of the world of urban fiction, the Colemans are one of America’s most successful literary couples, a distinction they’ve achieved, they insist, because of their work’s gritty authenticity and their devotion to a primal literary virtue: the power of the ripping yarn.

“When you read our books, you’re gonna realize: ‘Ashley & JaQuavis are storytellers,’ ” says Ashley. “Our tales will get your heart pounding.”

THE COLEMANS’ HOME BASE — the cottage from which they operate their cottage industry — is a spacious four-bedroom house in a genteel suburb about 35 miles north of downtown Detroit. The house is plush, but when I visited this past winter, it was sparsely appointed. The couple had just recently moved in, and had only had time to fully furnish the bedroom of their 4-year-old son, Quaye.

In conversation, Ashley and JaQuavis exude both modesty and bravado: gratitude for their good fortune and bootstrappers’ pride in having made their own luck. They talk a lot about their time in the trenches, the years they spent as a drug dealer and “ride-or-die girl” tandem. In Flint they learned to “grind hard.” Writing, they say, is merely a more elevated kind of grind.

“Instead of hitting the block like we used to, we hit the laptops,” says Ashley. “I know what every word is worth. So while I’m writing, I’m like: ‘Okay, there’s a hundred dollars. There’s a thousand dollars. There’s five thousand dollars.’ ”

They maintain a rigorous regimen. They each try to write 5,000 words per day, five days a week. The writers stagger their shifts: JaQuavis goes to bed at 7 p.m. and wakes up early, around 3 or 4 in the morning, to work while his wife and child sleep. Ashley writes during the day, often in libraries or at Starbucks.

They divide the labor in other ways. Chapters are divvied up more or less equally, with tasks assigned according to individual strengths. (JaQuavis typically handles character development. Ashley loves writing murder scenes.) The results are stitched together, with no editorial interference from one author in the other’s text. The real work, they contend, is the brainstorming. The Colemans spend weeks mapping out their plot-driven books — long conversations that turn into elaborate diagrams on dry-erase boards. “JaQuavis and I are so close, it makes the process real easy,” says Ashley. “Sometimes when I’m thinking of something, a plot point, he’ll say it out loud, and I’m like: ‘Wait — did I say that?’ ”

Their collaboration developed by accident, and on the fly. Both were bookish teenagers. Ashley read lots of Judy Blume and John Grisham; JaQuavis liked Shakespeare, Richard Wright and “Atlas Shrugged.” (Their first official date was at a Borders bookstore, where Ashley bought “The Coldest Winter Ever,” the Sister Souljah novel often credited with kick-starting the contemporary street-lit movement.) In 2003, Ashley, then 17, was forced to terminate an ectopic pregnancy. She was bedridden for three weeks, and to provide distraction and boost her spirits, JaQuavis challenged his girlfriend to a writing contest. “She just wasn’t talking. She was laying in bed. I said, ‘You know what? I bet you I could write a better book than you.’ My wife is real competitive. So I said, ‘Yo, all right, $500 bet.’ And I saw her eyes spark, like, ‘What?! You can’t write no better book than me!’ So I wrote about three chapters. She wrote about three chapters. Two days later, we switched.”

The result, hammered out in a few days, would become “Dirty Money.” Two years later, when Ashley and JaQuavis were students at Ferris State University in Western Michigan, they sold the manuscript to Urban Books, a street-lit imprint founded by the best-selling author Carl Weber. At the time, JaQuavis was still making his living selling drugs. When Ashley got the phone call informing her that their book had been bought, she assumed they’d hit it big, and flushed more than $10,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet. Their advance was a mere $4,000.

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The roots of street lit, found in the midcentury detective novels of Chester Himes and the ‘60s and ‘70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.Credit Marko Metzinger

Those advances would soon increase, eventually reaching five and six figures. The Colemans built their career, JaQuavis says, in a manner that made sense to him as a veteran dope peddler: by flooding the street with product. From the start, they were prolific, churning out books at a rate of four or five a year. Their novels made their way into stores; the now-defunct chain Waldenbooks, which had stores in urban areas typically bypassed by booksellers, was a major engine of the street-lit market. But Ashley and JaQuavis took advantage of distribution channels established by pioneering urban fiction authors such as Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer, and a network of street-corner tables, magazine stands, corner shops and bodegas. Like rappers who establish their bona fides with gray-market mixtapes, street-lit authors use this system to circumnavigate industry gatekeepers, bringing their work straight to the genre’s core readership. But urban fiction has other aficionados, in less likely places. “Our books are so popular in the prison system,” JaQuavis says. “We’re banned in certain penitentiaries. Inmates fight over the books — there are incidents, you know? I have loved ones in jail, and they’re like: ‘Yo, your books can’t come in here. It’s against the rules.’ ”

The appeal of the Colemans’ work is not hard to fathom. The books are formulaic and taut; they deliver the expected goods efficiently and exuberantly. The titles telegraph the contents: “Diary of a Street Diva,” “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” “Murderville.” The novels serve up a stream of explicit sex and violence in a slangy, tangy, profane voice. In Ashley & JaQuavis’s books people don’t get killed: they get “popped,” “laid out,” get their “cap twisted back.” The smut is constant, with emphasis on the earthy, sticky, olfactory particulars. Romance novel clichés — shuddering orgasms, heroic carnal feats, superlative sexual skill sets — are rendered in the Colemans’ punchy patois.

Subtlety, in other words, isn’t Ashley & JaQuavis’s forte. But their books do have a grainy specificity. In “The Cartel” (2008), the first novel in the Colemans’ best-selling saga of a Miami drug syndicate, they catch the sights and smells of a crack workshop in a housing project: the nostril-stinging scent of cocaine and baking soda bubbling on stovetops; the teams of women, stripped naked except for hospital masks so they can’t pilfer the merchandise, “cutting up the cooked coke on the round wood table.” The subject matter is dark, but the Colemans’ tone is not quite noir. Even in the grimmest scenes, the mood is high-spirited, with the writers palpably relishing the lewd and gory details: the bodies writhing in boudoirs and crumpling under volleys of bullets, the geysers of blood and other bodily fluids.

The luridness of street lit has made it a flashpoint, inciting controversy reminiscent of the hip-hop culture wars of the 1980s and ’90s. But the street-lit debate touches deeper historical roots, reviving decades-old arguments in black literary circles about the mandate to uplift the race and present wholesome images of African-Americans. In 1928, W. E. B. Du Bois slammed the “licentiousness” of “Home to Harlem,” Claude McKay’s rollicking novel of Harlem nightlife. McKay’s book, Du Bois wrote, “for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath.” Similar sentiments have greeted 21st-century street lit. In a 2006 New York Times Op-Ed essay, the journalist and author Nick Chiles decried “the sexualization and degradation of black fiction.” African-American bookstores, Chiles complained, are “overrun with novels that . . . appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures — as if these nasty books were pairing off back in the stockrooms like little paperback rabbits and churning out even more graphic offspring that make Ralph Ellison books cringe into a dusty corner.”

Copulating paperbacks aside, it’s clear that the street-lit debate is about more than literature, touching on questions of paternalism versus populism, and on middle-class anxieties about the black underclass. “It’s part and parcel of black elites’ efforts to define not only a literary tradition, but a racial politics,” said Kinohi Nishikawa, an assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at Princeton University. “There has always been a sense that because African-Americans’ opportunities to represent themselves are so limited in the first place, any hint of criminality or salaciousness would necessarily be a knock on the entire racial politics. One of the pressing debates about African-American literature today is: If we can’t include writers like Ashley & JaQuavis, to what extent is the foundation of our thinking about black literature faulty? Is it just a literature for elites? Or can it be inclusive, bringing urban fiction under the purview of our umbrella term ‘African-American literature’?”

Defenders of street lit note that the genre has a pedigree: a tradition of black pulp fiction that stretches from Chester Himes, the midcentury author of hardboiled Harlem detective stories, to the 1960s and ’70s “ghetto fiction” of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, to the current wave of urban fiction authors. Others argue for street lit as a social good, noting that it attracts a large audience that might otherwise never read at all. Scholars like Nishikawa link street lit to recent studies showing increased reading among African-Americans. A 2014 Pew Research Center report found that a greater percentage of black Americans are book readers than whites or Latinos.

For their part, the Colemans place their work in the broader black literary tradition. “You have Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, James Baldwin — all of these traditional black writers, who wrote about the struggles of racism, injustice, inequality,” says Ashley. “We’re writing about the struggle as it happens now. It’s just a different struggle. I’m telling my story. I’m telling the struggle of a black girl from Flint, Michigan, who grew up on welfare.”

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The Colemans in their new four-bedroom house in the northern suburbs of Detroit.Credit Courtesy of Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman

Perhaps there is a high-minded case to be made for street lit. But the virtues of Ashley & JaQuavis’s work are more basic. Their novels do lack literary polish. The writing is not graceful; there are passages of clunky exposition and sex scenes that induce guffaws and eye rolls. But the pleasure quotient is high. The books flaunt a garish brand of feminism, with women characters cast not just as vixens, but also as gangsters — cold-blooded killers, “murder mamas.” The stories are exceptionally well-plotted. “The Cartel” opens by introducing its hero, the crime boss Carter Diamond; on page 9, a gunshot spatters Diamond’s brain across the interior of a police cruiser. The book then flashes back seven years and begins to hurtle forward again — a bullet train, whizzing readers through shifting alliances, romantic entanglements and betrayals, kidnappings, shootouts with Haitian and Dominican gangsters, and a cliffhanger closing scene that leaves the novel’s heroine tied to a chair in a basement, gruesomely tortured to the edge of death. Ashley & JaQuavis’s books are not Ralph Ellison, certainly, but they build up quite a head of steam. They move.

The Colemans are moving themselves these days. They recently signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press, which will bring out the next installment in the “Cartel” series as well as new solo series by both writers. The St. Martin’s deal is both lucrative and legitimizing — a validation of Ashley and JaQuavis’s work by one of publishing’s most venerable houses. The Colemans’ ambitions have grown, as well. A recent trilogy, “Murderville,” tackles human trafficking and the blood-diamond industry in West Africa, with storylines that sweep from Sierra Leone to Mexico to Los Angeles. Increasingly, Ashley & JaQuavis are leaning on research — traveling to far-flung settings and hitting the books in the libraries — and spending less time mining their own rough-and-tumble past.

But Flint remains a source of inspiration. One evening not long ago, JaQuavis led me on a tour of his hometown: a popular roadside bar; the parking lot where he met the undercover cop for the ill-fated drug deal; Ashley’s old house, the site of his almost-arrest. He took me to a ramshackle vehicle repair shop on Flint’s west side, where he worked as a kid, washing cars. He showed me a bathroom at the rear of the garage, where, at age 12, he sneaked away to inspect the first “boulder” of crack that he ever sold. A spray-painted sign on the garage wall, which JaQuavis remembered from his time at the car wash, offered words of warning:

WHAT EVERY YOUNG MAN SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT USING A GUN:
MURDER . . . 30 Years
ARMED ROBBERY . . . 15 Years
ASSAULT . . . 15 Years
RAPE . . . 20 Years
POSSESSION . . . 5 Years
JACKING . . . 20 YEARS

“We still love Flint, Michigan,” JaQuavis says. “It’s so seedy, so treacherous. But there’s some heart in this city. This is where it all started, selling books out the box. In the days when we would get those little $40,000 advances, they’d send us a couple boxes of books for free. We would hit the streets to sell our books, right out of the car trunk. It was a hustle. It still is.”

One old neighborhood asset that the Colemans have not shaken off is swagger. “My wife is the best female writer in the game,” JaQuavis told me. “I believe I’m the best male writer in the game. I’m sleeping next to the best writer in the world. And she’s doing the same.”

 
From T Magazine: Street Lit’s Power Couple

Mr. Fox, known for his well-honed countrified voice, wrote about things dear to South Carolina and won over Yankee critics.

William Price Fox, Admired Southern Novelist and Humorist, Dies at 89

From sea to shining sea, or at least from one side of the Hudson to the other, politicians you have barely heard of are being accused of wrongdoing. There were so many court proceedings involving public officials on Monday that it was hard to keep up.

In Newark, two underlings of Gov. Chris Christie were arraigned on charges that they were in on the truly deranged plot to block traffic leading onto the George Washington Bridge.

Ten miles away, in Lower Manhattan, Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the New York State Senate, and his son, Adam B. Skelos, were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on accusations of far more conventional political larceny, involving a job with a sewer company for the son and commissions on title insurance and bond work.

The younger man managed to receive a 150 percent pay increase from the sewer company even though, as he said on tape, he “literally knew nothing about water or, you know, any of that stuff,” according to a criminal complaint the United States attorney’s office filed.

The success of Adam Skelos, 32, was attributed by prosecutors to his father’s influence as the leader of the Senate and as a potentate among state Republicans. The indictment can also be read as one of those unfailingly sad tales of a father who cannot stop indulging a grown son. The senator himself is not alleged to have profited from the schemes, except by being relieved of the burden of underwriting Adam.

The bridge traffic caper is its own species of crazy; what distinguishes the charges against the two Skeloses is the apparent absence of a survival instinct. It is one thing not to know anything about water or that stuff. More remarkable, if true, is the fact that the sewer machinations continued even after the former New York Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was charged in January with taking bribes disguised as fees.

It was by then common gossip in political and news media circles that Senator Skelos, a Republican, the counterpart in the Senate to Mr. Silver, a Democrat, in the Assembly, could be next in line for the criminal dock. “Stay tuned,” the United States attorney, Preet Bharara said, leaving not much to the imagination.

Even though the cat had been unmistakably belled, Skelos father and son continued to talk about how to advance the interests of the sewer company, though the son did begin to use a burner cellphone, the kind people pay for in cash, with no traceable contracts.

That was indeed prudent, as prosecutors had been wiretapping the cellphones of both men. But it would seem that the burner was of limited value, because by then the prosecutors had managed to secure the help of a business executive who agreed to record calls with the Skeloses. It would further seem that the business executive was more attentive to the perils of pending investigations than the politician.

Through the end of the New York State budget negotiations in March, the hopes of the younger Skelos rested on his father’s ability to devise legislation that would benefit the sewer company. That did not pan out. But Senator Skelos did boast that he had haggled with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, in a successful effort to raise a $150 million allocation for Long Island to $550 million, for what the budget called “transformative economic development projects.” It included money for the kind of work done by the sewer company.

The lawyer for Adam Skelos said he was not guilty and would win in court. Senator Skelos issued a ringing declaration that he was unequivocally innocent.

THIS was also the approach taken in New Jersey by Bill Baroni, a man of great presence and eloquence who stopped outside the federal courthouse to note that he had taken risks as a Republican by bucking his party to support paid family leave, medical marijuana and marriage equality. “I would never risk my career, my job, my reputation for something like this,” Mr. Baroni said. “I am an innocent man.”

The lawyer for his co-defendant, Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, a Republican, said that she would strongly rebut the charges.

Perhaps they had nothing to do with the lane closings. But neither Mr. Baroni nor Ms. Kelly addressed the question of why they did not return repeated calls from the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., begging them to stop the traffic tie-ups, over three days.

That silence was a low moment. But perhaps New York hit bottom faster. Senator Skelos, the prosecutors charged, arranged to meet Long Island politicians at the wake of Wenjian Liu, a New York City police officer shot dead in December, to press for payments to the company employing his son.

Sometimes it seems as though for some people, the only thing to be ashamed of is shame itself.

Finding Scandal in New York and New Jersey, but No Shame

GREENWICH, Conn. — Mago is in the bedroom. You can go in.

The big man lies on a hospital bed with his bare feet scraping its bottom rail. His head is propped on a scarlet pillow, the left temple dented, the right side paralyzed. His dark hair is kept just long enough to conceal the scars.

The occasional sounds he makes are understood only by his wife, but he still has that punctuating left hand. In slow motion, the fingers curl and close. A thumbs-up greeting.

Hello, Mago.

This is Magomed Abdusalamov, 34, also known as the Russian Tyson, also known as Mago. He is a former heavyweight boxer who scored four knockouts and 14 technical knockouts in his first 18 professional fights. He preferred to stand between rounds. Sitting conveyed weakness.

But Mago lost his 19th fight, his big chance, at the packed Theater at Madison Square Garden in November 2013. His 19th decision, and his last.

Now here he is, in a small bedroom in a working-class neighborhood in Greenwich, in a modest house his family rents cheap from a devoted friend. The air-pressure machine for his mattress hums like an expectant crowd.

 

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Mike Perez, left, and Magomed Abdusalamov during the fight in which Abdusalamov was injured. Credit Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

 

Today is like any other day, except for those days when he is hurried in crisis to the hospital. Every three hours during the night, his slight wife, Bakanay, 28, has risen to turn his 6-foot-3 body — 210 pounds of dead weight. It has to be done. Infections of the gaping bedsore above his tailbone have nearly killed him.

Then, with the help of a young caretaker, Baka has gotten two of their daughters off to elementary school and settled down the toddler. Yes, Mago and Baka are blessed with all girls, but they had also hoped for a son someday.

They feed Mago as they clean him; it’s easier that way. For breakfast, which comes with a side of crushed antiseizure pills, he likes oatmeal with a squirt of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But even oatmeal must be puréed and fed to him by spoon.

He opens his mouth to indicate more, the way a baby does. But his paralysis has made everything a choking hazard. His water needs a stirring of powdered food thickener, and still he chokes — eh-eh-eh — as he tries to cough up what will not go down.

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Mago used to drink only water. No alcohol. Not even soda. A sip of juice would be as far as he dared. Now even water betrays him.

With the caretaker’s help, Baka uses a washcloth and soap to clean his body and shampoo his hair. How handsome still, she has thought. Sometimes, in the night, she leaves the bedroom to watch old videos, just to hear again his voice in the fullness of life. She cries, wipes her eyes and returns, feigning happiness. Mago must never see her sad.

 

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 Abdusalamov's hand being massaged. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

When Baka finishes, Mago is cleanshaven and fresh down to his trimmed and filed toenails. “I want him to look good,” she says.

Theirs was an arranged Muslim marriage in Makhachkala, in the Russian republic of Dagestan. He was 23, she was 18 and their future hinged on boxing. Sometimes they would shadowbox in love, her David to his Goliath. You are so strong, he would tell her.

His father once told him he could either be a bandit or an athlete, but if he chose banditry, “I will kill you.” This paternal advice, Mago later told The Ventura County Reporter, “made it a very easy decision for me.”

Mago won against mediocre competition, in Moscow and Hollywood, Fla., in Las Vegas and Johnstown, Pa. He was knocked down only once, and even then, it surprised more than hurt. He scored a technical knockout in the next round.

It all led up to this: the undercard at the Garden, Mike Perez vs. Magomed Abdusalamov, 10 rounds, on HBO. A win, he believed, would improve his chances of taking on the heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who sat in the crowd of 4,600 with his fiancée, the actress Hayden Panettiere, watching.

Wearing black-and-red trunks and a green mouth guard, Mago went to work. But in the first round, a hard forearm to his left cheek rocked him. At the bell, he returned to his corner, and this time, he sat down. “I think it’s broken,” he repeatedly said in Russian.

 

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Bakanay Abdusalamova, Abdusalamov's wife, and her injured husband and a masseur in the background. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

Maybe at that point, somebody — the referee, the ringside doctors, his handlers — should have stopped the fight, under a guiding principle: better one punch too early than one punch too late. But the bloody trade of blows continued into the seventh, eighth, ninth, a hand and orbital bone broken, his face transforming.

Meanwhile, in the family’s apartment in Miami, Baka forced herself to watch the broadcast. She could see it in his swollen eyes. Something was off.

After the final round, Perez raised his tattooed arms in victory, and Mago wandered off in a fog. He had taken 312 punches in about 40 minutes, for a purse of $40,000.

 

 

In the locker room, doctors sutured a cut above Mago’s left eye and tested his cognitive abilities. He did not do well. The ambulance that waits in expectation at every fight was not summoned by boxing officials.

Blood was pooling in Mago’s cranial cavity as he left the Garden. He vomited on the pavement while his handlers flagged a taxi to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. There, doctors induced a coma and removed part of his skull to drain fluids and ease the swelling.

Then came the stroke.

 

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A championship belt belonging to Abdusalamov and a card from one of his daughters. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

 

It is lunchtime now, and the aroma of puréed beef and potatoes lingers. So do the questions.

How will Mago and Baka pay the $2 million in medical bills they owe? What if their friend can no longer offer them this home? Will they win their lawsuits against the five ringside doctors, the referee, and a New York State boxing inspector? What about Mago’s future care?

Most of all: Is this it?

A napkin rests on Mago’s chest. As another spoonful of mush approaches, he opens his mouth, half-swallows, chokes, and coughs until it clears. Eh-eh-eh. Sometimes he turns bluish, but Baka never shows fear. Always happy for Mago.

Some days he is wheeled out for physical therapy or speech therapy. Today, two massage therapists come to knead his half-limp body like a pair of skilled corner men.

Soon, Mago will doze. Then his three daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, will descend upon him to talk of their day. Not long ago, the oldest lugged his championship belt to school for a proud show-and-tell moment. Her classmates were amazed at the weight of it.

Then, tonight, there will be more puréed food and pulverized medication, more coughing, and more tender care from his wife, before sleep comes.

Goodbye, Mago.

He half-smiles, raises his one good hand, and forms a fist.

Meet Mago, Former Heavyweight

Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.

Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.

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Credit Peter Arkle

Ms. Reid interviewed more than 100 people in the American offices of a global consulting firm and had access to performance reviews and internal human resources documents. At the firm there was a strong culture around long hours and responding to clients promptly.

“When the client needs me to be somewhere, I just have to be there,” said one of the consultants Ms. Reid interviewed. “And if you can’t be there, it’s probably because you’ve got another client meeting at the same time. You know it’s tough to say I can’t be there because my son had a Cub Scout meeting.”

Some people fully embraced this culture and put in the long hours, and they tended to be top performers. Others openly pushed back against it, insisting upon lighter and more flexible work hours, or less travel; they were punished in their performance reviews.

The third group is most interesting. Some 31 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women whose records Ms. Reid examined managed to achieve the benefits of a more moderate work schedule without explicitly asking for it.

They made an effort to line up clients who were local, reducing the need for travel. When they skipped work to spend time with their children or spouse, they didn’t call attention to it. One team on which several members had small children agreed among themselves to cover for one another so that everyone could have more flexible hours.

A male junior manager described working to have repeat consulting engagements with a company near enough to his home that he could take care of it with day trips. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” he said, adding that he generally kept weekend work down to two hours of catching up on email.

Despite the limited hours, he said: “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.” He received a high performance review and a promotion.

What is fascinating about the firm Ms. Reid studied is that these people, who in her terminology were “passing” as workaholics, received performance reviews that were as strong as their hyper-ambitious colleagues. For people who were good at faking it, there was no real damage done by their lighter workloads.

It calls to mind the episode of “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza leaves his car in the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, where he works, and gets a promotion because his boss sees the car and thinks he is getting to work earlier and staying later than anyone else. (The strategy goes awry for him, and is not recommended for any aspiring partners in a consulting firm.)

A second finding is that women, particularly those with young children, were much more likely to request greater flexibility through more formal means, such as returning from maternity leave with an explicitly reduced schedule. Men who requested a paternity leave seemed to be punished come review time, and so may have felt more need to take time to spend with their families through those unofficial methods.

The result of this is easy to see: Those specifically requesting a lighter workload, who were disproportionately women, suffered in their performance reviews; those who took a lighter workload more discreetly didn’t suffer. The maxim of “ask forgiveness, not permission” seemed to apply.

It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from a study at one firm, but Ms. Reid said in an interview that since publishing a summary of her research in Harvard Business Review she has heard from people in a variety of industries describing the same dynamic.

High-octane professional service firms are that way for a reason, and no one would doubt that insane hours and lots of travel can be necessary if you’re a lawyer on the verge of a big trial, an accountant right before tax day or an investment banker advising on a huge merger.

But the fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50.

In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.

How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters
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United’s first-class and business fliers get Rhapsody, its high-minded in-flight magazine, seen here at its office in Brooklyn. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Last summer at a writers’ workshop in Oregon, the novelists Anthony Doerr, Karen Russell and Elissa Schappell were chatting over cocktails when they realized they had all published work in the same magazine. It wasn’t one of the usual literary outlets, like Tin House, The Paris Review or The New Yorker. It was Rhapsody, an in-flight magazine for United Airlines.

It seemed like a weird coincidence. Then again, considering Rhapsody’s growing roster of A-list fiction writers, maybe not. Since its first issue hit plane cabins a year and a half ago, Rhapsody has published original works by literary stars like Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Amy Bloom, Emma Straub and Mr. Doerr, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two weeks ago.

As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight by more than 30 literary fiction writers.

 

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Sean Manning, executive editor of Rhapsody, which publishes works by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Bloom and Anthony Doerr, who won a Pulitzer Prize. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

 

An airline might seem like an odd literary patron. But as publishers and writers look for new ways to reach readers in a shaky retail climate, many have formed corporate alliances with transit companies, including American Airlines, JetBlue and Amtrak, that provide a captive audience.

Mark Krolick, United Airlines’ managing director of marketing and product development, said the quality of the writing in Rhapsody brings a patina of sophistication to its first-class service, along with other opulent touches like mood lighting, soft music and a branded scent.

“The high-end leisure or business-class traveler has higher expectations, even in the entertainment we provide,” he said.

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Some of Rhapsody’s contributing writers say they were lured by the promise of free airfare and luxury accommodations provided by United, as well as exposure to an elite audience of some two million first-class and business-class travelers.

“It’s not your normal Park Slope Community Bookstore types who read Rhapsody,” Mr. Moody, author of the 1994 novel “The Ice Storm,” who wrote an introspective, philosophical piece about traveling to the Aran Islands of Ireland for Rhapsody, said in an email. “I’m not sure I myself am in that Rhapsody demographic, but I would like them to buy my books one day.”

In addition to offering travel perks, the magazine pays well and gives writers freedom, within reason, to choose their subject matter and write with style. Certain genres of flight stories are off limits, naturally: no plane crashes or woeful tales of lost luggage or rude flight attendants, and nothing too risqué.

“We’re not going to have someone write about joining the mile-high club,” said Jordan Heller, the editor in chief of Rhapsody. “Despite those restrictions, we’ve managed to come up with a lot of high-minded literary content.”

Guiding writers toward the right idea occasionally requires some gentle prodding. When Rhapsody’s executive editor asked Ms. Russell to contribute an essay about a memorable flight experience, she first pitched a story about the time she was chaperoning a group of teenagers on a trip to Europe, and their delayed plane sat at the airport in New York for several hours while other passengers got progressively drunker.

“He pointed out that disaster flights are not what people want to read about when they’re in transit, and very diplomatically suggested that maybe people want to read something that casts air travel in a more positive light,” said Ms. Russell, whose novel “Swamplandia!” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

She turned in a nostalgia-tinged essay about her first flight on a trip to Disney World when she was 6. “The Magic Kingdom was an anticlimax,” she wrote. “What ride could compare to that first flight?”

Ms. Oates also wrote about her first flight, in a tiny yellow propeller plane piloted by her father. The novelist Joyce Maynard told of the constant disappointment of never seeing her books in airport bookstores and the thrill of finally spotting a fellow plane passenger reading her novel “Labor Day.” Emily St. John Mandel, who was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction last year, wrote about agonizing over which books to bring on a long flight.

“There’s nobody that’s looked down their noses at us as an in-flight magazine,” said Sean Manning, the magazine’s executive editor. “As big as these people are in the literary world, there’s still this untapped audience for them of luxury travelers.”

United is one of a handful of companies showcasing work by literary writers as a way to elevate their brands and engage customers. Chipotle has printed original work from writers like Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides and Barbara Kingsolver on its disposable cups and paper bags. The eyeglass company Warby Parker hosts parties for authors and sells books from 14 independent publishers in its stores.

JetBlue offers around 40 e-books from HarperCollins and Penguin Random House on its free wireless network, allowing passengers to read free samples and buy and download books. JetBlue will start offering 11 digital titles from Simon & Schuster soon. Amtrak recently forged an alliance with Penguin Random House to provide free digital samples from 28 popular titles, which passengers can buy and download over Amtrak’s admittedly spotty wireless service.

Amtrak is becoming an incubator for literary talent in its own right. Last year, it started a residency program, offering writers a free long-distance train trip and complimentary food. More than 16,000 writers applied and 24 made the cut.

Like Amtrak, Rhapsody has found that writers are eager to get onboard. On a rainy spring afternoon, Rhapsody’s editorial staff sat around a conference table discussing the June issue, which will feature an essay by the novelist Hannah Pittard and an unpublished short story by the late Elmore Leonard.

“Do you have that photo of Elmore Leonard? Can I see it?” Mr. Heller, the editor in chief, asked Rhapsody’s design director, Christos Hannides. Mr. Hannides slid it across the table and noted that they also had a photograph of cowboy spurs. “It’s very simple; it won’t take away from the literature,” he said.

Rhapsody’s office, an open space with exposed pipes and a vaulted brick ceiling, sits in Dumbo at the epicenter of literary Brooklyn, in the same converted tea warehouse as the literary journal N+1 and the digital publisher Atavist. Two of the magazine’s seven staff members hold graduate degrees in creative writing. Mr. Manning, the executive editor, has published a memoir and edited five literary anthologies.

Mr. Manning said Rhapsody was conceived from the start as a place for literary novelists to write with voice and style, and nobody had been put off that their work would live in plane cabins and airport lounges.

Still, some contributors say they wish the magazine were more widely circulated.

“I would love it if I could read it,” said Ms. Schappell, a Brooklyn-based novelist who wrote a feature story for Rhapsody’s inaugural issue. “But I never fly first class.”

Rhapsody, a Lofty Literary Journal, Perused at 39,000 Feet

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Even as a high school student, Dave Goldberg was urging female classmates to speak up. As a young dot-com executive, he had one girlfriend after another, but fell hard for a driven friend named Sheryl Sandberg, pining after her for years. After they wed, Mr. Goldberg pushed her to negotiate hard for high compensation and arranged his schedule so that he could be home with their children when she was traveling for work.

Mr. Goldberg, who died unexpectedly on Friday, was a genial, 47-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur who built his latest company, SurveyMonkey, from a modest enterprise to one recently valued by investors at $2 billion. But he was also perhaps the signature male feminist of his era: the first major chief executive in memory to spur his wife to become as successful in business as he was, and an essential figure in “Lean In,” Ms. Sandberg’s blockbuster guide to female achievement.

Over the weekend, even strangers were shocked at his death, both because of his relatively young age and because they knew of him as the living, breathing, car-pooling center of a new philosophy of two-career marriage.

“They were very much the role models for what this next generation wants to grapple with,” said Debora L. Spar, the president of Barnard College. In a 2011 commencement speech there, Ms. Sandberg told the graduates that whom they married would be their most important career decision.

In the play “The Heidi Chronicles,” revived on Broadway this spring, a male character who is the founder of a media company says that “I don’t want to come home to an A-plus,” explaining that his ambitions require him to marry an unthreatening helpmeet. Mr. Goldberg grew up to hold the opposite view, starting with his upbringing in progressive Minneapolis circles where “there was woman power in every aspect of our lives,” Jeffrey Dachis, a childhood friend, said in an interview.

The Goldberg parents read “The Feminine Mystique” together — in fact, Mr. Goldberg’s father introduced it to his wife, according to Ms. Sandberg’s book. In 1976, Paula Goldberg helped found a nonprofit to aid children with disabilities. Her husband, Mel, a law professor who taught at night, made the family breakfast at home.

Later, when Dave Goldberg was in high school and his prom date, Jill Chessen, stayed silent in a politics class, he chastised her afterward. He said, “You need to speak up,” Ms. Chessen recalled in an interview. “They need to hear your voice.”

Years later, when Karin Gilford, an early employee at Launch Media, Mr. Goldberg’s digital music company, became a mother, he knew exactly what to do. He kept giving her challenging assignments, she recalled, but also let her work from home one day a week. After Yahoo acquired Launch, Mr. Goldberg became known for distributing roses to all the women in the office on Valentine’s Day.

Ms. Sandberg, who often describes herself as bossy-in-a-good-way, enchanted him when they became friendly in the mid-1990s. He “was smitten with her,” Ms. Chessen remembered. Ms. Sandberg was dating someone else, but Mr. Goldberg still hung around, even helping her and her then-boyfriend move, recalled Bob Roback, a friend and co-founder of Launch. When they finally married in 2004, friends remember thinking how similar the two were, and that the qualities that might have made Ms. Sandberg intimidating to some men drew Mr. Goldberg to her even more.

Over the next decade, Mr. Goldberg and Ms. Sandberg pioneered new ways of capturing information online, had a son and then a daughter, became immensely wealthy, and hashed out their who-does-what-in-this-marriage issues. Mr. Goldberg’s commute from the Bay Area to Los Angeles became a strain, so he relocated, later joking that he “lost the coin flip” of where they would live. He paid the bills, she planned the birthday parties, and both often left their offices at 5:30 so they could eat dinner with their children before resuming work afterward.

Friends in Silicon Valley say they were careful to conduct their careers separately, politely refusing when outsiders would ask one about the other’s work: Ms. Sandberg’s role building Facebook into an information and advertising powerhouse, and Mr. Goldberg at SurveyMonkey, which made polling faster and cheaper. But privately, their work was intertwined. He often began statements to his team with the phrase “Well, Sheryl said” sharing her business advice. He counseled her, too, starting with her salary negotiations with Mark Zuckerberg.

“I wanted Mark to really feel he stretched to get Sheryl, because she was worth it,” Mr. Goldberg explained in a 2013 “60 Minutes” interview, his Minnesota accent and his smile intact as he offered a rare peek of the intersection of marriage and money at the top of corporate life.

 

 

While his wife grew increasingly outspoken about women’s advancement, Mr. Goldberg quietly advised the men in the office on family and partnership matters, an associate said. Six out of 16 members of SurveyMonkey’s management team are female, an almost unheard-of ratio among Silicon Valley “unicorns,” or companies valued at over $1 billion.

When Mellody Hobson, a friend and finance executive, wrote a chapter of “Lean In” about women of color for the college edition of the book, Mr. Goldberg gave her feedback on the draft, a clue to his deep involvement. He joked with Ms. Hobson that she was too long-winded, like Ms. Sandberg, but aside from that, he said he loved the chapter, she said in an interview.

By then, Mr. Goldberg was a figure of fascination who inspired a “where can I get one of those?” reaction among many of the women who had read the best seller “Lean In.” Some lamented that Ms. Sandberg’s advice hinged too much on marrying a Dave Goldberg, who was humble enough to plan around his wife, attentive enough to worry about which shoes his young daughter would wear, and rich enough to help pay for the help that made the family’s balancing act manageable.

Now that he is gone, and Ms. Sandberg goes from being half of a celebrated partnership to perhaps the business world’s most prominent single mother, the pages of “Lean In” carry a new sting of loss.

“We are never at 50-50 at any given moment — perfect equality is hard to define or sustain — but we allow the pendulum to swing back and forth between us,” she wrote in 2013, adding that they were looking forward to raising teenagers together.

“Fortunately, I have Dave to figure it out with me,” she wrote.

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Mr. Mankiewicz, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for “I Want to Live!,” also wrote episodes of television shows such as “Star Trek” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.”

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Frontline  An installment of this PBS program looks at the effects of Ebola on Liberia and other countries, as well as the origins of the outbreak.
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The program traces the outbreak to its origin, thought to be a tree full of bats in Guinea.

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The 6-foot-10 Phillips played alongside the 6-11 Rick Robey on the Wildcats team that won the 1978 N.C.A.A. men’s basketball title.

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Mr. Pfaff was an international affairs columnist and author who found Washington’s intervention in world affairs often misguided.

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WASHINGTON — The former deputy director of the C.I.A. asserts in a forthcoming book that Republicans, in their eagerness to politicize the killing of the American ambassador to Libya, repeatedly distorted the agency’s analysis of events. But he also argues that the C.I.A. should get out of the business of providing “talking points” for administration officials in national security events that quickly become partisan, as happened after the Benghazi attack in 2012.

The official, Michael J. Morell, dismisses the allegation that the United States military and C.I.A. officers “were ordered to stand down and not come to the rescue of their comrades,” and he says there is “no evidence” to support the charge that “there was a conspiracy between C.I.A. and the White House to spin the Benghazi story in a way that would protect the political interests of the president and Secretary Clinton,” referring to the secretary of state at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But he also concludes that the White House itself embellished some of the talking points provided by the Central Intelligence Agency and had blocked him from sending an internal study of agency conclusions to Congress.

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Michael J. Morell Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“I finally did so without asking,” just before leaving government, he writes, and after the White House released internal emails to a committee investigating the State Department’s handling of the issue.

A lengthy congressional investigation remains underway, one that many Republicans hope to use against Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election cycle.

In parts of the book, “The Great War of Our Time” (Twelve), Mr. Morell praises his C.I.A. colleagues for many successes in stopping terrorist attacks, but he is surprisingly critical of other C.I.A. failings — and those of the National Security Agency.

Soon after Mr. Morell retired in 2013 after 33 years in the agency, President Obama appointed him to a commission reviewing the actions of the National Security Agency after the disclosures of Edward J. Snowden, a former intelligence contractor who released classified documents about the government’s eavesdropping abilities. Mr. Morell writes that he was surprised by what he found.

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“You would have thought that of all the government entities on the planet, the one least vulnerable to such grand theft would have been the N.S.A.,” he writes. “But it turned out that the N.S.A. had left itself vulnerable.”

He concludes that most Wall Street firms had better cybersecurity than the N.S.A. had when Mr. Snowden swept information from its systems in 2013. While he said he found himself “chagrined by how well the N.S.A. was doing” compared with the C.I.A. in stepping up its collection of data on intelligence targets, he also sensed that the N.S.A., which specializes in electronic spying, was operating without considering the implications of its methods.

“The N.S.A. had largely been collecting information because it could, not necessarily in all cases because it should,” he says.

The book is to be released next week.

Mr. Morell was a career analyst who rose through the ranks of the agency, and he ended up in the No. 2 post. He served as President George W. Bush’s personal intelligence briefer in the first months of his presidency — in those days, he could often be spotted at the Starbucks in Waco, Tex., catching up on his reading — and was with him in the schoolhouse in Florida on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the Bush presidency changed in an instant.

Mr. Morell twice took over as acting C.I.A. director, first when Leon E. Panetta was appointed secretary of defense and then when retired Gen. David H. Petraeus resigned over an extramarital affair with his biographer, a relationship that included his handing her classified notes of his time as America’s best-known military commander.

Mr. Morell says he first learned of the affair from Mr. Petraeus only the night before he resigned, and just as the Benghazi events were turning into a political firestorm. While praising Mr. Petraeus, who had told his deputy “I am very lucky” to run the C.I.A., Mr. Morell writes that “the organization did not feel the same way about him.” The former general “created the impression through the tone of his voice and his body language that he did not want people to disagree with him (which was not true in my own interaction with him),” he says.

But it is his account of the Benghazi attacks — and how the C.I.A. was drawn into the debate over whether the Obama White House deliberately distorted its account of the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens — that is bound to attract attention, at least partly because of its relevance to the coming presidential election. The initial assessments that the C.I.A. gave to the White House said demonstrations had preceded the attack. By the time analysts reversed their opinion, Susan E. Rice, now the national security adviser, had made a series of statements on Sunday talk shows describing the initial assessment. The controversy and other comments Ms. Rice made derailed Mr. Obama’s plan to appoint her as secretary of state.

The experience prompted Mr. Morell to write that the C.I.A. should stay out of the business of preparing talking points — especially on issues that are being seized upon for “political purposes.” He is critical of the State Department for not beefing up security in Libya for its diplomats, as the C.I.A., he said, did for its employees.

But he concludes that the assault in which the ambassador was killed took place “with little or no advance planning” and “was not well organized.” He says the attackers “did not appear to be looking for Americans to harm. They appeared intent on looting and conducting some vandalism,” setting fires that killed Mr. Stevens and a security official, Sean Smith.

Mr. Morell paints a picture of an agency that was struggling, largely unsuccessfully, to understand dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa when the Arab Spring broke out in late 2011 in Tunisia. The agency’s analysts failed to see the forces of revolution coming — and then failed again, he writes, when they told Mr. Obama that the uprisings would undercut Al Qaeda by showing there was a democratic pathway to change.

“There is no good explanation for our not being able to see the pressures growing to dangerous levels across the region,” he writes. The agency had again relied too heavily “on a handful of strong leaders in the countries of concern to help us understand what was going on in the Arab street,” he says, and those leaders themselves were clueless.

Moreover, an agency that has always overvalued secretly gathered intelligence and undervalued “open source” material “was not doing enough to mine the wealth of information available through social media,” he writes. “We thought and told policy makers that this outburst of popular revolt would damage Al Qaeda by undermining the group’s narrative,” he writes.

Instead, weak governments in Egypt, and the absence of governance from Libya to Yemen, were “a boon to Islamic extremists across both the Middle East and North Africa.”

Mr. Morell is gentle about most of the politicians he dealt with — he expresses admiration for both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, though he accuses former Vice President Dick Cheney of deliberately implying a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq that the C.I.A. had concluded probably did not exist. But when it comes to the events leading up to the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq, he is critical of his own agency.

Mr. Morell concludes that the Bush White House did not have to twist intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s alleged effort to rekindle the country’s work on weapons of mass destruction.

“The view that hard-liners in the Bush administration forced the intelligence community into its position on W.M.D. is just flat wrong,” he writes. “No one pushed. The analysts were already there and they had been there for years, long before Bush came to office.”

Ex-C.I.A. Official Rebuts Republican Claims on Benghazi Attack in ‘The Great War of Our Time’
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