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SACO- INDONESIA.COM - Sebanyak 37 bayi dilaporkan hilang di wilayah Jabodetabek usai dilahirkan sepanjang tahun 2012. Data dari Komnas Perlindungan Anak (Komnas PA) menyimpulkan, rumah bersalin dan puskesmas menjadi lokasi hilangnya bayi yang baru dilahirkan tersebut.

Bayi hilang bisa dikarenakan penculikan atau tertukar. Berbagai modus kerap digunakan untuk penculikan bayi. Salah satunya menyamar sebagai pegawai di instansi kesehatan terkait. Modus didukung tingkat pengamanan minimum di klinik, puskesmas, atau rumah bersalin.

"Lokasi kejadian hilangnya bayi umumnya tidak memiliki kamera pengintai, baik di jalan maupun kamar pasien. Tingkat keamanan juga minimum sehingga membebaskan pegawai keluar masuk area rumah sakit. Belum lagi yang menggunakan orang dalam," ujar Ketua Komnas PA Arist Merdeka Sirait saat dihubungi Selasa (30/4/2013).

Keadaan ini, kata Arist, mempermudah para pelaku kriminal melakukan aksinya. Untuk mencegah bayi hilang, ia menyarankan pasien selalu didampingi keluarga, terutama suami. Sebelum memutuskan tempat untuk bersalin, sebaiknya pastikan siapa dan berapa orang yang akan menangani persalinan. Calon pasien dan keluarga harus tahu siapa nama dokter, perawat, atau pegawai lain yang kerap berhubungan dengannya.

Selanjutnya, pastikan lokasi persalinan memiliki tingkat kemanan yang memadai. Aris pun menyarankan untuk memastikan adanya kamera pengintai, baik di ruang penyimpanan bayi, pasien, ataupun area instansi kesehatan.

"Pastikan juga mereka memiliki tenaga sekuriti yang berkualitas, baik, dan memberikan kenyamanan," ujarnya.

Wajib didampingi suami
Terlepas dari tingkat pengamanan, Aris mengharuskan suami mengawal proses persalinan dan sebisa mungkin mendampingi istri. Hal ini untuk memastikan istri dan bayi mereka dalam kondisi baik.

"Selepas melahirkan suami harus tahu bagaimana bayinya, kemana bayinya pergi, dan siapa yang membawanya," kata Aris.

Hal senada dikatakan psikolog Dien Eryati. Menurutnya, kerjasama suami istri dibutuhkan untuk mencegah bayi diculik atau tertukar usai dilahirkan. Apalagi kondisi istri biasanya masih lemah usai melahirkan.

"Suami harus ikut semua proses melahirkan. Mengetahui bagaimana proses melahirkan akan menumbuhkan motivasi untuk menjaga bayi jangan sampai diculik atau tertukar," kata Dien.

Bila akan ditempatkan dalam ruangan khusus, Dien menyarankan suami mengikuti suster yang membawa bayi. Kegiatan ini memastikan keberadaan dan keamanan posisi bayi Suami juga wajib memperhatikan detail rupa dan tanda khusus pada bayi. Dien mengatakan, suami juga harus sesering mungkin melihat bayi dan memastikan keamanannya. Hal ini, untuk memastikan bayi tidak tertukar atau hilang selama di instansi bersalin. 

Sumber:Kompas.com

Editor : Maulana Lee
 
37 Bayi Dilaporkan Hilang di Jabodetabek

Oleh
Kumpulan Ulama

Saudara yang budiman.
Dalam melakukan ibadah haji terdapat tiga cara, yaitu : TAMATTU', QIRAN dan IFRAD.

Haji Tammatu' ialah berihram untuk umrah pada bulan-bulan haji (Syawal, Dzul Qa'dah dan sepuluh hari pertama bulan Dzul Hijjah), dan diselesaikan umrahnya pada waktu-waktu itu. Kemudian berihram untuk haji dari Mekkah atau sekitarnya pada hari Tarwiyah (tgl 8 Dzul Hijjah) pada tahun umrahnya tersebut.

Haji Qiran ialah, berihram untuk umrah dan haji sekaligus, dan terus berihram (tidak Tahallul) kecuali pada hari nahr (tgl 10 Dzul Hijjah). Atau berihram untuk umrah terlebih dahulu, kemudian sebelum melakukan tawaf umrah memasukkan niat haji.

Haji Ifrad ialah, berihram untuk haji dari miqat, atau dari Mekkah bagi penduduk Mekkah, atau dari tempat lain di daerah miqat bagi yang tinggal disitu, kemudian tetap dalam keadaan ihramnya sampai hari nahr apabila ia membawa binatang kurban. Jika tidak membawanya maka dianjurkannya untuk membatalkan niat hajinya dan menggantinya dengan umrah, selanjutnya melakukan tawaf, sa'i, mencukur rambut dan bertahallul, sebagaiman perintah Rasul Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam terhadap orang-orang yang berihram haji tetapi tidak membawa binatang kurban. Begitu pula bagi yang melakukan haji Qiran, apabila ia tidak membawa binatang kurban, dianjurkannya untuk membatalkan niat Qiran-nya itu, dan menggantinya menjadi Umrah, sebagaimana yang tersebut diatas.

Ibadah haji yang lebih utama ialah Haji Tamattu' bagi yang tidak membawa binatang kurban, oleh karena Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam memerintahkan hal itu dan menekankannya kepada para sahabatnya.

CARA MELAKUKAN UMRAH

Pertama.
Apabila anda telah sampai di miqat, maka mandilah dan pakailah wangi-wangian jika hal itu memungkinkan, kemudian kenakanlah pakaian ihram (sarung dan selendang). Dan lebih utama apabila berwarna putih.

Bagi wanita boleh mengenakan pakaian yang ia sukai, asal tidak menampakkan perhiasan. Kemudian berniat ihram untuk umrah seraya mengucapkan :

"Labbaika 'umratan, Labbaika allahuma labbaika, labbaika laa syariikalaka labbaika, innal hamda wan ni'mata laka wal mulka laa syariika laka".

"Artinya : Ku sambut panggilan-Mu untuk melaksanakan Umrah. Ku sambut panggilan-Mu ya Ilahi, Ku sambut panggilan-Mu, Ku sambut pangggilan-Mu, tiada sekutu bagi-Mu, Ku sambut panggilan-Mu. Sesungguhnya segala puji, ni'mat dan kerajaan adalah milk-Mu, tiada sekutu bagi-Mu"

Bagi kaum pria hendaknya mengucapkan talbiyah ini dengan suara keras, sedangkan bagi wanita hendaknya mengucapkan dengan suara pelan.

Kemudian perbanyaklah membaca talbiyah. dzikir dan istighfar serta menganjurkan berbuat baik dan mencegah kemungkaran.

Kedua.
Apabila anda telah sampai Mekkah. Maka lakukanlah Tawaf di Ka'bah sebanyak tujuh kali putaran, anda mulai dari Hajar Aswad sambil bertakbir dan anda sudahi di Hajar Aswad itu pula. Dan bacalah dzikir serta do'a yang anda kehendaki, dan sebaiknya anda sudahi setiap putaran dengan bacaan.

"Rabbanaa aatinaa fiid dunyaa hasanah, wa fil akhirati hasanah, wa qinaa 'adzaa baannari"

"Artinya : Wahai Tuhan kami, berilah kami kebaikan di dunia dan kebaikan di akhirat, dan lindungilah kami dari siksaan api neraka".

Kemudian setelah Tawaf, lakukan shalat dua raka'at di belakang makam Ibrahim walaupun agak jauh dari tempat tersebut jika hal itu mungkin. Dan jika tidak, maka lakukanlah di tempat lain di dalam Masjid.

Ketiga.
Kemudian keluarlah menuju Safa dan naiklah ke atasnya sambil menghadap Ka'bah, bacalah tahmid serta takbir tiga kali sambil mengangkat kedua tangan, dan bacalah do'a serta ulangilah setiap do'a tiga kali sesuai dengan sunnah Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, dan ucapkanlah :

"La ilaha illallah wahdahu laa syariikalahu, lahul mulku walahul hamdu wa huwa 'alaa kulli syain qadiir, la ilaha illallah wahdahu anjaza wa'dah, wa nashara 'abdah wahazamal ahzaaba wahdah"

"Artinya : Tiada Tuhan yang patut di sembah selain Allah yang Maha Esa, tiada sekutu bagi-Nya, hanya bagi-Nya segala kerajaan, dan hanya bagi-Nya segala puji, dan Dia Maha Kuasa atas segala sesuatu. Tiada Tuhan yang patut disembah selain Allah yang Esa, yang menepati janji-Nya, dan memenangkan hamba-Nya serta telah menghancurkan golongan kafir, dengan tanpa dibantu siapapun".

Ucapkanlah bacaan tersebut tiga kali, dan tak mengapa apabila anda baca kurang dari bilangan itu.

Kemudian turunlah dan lakukanlah Sa'i Umrah sebanyak tujuh kali putaran dengan berjalan cepat diantara tanda hijau, dan berjalan biasa sebelum dan sesudah tanda tersebut, kemudian naiklah anda ke atas Marwah, dan bacalah tahmid dan takbir tiga kali apabila mungkin, sebagaimana yang anda lakukan di Safa.

Dalam Tawaf atau Sa'i, tidak ada bacaan dzikir wajib yang khsusus untuk itu. Akan tetapi dibolehkan bagi yang melakukan Tawaf atau Sa'i untuk membaca dzikir dan do'a atau bacaan Al-Qur'an yang mudah baginya, dengan mengutamakan bacaan-bacaan dzikir dan do'a yang bersumber dari tuntunan Rasul Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam.

Keempat.
Bila anda telah selesai melakukan Sa'i, maka cukurlah dengan bersih atau pendekkan rambut kepala anda. Dengan demikian selesailah Umrah anda dan selanjutnya anda diperbolehkan melakukan hal hal yang tadinya menjadi larangan.

Apabila anda melakukan haji Tamattu', maka wajib bagi anda menyembelih kurban pada hari Nahr, yaitu seekor kambing atau sepertujuh onta/sapi, jika anda tidak mendapatkannya, maka anda wajib melakukan puasa sepuluh hari ; tiga hari diwaktu haji, dan tujuh hari setelah anda pulang ke keluarga anda.

Dan lebih utama, anda lakukan puasa tiga hari itu sebelum hari Arafah, jika anda melakukan haji Tamattu' atau Qiran.

Cara Melakukan Haji

Pertama
Jika anda melakukan haji Ifrad atau Qiran, hendaklah anda berihram dari miqat yang anda lalui.

Dan jika anda tinggal di daerah miqat, maka berihramlah menurut niat anda dari tempat tersebut.

Dan jika anda melakukan haji Tammattu', maka berihramlah dari tempat tinggal anda hari Tarwiyah, yaitu pada tanggal 8 Dzul Hijjah. Mandilah dan pakailah wangi-wangian lebih dahulu sekiranya hal itu memungkinkan, kemudian kenakanlah pakaian ihram, lalu berniatlah dengan membaca :
"Labbaika hajan, Labbaika allahumma labbaika, Labbaika laa syarikalaka labbaika, innalhamda wani'mata laka walmulka, laa syarikalaka".

"Artinya : Ku sambut panggilan-Mu untuk menunaikan haji, Ku sambut panggilan-Mu ya Illahi, Ku sambut panggilan-Mu. Ku sambut panggilan-Mu, Kau yang tiada sekutu bagi-Mu, Ku sambut panggilan-Mu. Sesungguhnya segala puji, ni'mat dan kerajaan milik-Mu, tiada sekutu bagi-Mu".

Kedua
Kemudian keluarlah menuju Mina, lakukanlah shalat Zhuhur, Asar, Maghrib, Isya' dan Subuh disana, dengan cara mengqashar shalat yang empat raka'at (Zhuhur, Asar dan Isya') menjadi dua raka'at pada waktunya masing-masing, tanpa jama'.

Ketiga
Apabila matahari telah terbit pada hari kesembilan Dzul Hijjah (esoknya), maka berangkatlah anda menuju Arafah dengan tanpa tergesa-gesa, dan hindarilah jangan sampai mengganggu sesama jama'ah haji. Dan di Arafah lakukan shalat Zhuhur dan Asar dengan jama' Taqdim dan Qashar, dengan satu kali adzan dan dua kali iqamat.

Tentang wukuf ini, anda harus yakin bahwa anda benar-benar telah berada di dalam batas Arafah (bukan di luarnya). Dan perbanyaklah disini dzikir dan do'a, sambil menghadap kiblat dan mengangkat kedua tangan, mencontoh apa yang dilakukan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam. Padang Arafah seluruhnya merupakan tempat wukuf, dan hendaklah anda tetap berada disana hingga terbenam matahari.

Keempat.
Apabila matahari telah terbenam, berangkatlah menuju Muzdalifah dengan tenang sambil membaca talbiyah, dan hindarilah jangan sampai mengganggu sesama muslim. Sesampainya anda di Muzdalifah, lakukanlah shalat Maghrib dan Isya' dengan jama' dan qasar. Dan hendaklah anda menetap disana hingga anda melakukan shalat Subuh. Setelah selesai shalat Subuh perbanyaklah do'a dan dzikir hingga hari tampak mulai terang, sambil menghadap kiblat dan mengangkat kedua tangan mengikuti tuntunan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam.

Kelima.
Kemudian berangkatlah sebelum matahari terbit menuju Mina sambil membaca talbiyah. Bagi yang berudzur, seperti wanita dan orang-orang yang lemah, boleh berangkat menuju Mina pada malam itu juga setelah lewat pertengahan malam. Dan pungutlah di Mudzalifah batu-batu kecil sebanyak tujuh biji saja untuk melempar Jamrah Aqabah, adapun yang lain cukup anda pungut dari Mina. Demikian juga tujuh batu yang akan anda pergunakan untuk melempar Jamrah Aqabah pada hari raya, tak mengapa bagi anda untuk memungutnya dari Mina.

Keenam.
Apabila anda telah tiba di Mina, lakukanlah hal-hal dibawah ini :
Lemparlah Jamrah Aqabah, yaitu Jamrah yang terdekat dari Mekkah, dengan tujuh batu kecil secara berturut-turut sambil bertakbir pada setiap kali lemparan.

Sembelihlah kurban jika anda berkewajiban melakukannya, dan makanlah sebagian dagingnya, serta berikan sebagian besarnya kepada orang-orang fakir.

Bercukurlah dengan bersih atau pendekkan rambut anda, akan tetapi lebih utama bagi anda adalah mencukur bersih. Sedang bagi wanita cukup menggunting ujung rambutnya kira-kira sepanjang ujung jari.

Lebih utama jika ketiga perkara ini dilakukan secara tertib. Namun tak mengapa bagi anda jika anda dahulukan yang satu atas yang lain.

Apabila anda telah selesai melempar dan mencukur, berarti anda telah melaksanakan Tahallul Awal. Dan selanjutnya anda boleh mengenakan pakaian biasa dan melakukan hal-hal yang tadinya menjadi larangan ihram, kecuali berhubungan dengan istri.

Ketujuh
Kemudian berangkatlah menuju Mekkah dan lakukanlah Tawaf Ifadah setelah itu lakukanlah Sa'i jika anda melakukan haji Tamattu', ataupun anda melakukan haji Qiran atau Ifrad, akan tetapi anda belum melakukan Sa'i setelah Tawaf Qudum. Dengan demikian anda diperbolehkan mengadakan hubungan dengan isteri.

Tawaf Ifadah ini boleh diakhirkan melakukannya setelah lewat hari-hari Mina, dan menuju Mekkah setelah melempar seluruh Jamrah.

Kedelapan
Setelah Tawaf Ifadah pada hari Nahr, kembalilah ke Mina. Bermalamlah di sana pada malam hari Tasyriq, yaitu tanggal 11, 12, dan 13, dan tidak mengapa jika anda bermalam hanya dua malam saja.

Kesembilan
Lemparlah ketiga Jamrah selama anda menetap dua atau tiga hari di Mina, setelah matahari tergelincir ; anda mulai dari Jamrah Ula, yaitu yang terjauh jaraknya dari Mekkah, kemudian Jamrah Wusta (tengah), dan selanjutnya Jamrah Aqabah, setiap Jamrah dengan tujuh batu kecil secara berturut-turut sambil bertakbir pada setiap kali lemparan.

Jika anda menghendaki untuk menetap selama dua hari saja, hendaklah anda meninggalkan Mina sebelum matahari terbenam di hari kedua itu. Dan jika ternyata matahari telah terbenam sebelum anda keluar dari batas Mina, maka hendaklah anda bermalam lagi pada malam hari ketiganya, dan melempar ketiga Jamrah di hari ketiga itu. Dan yang lebih utama hendaknya anda bermalam pada malam ketiga tersebut.

Bagi yang sakit atau yang lemah, boleh mewakilkan kepada orang lain untuk melempar Jamrah. Dan bagi yang mewakili boleh melempar untuk dirinya sendiri terlebih dahulu, kemudian untuk yang diwakilinya pada satu tempat Jamrah.

Kesepuluh
Apabila anda hendak kembali ke kampung setelah menyelesaikan segala amalan haji, lakukanlah Tawaf Wada'. Dan tiada kemurahan untuk meninggalkan Tawaf Wada' ini, kecuali bagi wanita yang sedang datang bulan (haidh) dan yang baru melahirkan (nifas).

[Disalin dari buku Petunjuk Jamaah Haji dan Umrah serta Penziarah Masjid Rasul Shallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam, pengarang Kumpulan Ulama, hal 14-19, diterbitkan dan diedarkan oleh Departemen Agama, Waqaf, Daawah dan Bimbingan Islam, Saudi Arabia]

Sumber : http://www.alquran-sunnah.com

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Toko Online Gratis
Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”
Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Children playing last week in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was raised. One young resident called it “a tough community.”

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

Hard but Hopeful Home to ‘Lot of Freddies’

Mr. Paczynski was one of the concentration camp’s longest surviving inmates and served as the personal barber to its Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss.

Jozef Paczynski, Inmate Barber to Auschwitz Commandant, Dies at 95

A lapsed seminarian, Mr. Chambers succeeded Saul Alinsky as leader of the social justice umbrella group Industrial Areas Foundation.

Edward Chambers, Early Leader in Community Organizing, Dies at 85

Mr. Tepper was not a musical child and had no formal training, but he grew up to write both lyrics and tunes, trading off duties with the other member of the team, Roy C. Bennett.

Sid Tepper Dies at 96; Delivered ‘Red Roses for a Blue Lady’ and Other Songs

Mr. Haroche was a founder of Liberty Travel, which grew from a two-man operation to the largest leisure travel operation in the United States.

Gilbert Haroche, Builder of an Economy Travel Empire, Dies at 87

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.

Photo
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.”

Photo
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. King sang for the Drifters and found success as a solo performer with hits like “Spanish Harlem.”

Ben E. King, Soulful Singer of ‘Stand by Me,’ Dies at 76

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.”

Don Mankiewicz, Screenwriter in a Family Film Tradition, Dies at 93

With 12 tournament victories in his career, Mr. Peete was the most successful black professional golfer before Tiger Woods.

Calvin Peete, 71, a Racial Pioneer on the PGA Tour, Is Dead

A former member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Smedvig helped found the wide-ranging Empire Brass quintet.

Rolf Smedvig, Trumpeter in the Empire Brass, Dies at 62

Mr. Miller, of the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, represented companies including Lehman Brothers, General Motors and American Airlines, and mentored many of the top Chapter 11 practitioners today.

Harvey R. Miller, Renowned Bankruptcy Lawyer, Dies at 82

Mr. Alger, who served five terms from Texas, led Republican women in a confrontation with Lyndon B. Johnson that may have cost Richard M. Nixon the 1960 presidential election.

Bruce Alger, 96, Dies; Led ‘Mink Coat’ Protest Against Lyndon Johnson

Ms. Crough played the youngest daughter on the hit ’70s sitcom starring David Cassidy and Shirley Jones.

Suzanne Crough, Actress in ‘The Partridge Family,’ Dies at 52

Mr. Napoleon was a self-taught musician whose career began in earnest with the orchestra led by Chico Marx of the Marx Brothers.

Marty Napoleon, 93, Dies; Jazz Pianist Played With Louis Armstrong

Over the last five years or so, it seemed there was little that Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader of the New York Senate, would not do for his son.

He pressed a powerful real estate executive to provide commissions to his son, a 32-year-old title insurance salesman, according to a federal criminal complaint. He helped get him a job at an environmental company and employed his influence to help the company get government work. He used his office to push natural gas drilling regulations that would have increased his son’s commissions.

He even tried to direct part of a $5.4 billion state budget windfall to fund government contracts that the company was seeking. And when the company was close to securing a storm-water contract from Nassau County, the senator, through an intermediary, pressured the company to pay his son more — or risk having the senator subvert the bid.

The criminal complaint, unsealed on Monday, lays out corruption charges against Senator Skelos and his son, Adam B. Skelos, the latest scandal to seize Albany, and potentially alter its power structure.

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Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, discussed the case involving Dean G. Skelos and his son, Adam. Credit Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The repeated and diverse efforts by Senator Skelos, a Long Island Republican, to use what prosecutors said was his political influence to find work, or at least income, for his son could send both men to federal prison. If they are convicted of all six charges against them, they face up to 20 years in prison for each of four of the six counts and up to 10 years for the remaining two.

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, of Long Island, who serves as chairman of the Republican conference, emerged from a closed-door meeting Monday night to say that conference members agreed that Mr. Skelos should be benefited the “presumption of innocence,” and would stay in his leadership role.

“The leader has indicated he would like to remain as leader,” said Mr. LaValle, “and he has the support of the conference.” The case against Mr. Skelos and his son grew out of a broader inquiry into political corruption by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that has already changed the face of the state capital. It is based in part, according to the six-count complaint, on conversations secretly recorded by one of two cooperating witnesses, and wiretaps on the cellphones of the senator and his son. Those recordings revealed that both men were concerned about electronic surveillance, and illustrated the son’s unsuccessful efforts to thwart it.

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Adam Skelos took to using a “burner” phone, the complaint says, and told his father he wanted them to speak through a FaceTime video call in an apparent effort to avoid detection. They also used coded language at times.

At one point, Adam Skelos was recorded telling a Senate staff member of his frustration in not being able to speak openly to his father on the phone, noting that he could not “just send smoke signals or a little pigeon” carrying a message.

The 43-page complaint, sworn out by Paul M. Takla, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, outlines a five-year scheme to “monetize” the senator’s official position; it also lays bare the extent to which a father sought to use his position to help his son.

The charges accuse the two men of extorting payments through a real estate developer, Glenwood Management, based on Long Island, and the environmental company, AbTech Industries, in Scottsdale, Ariz., with the expectation that the money paid to Adam Skelos — nearly $220,000 in total — would influence his father’s actions.

Glenwood, one of the state’s most prolific campaign donors, had ties to AbTech through investments in the environmental firm’s parent company by Glenwood’s founding family and a senior executive.

The accusations in the complaint portray Senator Skelos as a man who, when it came to his son, was not shy about twisting arms, even in situations that might give other arm-twisters pause.

Seeking to help his son, Senator Skelos turned to the executive at Glenwood, which develops rental apartments in New York City and has much at stake when it comes to real estate legislation in Albany. The senator urged him to direct business to his son, who sold title insurance.

After much prodding, the executive, Charles C. Dorego, engineered a $20,000 payment to Adam Skelos from a title insurance company even though he did no work for the money. But far more lucrative was a consultant position that Mr. Dorego arranged for Adam Skelos at AbTech, which seeks government contracts to treat storm water. (Mr. Dorego is not identified by name in the complaint, but referred to only as CW-1, for Cooperating Witness 1.)

Senator Skelos appeared to take an active interest in his son’s new line of work. Adam Skelos sent him several drafts of his consulting agreement with AbTech, the complaint says, as well as the final deal that was struck.

“Mazel tov,” his father replied.

Senator Skelos sent relevant news articles to his son, including one about a sewage leak near Albany. When AbTech wanted to seek government contracts after Hurricane Sandy, the senator got on a conference call with his son and an AbTech executive, Bjornulf White, and offered advice. (Like Mr. Dorego, Mr. White is not named in the complaint, but referred to as CW-2.)

The assistance paid off: With the senator’s help, AbTech secured a contract worth up to $12 million from Nassau County, a big break for a struggling small business.

But the money was slow to materialize. The senator expressed impatience with county officials.

Adam Skelos, in a phone call with Mr. White in late December, suggested that his father would seek to punish the county. “I tell you this, the state is not going to do a [expletive] thing for the county,” he said.

Three days later, Senator Skelos pressed his case with the Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, a fellow Republican. “Somebody feels like they’re just getting jerked around the last two years,” the senator said, referring to his son in what the complaint described as “coded language.”

The next day, the senator pursued the matter, as he and Mr. Mangano attended a wake for a slain New York City police officer. Senator Skelos then reassured his son, who called him while he was still at the wake. “All claims that are in will be taken care of,” the senator said.

AbTech’s fortunes appeared to weigh on his son. At one point in January, Adam Skelos told his father that if the company did not succeed, he would “lose the ability to pay for things.”

Making matters worse, in recent months, Senator Skelos and his son appeared to grow wary about who was watching them. In addition to making calls on the burner phone, Adam Skelos said he used the FaceTime video calling “because that doesn’t show up on the phone bill,” as he told Mr. White.

In late February, Adam Skelos arranged a pair of meetings between Mr. White and state senators; AbTech needed to win state legislation that would allow its contract to move beyond its initial stages. But Senator Skelos deemed the plan too risky and caused one of the meetings to be canceled.

In another recorded call, Adam Skelos, promising to be “very, very vague” on the phone, urged his father to allow the meeting. The senator offered a warning. “Right now we are in dangerous times, Adam,” he told him.

A month later, in another phone call that was recorded by the authorities, Adam Skelos complained that his father could not give him “real advice” about AbTech while the two men were speaking over the telephone.

“You can’t talk normally,” he told his father, “because it’s like [expletive] Preet Bharara is listening to every [expletive] phone call. It’s just [expletive] frustrating.”

“It is,” his father agreed.

Dean Skelos, Albany Senate Leader, Aided Son at All Costs, U.S. Says
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