PAKET UMROH BULAN FEBRUARI MARET APRIL MEI 2018




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saco-indonesia.com, Iptu Muhammad Daud, anggota Intel Polda Sulselbar, telah ditembak oleh orang yang tak dikenal saat hendak salat subuh di masjid dekat rumahnya di Jl Palantikan III, Kelurahan Pandan-pandan, Kecamatan Somba Opu, Kabupaten Gowa. Penembakan tersebut telah terjadi sekitar pukul 04.55 Wita, Selasa (11/2).

"Korban telah meninggal dunia dengan dua luka tembakan di dada dan di perut," kata Kabid Humas Polda Sulselbar, Kombes Hendi Sutendi.

Hendi juga mengatakan, pihaknya juga telah mengantongi ciri-ciri pelaku yang berjumlah satu orang. Polisi kini tengah memburunya.

Dia juga menambahkan, Polda Sulselbar mengucapkan duka cita untuk anggotanya yang meninggal dunia. Iptu Muhammad Daud meninggalkan 1 orang istri dan 4 orang anak.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

INTEL POLDA SULSELBAR TEWAS DITEMBAK

saco-indonesia.com, “Bekerja secara sistem adalah manusia yang menghargai dan melaksanakan sistem, terhindar dari masalah, jauh dari ancaman, pelanggaran dan penyimpangan serta tidak gampang ditakut-takuti bahkan menjadi berani terhadap terror”.

Bekerja Dengan Sistem

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Tips memilih Lampu depan motor yang bagus

Komponen headlamp pada sepeda motor, telah menjadi part yang paling penting dalam berkendara.

Namun, hal tersebut kadang juga sering dilupakan oleh para pemilik sepeda motor tersebut.

Salah satu contoh, pemilihan bohlam lampu depan dan belakang pada sepeda motor.

Dibanyak kasus, para pemilik kendaraan yang notabene adalah anak muda, sering mengganti lampu depan mereka dengan warna yang dapat menyilaukan mata pengendara dari arah berlawanan ataupun dibelakangnya.

Terkadang, dengan alasan modifikasi hal tersebut telah dilakukan dan sebagai bukti pembenaran.

Kali ini tips yang akan saya sampaikan adalah cobalah hindari pemakaian lampu berwarna putih kebiru-biruan yang dipasang dengan tegak lurus searah jarak pandang pengendara dari arah berlawanan.

Efeknya, pengedara dari arah berlawanan dapat hilang jarak pandang sehingga dikhawatirkan dapat menyebabkan kecelakaan.

Lalu dengan lampu belakang juga demikian, penggunaan lampu berwarna terang dikhawatirkan dapat menyilaukan pengendara yang ada dibelakangnya.

Oleh karena itu, pilihlah bohlam yang sudah ditetapkan oleh para produsen motor. Dengan menggunakan bohlam yang tidak berlebihan cahayanya. Sebab, ketika berkendara bukan hanya kita saja yang perlu jarak pandang sempurna, para pengendara lain yang datang dari arah berlawanan ataupun belakang kita harus menjaga jarak pandangnya.

Bohlam dengan warna kuning keputihan, bisa menjadi salahsatu solusi untuk penggantian lampu bohlam headlamp anda.

So, bijaksanalah dalam berkendara dan penggunaan bohlam headlamp ataupun lampu belakang.

Kadang kita lihat lampu depan motor menyala tidak dengan terang, nah bagaimana solusinya:

1.Dengan lampu standart memang lampu sudah terang, bagaimana jika tidak terang, solusinya ganti dengan watt yang lebih kecil agar pijar yang dihasilkan lebih besar, tapi konsekuensinya usia lampu jadi lebih pendek.

2.Bohlam standart kurang terang?

ganti saja dengan HALOGEN yang notabene lebih terang. Tapi pakai lampu yang kualitasnya baik.

Biasanya trik memeriksa lampu itu baik atau tidak yaitu dengan telah melihat merk cetakan pada pembungkus dan pada bohlam, sama atau tidak. Pastikan juga lampu terlihat kokoh baik fisik luarnya dan filamennya. Untuk pemilihan watt-nya pakai saja sama dengan awalnya, karena lampu halogen telah memiliki sinar lampu lebih terang dari yang standard dengan watt sama. Hati-hati, ketika mengganti bohlam dengan jenis halogen, jangan memegang bola lampu karena akan meninggalkan warna kehitaman (blackening)

3.Halogen masih kurang terang?

Ganti saja dengan jenis XENON. Sifat sinarnya menyala, pasti lebih terang dari halogen. Namun lampu jenis XENON telah memiliki panas2x lipat, jadi beresiko dipakai pada reflektor dan kaca lampu standard.

Perhatikan bahan logam pembuat reflektor dan kaca depan lampu motor. Perhatikan pula kabel penghubung lampunya, ganti juga dengan yang tahan panas biar tidak meleleh.

4.HID XENON buat motor.

Awalnya lampu ini telah dibuat untuk mobil. Nah oleh karena motor juga pengen, akhirnya ada yang untuk motor juga. Dibuat khusus dan lebih kompleks pasti gan..

Ada beberapa pendukungnya: Bulb (bohlam) dan Ballast-nya. Dijamin tuerang puol… tembus kabut pula (katanya) Harganya hmmm… ada yang jual Rp. 350.000,-. Tapi untuk pasang lampu jenis ini, perhatikan keadaan aki. Aki harus dalam keadaan baik, alias tidak tekor.

Untuk aki kering kalo sudah lebih dari setahun, lebih baik diganti ya gan… demi HID XENON

TIPS MEMILIH LAMPU DEPAN MOTOR YANG BAGUS

A. Pengertian Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

Ø Secara Bahasa

Ghazwul Fikri terdiri dari dua suku kata yaitu Ghazwah dan Fikr. Ghazwah berarti serangan, serbuan atau invansi. Sedangkan Fikr berarti pemikiran. Jadi, menurut bahasa Ghazwul Fikri adalah serangan atau serbuan didalam qital (perang) atau Ghazwul Fikri secara bahasa diartikan sebagai invansi pemikiran.

 

Ø Secara Istilah

Secara istilah, Ghazwul Fikri adalah penyerangan dengan berbagai cara terhadap pemikiran umat islam guna merubah apa yang ada didalamnya sehingga tidak lagi bisa mengeluarkan darinya hal – hal yang benar karena telah tercampur aduk dengan hal – hal yang tidak islami.

 

B. Makna Invansi Pemikiran (Ghazwul Fikri (GF))

 

Invansi / serangan pemikiran atau dalam bahasa arab dinamakan ghazwul fikri dan dalam bahasa inggris disebut dengan brain washing, thought control, menticide adalah istilah yang menunjukkan kepada suatu program yang dirancang dan dilaksanakan secara sistematis dan terstruktur oleh musuh – musuh islam untuk melakukan pendangkalan pemikiran dan cuci otak kepada kaum muslimin. Hal ini mereka lakukan agar kaum muslimin tunduk dan mengikuti cara hidup mereka sehingga melanggengkan kepentingan mereka untuk menjajah / mengeksploitasi sumber daya milik kaum muslimin.

 

C. Kelebihan – Kelebihan Invansi Pemikiran (Ghazwul Fikri (GF))

 

Invansi pemikiran atau ghazwul fikri (GF) dilakukan oleh para musuh islam dengan pertimbangan – pertimbangan bahwa dibandingkan dengan melakukan peperangan militer atau fisik, maka ghazwul fikri (GF) memiliki kelebihan – kelebihan sebagai berikut :

Aspek

Perang Fisik

Ghazwul Fikri

Biaya

Sangat mahal

Murah dan dikembalikan

Jangkauan

Terbatas di front

Sampai ke rumah - rumah

Obyek

Obyek merasakan

Sama sekali tidak merasa

Dampak

Mengadakan perlawanan

Menjadikan idola

Persenjataan

Senjata berat

Slogan, teori, iklan

 

D. Sejarah Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

Sejarah Ghazwul Fikri (GF) sudah ada setua umur manusia, makhluk yang pertama kali melakukannya adalah iblis laknatullah ketika berkata kepada Adam as., “ Sesungguhnya Allah melarang kalian memakan buah ini supaya kalian berdua tidak menjadi malaikat dan tidak dapat hidup abadi. “ (Q.S.Al – A’Raaf:20)

Dalam perkataannya ini iblis tidak menyatakan bahwa Allah tidak melarang kalian…karena itu akan bertentangan dengan informasi yang telah diterima oleh Adam as., tetapi iblis mengemas dan menyimpangkan makna perintah Allah SWT. Sesuai dengan keinginannya, yaitu dengan menambahkan alas an pelarangan Allah yang dibuat sendiri. Iblis tahu bahwa Adam as tidak punya pengetahuan tentang sebab tersebut. Demikianlah para murid – murid iblis dimasa kini selalu berusaha melakukan ghazwul fikri dengan menyimpangkan fakta dan informasi yang ada sesuai dengan maksud jahatnya. Setan melakukannya dengan cara yang sangat halus dan licin. Akibatnya, hanya orang – orang yang dirahmati Allah SWT yang mampu mengetahuinya.

 

 

E. Bidang – Bidang Yang di serang

 

1. Pendidikan

Pendidikan adalah aspek penting yang menentukan maju atau mundurnya suatu bangsa. Oleh sebab itu, bidang pendidikan merupakan target utama dari ghazwul fikri (GF). Ghazwul fikri (GF) yang dilakukan dibidang pendidikan, diantaranya dengan membuat sedikitnya porsi pendidikan agama di sekolah – sekolah umum (hanya 2 jam sepekan).

Hal ini berdampak fatal pada fondasi agama yang dimiliki oleh para siswa. Dengan lemahnya basis agama mereka, maka terjadilah tawuran, seks bebas pelajar yang meningkatkan AIDS, penyalahgunaan narkoba, vandalism, dan sebagaimananya. Ini adalah dampak jangka pendek.

Sedangkan dampak jangka panjangnya lebih berbahaya, yaitu rendahnya kualitas pemahaman agama para calon pemimpin bangsa dimasa depan. Ghazwul fikri (GF) lainnya dibidang ini adalah pada teknis belajarnya yang campur baur antara pria dan wanita yang jelas tidak sesuai dan banyak menimbulkan pelanggaran terhadap syariat.

 

2. Sejarah

Sejarah yang diajarkan perlu ditinjau ulang dan disesuaikan dengan semangat islam. Materi tentang sejarah dunia dan ilmu pengetahuan telah ghazwul fikri (GF) habis – habisan sehingga hamper tidak ditemui sama sekali pemaparan tentang sejarah para ilmuan islam dan sumbangannya dalam perkembangan ilmu pengetahuan.

Dalam sejarah yang dibahas hanyalah ilmuan kafir yang pada akhirnya membuat generasi muda menjadi silau dengan tokoh – tokoh kafir dan minder terhadap sejarahnya sendiri. Ketika berbicara tentang sejarah islam, di benak mereka hanyalah terbayang sejarah peperangan dengan pedang dan darah sebagaimana yang selalu digambarkan dalam kaca mata barat.

Hal ini lebih diperparah dengan sejarah nasional dan penamaan perguruan tinggi, gedung – gedung, perlambangan, penghargaan dan pusat ilmu lainnya dengan bahasa Hindu Sanksekerta, sehinga semakin hilanglah mutiara kegemilangan islam dihati para generasi muda.

 

3. Ekonomi

Ghazwul fikri (GF) yang terjadi dibidang ekonomi adalah konsekuensi dari motto ekonomi yaitu, mencari keuntungan sebesar – besarnya dengan pengorbanan sekecil – kecilnya. Ketika motto ini ditelan habis – habisan tanpa dilakukan filterisasi, maka tidak lagi memperhatikan halal atau haram, yang penting adalah bagaimana supaya untung sebesar – besarnya.

Hal lain yang perlu dicermati dalam system ekonomi kapitalisme, yaitu monopoli, riba dan pemihakan elit kepada para konglomerat. Mengenai monopoli sudah tidak perlu dibahas lagi, cukup jika dikatakan bahwa Amerika Serikat sendiri telah diberlakukan UU anti – trust (bagaimana di Indonesia?). Tentang riba dan haramnya bunga bank rasanya bukan pada tempatnya jika dibahas disini, cukup dikatakan bahwa munculnya dan berkembangnya bank tanpa bunga (bagi hasil), fatwa MUI, fatwa Universita Al Azhar Mesir, kesepakatan para ulama islam dunia membuktikan bahaya bunga bank dan haramnya dalam islam. Tentang keberpihakan kepada para konglomerat, semoga dengan perkembangan era reformasi saat ini dapat diperbaiki.

 

4. Ilmu Alam dan Sosial

Pada bidang ilmu – ilmu alam, ghazwul fikrii terbesar yang dilakukan adlah dengan dilakukannya sekularisasi antara ilmu pengetahuan dengan ilmu agama. Bahaya lainnya adalah penisbatan teori – teori ilmu pengetahuan kepada para ilmuan tanpa mengembalikannya kepada sang pemberi dan pemilik ilmu, sehingga mengakibatkan kekaguman dan pujian hanya berhenti pada diri para ilmuwan dan tidak bermuara kepada Allah SWT.

Hal lain adalah berkembangnya berbagai teori – teori sesaat yang sebenarnya belum diterima secara ilmiah, tetapi disebarkan secara besar – besaran oleh kelompok – kelompok tertentu untuk menimbulkan keraguan pada agama. Misalnya, teori tentang asal usul makhluk hidup (the origins of species) dari Darwin (yang sebenarnya merupakan kelanjutan dari penemuan Herbert Spencer) yang sebenarnya masih ada the missing link yang belum dapat menghubungkan antara manusia dank era, tapi sudah “ diindoktrinasikan “ kemana – mana. Atau, teori Libido seksualnya Freud, yang menyatakan bahwa jika manusia tidak dibebaskan sebebas – bebasnya keinginan seksualnya akan mengakibatkan terjadinya gangguan kejiwaan. Teori ini sudah dibantah secara ilmiah dan pencetusnya sendiri (Freud) yang terus menggembar – gemborkan kebebasan seksual, ternyata mati karena menderita penyakit kejiwaan (psikopath).

 

5. Bahasa

Ghazwul fikri (GF) dibidang bahasa adalah dengantidak diajarkannya bahasa Al – Qur’an di sekolah – sekolah karena menganggapnya tidak perlu. Hal yang nampaknya remeh ini sebenarnya sanagt besar akibatnya dan menjadi bencana bagi kaum muslimin Indonesia secara umum. Dengan tidak memahami Al – Qur’an, mayoritas kaum muslimin menjadi tidak mengerti apa kandungan Al – Qur’an, seperti firman Allah dalam surah Al Baqarah:78 artinya “ Dan diantara mereka ada yang buta huruf, tidak mengetahui Al – Kitab (taurat), kecuali dongengan bohong belaka dan mereka hanya menduga – duga “. Akibatnya, Al – Qur’an menjadi sekedar bacaan tanpa arti (Al – Qur’an hanya dinikmati iramanya seperti layaknya lagu – lagu dan nyayian belaka, yang akhirnya ditinggalkan seperti yang disebutkan dalam surah Al Furqaan:30 yang artinya “ Berkata Rasul : Ya tuhanku, sesungguhnya kaumku menjadikan Al – Qur’an ini suatu yang tidak diacuhkan “ dan surah Al Furqaan:31 yang artinya “ Dan seperti itulah, setelah kami adakan bagi tiap – tiap nabi, musuh dari orang – orang yang berdosa dan cukuplah Tuhanmu menjadi pemberi petunjuk dan penolong. “)

Dampak lain dari kebodohan terhadap bahasa Al – Qur’an adalah terputusnya hubungan kaum muslimin dengan perbendaharaan ilmu – ilmu keislaman yang telah disusun dan dibukukan selama hamper 1000 tahun oleh para pakar dan ilmuwan islam terdahulu yang jumlahnya mencapai jutaan judul buku, mencakup bidang – bidang akidah, tafsir, hadist, fiqih, sirah, tarikh, ulumul qur’an, tazkiyyah dan sebagainya.

 

6. Hukum

Ghazwul fikri (GF) pada aspek hukum adalah penggunaan acuan hukum warisan kolonial yang masih dipertahankan sebagai hukum yang berlaku, reduksi, dan penghapusan hukum Allah SWT dan Rasul – Nya. Rasa takut dan alergi terhadap segala yang berbau syariat islam merupakan keberhasilan ghazwul fikri (GF) dibidang ini. Penggambaran potong tangan bagi pencuri dan rajam bagi penzina selalu ditonjolkan saat pembicaraan – pembicaraan tentang kemungkinan adopsi terhadap beberapa hukum islam. Mereka melupakan bahwa hukum islam berpihak (melindungi) korban kejahatan, sehingga hukuman keras dijatuhkan kepada pelaku kejahatan agar perbuatannya tidak terulang dan orang lain takut untuk berbuat yang sama.

Sebaliknya, hukum barat berpihak (melindungi) pelaku kejahatan, sehingga dengan hukuman tersebut memungkinkannya untuk mengulang lagi kejahatannya karena ringannya hukuman tersebut. Laporan menunjukkan bahwa tingkat perkosaan yang terjadi di Kanada selama sehari sama dengan kejahatan yang sama di Kuwait selama 12 tahun, bahkan pooling yang dilakukan di masyarakat Amerika Serikat menunjukkan bahwa 1 dari 3 masyarakat Amerika Serikat menyetujui dijatuhkannya hukuman mati untuk pemerkosa.

 

7. Pengiriman pelajar dan mahasiswa ke Luar Negeri

Ghazwul fikri (GF) dibidang ini terjadi dalam dua aspek, yaitu : Brain drain dan Brain Washing. Brain drain adalah pelarian para intelektual dari negara – negara islam ke negara – negara maju karena insentif yang lebih besar dan fasilitas hidup yang lebih mewah bagi para pekerja disana. Hal ini menyebabkan lambatnya pembangunan di negara – negara islam dan semakin cepatnya kemajuan di negara – negara barat.

Data penelitian tahun 1996 menyebutkan bahwa perbandingan SDM bergelar doctor (S3) di Indonesia baru 60 per sejuta penduduk, di Amerika Serikat dan Eropa antara 2500 – 3000 orang per sejuta, dan di Israel mencapai 16.000 per sejuta penduduk.

Sementara brain washing (cuci otak) dialami oleh para intelektual yang sebagian besar berangkat ke negara – negara barat tanpa dibekali dengan dasar – dasar keislaman yang cukup. Akibatnya, mereka pulang dengan membawa pola piker dan perilaku yang bertentangan dengan nilai – nilai islam. Bahkan secara sadar atau tidak, mereka ikut andil dalam membantu melanggengkan kepentingan barat dinegara mereka.

 

8. Media massa

Berbicara mengenai ghazwul fikri (GF) yang terjadi dalam media massa, maka dapat dipilah pada aspek – aspek sebagai berikut :

· Aspek kehadirannya

Terjadinya perubahan penjadwalan kegiatan sehari – hari dalam keluarga muslim, missal TV. Dulu selepas maghrib, anak – anak biasanya mengaji dan belajar agama. Sekarang, selepas maghrib anak – anak menonton acara – acara TV yang kebanyakan merusak dan tidak bermanfaat. Sementara bagi para remaja dan orang tua dibandingkan dating ke pengajian dan majlis – majlis taklim, mereka lebih senang menghabiskan waktunya dengan menonton TV.

Sebenarnya TV dapat menjadi srana dakwah yang luar biasa (sesuai dengan teori komunikasi yang menyatkan bahwa media audio – visual memiliki pengaruh yang tertinggi dalam membentuk kepribadian baik pada tingkat individu maupun masyarakat) asal dikemas dan dirancang sesuai dengan nilai – nilai islam.

 

 

· Aspek isinya

Berbicara mengenai isi yang ditampilkan oleh media massa yang merupakan produk ghazwul fikri (GF) diantaranya adalah mengenai penokohan – penokohan atau orang – orang yang diidolakan. Media massa yang ada tidak berusaha ikut mendidik bangsa dan masyarakat dengan menokohkan para ulama, ilmuwan, dan orang – orang yang dapat mendorong membangun bangsa agar mencapai kemajuan IMTAK dan IPTEK sebagaimana yang digembar – gemborkan. Tetapi sebaliknya, justru tokoh yang terus menerus diekspos dan ditampilkan adalah para selebriti yang menjalankan gaya hidup borjuis, menghambur – hamburkan uang (tabdzir), jauh dari memiliki IPTEK apalagi nilai – nilai agama.

Hal ini jelas besar dampaknya pada generasi muda dalam memilih dan menentukan gaya hidup, cita – citanya dan tentunya pada kualitas bangsa dan Negara. Rpoduk lain dari ghazwul fikri (GF) yang menonjol dalam media TV, misalnya porsi film – film islami yang dapat dikatakan tidak ada. Film yang diputar 90% adalah film bergaya barat, sisanya adalah film nasional (yang juga bergaya barat), film – film mandarin, dan film – film india.

 

F. Sasaran dilakukannya Invansi Pemikiran (Ghazwul Fikri (GF))

 

Sasaran dari ghazwul fikri (GF) adalah sebagai berikut :

1. Agar kaum muslimin menjadi condong sedikit terhadap gaya, perilaku dan pola pikir barat, seperti dalam Q.S. Al Israa:73 yang artinya “ Dan sesungguhnya mereka hampir memalingkan kamu dari apa yang telah kami wahyukan kepadamu, agar kamu membuat yang lain secara bohong terhadap kami, dan kalau sudah begitu tentulah mereka mengambil kamu jadi sahabat yang setia.Q.S. Al Israa:74 yang artinya “ Dan kalau kami tidak memperkuatkan (hati)mu, niscaya kamu hampir condong sedikit kepada mereka.” Q.S. Al Israa:75 yang artinya “ Kalau terjadi demikian, benar – benarlah kami akan rasakan kepadamu (siksaan) berlipat – lipat ganda didunia ini dan begitu (pula siksaan) berlipat ganda sesudah mati, dan kamu tidak akan mendapat seorang penolongpun terhadap kami.” Dan Q.S.Al Israa:76 yang artinya “ Dan sesungguhnya benar – benar mereka hamper membuatmu gelisah di negeri (mekah) untuk mengusirmu daripadanya dan kalau terjadi demikian, niscaya sepeninggalmu mereka tidak tinggal sebentar saja.”

2. Setelah kaum muslimin condong sedikit, tahapan selanjutnya adalah agar kaum muslimin mengikuti sebagian dari gaya, perilaku dan pola pikir mereka. Sebagaimana disebutkan dalam Q.S.Ad Dukhan:25 yang artinya “ Alangkah banyaknya taman dan mata air yang mereka tinggalkan.” Dan Q.S.Ad Dukhan:26 yang artinya “ Dan kebun – kebun serta tempat – tempat yang indah – indah.”

3. Pada tahap ini diharapkan kaum muslimin beriman pada sebagiannya ayat – ayat Al – Qur’an dan Hadist Rasulullah SAW, tetapi kafir terhadap sebagian yang lainnya. Sebagaimana dalam Q.S.Al Baqarah:85 yang artinya “ Kemudian kamu (bani israil) membunuh dirimu (saudaramu sebangsa) dan mengusir segolongan dari pada kamu dari kampong halaman. Kamu bantu membantu terhadap mereka dengan membuat dosa dan permusuhan tetapi jika mereka dating kepadamu sebagai tawanan, kamu tebus mereka. Padahal mengusir itu (juga) terlarang bagimu. Apakah kamu beriman pada sebagian Al Kitab(taurat) dan ingkar terhadap sebagian yang lain? Tiadalah balasan bagi orang yang berbuat demikian dari padamu, melainkan kenistaan dalam kehidupan dunia, dan pada hari kiamat mereka dikembalikan kepada siksa yang sangat berat, Allah tidak lengah dari apa yang kamu perbuat.”

4. Pada tahap akhir, mereka menginginkan agar generasi kaum muslimin mengikuti syahwat dan meninggalkan shalat. Sebagaimana dalam Q.S.Maryam:59 yang artinya “ Maka datanglah sesudah mereka, pengganti (yang jelek) yang menyia – nyiakan shalat dan memperturutkan hawa nafsu, maka mereka akan menemui kesesatan.”

 

 

G. Tujuan Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

1. Menghambat kemajuan umat islam agar tetap menjadi pengekor barat. Berbagai macam pendapat nyeleneh yang ditebarkan para orientalis lewat media cetak dan elektronik berhasil menyita perhatian umat islam dan mengetuk sebagian besar potensinya,baik untuk melakukan kajian, bantahan dan pelurusan.

2. Menjauhkan umat islam dari Al – Qur’an dan As Sunnah serta ajaran – ajarannya. Dengan keraguan – raguan dan penyesatan terhadap umat islam, ghazwul fikri (GF) menyeret orang – orang awam ke jurang yang memisahkan mereka dari keislaman – Nya. Bahkan ada sebagian yang keluar dari islam dan berpindah ke agama lain.

3. Memurtadkan umat islam. Inilah yang digambarkan Al – Qur’an dalam Surah Al Baqarah:217 yang artinya “ Mereka tidak henti – hentinya memerangi kamu sampai mereka (dapat) mengembalikan kamu dari agamamu (kepada kekafiran), seandainya mereka sanggup. Barangsiapa yang murtad diantara kamu dari agamanya, lalu dia mati dalam kekafiran, maka mereka itulah sia – sia amalannya di dunia dan akhirat, dan mereka itulah penghuni neraka, mereka kekal didalamnya.”

 

H. Dampak Positif dan Negatif Gahzwul Fikri (GF)

 

Ø Dampak Positif dari Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

Kemajuan ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi yang mempermudah memberikan pekerjaan pada manusia yang ada di Negara ini.

Ø Dampak Negatif dari Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

- Perusakan akhlak umat islam terutama yang masih berusia muda.

- Berusaha menggiring umat islam kepada kekafiran, khususnya umat islam yang tipis pemahaman keislamannya.

- Menjauhkan umat islam dari agamanya dan mendekatkannya pada kekafiran.



* tentang ini saya meempunyai pertanyaan : bolehkah Islam Menggunakan Cara Ini Untuk Mengebngkan Islam?
kepada pembaca yang budiman, mohon jawabannya melalui komentar.
terimakasih untuk admin

 

GHAZWUL FIKRI (PERANG PEMIKIRAN)

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

As he reflected on the festering wounds deepened by race and grievance that have been on painful display in America’s cities lately, President Obama on Monday found himself thinking about a young man he had just met named Malachi.

A few minutes before, in a closed-door round-table discussion at Lehman College in the Bronx, Mr. Obama had asked a group of black and Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds what could be done to help them reach their goals. Several talked about counseling and guidance programs.

“Malachi, he just talked about — we should talk about love,” Mr. Obama told a crowd afterward, drifting away from his prepared remarks. “Because Malachi and I shared the fact that our dad wasn’t around and that sometimes we wondered why he wasn’t around and what had happened. But really, that’s what this comes down to is: Do we love these kids?”

Many presidents have governed during times of racial tension, but Mr. Obama is the first to see in the mirror a face that looks like those on the other side of history’s ledger. While his first term was consumed with the economy, war and health care, his second keeps coming back to the societal divide that was not bridged by his election. A president who eschewed focusing on race now seems to have found his voice again as he thinks about how to use his remaining time in office and beyond.

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Play Video|1:17

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

At an event announcing the creation of a nonprofit focusing on young minority men, President Obama talked about the underlying reasons for recent protests in Baltimore and other cities.

By Associated Press on Publish Date May 4, 2015. Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

In the aftermath of racially charged unrest in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and New York, Mr. Obama came to the Bronx on Monday for the announcement of a new nonprofit organization that is being spun off from his White House initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. Staked by more than $80 million in commitments from corporations and other donors, the new group, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will in effect provide the nucleus for Mr. Obama’s post-presidency, which will begin in January 2017.

“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Mr. Obama said. “And the reason is simple,” he added. Referring to some of the youths he had just met, he said: “We see ourselves in these young men. I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path. The only difference between me and a lot of other young men in this neighborhood and all across the country is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving.”

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Organizers said the new alliance already had financial pledges from companies like American Express, Deloitte, Discovery Communications and News Corporation. The money will be used to help companies address obstacles facing young black and Hispanic men, provide grants to programs for disadvantaged youths, and help communities aid their populations.

Joe Echevarria, a former chief executive of Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, will lead the alliance, and among those on its leadership team or advisory group are executives at PepsiCo, News Corporation, Sprint, BET and Prudential Group Insurance; former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey; former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.; the music star John Legend; the retired athletes Alonzo Mourning, Jerome Bettis and Shaquille O’Neal; and the mayors of Indianapolis, Sacramento and Philadelphia.

The alliance, while nominally independent of the White House, may face some of the same questions confronting former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins another presidential campaign. Some of those donating to the alliance may have interests in government action, and skeptics may wonder whether they are trying to curry favor with the president by contributing.

“The Obama administration will have no role in deciding how donations are screened and what criteria they’ll set at the alliance for donor policies, because it’s an entirely separate entity,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One en route to New York. But he added, “I’m confident that the members of the board are well aware of the president’s commitment to transparency.”

The alliance was in the works before the disturbances last week after the death of Freddie Gray, the black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody in Baltimore, but it reflected the evolution of Mr. Obama’s presidency. For him, in a way, it is coming back to issues that animated him as a young community organizer and politician. It was his own struggle with race and identity, captured in his youthful memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” that stood him apart from other presidential aspirants.

But that was a side of him that he kept largely to himself through the first years of his presidency while he focused on other priorities like turning the economy around, expanding government-subsidized health care and avoiding electoral land mines en route to re-election.

After securing a second term, Mr. Obama appeared more emboldened. Just a month after his 2013 inauguration, he talked passionately about opportunity and race with a group of teenage boys in Chicago, a moment aides point to as perhaps the first time he had spoken about these issues in such a personal, powerful way as president. A few months later, he publicly lamented the death of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager, saying that “could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo
 
President Obama on Monday with Darinel Montero, a student at Bronx International High School who introduced him before remarks at Lehman College in the Bronx. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

That case, along with public ruptures of anger over police shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere, have pushed the issue of race and law enforcement onto the public agenda. Aides said they imagined that with his presidency in its final stages, Mr. Obama might be thinking more about what comes next and causes he can advance as a private citizen.

That is not to say that his public discussion of these issues has been universally welcomed. Some conservatives said he had made matters worse by seeming in their view to blame police officers in some of the disputed cases.

“President Obama, when he was elected, could have been a unifying leader,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican candidate for president, said at a forum last week. “He has made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions.”

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, some liberal African-American activists have complained that Mr. Obama has not done enough to help downtrodden communities. While he is speaking out more, these critics argue, he has hardly used the power of the presidency to make the sort of radical change they say is necessary.

The line Mr. Obama has tried to straddle has been a serrated one. He condemns police brutality as he defends most officers as honorable. He condemns “criminals and thugs” who looted in Baltimore while expressing empathy with those trapped in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

In the Bronx on Monday, Mr. Obama bemoaned the death of Brian Moore, a plainclothes New York police officer who had died earlier in the day after being shot in the head Saturday on a Queens street. Most police officers are “good and honest and fair and care deeply about their communities,” even as they put their lives on the line, Mr. Obama said.

“Which is why in addressing the issues in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York, the point I made was that if we’re just looking at policing, we’re looking at it too narrowly,” he added. “If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, that’s not fair to the communities, it’s not fair to the police.”

Moreover, if society writes off some people, he said, “that’s not the kind of country I want to live in; that’s not what America is about.”

His message to young men like Malachi Hernandez, who attends Boston Latin Academy in Massachusetts, is not to give up.

“I want you to know you matter,” he said. “You matter to us.”

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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.

 

Photo
 
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

Ms. Pryor, who served more than two decades in the State Department, was the author of well-regarded biographies of the founder of the American Red Cross and the Confederate commander.

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Biographer of Clara Barton and Robert E. Lee, Dies at 64

The bottle Mr. Sokolin famously broke was a 1787 Château Margaux, which was said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Sokolin had been hoping to sell it for $519,750.

William Sokolin, Wine Seller Who Broke Famed Bottle, Dies at 85

WASHINGTON — A decade after emergency trailers meant to shelter Hurricane Katrina victims instead caused burning eyes, sore throats and other more serious ailments, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of regulating the culprit: formaldehyde, a chemical that can be found in commonplace things like clothes and furniture.

But an unusual assortment of players, including furniture makers, the Chinese government, Republicans from states with a large base of furniture manufacturing and even some Democrats who championed early regulatory efforts, have questioned the E.P.A. proposal. The sustained opposition has held sway, as the agency is now preparing to ease key testing requirements before it releases the landmark federal health standard.

The E.P.A.’s five-year effort to adopt this rule offers another example of how industry opposition can delay and hamper attempts by the federal government to issue regulations, even to control substances known to be harmful to human health.

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Document: The Formaldehyde Fight

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can also cause respiratory ailments like asthma, but the potential of long-term exposure to cause cancers like myeloid leukemia is less well understood.

The E.P.A.’s decision would be the first time that the federal government has regulated formaldehyde inside most American homes.

“The stakes are high for public health,” said Tom Neltner, senior adviser for regulatory affairs at the National Center for Healthy Housing, who has closely monitored the debate over the rules. “What we can’t have here is an outcome that fails to confront the health threat we all know exists.”

The proposal would not ban formaldehyde — commonly used as an ingredient in wood glue in furniture and flooring — but it would impose rules that prevent dangerous levels of the chemical’s vapors from those products, and would set testing standards to ensure that products sold in the United States comply with those limits. The debate has sharpened in the face of growing concern about the safety of formaldehyde-treated flooring imported from Asia, especially China.

What is certain is that a lot of money is at stake: American companies sell billions of dollars’ worth of wood products each year that contain formaldehyde, and some argue that the proposed regulation would impose unfair costs and restrictions.

Determined to block the agency’s rule as proposed, these industry players have turned to the White House, members of Congress and top E.P.A. officials, pressing them to roll back the testing requirements in particular, calling them redundant and too expensive.

“There are potentially over a million manufacturing jobs that will be impacted if the proposed rule is finalized without changes,” wrote Bill Perdue, the chief lobbyist at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a leading critic of the testing requirements in the proposed regulation, in one letter to the E.P.A.

Industry opposition helped create an odd alignment of forces working to thwart the rule. The White House moved to strike out key aspects of the proposal. Subsequent appeals for more changes were voiced by players as varied as Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, and Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, as well as furniture industry lobbyists.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 helped ignite the public debate over formaldehyde, after the deadly storm destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes along the Gulf of Mexico, forcing families into temporary trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The displaced storm victims quickly began reporting respiratory problems, burning eyes and other issues, and tests then confirmed high levels of formaldehyde fumes leaking into the air inside the trailers, which in many cases had been hastily constructed.

Public health advocates petitioned the E.P.A. to issue limits on formaldehyde in building materials and furniture used in homes, given that limits already existed for exposure in workplaces. But three years after the storm, only California had issued such limits.

Industry groups like the American Chemistry Council have repeatedly challenged the science linking formaldehyde to cancer, a position championed by David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana, who is a major recipient of chemical industry campaign contributions, and whom environmental groups have mockingly nicknamed “Senator Formaldehyde.”

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Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

In laminate flooring, formaldehyde is used as a bonding agent in the fiberboard (or other composite wood) core layer and may also be used in glues that bind layers together. Concerns were raised in March when certain laminate flooring imported from China was reported to contain levels of formaldehyde far exceeding the limit permitted by California.

Typical

laminate

flooring

CLEAR FINISH LAYER

Often made of melamine resin

PATTERN LAYER

Paper printed to resemble wood,

or a thin wood veneer

GLUE

Layers may be bound using

formaldehyde-based glues

CORE LAYER

Fiberboard or other

composite, formed using

formaldehyde-based adhesives

BASE LAYER

Moisture-resistant vapor barrier

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a common chemical used in many industrial and household products as an adhesive, bonding agent or preservative. It is classified as a volatile organic compound. The term volatile means that, at room temperature, formaldehyde will vaporize, or become a gas. Products made with formaldehyde tend to release this gas into the air. If breathed in large quantities, it may cause health problems.

WHERE IT IS COMMONLY FOUND

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS

Pressed-wood and composite wood products

Wallpaper and paints

Spray foam insulation used in construction

Commercial wood floor finishes

Crease-resistant fabrics

In cigarette smoke, or in the fumes from combustion of other materials, including wood, oil and gasoline.

Exposure to formaldehyde in sufficient amounts may cause eye, throat or skin irritation, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems like coughing, wheezing or asthma.

Long-term exposure to high levels has been associated with cancer in humans and laboratory animals.

Exposure to formaldehyde may affect some people more severely than others.

By 2010, public health advocates and some industry groups secured bipartisan support in Congress for legislation that ordered the E.P.A. to issue federal rules that largely mirrored California’s restrictions. At the time, concerns were rising over the growing number of lower-priced furniture imports from Asia that might include contaminated products, while also hurting sales of American-made products.

Maneuvering began almost immediately after the E.P.A. prepared draft rules to formally enact the new standards.

White House records show at least five meetings in mid-2012 with industry executives — kitchen cabinet makers, chemical manufacturers, furniture trade associations and their lobbyists, like Brock R. Landry, of the Venable law firm. These parties, along with Senator Vitter’s office, appealed to top administration officials, asking them to intervene to roll back the E.P.A. proposal.

The White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews major federal regulations before they are adopted, apparently agreed. After the White House review, the E.P.A. “redlined” many of the estimates of the monetary benefits that would be gained by reductions in related health ailments, like asthma and fertility issues, documents reviewed by The New York Times show.

As a result, the estimated benefit of the proposed rule dropped to $48 million a year, from as much as $278 million a year. The much-reduced amount deeply weakened the agency’s justification for the sometimes costly new testing that would be required under the new rules, a federal official involved in the effort said.

“It’s a redlining blood bath,” said Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University Law School professor and a former E.P.A. official, using the Washington phrase to describe when language is stricken from a proposed rule. “Almost the entire discussion of these potential benefits was excised.”

Senator Vitter’s staff was pleased.

“That’s a huge difference,” said Luke Bolar, a spokesman for Mr. Vitter, of the reduced estimated financial benefits, saying the change was “clearly highlighting more mismanagement” at the E.P.A.

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The review’s outcome galvanized opponents in the furniture industry. They then targeted a provision that mandated new testing of laminated wood, a cheaper alternative to hardwood. (The California standard on which the law was based did not require such testing.)

But E.P.A. scientists had concluded that these laminate products — millions of which are sold annually in the United States — posed a particular risk. They said that when thin layers of wood, also known as laminate or veneer, are added to furniture or flooring in the final stages of manufacturing, the resulting product can generate dangerous levels of fumes from often-used formaldehyde-based glues.

Industry executives, outraged by what they considered an unnecessary and financially burdensome level of testing, turned every lever within reach to get the requirement removed. It would be particularly onerous, they argued, for small manufacturers that would have to repeatedly interrupt their work to do expensive new testing. The E.P.A. estimated that the expanded requirements for laminate products would cost the furniture industry tens of millions of dollars annually, while the industry said that the proposed rule over all would cost its 7,000 American manufacturing facilities over $200 million each year.

“A lot of people don’t seem to appreciate what a lot of these requirements do to a small operation,” said Dick Titus, executive vice president of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, whose members are predominantly small businesses. “A 10-person shop, for example, just really isn’t equipped to handle that type of thing.”

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Becky Gillette wants strong regulation of formaldehyde. Credit Beth Hall for The New York Times

Big industry players also weighed in. Executives from companies including La-Z-Boy, Hooker Furniture and Ashley Furniture all flew to Washington for a series of meetings with the offices of lawmakers including House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and about a dozen other lawmakers, asking several of them to sign a letter prepared by the industry to press the E.P.A. to back down, according to an industry report describing the lobbying visit.

Within a matter of weeks, two letters — using nearly identical language — were sent by House and Senate lawmakers to the E.P.A. — with the industry group forwarding copies of the letters to the agency as well, and then posting them on its website.

The industry lobbyists also held their own meeting at E.P.A. headquarters, and they urged Jim Jones, who oversaw the rule-making process as the assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, to visit a North Carolina furniture manufacturing plant. According to the trade group, Mr. Jones told them that the visit had “helped the agency shift its thinking” about the rules and how laminated products should be treated.

The resistance was particularly intense from lawmakers like Mr. Wicker of Mississippi, whose state is home to major manufacturing plants owned by Ashley Furniture Industries, the world’s largest furniture maker, and who is one of the biggest recipients in Congress of donations from the industry’s trade association. Asked if the political support played a role, a spokesman for Mr. Wicker replied: “Thousands of Mississippians depend on the furniture manufacturing industry for their livelihoods. Senator Wicker is committed to defending all Mississippians from government overreach.”

Individual companies like Ikea also intervened, as did the Chinese government, which claimed that the new rule would create a “great barrier” to the import of Chinese products because of higher costs.

Perhaps the most surprising objection came from Senator Boxer, of California, a longtime environmental advocate, whose office questioned why the E.P.A.’s rule went further than her home state’s in seeking testing on laminated products. “We did not advocate an outcome, other than safety,” her office said in a statement about why the senator raised concerns. “We said ‘Take a look to see if you have it right.’ ”

Safety advocates say that tighter restrictions — like the ones Ms. Boxer and Mr. Wicker, along with Representative Doris Matsui, a California Democrat, have questioned — are necessary, particularly for products coming from China, where items as varied as toys and Christmas lights have been found to violate American safety standards.

While Mr. Neltner, the environmental advocate who has been most involved in the review process, has been open to compromise, he has pressed the E.P.A. not to back down entirely, and to maintain a requirement that laminators verify that their products are safe.

An episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” in March brought attention to the issue when it accused Lumber Liquidators, the discount flooring retailer, of selling laminate products with dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The company has disputed the show’s findings and test methods, maintaining that its products are safe.

“People think that just because Congress passed the legislation five years ago, the problem has been fixed,” said Becky Gillette, who then lived in coastal Mississippi, in the area hit by Hurricane Katrina, and was among the first to notice a pattern of complaints from people living in the trailers. “Real people’s faces and names come up in front of me when I think of the thousands of people who could get sick if this rule is not done right.”

An aide to Ms. Matsui rejected any suggestion that she was bending to industry pressure.

“From the beginning the public health has been our No. 1 concern,” said Kyle J. Victor, an aide to Ms. Matsui.

But further changes to the rule are likely, agency officials concede, as they say they are searching for a way to reduce the cost of complying with any final rule while maintaining public health goals. The question is just how radically the agency will revamp the testing requirement for laminated products — if it keeps it at all.

“It’s not a secret to anybody that is the most challenging issue,” said Mr. Jones, the E.P.A. official overseeing the process, adding that the health consequences from formaldehyde are real. “We have to reduce those exposures so that people can live healthy lives and not have to worry about being in their homes.”

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde

Judge Patterson helped to protect the rights of Attica inmates after the prison riot in 1971 and later served on the Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Robert Patterson Jr., Lawyer and Judge Who Fought for the Accused, Dies at 91

Hockey is not exactly known as a city game, but played on roller skates, it once held sway as the sport of choice in many New York neighborhoods.

“City kids had no rinks, no ice, but they would do anything to play hockey,” said Edward Moffett, former director of the Long Island City Y.M.C.A. Roller Hockey League, in Queens, whose games were played in city playgrounds going back to the 1940s.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the league had more than 60 teams, he said. Players included the Mullen brothers of Hell’s Kitchen and Dan Dorion of Astoria, Queens, who would later play on ice for the National Hockey League.

One street legend from the heyday of New York roller hockey was Craig Allen, who lived in the Woodside Houses projects and became one of the city’s hardest hitters and top scorers.

“Craig was a warrior, one of the best roller hockey players in the city in the ’70s,” said Dave Garmendia, 60, a retired New York police officer who grew up playing with Mr. Allen. “His teammates loved him and his opponents feared him.”

Young Craig took up hockey on the streets of Queens in the 1960s, playing pickup games between sewer covers, wearing steel-wheeled skates clamped onto school shoes and using a roll of electrical tape as the puck.

His skill and ferocity drew attention, Mr. Garmendia said, but so did his skin color. He was black, in a sport made up almost entirely by white players.

“Roller hockey was a white kid’s game, plain and simple, but Craig broke the color barrier,” Mr. Garmendia said. “We used to say Craig did more for race relations than the N.A.A.C.P.”

Mr. Allen went on to coach and referee roller hockey in New York before moving several years ago to South Carolina. But he continued to organize an annual alumni game at Dutch Kills Playground in Long Island City, the same site that held the local championship games.

The reunion this year was on Saturday, but Mr. Allen never made it. On April 26, just before boarding the bus to New York, he died of an asthma attack at age 61.

Word of his death spread rapidly among hundreds of his old hockey colleagues who resolved to continue with the event, now renamed the Craig Allen Memorial Roller Hockey Reunion.

The turnout on Saturday was the largest ever, with players pulling on their old equipment, choosing sides and taking once again to the rink of cracked blacktop with faded lines and circles. They wore no helmets, although one player wore a fedora.

Another, Vinnie Juliano, 77, of Long Island City, wore his hearing aids, along with his 50-year-old taped-up quads, or four-wheeled skates with a leather boot. Many players here never converted to in-line skates, and neither did Mr. Allen, whose photograph appeared on a poster hanging behind the players’ bench.

“I’m seeing people walking by wondering why all these rusty, grizzly old guys are here playing hockey,” one player, Tommy Dominguez, said. “We’re here for Craig, and let me tell you, these old guys still play hard.”

Everyone seemed to have a Craig Allen story, from his earliest teams at Public School 151 to the Bryant Rangers, the Woodside Wings, the Woodside Blues and more.

Mr. Allen, who became a yellow-cab driver, was always recruiting new talent. He gained the nickname Cabby for his habit of stopping at playgrounds all over the city to scout players.

Teams were organized around neighborhoods and churches, and often sponsored by local bars. Mr. Allen, for one, played for bars, including Garry Owen’s and on the Fiddler’s Green Jokers team in Inwood, Manhattan.

Play was tough and fights were frequent.

“We were basically street gangs on skates,” said Steve Rogg, 56, a mail clerk who grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, and who on Saturday wore his Riedell Classic quads from 1972. “If another team caught up with you the night before a game, they tossed you a beating so you couldn’t play the next day.”

Mr. Garmendia said Mr. Allen’s skin color provoked many fights.

“When we’d go to some ignorant neighborhoods, a lot of players would use slurs,” Mr. Garmendia said, recalling a game in Ozone Park, Queens, where local fans parked motorcycles in a lineup next to the blacktop and taunted Mr. Allen. Mr. Garmendia said he checked a player into the motorcycles, “and the bikes went down like dominoes, which started a serious brawl.”

A group of fans at a game in Brooklyn once stuck a pole through the rink fence as Mr. Allen skated by and broke his jaw, Mr. Garmendia said, adding that carloads of reinforcements soon arrived to defend Mr. Allen.

And at another racially incited brawl, the police responded with six patrol cars and a helicopter.

Before play began on Saturday, the players gathered at center rink to honor Mr. Allen. Billy Barnwell, 59, of Woodside, recalled once how an all-white, all-star squad snubbed Mr. Allen by playing him third string. He scored seven goals in the first game and made first string immediately.

“He’d always hear racial stuff before the game, and I’d ask him, ‘How do you put up with that?’” Mr. Barnwell recalled. “Craig would say, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ and by the end of the game, he’d win guys over. They’d say, ‘This guy’s good.’”

Tribute for a Roller Hockey Warrior
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’

The career criminals in genre novels don’t have money problems. If they need some, they just go out and steal it. But such financial transactions can backfire, which is what happened back in 2004 when the Texas gang in Michael

Take the Money and Run

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.”

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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

UNITED NATIONS — Wearing pinstripes and a pince-nez, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy for Syria, arrived at the Security Council one Tuesday afternoon in February and announced that President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to halt airstrikes over Aleppo. Would the rebels, Mr. de Mistura suggested, agree to halt their shelling?

What he did not announce, but everyone knew by then, was that the Assad government had begun a military offensive to encircle opposition-held enclaves in Aleppo and that fierce fighting was underway. It would take only a few days for rebel leaders, having pushed back Syrian government forces, to outright reject Mr. de Mistura’s proposed freeze in the fighting, dooming the latest diplomatic overture on Syria.

Diplomacy is often about appearing to be doing something until the time is ripe for a deal to be done.

 

 

Now, with Mr. Assad’s forces having suffered a string of losses on the battlefield and the United States reaching at least a partial rapprochement with Mr. Assad’s main backer, Iran, Mr. de Mistura is changing course. Starting Monday, he is set to hold a series of closed talks in Geneva with the warring sides and their main supporters. Iran will be among them.

In an interview at United Nations headquarters last week, Mr. de Mistura hinted that the changing circumstances, both military and diplomatic, may have prompted various backers of the war to question how much longer the bloodshed could go on.

“Will that have an impact in accelerating the willingness for a political solution? We need to test it,” he said. “The Geneva consultations may be a good umbrella for testing that. It’s an occasion for asking everyone, including the government, if there is any new way that they are looking at a political solution, as they too claim they want.”

He said he would have a better assessment at the end of June, when he expects to wrap up his consultations. That coincides with the deadline for a final agreement in the Iran nuclear talks.

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Whether a nuclear deal with Iran will pave the way for a new opening on peace talks in Syria remains to be seen. Increasingly, though, world leaders are explicitly linking the two, with the European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, suggesting last week that a nuclear agreement could spur Tehran to play “a major but positive role in Syria.”

It could hardly come soon enough. Now in its fifth year, the Syrian war has claimed 220,000 lives, prompted an exodus of more than three million refugees and unleashed jihadist groups across the region. “This conflict is producing a question mark in many — where is it leading and whether this can be sustained,” Mr. de Mistura said.

Part Italian, part Swedish, Mr. de Mistura has worked with the United Nations for more than 40 years, but he is more widely known for his dapper style than for any diplomatic coups. Syria is by far the toughest assignment of his career — indeed, two of the organization’s most seasoned diplomats, Lakhdar Brahimi and Kofi Annan, tried to do the job and gave up — and critics have wondered aloud whether Mr. de Mistura is up to the task.

He served as a United Nations envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and before that in Lebanon, where a former minister recalled, with some scorn, that he spent many hours sunbathing at a private club in the hills above Beirut. Those who know him say he has a taste for fine suits and can sometimes speak too soon and too much, just as they point to his diplomatic missteps and hyperbole.

They cite, for instance, a news conference in October, when he raised the specter of Srebrenica, where thousands of Muslims were massacred in 1995 during the Balkans war, in warning that the Syrian border town of Kobani could fall to the Islamic State. In February, he was photographed at a party in Damascus, the Syrian capital, celebrating the anniversary of the Iranian revolution just as Syrian forces, aided by Iran, were pummeling rebel-held suburbs of Damascus; critics seized on that as evidence of his coziness with the government.

Mouin Rabbani, who served briefly as the head of Mr. de Mistura’s political affairs unit and has since emerged as one of his most outspoken critics, said Mr. de Mistura did not have the background necessary for the job. “This isn’t someone well known for his political vision or political imagination, and his closest confidants lack the requisite knowledge and experience,” Mr. Rabbani said.

As a deputy foreign minister in the Italian government, Mr. de Mistura was tasked in 2012 with freeing two Italian marines detained in India for shooting at Indian fishermen. He made 19 trips to India, to little effect. One marine was allowed to return to Italy for medical reasons; the other remains in India.

He said he initially turned down the Syria job when the United Nations secretary general approached him last August, only to change his mind the next day, after a sleepless, guilt-ridden night.

Mr. de Mistura compared his role in Syria to that of a doctor faced with a terminally ill patient. His goal in brokering a freeze in the fighting, he said, was to alleviate suffering. He settled on Aleppo as the location for its “fame,” he said, a decision that some questioned, considering that Aleppo was far trickier than the many other lesser-known towns where activists had negotiated temporary local cease-fires.

“Everybody, at least in Europe, are very familiar with the value of Aleppo,” Mr. de Mistura said. “So I was using that as an icebreaker.”

The cease-fire negotiations, to which he had devoted six months, fell apart quickly because of the government’s military offensive in Aleppo the very day of his announcement at the Security Council. Privately, United Nations diplomats said Mr. de Mistura had been manipulated. To this, Mr. de Mistura said only that he was “disappointed and concerned.”

Tarek Fares, a former rebel fighter, said after a recent visit to Aleppo that no Syrian would admit publicly to supporting Mr. de Mistura’s cease-fire proposal. “If anyone said they went to a de Mistura meeting in Gaziantep, they would be arrested,” is how he put it, referring to the Turkish city where negotiations between the two sides were held.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remains staunchly behind Mr. de Mistura’s efforts. His defenders point out that he is at the center of one of the world’s toughest diplomatic problems, charged with mediating a conflict in which two of the world’s most powerful nations — Russia, which supports Mr. Assad, and the United States, which has called for his ouster — remain deadlocked.

R. Nicholas Burns, a former State Department official who now teaches at Harvard, credited Mr. de Mistura for trying to negotiate a cease-fire even when the chances of success were exceedingly small — and the chances of a political deal even smaller. For his efforts to work, Professor Burns argued, the world powers will first have to come to an agreement of their own.

“He needs the help of outside powers,” he said. “It starts with backers of Assad. That’s Russia and Iran. De Mistura is there, waiting.”

With Iran Talks, a Tangled Path to Ending Syria’s War

As he reflected on the festering wounds deepened by race and grievance that have been on painful display in America’s cities lately, President Obama on Monday found himself thinking about a young man he had just met named Malachi.

A few minutes before, in a closed-door round-table discussion at Lehman College in the Bronx, Mr. Obama had asked a group of black and Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds what could be done to help them reach their goals. Several talked about counseling and guidance programs.

“Malachi, he just talked about — we should talk about love,” Mr. Obama told a crowd afterward, drifting away from his prepared remarks. “Because Malachi and I shared the fact that our dad wasn’t around and that sometimes we wondered why he wasn’t around and what had happened. But really, that’s what this comes down to is: Do we love these kids?”

Many presidents have governed during times of racial tension, but Mr. Obama is the first to see in the mirror a face that looks like those on the other side of history’s ledger. While his first term was consumed with the economy, war and health care, his second keeps coming back to the societal divide that was not bridged by his election. A president who eschewed focusing on race now seems to have found his voice again as he thinks about how to use his remaining time in office and beyond.

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Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

At an event announcing the creation of a nonprofit focusing on young minority men, President Obama talked about the underlying reasons for recent protests in Baltimore and other cities.

By Associated Press on Publish Date May 4, 2015. Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

In the aftermath of racially charged unrest in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and New York, Mr. Obama came to the Bronx on Monday for the announcement of a new nonprofit organization that is being spun off from his White House initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. Staked by more than $80 million in commitments from corporations and other donors, the new group, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will in effect provide the nucleus for Mr. Obama’s post-presidency, which will begin in January 2017.

“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Mr. Obama said. “And the reason is simple,” he added. Referring to some of the youths he had just met, he said: “We see ourselves in these young men. I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path. The only difference between me and a lot of other young men in this neighborhood and all across the country is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving.”

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Organizers said the new alliance already had financial pledges from companies like American Express, Deloitte, Discovery Communications and News Corporation. The money will be used to help companies address obstacles facing young black and Hispanic men, provide grants to programs for disadvantaged youths, and help communities aid their populations.

Joe Echevarria, a former chief executive of Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, will lead the alliance, and among those on its leadership team or advisory group are executives at PepsiCo, News Corporation, Sprint, BET and Prudential Group Insurance; former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey; former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.; the music star John Legend; the retired athletes Alonzo Mourning, Jerome Bettis and Shaquille O’Neal; and the mayors of Indianapolis, Sacramento and Philadelphia.

The alliance, while nominally independent of the White House, may face some of the same questions confronting former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins another presidential campaign. Some of those donating to the alliance may have interests in government action, and skeptics may wonder whether they are trying to curry favor with the president by contributing.

“The Obama administration will have no role in deciding how donations are screened and what criteria they’ll set at the alliance for donor policies, because it’s an entirely separate entity,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One en route to New York. But he added, “I’m confident that the members of the board are well aware of the president’s commitment to transparency.”

The alliance was in the works before the disturbances last week after the death of Freddie Gray, the black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody in Baltimore, but it reflected the evolution of Mr. Obama’s presidency. For him, in a way, it is coming back to issues that animated him as a young community organizer and politician. It was his own struggle with race and identity, captured in his youthful memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” that stood him apart from other presidential aspirants.

But that was a side of him that he kept largely to himself through the first years of his presidency while he focused on other priorities like turning the economy around, expanding government-subsidized health care and avoiding electoral land mines en route to re-election.

After securing a second term, Mr. Obama appeared more emboldened. Just a month after his 2013 inauguration, he talked passionately about opportunity and race with a group of teenage boys in Chicago, a moment aides point to as perhaps the first time he had spoken about these issues in such a personal, powerful way as president. A few months later, he publicly lamented the death of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida teenager, saying that “could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo
 
President Obama on Monday with Darinel Montero, a student at Bronx International High School who introduced him before remarks at Lehman College in the Bronx. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

That case, along with public ruptures of anger over police shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere, have pushed the issue of race and law enforcement onto the public agenda. Aides said they imagined that with his presidency in its final stages, Mr. Obama might be thinking more about what comes next and causes he can advance as a private citizen.

That is not to say that his public discussion of these issues has been universally welcomed. Some conservatives said he had made matters worse by seeming in their view to blame police officers in some of the disputed cases.

“President Obama, when he was elected, could have been a unifying leader,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican candidate for president, said at a forum last week. “He has made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions.”

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, some liberal African-American activists have complained that Mr. Obama has not done enough to help downtrodden communities. While he is speaking out more, these critics argue, he has hardly used the power of the presidency to make the sort of radical change they say is necessary.

The line Mr. Obama has tried to straddle has been a serrated one. He condemns police brutality as he defends most officers as honorable. He condemns “criminals and thugs” who looted in Baltimore while expressing empathy with those trapped in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

In the Bronx on Monday, Mr. Obama bemoaned the death of Brian Moore, a plainclothes New York police officer who had died earlier in the day after being shot in the head Saturday on a Queens street. Most police officers are “good and honest and fair and care deeply about their communities,” even as they put their lives on the line, Mr. Obama said.

“Which is why in addressing the issues in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York, the point I made was that if we’re just looking at policing, we’re looking at it too narrowly,” he added. “If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, that’s not fair to the communities, it’s not fair to the police.”

Moreover, if society writes off some people, he said, “that’s not the kind of country I want to live in; that’s not what America is about.”

His message to young men like Malachi Hernandez, who attends Boston Latin Academy in Massachusetts, is not to give up.

“I want you to know you matter,” he said. “You matter to us.”

Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

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