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Syarat, Rukun, dan Wajib Haji

Haji adalah rukun (tiang agama) Islam yang kelima setelah syahadat, shalat, zakat dan puasa. Menunaikan ibadah haji adalah bentuk ritual tahunan yang dilaksanakan kaum muslim sedunia yang mampu (material, fisik, dan keilmuan) dengan berkunjung dan melaksanakan beberapa kegiatan di beberapa tempat di Arab Saudi pada suatu waktu yang dikenal sebagai musim haji (bulan Dzulhijjah). Hal ini berbeda dengan ibadah umrah yang bisa dilaksanakan sewaktu-waktu.

Syarat Haji

1. Islam

2. Akil Balig

3. Dewasa

4. Berakal

5. Waras

6. Orang merdeka (bukan budak)

7. Mampu, baik dalam hal biaya, kesehatan, keamanan, dan nafkah bagi keluarga yang ditinggal berhaji

 

Rukun Haji

Rukun haji adalah perbuatan-perbuatan yang wajib dilakukan dalam berhaji. Rukun haji tsb adalah:

1. Ihram

2. Wukuf di Arafah

3. Tawaf ifâdah

4. Sa`i

5. Mencukur rambut di kepala atau memotongnya sebagian

6. Tertib

Rukun haji tsb harus dilakukan secara berurutan dan menyeluruh. Jika salah satu ditinggalkan, maka hajinya tidak sah.

 

Wajib Haji

1. Memulai ihram dari mîqât (batas waktu dan tempat yang ditentukan untuk melakukan ibadah haji dan umrah)

2. Melontar jumrah

3. Mabît (menginap) di Mudzdalifah, Mekah

4. Mabît di Mina

5. Tawaf wada` (tawaf perpisahan)

Jika salah satu dari wajib haji ini ditinggalkan, maka hajinya tetap sah, namun harus membayar dam (denda).

 

Pelaksanaan Ibadah Haji (Manasik Haji)

Tata cara manasik haji adalah sebagai berikut:

1. Melakukan ihram dari mîqât yang telah ditentukan

Ihram dapat dimulai sejak awal bulan Syawal dengan melakukan mandi sunah, berwudhu, memakai pakaian ihram, dan berniat haji dengan mengucapkan Labbaik Allâhumma hajjan, yang artinya `aku datang memenuhi panggilanmu ya Allah, untuk berhaji`.

Kemudian berangkat menuju arafah dengan membaca talbiah untuk menyatakan niat:

Labbaik Allâhumma labbaik, labbaik lâ syarîka laka labbaik, inna al-hamda, wa ni`mata laka wa al-mulk, lâ syarîka laka

Artinya:

Aku datang ya Allah, aku datang memenuhi panggilan-Mu; Aku datang, tiada sekutu bagi-Mu, aku datang; Sesungguhnya segala pujian, segala kenikmatan, dan seluruh kerajaan, adalah milik Engkau; tiada sekutu bagi-Mu.

2. Wukuf di Arafah

Dilaksanakan pada tanggal 9 Zulhijah, waktunya dimulai setelah matahari tergelincir sampai terbit fajar pada hari nahar (hari menyembelih kurban) tanggal 10 Zulhijah.

Saat wukuf, ada beberapa hal yang harus dilakukan, yaitu: shalat jamak taqdim dan qashar zuhur-ashar, berdoa, berzikir bersama, membaca Al-Qur`an, shalat jamak taqdim dan qashar maghrib-isya.

3. Mabît di Muzdalifah, Mekah

Waktunya sesaat setelah tengah malam sampai sebelum terbit fajar. Disini mengambil batu kerikil sejumlah 49 butir atau 70 butir untuk melempar jumrah di Mina, dan melakukan shalat subuh di awal waktu, dilanjutkan dengan berangkat menuju Mina. Kemudian berhenti sebentar di masy`ar al-harâm (monumen suci) atau Muzdalifah untuk berzikir kepada Allah SWT (QS 2: 198), dan mengerjakan shalat subuh ketika fajar telah menyingsing.

4. Melontar jumrah `aqabah

Dilakukan di bukit `Aqabah, pada tanggal 10 Zulhijah, dengan 7 butir kerikil, kemudian menyembelih hewan kurban.

5. Tahalul

Tahalul adalah berlepas diri dari ihram haji setelah selesai mengerjakan amalan-amalan haji.

Tahalul awal, dilaksanakan setelah selesai melontar jumrah `aqobah, dengan cara mencukur/memotong rambut sekurang-kurangnya 3 helai.

Setelah tahalul, boleh memakai pakaian biasa dan melakukan semua perbuatan yang dilarang selama ihram, kecuali berhubungan seks.

Bagi yang ingin melaksanakan tawaf ifâdah pada hari itu dapat langsung pergi ke Mekah untuk tawaf. Dengan membaca talbiah masuk ke Masjidil Haram melalui Bâbussalâm (pintu salam) dan melakukan tawaf. Selesai tawaf disunahkan mencium Hajar Aswad (batu hitam), lalu shalat sunah 2 rakaat di dekat makam Ibrahim, berdoa di Multazam, dan shalat sunah 2 rakaat di Hijr Ismail (semuanya ada di kompleks Masjidil Haram).

Kemudian melakukan sa`i antara bukit Shafa dan Marwa, dimulai dari Bukit Shafa dan berakhir di Bukit Marwa. Lalu dilanjutkan dengan tahalul kedua, yaitu mencukur/memotong rambut sekurang-kurangnya 3 helai.

Dengan demikian, seluruh perbuatan yang dilarang selama ihram telah dihapuskan, sehingga semuanya kembali halal untuk dilakukan.

Selanjutnya kembali ke Mina sebelum matahari terbenam untuk mabît di sana.

6. Mabît di Mina

Dilaksanakan pada hari tasyrik (hari yang diharamkan untuk berpuasa), yaitu pada tanggal 11, 12, dan 13 Zulhijah. Setiap siang pada hari-hari tasyrik itu melontar jumrah ûlâ, wustâ, dan `aqabah, masing-masing 7 kali.

Bagi yang menghendaki nafar awwal (meninggalkan Mina tanggal 12 Zulhijah setelah jumrah sore hari), melontar jumrah dilakukan pada tanggal 11 dan 12 Zulhijah saja. Tetapi bagi yang menghendaki nafar sânî atau nafar akhir (meninggalkan Mina pada tanggal 13 Zulhijah setelah jumrah sore hari), melontar jumrah dilakukan selama tiga hari (11, 12, dan 13 Zulhijah).

Dengan selesainya melontar jumrah maka selesailah seluruh rangkaian kegiatan ibadah haji dan kembali ke Mekah.

7. Tawaf ifâdah

Bagi yang belum melaksanakan tawaf ifâdah ketika berada di Mekah, maka harus melakukan tawaf ifâdah dan sa`i. Lalu melakukan tawaf wada` sebelum meninggalkan Mekah untuk kembali pulang ke daerah asal.

Larangan dalam Haji

Hal-hal yang tidak boleh dilakukan oleh orang yang sudah memakai pakaian ihram dan sudah berniat melakukan ibadah haji/umrah adalah:

1. Melakukan hubungan seksual atau apa pun yang dapat mengarah pada perbuatan hubungan seksual

2. Melakukan perbuatan tercela dan maksiat

3. Bertengkar dengan orang lain

4. Memakai pakaian yang berjahit (bagi laki-laki)

5. Memakai wangi-wangian

6. Memakai khuff (kaus kaki atau sepatu yang menutup mata kaki)

7. Melakukan akad nikah

8. Memotong kuku

9. Mencukur atau mencabut rambut

10. Memakai pakaian yang dicelup yang mempunyai bau harum

11. Membunuh binatang buruan

12. Memakan daging binatang buruan

 

Macam-macam Haji

1. Haji ifrâd

Haji ifrâd yaitu membedakan ibadah haji dengan umrah. Ibadah haji dan umrah masing-masing dikerjakan tersendiri. Pelaksanaannya, ibadah haji dilakukan terlebih dulu, setelah selesai baru melakukan umrah. Semuanya dilakukan masih dalam bulan haji.

Cara pelaksanaannya adalah:

a. ihram dari mîqât dengan niat untuk haji

b. ihram dari mîqât dengan niat untuk umrah

2. Haji tamattu`

Haji tamattu` adalah melakukan umrah terlebih dulu pada bulan haji, setelah selesai baru melakukan haji.

Orang yang melakukan haji tamattu` wajib membayar hadyu (denda), yaitu dengan menyembelih seekor kambing. Jika tidak mampu dapat diganti dengan berpuasa selama 10 hari, yaitu 3 hari selagi masih berada di tanah suci, dan 7 hari setelah kembali di tanah air.

Cara pelaksanaannya adalah:

a. ihram dari mîqât dengan niat untuk umrah

b. melaksanakan haji setelah selesai melaksanakan semua amalan umrah

3. Haji qirân

Haji qirân adalah melaksanakan ibadah haji dan umrah secara bersama-sama. Dengan demikian segala amalan umrah sudah tercakup dalam amalan haji.

Cara pelaksanaannya adalah:

a. ihram dari mîqât dengan niat untuk haji dan umrah sekaligus

b. melakukan seluruh amalan haji

 

Amalan-Amalan Haji

1. Mîqât

Mîqât adalah batas waktu dan tempat melakukan ibadah haji dan umrah. Mîqât terdiri atas mîqât zamânî dan mîqât makânî.

Mîqât zamânî adalah kapan ibadah haji sudah boleh dilaksanakan.

Berdasarkan kesepakatan para ulama yang bersumber dari sunah Rasulullah SAW, mîqât zamânî jatuh pada bulan Syawal, Zulkaidah, sampai dengan tanggal 10 Zulhijah.

Mîqât makânî adalah dari tempat mana ibadah haji sudah boleh dilaksanakan.

Tempat-tempat untuk mîqât makânî adalah:

• Zulhulaifah atau Bir-Ali (450 km dari Mekah) bagi orang yang datang dari arah Madinah

• Al-Juhfah atau Rabiq (204 km dari Mekah) bagi orang yang datang dari arah Suriah, Mesir, dan wilayah-wilayah Maghrib

• Yalamlan (sebuah gunung yang letaknya 94 km di selatan Mekah) bagi orang yang datang dari arah Yaman

• Qarnul Manazir (94 km di timur Mekah) bagi orang yang datang dari arah Nejd

• Zatu Irqin (94 km sebelah timur Mekah) bagi orang yang datang dari arah Irak

2. Ihram

Ihram ialah niat melaksanakan ibadah haji atau umrah dan memakai pakaian ihram.

Bagi laki-laki, pakaian ihram adalah dua helai pakaian tak berjahit untuk menutup badan bagian atas dan sehelai lagi untuk menutup badan bagian bawah. Kepala tidak ditutup dan memakai alas kaki yang tidak menutup mata kaki.

Bagi wanita, pakaian ihram adalah kain berjahit yang menutup seluruh tubuh kecuali wajah.

Sunah ihram adalah memotong kuku, kumis, rambut ketiak, rambut kemaluan, dan mandi. Kemudian melakukan shalat sunah ihram 2 rakaat (sebelum ihram), membaca talbiah, shalawat, dan istighfar (sesudah ihram dimulai).

3. Tawaf

Tawaf adalah mengelilingi Ka`bah sebanyak 7 kali, dimulai dari arah yang sejajar dengan Hajar Aswad dan Ka`bah selalu ada di sebelah kiri (berputar berlawanan arah jarum jam).

Syarat tawaf adalah:

1. Suci dari hadas besar, hadas kecil, dan najis

2. Menutup aurat

3. Melakukan 7 kali putaran berturut-turut

4. Mulai dan mengakhiri tawaf di tempat yang sejajar dengan Hajar Aswad

5. Ka`bah selalu berada di sisi kiri

6. Bertawaf di luar Ka`bah

Sedangkan sunah tawaf adalah:

1. Menghadap Hajar Aswad ketika memulai tawaf

2. Berjalan kaki

3. al-idtibâ, yaitu meletakkan pertengahan kain ihram di bawah ketiak tangan kanan dan kedua ujungnya di atas bahu kiri

4. Menyentuh Hajar Aswad atau memberi isyarat ketika mulai tawaf

5. Niat.

Niat untuk tawaf yang terkandung dalam ibadah haji hukumnya tidak wajib karena niatnya sudah terkandung dalam niat ihram haji, tetapi kalau tawaf itu bukan dalam ibadah haji, maka hukum niat tawaf menjadi wajib, seperti dalam tawaf wada` dan tawaf nazar.

6. Mencapai rukun yamanî (pada putaran ke-7) dan mencium atau menyentuh Hajar Aswad

7. Memperbanyak doa dan zikir selama dalam tawaf

8. Tertib, dilaksanakan secara berurutan

Macam-macam tawaf adalah:

Tawaf ifâdah

Tawaf sebagai rukun haji yang apabila ditinggalkan maka hajinya menjadi tidak sah.

Tawaf ziyârah

Tawaf kunjungan, sering juga disebut tawaf qudûm, yaitu tawaf yang dilakukan setibanya di kota Mekah.

Tawaf sunah

Tawaf yang dapat dilakukan kapan saja.

Tawaf wada`

Tawaf perpisahan, yaitu tawaf yang dilakukan sebelum meninggalkan Mekah setelah selesai melakukan seluruh rangkaian ibadah haji.

4. Sa`i

Sa`i adalah berjalan dari Bukit Shafa ke Bukit Marwa sebanyak 7 kali.

Syarat sa`i adalah:

1. Seluruh perjalanan sa`i dilakukan secara lengkap, tidak boleh ada jarak yang tersisa

2. Dimulai dari Shafa dan berakhir di Marwa

3. Dilakukan sesudah tawaf

4. Dilakukan sebanyak 7 kali perjalanan

Sedangkan sunah dalam sa`i adalah:

1. Berdoa di antara Shafa dan Marwa

2. Dalam keadaan suci dan menutup aurat

3. Berlari kecil antara 2 tonggak hijau

4. Tidak berdesakan

5. Berjalan kaki

6. Dikerjakan secara berturut-turut

5. Wukuf di Arafah

Wukud di Arafah adalah berdiam diri di padang Arafah sejak matahari tergelincir pada tanggal 9 Zulhijah sampai terbit fajar pada tanggal 10 Zulhijah (hari nahar), baik dalam keadaan suci maupun tidak suci.

Haji tanpa wukuf tidak sah dan harus diulang lagi pada tahun berikutnya. Hal ini berdasarkan hadist Rasulullah SAW yang diriwayatkan oleh Abu Dawud:

Haji itu `arafah, siapa yang datang pada malam mabît di Muzdalifah sebelum fajar menyingsing, ia sudah mendapatkan haji.

Ketika melakukan wukuf, disunahkan untuk tidak berpuasa, menghadap kiblat, berzikir, membaca istighfar, dan berdoa. Menurut riwayat Imam Ahmad, doa Nabi SAW ketika di hari arafah adalah:

Tiada Tuhan kecuali Allah, yang Esa, tiada sekutu bagi-Nya, bagi-Nya seluruh kerajaan, bagi-Nya pula segala pujian, di tangan-Nya segala kebaikan, dan Ia Maha Kuasa atas segalanya.

6. Melontar Jumrah

Melontar jumrah ialah melempar batu kerikil ke arah 3 buah tonggak, yaitu ûlâ, wustâ, dan ukhrâ, masing-masing 7 kali lemparan. Hari melontar jumrah dimulai pada tanggal 10 Zulhijah, ke arah jumrah `aqabah atau jumrah kubra, dan 2 atau 3 hari dari hari-hari tasyrik (11, 12, dan 13 Zulhijah) ke arah 3 jumrah yang telah disebutkan di atas.

Waktu melontar jumrah disunahkan sesudah matahari terbit. Bagi orang yang lemah atau berhalangan boleh melakukannya pada malam hari.

Adapun melontar jumrah pada 3 hari yang lain, hendaknya dimulai pada waktu matahari sudah mulai turun ke barat sampai saat matahari terbenam.

Ketika melontar jumrah disunahkan:

1. Berdiri dengan posisi Mekah ada di sebelah kiri dan Mina di sebelah kanan

2. Mengangkat tangan tinggi-tinggi bagi laki-laki

3. Membaca takbir ketika melempar batu yang pertama

Bagi orang yang berhalangan menyelesaikan haji dengan tidak melakukan wukuf di Arafah, tawaf, ataupun sa`i, apa pun penyebabnya, menurut pendapat jumhur ulama orang tsb wajib menyembelih seekor kambing, sapi, atau unta di tempat ia bertahalul.

Apabila ibadahnya itu ibadah wajib, ia harus meng-qadha pada tahun berikutnya, tetapi bila bukan ibadah wajib, ia tidak perlu meng-qadha.

Haji Akbar dan Haji Mabrur

Haji akbar (haji besar)

Istilah haji akbar disebut dalam firman Allah SWT pada surah At-Taubah: 3 yang artinya:

Dan (inilah) suatu pemakluman dari Allah dan Rasul-Nya kepada manusia pada hari haji akbar, bahwa sesungguhnya Allah dan Rasul-Nya berlepas diri dari orang-orang musyrikin...

Ada beberapa pendapat ulama tentang haji akbar, yaitu haji akbar adalah:

• haji pada hari wukuf di Arafah

• haji pada hari nahar

• haji yang wukufnya bertepatan dengan hari jum`at

• ibadah haji itu sendiri beserta wukufnya di Arafah

Namun pendapat yang paling masyhur adalah pendapat yang menyatakan bahwa haji akbar adalah haji yang wukufnya jatuh pada hari jum`at.

Ada haji besar, ada pula haji asgar (haji kecil) yang merupakan istilah lain untuk umrah.

Haji mabrur

Haji mabrur adalah ibadah haji seseorang yang seluruh rangkaian ibadah hajinya dapat dilaksanakan dengan benar, ikhlas, tidak dicampuri dosa, menggunakan biaya yang halal, dan yang terpenting, setelah ibadah haji menjadi orang yang lebih baik.

Balasan bagi orang yang mendapat haji mabrur adalah surga. Hal ini didasarkan pada sabda Rasulullah SAW yang diriwayatkan oleh Abu Hurairah yang artinya:

Umrah ke satu ke umrah berikutnya adalah penebus dosa di antara keduanya, dan haji mabrur ganjarannya tiada lain kecuali surga (HR Bukhari dan Muslim)

Dam (Denda)

Dam dalam bentuk darah adalah menyembelih binatang sebagai karafat (tebusan) terhadap beberapa pelanggaran yang dilakukan ketika melakukan ibadah haji atau umrah. Jenis dam adalah:

1. Dam tartîb

2. Dam takhyîr dan taqdîr

3. Dam tartîb dan ta`dîl

4. Dam takhyîr dan ta`dîl

1. Dam tartîb

Dam tartîb yaitu bila binatang yang disembelih adalah kambing, tetapi bila tidak mendapat kambing, harus melaksanakan puasa 3 hari di tanah suci dan 7 hari apabila telah pulang ke kampung halaman.

Orang diwajibkan membayar dam tartîb karena 9 hal, yaitu:

1. Mengerjakan haji tammatu`

2. Mengerjakan haji qirân

3. Tidak wukuf di Arafah

4. Tidak melontar jumrah yang ke-3

5. Tidak mabît di Muzdalifah pada malam nahar

6. Tidak mabît di Mina pada malam hari tasyrik

7. Tidak berihram dari mîqât

8. Tidak melakukan tawaf wada`

9. Tidak berjalan kaki bagi yang bernazar untuk mengerjakan haji dengan berjalan kaki

2. Dam takhyîr dan taqdîr

Dam takhyîr dan taqdîr ialah boleh memilih menyembelih seekor kambing, berpuasa, atau bersedekah memberi makan kepada 6 orang miskin sebanyak 3 sa` (1 sa` = 3,1 liter).

Dam jenis ini dikenakan untuk satu diantara sebab-sebab berikut:

1. Mencabut 3 helai rambut atau lebih secara berturut-turut

2. Memotong 3 kuku atau lebih

3. Berpakaian yang berjahit

4. Menutup kepala

5. Memakai wewangian

6. Melakukan perbuatan yang menjadi pengantar bagi perbuatan seksual

7. Melakukan hubungan seksual antara tahalul pertama dan tahalul kedua.

3. Dam tartîb dan ta`dîl

Dam tartîb dan ta`dîl adalah pertama kali wajib menyembelih unta, apabila tidak mampu boleh menyembelih sapi, apabila tidak mampu juga baru menyembelih kambing 7 ekor.

Apabila tidak mendapat 7 ekor kambing, si pelanggar harus membeli makanan seharga itu dan disedekahkan kepada fakir miskin di tanah suci.

Dam jenis ini dikenakan karena pelanggaran melakukan hubungan seksual.

4. Dam takhyîr dan ta`dîl

Dam takhyîr dan ta`dîl adalah boleh memilih diantara 3 hal yaitu:

• Menyembelih binatang buruan yang diburu

• Membeli makanan seharga binatang buruan tsb dan disedekahkan

• Berpuasa satu hari untuk setiap 1 mud (5/6 liter)

Dam jenis ini dikenakan karena sebab-sebab:

1. Merusak, memburu, atau membunuh binatang buruan

2. Memotong pohon-pohon atau mencabut rerumputan di tanah haram.

Waktu dan tempat penyembelihan dam

Waktu penyembelihan dam yang disebabkan pelanggaran yang tidak sampai membatalkan atau kehilangan haji harus dilakukan pada waktu si pelanggar melakukan ibadah haji. Tetapi bagi dam yang disebabkan pelanggaran yang berakibat kehilangan haji, pelaksanaannya wajib ditunda sampai pada waktu melakukan ihram ketika meng-qadha haji.

Sedangkan tempat penyembelihan dam dan penyaluran dagingnya adalah di tanah haram.

Bagi orang yang melakukan haji, diutamakan menyembelihnya di Mina, sedangkan bagi orang yang melakukan umrah, menyembelihnya di Marwa.

Mewakilkan Haji

Perwakilan haji berlaku untuk seseorang yang mampu melakukan haji dari segi biaya, tapi kesehatannya tidak memungkinkan, seperti sakit yang parah atau karena usia tua.

Dalam hal ini wajib orang lain untuk menghajikannya dengan biaya dari orang yang bersangkutan, dengan syarat orang yang menggantikan tsb sudah mengerjakan haji untuk dirinya sendiri.

Tetapi bila setelah dihajikan orang itu sembuh, menurut Imam Syafi`i, ia tetap wajib melakukan haji.

Perwakilan haji juga dapat dilakukan atas orang yang sudah meninggal, asalkan orang tsb berkewajiban haji, antara lain mempunyai nazar dan belum dapat melaksanakannya. Hal ini didasarkan pada hadist yang meriwayatkan bahwa seorang lelaki mendatangi Nabi SAW:

`Ayah saya sudah meninggal dan ia mempunya kewajiban haji, apakah aku harus menghajikannya?` Nabi SAW menjawab, `Bagaimana pendapatmu apabila ayahmu meninggalkan hutang, apakah engkau wajib membayarnya?` Orang itu menjawab, `Ya`. Nabi SAW berkata, `Berhajilah engkau untuk ayahmu`.(HR. Ibnu Abbas RA)

Sumber : http://mihrabqolbi.com

Baca Artikel Lainnya : MELAKSANAKAN HAJI UMRAH, KEWAJIBAN YANG BERIHRAM DAN ZIARAH KE MASJID RASUL

 

PENGETAHUAN UMUM TENTANG IBADAH HAJI

Probolinggo, Saco-Indonesia.com - Setelah pemeriksaan selama lima hari terungkap bahwa tersangka Buasir Nur Khotib alias Kolor Ijo (50) telah mencuri di 43 lokasi berbeda dan di 31 tempat di antaranya, dia memperkosa korban.

Dan sejak Rabu (5/2/2014) Buasir dibawa ke Polda Jawa Timur di Surabaya karena kuat dugaan tersangka juga melakukan kejahatan di dua wilayah hukum, Polresta Probolinggo dan Polres Probolinggo.

Kapolresta Probolinggo, AKBP Iwan Setyawan mengatakan, di Polres Kabupaten Probolinggo, mendapat 27 laporan dari para korban. "Aksi tersangka ini memang di dua daerah, Kota dan Kabupaten Probolinggo," kata Iwan, Rabu (5/2/2014) siang.

Pada awalnya, diketahui ada lima lokasi tindak kejahatan pencurian dan perkosaan yang dilakukan tersangka. Namun, setelah ditangkap, ayah tiga anak ini mengaku telah beraksi di 31 lokasi yang berbeda. Bahkan terakhir, tersangka mengaku sudah beraksi di 43 lokasi berbeda.

Kapolresta Iwan menduga, tersangka mengalami kelainan seks. Pihaknya yakin bila masih ada banyak korban, yang belum melapor. Kini, setelah dilakukan pelimpahan kasus, penyidikan terhadap Kolor Ijo akan dilanjutkan oleh Polda Jatim.

Buasir ditangkap Tim Buser Polresta Probolinggo di rumahnya, Desa Poh Sangit Lor, Kecamatan Wonomerto Kabupaten Probolinggo, pada 30 Januari 2014 setelah satu korbannya berhasil mengenali wajah pelaku dari sketsa yang dibuat polisi.

Selama ini, saat beraksi tersangka mengenakan celana pendek dengan ikat kolor berwarna hijau. Setelah masuk rumah korban, pelaku mengambil barang-barang berharga. Sebagian korban perempuan, diperkosa di ladang atau sawah.

Sumber :kompas.com

Editor : Maulana Lee

Aku "Kolor Ijo" Mencuri di 43 Lokasi dan Memperkosa 31 Korban

Pria berkulit putih diduga pelaku pembunuh kekasih di kosan Jalan Pos Utara No.3D RT 04/1 Kelurahan Pasar Baru, Sawah Besar, Jakarta Pusat, masih diburu polisi.

“Kami juga masih mengalami kesulitan karena jenazah belum dapat dikenali,” ujar Kasat Reskrim Polres Jakpus AKBP Tatan Dirsan Atmaja.

Hingga saat itu, petugas gabungan dari Polsek Sawah Besar dan Polres Jakpus, juga masih menguber pelaku yang disenyalir masih berada di Jakarta.

Dari keterangan 6 saksi, pelaku diperkirakan orang Sumatera.

Wanita berusia sekitar 20 tahun, dengan tato bertulis ‘Shelly’ dipundak ditemukan penjaga kos Nurkholis, sudah mulai membusuk dengan luka jeratan tali tas terlentang di balik pintu kamar.

Oleh petugas Polsek Sawah Besar, jenazah wanita berambut panjang itu dikirim ke RSCM.

Selain ciri-ciri diatas, korban saat ditemui dengan mengenakan kutek hijau di jari kaki, memakai celana pendek ketat dan baju kaos putih motif manik-manik, bertulis Made in England. Kini jenazah wanita malang itu masih berada di kamar pendingin rumah sakit.

Kapolsek Sawah Besar Kompol Shinto Silitonga, juga telah membenarkan kalau jenazah sudah diotopsi Rabu (12/3) malam.”Otopsi sengaja dipercepat tanpa menunggu persetujuan orangtua, ini dikarenakan guna untuk kepetingan penyidikan apakah korban diperkosa, tapi hasil visum wanita itu tidak ada tanda pemerkosaan,” tegas petugas di Mapolsek Sawah Besar.

Karena korban belum dikenali, petugas sedikit mengalami kesulitan untuk dapat mengejar pelaku namun dari para saksi polisi terus menguber kekasihnya yang melakukan pembunuhan.

“Kami yakin pelaku akan bisa tertangkap, mudah-mudah dalam waktu singkat pria berhidung mancung dan bermata agak sipit bisa tertangkap,”ujar salah satu petugas.

Hingga saat ini ke enam saksi itu telah dimintai keterangan secara intensip, dan saksi juga menuturkan kalau pria kekasih wanita itu kadang ngomongnya seperti logat Palembang dan Lampung. Kini puluhan sanggota serse telah menyebar menguber pelaku yang diperkirakan masih berada di kawasan Jakarta

Diburu, Pelaku Pembunuh Wanita Bertato di Kos-kosan

saco-indonesia.com,

kehadiran tanaman hias di rumah anda tentu juga merupakan satu hal yang sangat penting dalam upaya untuk menciptakan hunian yang lebih indah, asri dan segar, sehingga perawatan tanaman telah menjadi satu faktor penting dalam menjaga keindahan, keasrian dan kesegaran lingkungan rumah anda. Dalam hal ini, kesabaran dan ketelatenan juga merupakan syarat wajib yang harus anda miliki jika ingin sukses dalam menjaga dan merawat tanaman koleksi anda. Pengetahuan mendasar mengenai cara merawat tanaman juga tidak kalah penting apalagi jika tanaman yang anda miliki termasuk tanaman dengan harga yang cukup mahal. Oleh karena itu, mari kita simak tips perawatan tanaman hias berikut.

 
Penyiraman

Air merupakan kebutuhan yang paling mendasar bagi semua mahluk hidup tidak terkecuali dengan tanaman hias di rumah anda. Oleh karena itu, penyiraman juga merupakan bagian yang terpenting dalam merawat tanaman. Agar proses penyiraman baik dan benar, anda juga perlu memperhatikan beberapa aspek seperti jenis tanaman, media tanam, dan cuaca. Jika tanaman anda berada di area taman rumah yang terbuka, mungkin ada tidak perlu menyiram tanaman anda ketika musim hujan. Namun, jika tanaman hias anda ditaman pada media pot dan ditempatkan di ruang beratap, anda pasti perlu menyiramnya dengan intensitas yang dapat disesuaikan bergantung pada kondisi cuaca. Pada musim kemarau, anda juga dapat menyiraminya dua kali sehari, sedangkan pada musim hujan, anda dapat menyirami tanaman hias anda satu kali sehari atau bahkan dua hari sekali saja.

 
Pemupukan

Tanpa anda sadari, nutrisi yang telah terkandung di dalam tanah dimana tanaman anda di tanam dapat berkurang dan mempengaruhi pertumbuhan tanaman hias anda. Pemupukan juga merupakan solusi penting untuk masalah ini agar nutrisi yang telah dibutuhkan oleh tanaman anda dapat terpenuhi. Konsultasikan jenis dan takaran pupuk yang anda perlukan untuk perawatan tanaman hias anda dengan ahli perawatan tanaman.

 
Pembersihan Gulma

Tamu tak diundang seringkali tumbuh dan dapat merusak keindahan tanaman hias anda. Pembersihan gulma yang tumbuh liar seperti rumput di sekitar tanaman hias anda juga merupakan salah satu kunci dalam merawat tanaman agar tetap terlihat indah.

 
Pemangkasan

Demi untuk menjaga keindahan dan kerapian tanaman hias anda, anda juga perlu melakukan pemangkasan sebagai langkah perawatan tanaman hias anda. Tentu saja pemangkasan hanya berlaku pada tanaman hias tertentu seperti mawar dan serut yang kita kenal memiliki daun yang cukup lebat dan menjadi kurang indah jika daun daun tersebut kita biarkan tumbuh secara liar. Gunakan gunting tanaman yang tajam untuk hasil yang maksimal.

 
Penggantian Pot

Jika tanaman hias anda tanam pada media pot, anda juga perlu mengganti pot yang lama dengan yang baru seiring dengan terus tumbuhnya tanaman anda. Proses ini juga akan terasa lebih mudah jika pot anda terbuat dari bahan yang mudah pecah seperti pot tanah liat. Anda hanya perlu memecahkan pot yang lama dan menggantikannya dengan pot yang baru. Selain menganti pot lama dengan yang baru, anda juga dapat memindahkan tanaman dari pot lama ke tanah sesuai dengan kebutuhan anda.

Demikian tips perawatan tanaman hias yang dapat anda ikuti di rumah. Sekali lagi, kunci sukses dalam merawat tanaman di rumah anda adalah kesabaran dan ketelatenan. Jika anda merasa kurang telaten dalam perawatan tanaman hias di rumah anda, anda mungkin perlu menyewa jasa perawatan tanaman agar investasi anda pada tanaman tanaman hias koleksi dapat benar-benar terjaga. Semoga tips ini bermanfaat.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

TIPS PERAWATAN TANAMAN HIAS

saco-indonesia.com, Ketua DPRD Banten Aeng Haeruddin hari ini akan diperiksa oleh penyidik Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi. Aeng akan diperiksa sebagai saksi untuk tersangka Tubagus Chaery Wardana alias Wawan.

"Iya ada pemeriksaan tambahan, namanya Aeng untuk dalam kasus TCW," ujar Juru Bicara KPK Johan Budi SP, melalui pesan singkat, Rabu (12/2).

Diduga Aeng akan diperiksa terkait dalam penyitaan mobil-mobil mewah terkait Wawan. Informasi yang telah dihimpun, Wawan telah membagi-bagikan uang dan mobil kepada sejumlah anggota DPRD Banten, termasuk Aeng yang diduga telah menerima pemberian mobil Alphard dan Mercedes Bens.

Diketahui, KPK telah menyita puluhan mobil terkait dalam kasus dugaan TPPU Wawan. Di antaranya, KPK juga telah menyita empat mobil mewah yakni Bentley, Roy Royce, Ferrari dan Lambhorgini. KPK juga telah menyita 3 Innova, Avanza, Ford Fiesta, Fortuner, dua buah Pajero, BMW, dan Honda Freed.

Kemudian tiga mobil mewah yakni Lexus B 888 ARD, Nissan GTR warna putih B 888 GAW, dan Land Cruiser B 888 TCW. KPK juga telah menyita 1 motor Harley Davidson yang diduga atas nama Wawan. Terakhir, KPK juga telah menyita mobil Alphard Vellfire yang bernomor polisi B 818 TTA dan mercy seri C250 bernomor polisi B 818 WWN.


Editor : Dian Sukmawati

KETUA DPRD BANTEN DIPERIKSA KPK TERKAIT KASUS WAWAN

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

Mike Phillips, Half of Kentucky’s ‘Twin Towers’ of Basketball, Dies at 59

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

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

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

Hello, Mago.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Then came the stroke.

 

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

 

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

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

Most of all: Is this it?

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

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

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

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

Goodbye, Mago.

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

Meet Mago, Former Heavyweight

As governor, Mr. Walker alienated Republicans and his fellow Democrats, particularly the Democratic powerhouse Richard J. Daley, the mayor of Chicago.

Dan Walker, 92, Dies; Illinois Governor and Later a U.S. Prisoner
Frontline  An installment of this PBS program looks at the effects of Ebola on Liberia and other countries, as well as the origins of the outbreak.
Frontline

Frontline An installment of this PBS program looks at the effects of Ebola on Liberia and other countries, as well as the origins of the outbreak.

The program traces the outbreak to its origin, thought to be a tree full of bats in Guinea.

Review: ‘9-Man’ Is More Than a Game for Chinese-Americans

A variation of volleyball with nine men on each side is profiled Tuesday night on the World Channel in an absorbing documentary called “9-Man.”

Television

‘Hard Earned’ Documents the Plight of the Working Poor

“Hard Earned,” an Al Jazeera America series, follows five working-class families scrambling to stay ahead on limited incomes.

Review: ‘Frontline’ Looks at Missteps During the Ebola Outbreak

WASHINGTON — The last three men to win the Republican nomination have been the prosperous son of a president (George W. Bush), a senator who could not recall how many homes his family owned (John McCain of Arizona; it was seven) and a private equity executive worth an estimated $200 million (Mitt Romney).

The candidates hoping to be the party’s nominee in 2016 are trying to create a very different set of associations. On Sunday, Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, joined the presidential field.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida praises his parents, a bartender and a Kmart stock clerk, as he urges audiences not to forget “the workers in our hotel kitchens, the landscaping crews in our neighborhoods, the late-night janitorial staff that clean our offices.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a preacher’s son, posts on Twitter about his ham-and-cheese sandwiches and boasts of his coupon-clipping frugality. His $1 Kohl’s sweater has become a campaign celebrity in its own right.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky laments the existence of “two Americas,” borrowing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s phrase to describe economically and racially troubled communities like Ferguson, Mo., and Detroit.

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Senator Marco Rubio of Florida praises his parents, a bartender and a Kmart stock clerk. Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Some say, ‘But Democrats care more about the poor,’ ” Mr. Paul likes to say. “If that’s true, why is black unemployment still twice white unemployment? Why has household income declined by $3,500 over the past six years?”

We are in the midst of the Empathy Primary — the rhetorical battleground shaping the Republican presidential field of 2016.

Harmed by the perception that they favor the wealthy at the expense of middle-of-the-road Americans, the party’s contenders are each trying their hardest to get across what the elder George Bush once inelegantly told recession-battered voters in 1992: “Message: I care.”

Their ability to do so — less bluntly, more sincerely — could prove decisive in an election year when power, privilege and family connections will loom large for both parties.

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Questions of understanding and compassion cost Republicans in the last election. Mr. Romney, who memorably dismissed the “47 percent” of Americans as freeloaders, lost to President Obama by 63 percentage points among voters who cast their ballots for the candidate who “cares about people like me,” according to exit polls.

And a Pew poll from February showed that people still believe Republicans are indifferent to working Americans: 54 percent said the Republican Party does not care about the middle class.

That taint of callousness explains why Senator Ted Cruz of Texas declared last week that Republicans “are and should be the party of the 47 percent” — and why another son of a president, Jeb Bush, has made economic opportunity the centerpiece of his message.

With his pedigree and considerable wealth — since he left the Florida governor’s office almost a decade ago he has earned millions of dollars sitting on corporate boards and advising banks — Mr. Bush probably has the most complicated task making the argument to voters that he understands their concerns.

On a visit last week to Puerto Rico, Mr. Bush sounded every bit the populist, railing against “elites” who have stifled economic growth and innovation. In the kind of economy he envisions leading, he said: “We wouldn’t have the middle being squeezed. People in poverty would have a chance to rise up. And the social strains that exist — because the haves and have-nots is the big debate in our country today — would subside.”

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Who Is Running for President (and Who’s Not)?

Republicans’ emphasis on poorer and working-class Americans now represents a shift from the party’s longstanding focus on business owners and “job creators” as the drivers of economic opportunity.

This is intentional, Republican operatives said.

In the last presidential election, Republicans rushed to defend business owners against what they saw as hostility by Democrats to successful, wealthy entrepreneurs.

“Part of what you had was a reaction to the Democrats’ dehumanization of business owners: ‘Oh, you think you started your plumbing company? No you didn’t,’ ” said Grover Norquist, the conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform.

But now, Mr. Norquist said, Republicans should move past that. “Focus on the people in the room who know someone who couldn’t get a job, or a promotion, or a raise because taxes are too high or regulations eat up companies’ time,” he said. “The rich guy can take care of himself.”

Democrats argue that the public will ultimately see through such an approach because Republican positions like opposing a minimum-wage increase and giving private banks a larger role in student loans would hurt working Americans.

“If Republican candidates are just repeating the same tired policies, I’m not sure that smiling while saying it is going to be enough,” said Guy Cecil, a Democratic strategist who is joining a “super PAC” working on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Republicans have already attacked Mrs. Clinton over the wealth and power she and her husband have accumulated, caricaturing her as an out-of-touch multimillionaire who earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech and has not driven a car since 1996.

Mr. Walker hit this theme recently on Fox News, pointing to Mrs. Clinton’s lucrative book deals and her multiple residences. “This is not someone who is connected with everyday Americans,” he said. His own net worth, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is less than a half-million dollars; Mr. Walker also owes tens of thousands of dollars on his credit cards.

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But showing off a cheap sweater or boasting of a bootstraps family background not only helps draw a contrast with Mrs. Clinton’s latter-day affluence, it is also an implicit argument against Mr. Bush.

Mr. Walker, who featured a 1998 Saturn with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer in a 2010 campaign ad during his first run for governor, likes to talk about flipping burgers at McDonald’s as a young person. His mother, he has said, grew up on a farm with no indoor plumbing until she was in high school.

Mr. Rubio, among the least wealthy members of the Senate, with an estimated net worth of around a half-million dollars, uses his working-class upbringing as evidence of the “exceptionalism” of America, “where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.”

Mr. Cruz alludes to his family’s dysfunction — his parents, he says, were heavy drinkers — and recounts his father’s tale of fleeing Cuba with $100 sewn into his underwear.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey notes that his father paid his way through college working nights at an ice cream plant.

But sometimes the attempts at projecting authenticity can seem forced. Mr. Christie recently found himself on the defensive after telling a New Hampshire audience, “I don’t consider myself a wealthy man.” Tax returns showed that he and his wife, a longtime Wall Street executive, earned nearly $700,000 in 2013.

The story of success against the odds is a political classic, even if it is one the Republican Party has not been able to tell for a long time. Ronald Reagan liked to say that while he had not been born on the wrong side of the tracks, he could always hear the whistle. Richard Nixon was fond of reminding voters how he was born in a house his father had built.

“Probably the idea that is most attractive to an average voter, and an idea that both Republicans and Democrats try to craft into their messages, is this idea that you can rise from nothing,” said Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review.

There is a certain delight Republicans take in turning that message to their advantage now.

“That’s what Obama did with Hillary,” Mr. Cooke said. “He acknowledged it openly: ‘This is ridiculous. Look at me, this one-term senator with dark skin and all of America’s unsolved racial problems, running against the wife of the last Democratic president.”

G.O.P. Hopefuls Now Aiming to Woo the Middle Class

At the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Suzman’s signature accomplishment was the central role he played in creating a global network of surveys on aging.

Richard Suzman, 72, Dies; Researcher Influenced Global Surveys on Aging

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

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

The live music at the Vice Media party on Friday shook the room. Shane Smith, Vice’s chief executive, was standing near the stage — with a drink in his hand, pants sagging, tattoos showing — watching the rapper-cum-chef Action Bronson make pizzas.

The event was an after-party, a happy-hour bacchanal for the hundreds of guests who had come for Vice’s annual presentation to advertisers and agencies that afternoon, part of the annual frenzy for ad dollars called the Digital Content NewFronts. Mr. Smith had spoken there for all of five minutes before running a slam-bang highlight reel of the company’s shows that had titles like “Weediquette” and “Gaycation.”

In the last year, Vice has secured $500 million in financing and signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with established media companies like HBO that are eager to engage the young viewers Vice attracts. Vice said it was now worth at least $4 billion, with nearly $1 billion in projected revenue for 2015. It is a long way from Vice’s humble start as a free magazine in 1994.

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At the Vice after-party, the rapper Action Bronson, a host of a Vice show, made a pizza. Credit Jesse Dittmar for The New York Times

But even as cash flows freely in Vice’s direction, the company is trying to keep its brash, insurgent image. At the party on Friday, it plied guests with beers and cocktails. Its apparently unrehearsed presentation to advertisers was peppered with expletives. At one point, the director Spike Jonze, a longtime Vice collaborator, asked on stage if Mr. Smith had been drinking.

“My assistant tried to cut me off,” Mr. Smith replied. “I’m on buzz control.”

Now, Vice is on the verge of getting its own cable channel, which would give the company a traditional outlet for its slate of non-news programming. If all goes as planned, A&E Networks, the television group owned by Hearst and Disney, will turn over its History Channel spinoff, H2, to Vice.

The deal’s announcement was expected last week, but not all of A&E’s distribution partners — the cable and satellite TV companies that carry the network’s channels — have signed off on the change, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

A cable channel would be a further step in a transformation for Vice, from bad-boy digital upstart to mainstream media company.

Keen for the core audience of young men who come to Vice, media giants like 21st Century Fox, Time Warner and Disney all showed interest in the company last year. Vice ultimately secured $500 million in financing from A&E Networks and Technology Crossover Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has invested in Facebook and Netflix.

Those investments valued Vice at more than $2.5 billion. (In 2013, Fox bought a 5 percent stake for $70 million.)

Then in March, HBO announced that it had signed a multiyear deal to broadcast a daily half-hour Vice newscast. Vice already produces a weekly newsmagazine show, called “Vice,” for the network. That show will extend its run through 2018, with an increase to 35 episodes a year, from 14.

Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said when the deal was announced that it was “certainly one of our biggest investments with hours on the air.”

Vice, based in Brooklyn, also recently signed a multiyear $100 million deal with Rogers Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate, to produce original content for TV, smartphone and desktop viewers.

Vice’s finances are private, but according to an internal document reviewed by The New York Times and verified by a person familiar with the company’s financials, the company is on track to make about $915 million in revenue this year.

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Vice showed a highlight reel of its TV series at the NewFronts last week in New York. Credit Jesse Dittmar for The New York Times

It brought in $545 million in a strong first quarter, which included portions of the new HBO deal and the Rogers deal, according to the document. More of its revenue now comes from these types of content partnerships, compared with the branded content deals that made up much of its revenue a year ago, the company said.

Mr. Smith said the company was worth at least $4 billion. If the valuation gets much higher, he said he would consider taking the company public.

“I don’t care about money; we have plenty of money,” Mr. Smith, who is Vice’s biggest shareholder, said in an interview after the presentation on Friday. “I care about strategic deals.”

In the United States, Vice Media had 35.2 million unique visitors across its sites in March, according to comScore.

The third season of Vice’s weekly HBO show has averaged 1.8 million viewers per episode, including reruns, through April 12, according to Brad Adgate, the director of research at Horizon Media. (Vice said the show attracted three million weekly viewers when repeat broadcasts, online and on-demand viewings were included.)

For years, Mr. Smith has criticized traditional TV, calling it slow and unable to draw younger viewers. But if all the deals Vice has struck are to work out, Mr. Smith may have to play more by the rules of traditional media. James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and a member of Vice’s board, was at the company’s presentation on Friday, as were other top media executives.

“They know they need people like me to help them, but they can’t get out of their own way,” Mr. Smith said in the interview Friday. “My only real frustration is we’re used to being incredibly dynamic, and they’re not incredibly dynamic.”

With its own television channel in the United States, Vice would have something it has long coveted even as traditional media companies are looking beyond TV. Last year, Vice’s deal with Time Warner failed in part because the two companies could not agree on how much control Vice would have over a 24-hour television network.

Vice said it intended to fill its new channel with non-news programming. The company plans to have sports shows, fashion shows, food shows and the “Gaycation” travel show with the actress Ellen Page. It is also in talks with Kanye West about a show.

It remains to be seen whether Vice’s audience will watch a traditional cable channel. Still, Vice has effectively presold all of the ad spots to two of the biggest advertising agencies for the first three years, Mr. Smith said.

In the meantime, Mr. Smith is enjoying Vice’s newfound role as a potential savior of traditional media companies.

“I’m a C.E.O. of a content company,” Mr. Smith said before he caught a flight to Las Vegas for the boxing match on Saturday between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. “If it stops being fun, then why are you doing it?”

As Vice Moves More to TV, It Tries to Keep Brash Voice

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?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
From T Magazine: Street Lit’s Power Couple

The 2015 Met Gala has only officially begun, but there's a clear leader in the race for best couple, no small feat at an event that threatens to sap Hollywood of every celebrity it has for the duration of an East Coast evening.

That would be Marc Jacobs and his surprise guest (who, by some miracle, remained under wraps until their red carpet debut), Cher.

“This has been a dream of mine for a very, very long time,” Mr. Jacobs said.

It is Cher's first appearance at the Met Gala since 1997, when she arrived on the arm of Donatella Versace.

– MATTHEW SCHNEIER

Cher and Marc Jacobs

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

Hired in 1968, a year before their first season, Mr. Fanning spent 25 years with the team, managing them to their only playoff appearance in Canada.

Jim Fanning, 87, Dies; Lifted Baseball in Canada With Expos

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.

Continue reading the main story
 

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.”

Continue reading the main story

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.”

Photo
 
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
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’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mazel tov,” his father replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is,” his father agreed.

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