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Saco-Indonesia.com - Manfaat kesehatan dari pepaya matang pasti sudah banyak yang mengetahuinya. Namun tak hanya pepaya yang sudah matang dan berwarna orange saja yang memiliki manfaat kesehatan. Bahkan pepaya yang masih belum matang pun memiliki efek baik untuk kesehatan tubuh.

Pepaya muda atau yang belum benar-benar matang biasanya berwarna hijau dan belum memiliki biji. Bagian dalamnya biasanya berwarna lebih putih. Pepaya muda memang tak sepopuler pepaya yang sudah matang, ini karena pepaya matang lebih enak dan lebih mudah dikonsumsi.

Pepaya muda mengandung banyak vitamin dan mineral seperti potasium, magnesium, vitamin A, C, B, dan E. Selain itu, pepaya muda juga mengandung enzim papain dan chymopapain yang baik untuk perut. Berikut adalah beberapa manfaat kesehatan dari pepaya muda, seperti dilansir oleh Boldsky (08/03).

1. Menjaga pencernaan
Enzim papain dan chymopapain yang ada pada pepaya muda membantu menjaga kesehatan pencernaan dan terbentuknya gas dalam perut. Dengan begitu, pepaya muda tak akan menyebabkan kembung dan membuat sistem pencernaan bekerja lebih lancar.

2. Meningkatkan sistem kekebalan tubuh
Baik pepaya muda ataupun biji pepaya diketahui baik untuk meningkatkan sistem kekebalan tubuh. Pepaya kaya akan vitamin A, C, dan E. Pepaya muda juga diketahui bisa mencegah infeksi, pilek, dan batuk.

3. Menyembuhkan konstipasi
Papain yang ada dalam pepaya muda membantu mengatasi konstipasi secara alami. Bahkan pepaya yang sudah matang pun tak memiliki papain sebanyak pepaya muda.

4. Membersihkan usus
Mengonsumsi jus pepaya muda adalah salah satu cara terbaik dan termudah untuk membersihkan usus. Semua nutrisi dan mineral di dalamnya juga bisa menyehatkan pencernaan, tak hanya membersihkannya dari zat beracun dan kotoran yang tak diinginkan.

5. Meningkatkan produksi ASI
Bagi ibu yang sedang menyusui, pepaya muda sangat baik untuk meningkatkan produksi ASI. Dengan begitu ibu tak perlu khawatir ASI yang diproduksi tak cukup untuk si buah hati.

6. Melindungi dari infeksi saluran kemih
Pepaya muda juga melindungi sistem pengeluaran tubuh dan melindunginya dari infeksi saluran kemih. Konsumsi jus pepaya muda untuk mencegah berkumpulnya bakteri pada saluran kemih.

Itulah beberapa manfaat pepaya muda untuk kesehatan. Pepaya muda memang tak seenak pepaya yang sudah matang. Namun jangan ragu untuk mengonsumsinya karena pepaya muda juga memiliki banyak manfaat untuk kesehatan.

Editor : Maulana Lee

Sumber : merdeka.com

Enam Manfaat sehat mengonsumsi pepaya muda

Tahallul atau bercukur adalah salah satu ritual haji yang sangat penting dan tidak boleh ditinggalkan, terutama dalam Madzhab Syafi’i. Meski bercukur terkesan remeh, namun jika ditinggalkan akan membuat ibadah haji tidak sah. Jika demikian, itu artinya diwajibkan untuk mengulang kembali ibadah tersebut pada tahun berikutnya.

Mengapa hal yang begitu remeh dapat membatalkan sesuatu yang jauh lebih besar? Hal itu mengisyaratkan bahwa kelebihan yang dimiliki oleh manusia dengan otak dan daya ciptanya, semua itu berada dalam kuasa Allah SWT.

Dengan diwajibkannya bercukur dalam rangkaian ibadah haji, Allah sejatinya ingin mengajarkan bahwa manusia tetaplah manusia. Ia harus sadar bahwa selamanya dirinya adalah hamba Allah. Manusia harus bersikap khusyuk, tawadhu’ (rendah hati), dan khudhu’. Tiga sikap itu akan mengantarkan mereka menjadi makhluk yang dicintai oleh Allah SWT.

Rambut adalah simbol dari mahkota seorang insan. Rambut adalah perhiasan seseorang dan menjadi lambang kegagahan dan ketampanan. Bertahallul yaitu mencukur rambut adalah simbol dari meletakkan mahkota seseorang. Artinya, orang tersebut menanggalkan kesombongan yang menjadi seseorang tinggi hati dari orang lain.

Semoga dengan rontoknya ribuan rambut di kepala para hujjaj ketika ia bertahallul, maka rontok juga segala ribuan keangkuhan dan kesombongannya yang akan menjadikannya haji yang tawadlu’ dan rendah diri.

Sumber : Republika.co.id

Baca Artikel lainnya : RISALAH NABAWI TOUR

MAKNA TAHALLUL

Saco-Indonesia.com - Telah ditetapkan tarif nikah dan gratifikasi penghulu sempat menuai polemik. Sekjen Kementerian Agama (Kemenag) Bahrul Hayat berharap masalah tarif nikah selesai pada Februari.

Dia juga berharap ada tarif tunggal atau single tarif untuk biaya nikah.

"Tarif yang berbeda atau multi tarif berpotensi menimbulkan kecurigaan terhadap penghulu menerima gratifikasi," kata Bahrul Hayat di Jakarta, Kamis (30/1).

Tarif tunggal nikah merupakan biaya yang diberikan pemerintah kepada penghulu yang besarannya sama untuk wilayah Indonesia. Kemenag menetapkan sebesar Rp 600 ribu per pernikahan. Sedangkan multi tarif, besarannya bervariasi tergantung lokasi, waktu dan tempat perhelatan pernikahan.

Polemik biaya nikah di Kantor Urusan Agama (KUA) sempat mengemuka dan menjadi polemik lantaran penghulu dituduh menerima gratifikasi.

Sebelumnya penghulu se-Indonesia telah melakukan pertemuan dengan Menteri Agama Suryadharma Ali pada akhir Desember 2013 di Jakarta terkait regulasi penghulu menghadiri pernikahan di luar KUA. Saat itu mereka minta agar Kemenag segera mengeluarkan regulasi biaya nikah yang akan menjadi payung hukum bagi KUA dalam pelayanan nikah.

Menurut Bahrul Hayat, pihaknya telah membahas masalah itu dengan Menko Kesra Agung Laksono. Diharapkan medio Februari 2014 sudah dikeluarkan aturan dan besaran tarifnya. Dia menyebut sekitar Rp 600 ribu/pernikahan.

Mengingat wilayah geografis Indonesia di tiap daerah berbeda, berbukit dan jauh, termasuk wilayah kepulauan, menurut Sekjen Kemenag itu, tentu faktor hal itu menjadi perhatian. Tarifnya akan disesuaikan dan jika ada tambahan transportasi tentu ada penggantian.

Namun ia mengimbau untuk wilayah kepulauan, untuk pernikahan hendaknya dapat dijadwalkan dengan baik. Mengingat hambatan transportasi berupa angin dan ombak harus pula menjadi perhatian untuk keselamatan bersama.

Sumber:kompas.com

Editor : Maulana Lee

Ini tarif resmi dari Kementerian Agama, Apabila Anda Mau nikah

Sako-Indonesia.com - Banyak orang yang merasa lebih cocok memakai lensa kontak ketimbang kacamata untuk memperbaiki fokus penglihatan. Sayangnya, penggunaan lensa kontak yang semakin mudah tak dibarengi dengan perawatan kebersihan yang baik.

Jika kita kurang teliti dalam membersihkan, lensa kontak bisa menjadi sumber infeksi. Itu sebabnya para pengguna lensa kontak harus mewaspadai 8 kondisi berikut ini.

1. Saat menyentuh lensa kontak
Cuci tangan dengan sabun sebelum menyentuh lensa kontak atau mata Anda. Sebaiknya kuku tidak terlalu panjang agar tidak menggores lensa. Jangan pernah menggunakan air keran atau air ludah untuk membersihkan lensa. Hanya gunakan cairan pembersih khusus lensa kontak.

2. Dipakai terlalu lama
Ada alasan penting mengapa para dokter tak menyarankan penggunaan lensa kontak terlalu lama. Lensa kontak menghambat oksigen ke mata. Jika Anda menggunakannya terlalu lama, misalnya malas membukanya saat tidur, bisa berpotensi menyebabkan luka pada kornea.

3. Menggunakan obat
Anda harus membuka dulu lensa kontak sebelum memakai berbagai jenis obat tetes mata. Namun, beberapa jenis obat, seperti pil kontrasepsi yang meningkatkan hormon estrogen bisa membuat mata lebih sensitif dan lebih kering. Demikian juga dengan obat jerawat yang bisa menyebabkan sensasi gatal pada mata.

4. Mata terlalu kering
Karena lensa kontak melapisi permukaan mata dan menahan oksigen, banyak pengguna lensa kontak yang mengalami mata kering. Kekeringan tersebut bisa bertambah parah dalam kondisi tertentu, seperti di pesawat, di cuaca kering, atau minum alkohol.

5. Cairan pembersih
Cairan pembersih (solution) lensa kontak memiliki banyak variasi, ada yang hanya membilas, membunuh kuman, atau membasahi mata untuk meningkatkan produksi air mata. Setiap produk tersebut mengandung pengawet yang bisa kadaluarsa atau mengiritasi mata. Karena itu hindari memakai produk yang sudah lewat masa pakainya. Selain itu, hindari kebiasaan memindahkan solution ke wadah kecil saat traveling karena bisa meningkatkan risiko kontaminasi.

6. Berdandan
Alat make-up bisa menjadi sarana infeksi. Untuk itu hindari meminjamkan maskara, eyeliner, atau eye shadow, dengan orang yang sedang sakit mata atau matanya iritasi. Selain itu, pakailah lensa kontak sebelum berdandan dan lepaslah lensa kontak sebelum membersihkan kosmetik.

7. Di luar ruangan
Partikel kecil di udara seperti debu, asap, atau bulu binatang, bisa masuk ke mata dan membuat iritasi. Lebih disarankan untuk tidak memakai kacamata saat naik motor.

8. Berenang
Tentu tak mungkin berenang dengan kacamata. Tetapi memakai softlens saat berenang di kolam yang mengandung klorin bisa membuat lensa kontak terkontaminasi. Sebaiknya lepaskan lensa kontak saat berenang dan tunggu satu jam sebelum memakai lensa kontak kembali.

 
Edditor: Maulana Lee
Yang Perlu Diwaspadai Pemakai Lensa Kontak

A. Pengertian Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

Ø Secara Bahasa

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

 

Ø Secara Istilah

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Aspek

Perang Fisik

Ghazwul Fikri

Biaya

Sangat mahal

Murah dan dikembalikan

Jangkauan

Terbatas di front

Sampai ke rumah - rumah

Obyek

Obyek merasakan

Sama sekali tidak merasa

Dampak

Mengadakan perlawanan

Menjadikan idola

Persenjataan

Senjata berat

Slogan, teori, iklan

 

D. Sejarah Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

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

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

 

 

E. Bidang – Bidang Yang di serang

 

1. Pendidikan

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

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

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

 

2. Sejarah

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

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

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

 

3. Ekonomi

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

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

 

4. Ilmu Alam dan Sosial

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

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

 

5. Bahasa

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

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

 

6. Hukum

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

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

 

7. Pengiriman pelajar dan mahasiswa ke Luar Negeri

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

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

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

 

8. Media massa

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

· Aspek kehadirannya

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

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

 

 

· Aspek isinya

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

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

 

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

 

Sasaran dari ghazwul fikri (GF) adalah sebagai berikut :

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

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

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

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

 

 

G. Tujuan Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

 

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

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

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

 

H. Dampak Positif dan Negatif Gahzwul Fikri (GF)

 

Ø Dampak Positif dari Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

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

Ø Dampak Negatif dari Ghazwul Fikri (GF)

- Perusakan akhlak umat islam terutama yang masih berusia muda.

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

- Menjauhkan umat islam dari agamanya dan mendekatkannya pada kekafiran.



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

 

GHAZWUL FIKRI (PERANG PEMIKIRAN)

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HOBART, Tasmania — Few places seem out of reach for China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has traveled from European capitals to obscure Pacific and Caribbean islands in pursuit of his nation’s strategic interests.

So perhaps it was not surprising when he turned up last fall in this city on the edge of the Southern Ocean to put down a long-distance marker in another faraway region, Antarctica, 2,000 miles south of this Australian port.

Standing on the deck of an icebreaker that ferries Chinese scientists from this last stop before the frozen continent, Mr. Xi pledged that China would continue to expand in one of the few places on earth that remain unexploited by humans.

He signed a five-year accord with the Australian government that allows Chinese vessels and, in the future, aircraft to resupply for fuel and food before heading south. That will help secure easier access to a region that is believed to have vast oil and mineral resources; huge quantities of high-protein sea life; and for times of possible future dire need, fresh water contained in icebergs.

It was not until 1985, about seven decades after Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole, that a team representing Beijing hoisted the Chinese flag over the nation’s first Antarctic research base, the Great Wall Station on King George Island.

But now China seems determined to catch up. As it has bolstered spending on Antarctic research, and as the early explorers, especially the United States and Australia, confront stagnant budgets, there is growing concern about its intentions.

China’s operations on the continent — it opened its fourth research station last year, chose a site for a fifth, and is investing in a second icebreaker and new ice-capable planes and helicopters — are already the fastest growing of the 52 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. That gentlemen’s agreement reached in 1959 bans military activity on the continent and aims to preserve it as one of the world’s last wildernesses; a related pact prohibits mining.

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But Mr. Xi’s visit was another sign that China is positioning itself to take advantage of the continent’s resource potential when the treaty expires in 2048 — or in the event that it is ripped up before, Chinese and Australian experts say.

“So far, our research is natural-science based, but we know there is more and more concern about resource security,” said Yang Huigen, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, who accompanied Mr. Xi last November on his visit to Hobart and stood with him on the icebreaker, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon.

With that in mind, the polar institute recently opened a new division devoted to the study of resources, law, geopolitics and governance in Antarctica and the Arctic, Mr. Yang said.

Australia, a strategic ally of the United States that has strong economic relations with China, is watching China’s buildup in the Antarctic with a mix of gratitude — China’s presence offers support for Australia’s Antarctic science program, which is short of cash — and wariness.

“We should have no illusions about the deeper agenda — one that has not even been agreed to by Chinese scientists but is driven by Xi, and most likely his successors,” said Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former senior official in the Australian Department of Defense.

“This is part of a broader pattern of a mercantilist approach all around the world,” Mr. Jennings added. “A big driver of Chinese policy is to secure long-term energy supply and food supply.”

That approach was evident last month when a large Chinese agriculture enterprise announced an expansion of its fishing operations around Antarctica to catch more krill — small, protein-rich crustaceans that are abundant in Antarctic waters.

“The Antarctic is a treasure house for all human beings, and China should go there and share,” Liu Shenli, the chairman of the China National Agricultural Development Group, told China Daily, a state-owned newspaper. China would aim to fish up to two million tons of krill a year, he said, a substantial increase from what it currently harvests.

Because sovereignty over Antarctica is unclear, nations have sought to strengthen their claims over the ice-covered land by building research bases and naming geographic features. China’s fifth station will put it within reach of the six American facilities, and ahead of Australia’s three.

Chinese mappers have also given Chinese names to more than 300 sites, compared with the thousands of locations on the continent with English names.

In the unspoken competition for Antarctica’s future, scientific achievement can also translate into influence. Chinese scientists are driving to be the first to drill and recover an ice core containing tiny air bubbles that provide a record of climate change stretching as far back as 1.5 million years. It is an expensive and delicate effort at which others, including the European Union and Australia, have failed.

In a breakthrough a decade ago, European scientists extracted an ice core nearly two miles long that revealed 800,000 years of climate history. But finding an ice core going back further would allow scientists to examine a change in the earth’s climate cycles believed to have occurred 900,000 to 1.2 million years ago.

China is betting it has found the best location to drill, at an area called Dome A, or Dome Argus, the highest point on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Though it is considered one of the coldest places on the planet, with temperatures of 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, a Chinese expedition explored the area in 2005 and established a research station in 2009.

“The international community has drilled in lots of places, but no luck so far,” said Xiao Cunde, a member of the first party to reach the site and the deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences. “We think at Dome A we will have a straight shot at the one-million-year ice core.”

Mr. Xiao said China had already begun drilling and hoped to find what scientists are looking for in four to five years.

To support its Antarctic aspirations, China is building a sophisticated $300 million icebreaker that is expected to be ready in a few years, said Xia Limin, deputy director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration in Beijing. It has also bought a high-tech fixed-wing aircraft, outfitted in the United States, for taking sensitive scientific soundings from the ice.

China has chosen the site for its fifth research station at Inexpressible Island, named by a group of British explorers who were stranded at the desolate site in 1912 and survived the winter by excavating a small ice cave.

Mr. Xia said the inhospitable spot was ideal because China did not have a presence in that part of Antarctica, and because the rocky site did not have much snow, making it relatively cheap to build there.

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of political science at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of a soon-to-be-released book, “China as a Polar Great Power,” said Chinese scientists also believed they had a good chance of finding mineral and energy resources near the site.

“China is playing a long game in Antarctica and keeping other states guessing about its true intentions and interests are part of its poker hand,” she said. But she noted that China’s interest in finding minerals was presented “loud and clear to domestic audiences” as the main reason it was investing in Antarctica.

Because commercial drilling is banned, estimates of energy and mineral resources in Antarctica rely on remote sensing data and comparisons with similar geological environments elsewhere, said Millard F. Coffin, executive director of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart.

But the difficulty of extraction in such severe conditions and uncertainty about future commodity prices make it unlikely that China or any country would defy the ban on mining anytime soon.

Tourism, however, is already booming. Travelers from China are still a relatively small contingent in the Antarctic compared with the more than 13,000 Americans who visited in 2013, and as yet there are no licensed Chinese tour operators.

But that is about to change, said Anthony Bergin, deputy director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “I understand very soon there will be Chinese tourists on Chinese vessels with all-Chinese crew in the Antarctic,” he said.

 

Top News China’s Intents Are Questioned as It Builds in Antarctica

Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.

The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. And so for years, the dolls sat side by side inside a display cabinet, bearers of a message from the dawn of sound recording that nobody could hear.

In 1890, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The recordings inside, which featured snippets of nursery rhymes, wore out quickly.

Yet sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.

Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.

Audio

The technique relies on a microscope to create images of the grooves in exquisite detail. A computer approximates — with great accuracy — the sounds that would have been created by a needle moving through those grooves.

In 2014, the technology was made available for the first time outside the laboratory.

“The fear all along is that we don’t want to damage these records. We don’t want to put a stylus on them,” said Jerry Fabris, the curator of the Thomas Edison Historical Park in West Orange, N.J. “Now we have the technology to play them safely.”

Last month, the Historical Park posted online three never-before-heard Edison doll recordings, including the two from the Rolfses’ collection. “There are probably more out there, and we’re hoping people will now get them digitized,” Mr. Fabris said.

The technology, which is known as Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), was developed by the particle physicist Carl Haber and the engineer Earl Cornell at Lawrence Berkeley. Irene extracts sound from cylinder and disk records. It can also reconstruct audio from recordings so badly damaged they were deemed unplayable.

“We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime,” Mr. Fabris said.

The Rolfses said they were not sure what to expect in August when they carefully packed their two Edison doll cylinders, still attached to their motors, and drove from their home in Hortonville, Wis., to the National Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The center had recently acquired Irene technology.

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Cylinders carry sound in a spiral groove cut by a phonograph recording needle that vibrates up and down, creating a surface made of tiny hills and valleys. In the Irene set-up, a microscope perched above the shaft takes thousands of high-resolution images of small sections of the grooves.

Stitched together, the images provide a topographic map of the cylinder’s surface, charting changes in depth as small as one five-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. Pitch, volume and timbre are all encoded in the hills and valleys and the speed at which the record is played.

At the conservation center, the preservation specialist Mason Vander Lugt attached one of the cylinders to the end of a rotating shaft. Huddled around a computer screen, the Rolfses first saw the wiggly waveform generated by Irene. Then came the digital audio. The words were at first indistinct, but as Mr. Lugt filtered out more of the noise, the rhyme became clearer.

“That was the Eureka moment,” Mr. Rolfs said.

In 1890, a girl in Edison’s laboratory had recited:

There was a little girl,

And she had a little curl

Audio

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good,

She was very, very good.

But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Recently, the conservation center turned up another surprise.

In 2010, the Woody Guthrie Foundation received 18 oversize phonograph disks from an anonymous donor. No one knew if any of the dirt-stained recordings featured Guthrie, but Tiffany Colannino, then the foundation’s archivist, had stored them unplayed until she heard about Irene.

Last fall, the center extracted audio from one of the records, labeled “Jam Session 9” and emailed the digital file to Ms. Colannino.

“I was just sitting in my dining room, and the next thing I know, I’m hearing Woody,” she said. In between solo performances of “Ladies Auxiliary,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Dead or Alive,” Guthrie tells jokes, offers some back story, and makes the audience laugh. “It is quintessential Guthrie,” Ms. Colannino said.

The Rolfses’ dolls are back in the display cabinet in Wisconsin. But with audio stored on several computers, they now have a permanent voice.

Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard

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

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

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

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Michael J. Morell Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is to be released next week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

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

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

WASHINGTON — During a training course on defending against knife attacks, a young Salt Lake City police officer asked a question: “How close can somebody get to me before I’m justified in using deadly force?”

Dennis Tueller, the instructor in that class more than three decades ago, decided to find out. In the fall of 1982, he performed a rudimentary series of tests and concluded that an armed attacker who bolted toward an officer could clear 21 feet in the time it took most officers to draw, aim and fire their weapon.

The next spring, Mr. Tueller published his findings in SWAT magazine and transformed police training in the United States. The “21-foot rule” became dogma. It has been taught in police academies around the country, accepted by courts and cited by officers to justify countless shootings, including recent episodes involving a homeless woodcarver in Seattle and a schizophrenic woman in San Francisco.

Now, amid the largest national debate over policing since the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, a small but vocal set of law enforcement officials are calling for a rethinking of the 21-foot rule and other axioms that have emphasized how to use force, not how to avoid it. Several big-city police departments are already re-examining when officers should chase people or draw their guns and when they should back away, wait or try to defuse the situation

Police Rethink Long Tradition on Using Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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
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