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Saco-Indonesia.com - Tebu merupakan tanaman yang paling banyak ditemui di Indonesia. Oleh karena itu orang Indonesia menemukan banyak cara kreatif dalam mengolah tebu sehingga dapat dijadikan sebagai olahan minuman yang menyegarkan, salah satunya adalah air tebu.

Ternyata di balik olahan air tebu yang menyegarkan tersimpan beberapa manfaat untuk kesehatan. Inilah manfaat air tebu seperti dilansir dari boldsky.com.

Menyembuhkan penyakit kuning
Air tebu merupakan obat alami untuk menyembuhkan penyakit kuning. Penyakit kuning adalah pigmentasi kuning pada kulit dan membran yang disebabkan oleh adanya billirubin di dalam darah. Penyakit ini terjadi karena menurunnya fungsi hati. Namun air tebu mampu mengembalikan kekuatan fungsi hati sehingga air tebu mampu menyembuhkan penyakit kuning.

Menyembuhkan infeksi
beberapa infeksi seperti infeksi saluran kemih, penyakit menular seksual, hingga peradangan pada perut mampu disembuhkan dengan segelas air tebu.

Mengobati batu ginjal
Batu ginjal terjadi karena dehidrasi di dalam tubuh. Oleh karena itu untuk menghidrasi tubuh kembali, Anda dapat mencoba mengonsumsi air tebu secara rutin. Air tebu juga mempunyai kandungan alami yang dapat memecah batu ginjal.

Baik untuk penderita diabetes
Air tebu baik dikonsumsi oleh penderita diabetes sebab air tebu mengandung pemanis alami. Sehingga tidak membahayakan atau memicu penyakit diabetes.

Kaya akan nutrisi
Air tebu kaya akan vitamin dan mineral seperti fosfor, zat besi, kalium, kalsium, dan magnesium. Selain itu penelitian menunjukkan bahwa air tebu mampu membantu memulihkan kekurangan vitamin di dalam tubuh akibat penyakit demam yang tinggi.

Menyembuhkan flu dan pilek
Jika Anda berpikir bahwa air tebu akan memperparah sakit tenggorokan Anda, maka Anda salah. Sebab air tebu justru mampu membantu menyembuhkan sakit tenggorokan, pilek, dan flu.

Mencegah kanker
Karena kandungan alkali di dalamnya, air tebu baik untuk mencegah kanker terutama kanker usus besar, kanker paru-paru, dan kanker payudara.

Menghidrasi tubuh
Dehidrasi masih menjadi penyakit yang jamak ditemui terutama ketika musim panas. Oleh karena itu untuk mencegahnya, Anda dapat mengonsumsi air tebu untuk menurunkan panas tubuh dan menghidrasi tubuh.

Sedang mencari alternatif minuman sehat? Tidak ada salahnya apabila Anda mengonsumsi air tebu.

 

Sumber : Merdeka.com

Editor : Maulana Lee

8 Manfaat kesehatan di balik segarnya air tebu

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JAKARTA, Saco-Indonesia.com — Pengerukan waduk alias normalisasi kali di bantaran sebelah barat Waduk Pluit, Penjaringan, Jakarta Utara, tengah dilakukan. Sejauh ini, Pemerintah Provinsi DKI Jakarta mengerahkan 10 ekskavator untuk mengerjakan proyek tersebut.

Ditemui, Jumat (31/5), Kepala Proyek Normalisasi Waduk Pluit Herianto mengatakan, kini pemfokusan normalisasi Waduk Pluit adalah pembuatan jalan inspeksi. "Yang penting bangunan yang sudah ditertibkan tidak akan dibangun lagi," kata Herianto.

Herianto menjelaskan, pihaknya tidak berencana menggusur warga yang berada di sisi timur bantaran Waduk Pluit, tanpa lebih dulu menyiapkan rumah susun untuk merelokasi warga. "Belum ada rusun sehingga belum ada penertiban bangunan," kata Herianto.

Kemudian, Herianto menambahkan, kini pihaknya tengah fokus mengeruk agar Waduk Pluit kelihatan sebagai tempat penampungan air. Untuk mengantisipasi bahaya keamanan, akan dipasang lampu penerangan di beberapa jalan inspeksi.

"Sekarang difokuskan pengerukan dan lampu penerangan agar kalau malam jadi tidak gelap," tuntasnya.

Sumber : Warta Kota/Kompas.com

Editor :Liwon Maulana

"Tidak Ada Rusun, Maupun Penggusuran"
ilmu-allah Berkata Malaikat: "Maha Suci Engkau, tidak ada ilmu bagi kami kecuali yang telah Engkau ajarkan kepada kami; sesungguhnya Engkau Dzat Yang Maha Mengetahui dan Yang Maha Menghukumi" Surat Al-Baqoroh (2:32). Beribu-ribu tahun yang lalu, ketika Allah akan menjadikan Adam sebagai khalifah di muka bumi, para Malaikat sempat mempertanyakan mengapa Allah memilih mahluk yang doyan berbuat kerusakan dan mengalirkan darah menjadi khalifah?. Mengapa bukan justru mereka saja yang terus menerus tanpa putus bertasbih yang dinobatkan menjadi khalifah bumi? Heran. Bagaimana cara Allah menangani keheranan Malaikat? Wa ‘allamal adaama asmaa-a kullahaa diajarkan-Nya-lah kepada Adam nama seluruh benda yang waktu itu ada di muka bumi. Sini tanah, situ pohon, sana batu, sono langit, ini hidung, itu kaki, dst, dst. Setelah itu Allah berkata kepada Malaikat: "Sebutkanlah kepada-Ku nama benda-benda itu jika kalian benar". Malaikat menyerah. Fasajaduu – mana sujud para Malaikat itu, kepada Adam, illaa ibliis – kecuali Iblis. Hanya ilmu tentang nama-nama benda. Bukan ilmu dasar iptek matematika, fisika, kimia, biologi yang ruwet-rumit. Hanya nama-nama benda. Tidak lebih. Peristiwa Besar Kejadian itu sepertinya hal kecil. Padahal adalah sebuah peristiwa besar. Yang menunjukkan betapa makhluq itu tidak ada apa-apanya dimata Sang Khaliq. Malaikat dibuat dari cahaya. Manusia dibuat dari tanah. Tugas manusia adalah beribadah kepada Allah. Tugas Malaikat adalah, antara lain, mencatat amal baik dan amal buruk manusia. Dari hal-hal itu, seorang anak kecil saja bisa menarik kesimpulan bahwa kedudukan Malaikat lebih tinggi dari manusia. Tapi mengapa Malaikat “kalah” ketika di test nama-nama? Padahal hanya nama-nama sederhana? Kalah oleh manusia yang ingredient alias ramuan bahan dasarnya saja “lebih rendah”?. Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Karena Allah menghendaki mengajarkan kepada Adam ilmu nama-nama yang tidak pernah diajarkan-Nya kepada Malaikat. Einstein-Hawking Jika ditanya siapakah ilmuwan-ilmuwan terbesar sepanjang masa, maka Albert Einsten dan Stephen Hawking adalah dua nama diantaranya. Yang pertama terkenal dengan teori relativitasnya, yang kedua terkenal dengan teori ‘big bang’ alias dentuman besarnya. Teori apa itu? Bukan porsi artikel ini untuk menjelaskannya. Jawaban terhadap pertanyaan mengapa kecemerlangan otak mereka tidak diberikan kepada ilmuwan Muslim melainkan justru diberikan kepada ilmuwan atheis, identik dengan jawaban terhadap pertanyaan mengapa ilmu nama-nama tidak diberikan kepada Malaikat. Diantara 25 Nabi, ada 5 Nabi yang mendapatkan peringkat Ulul ‘Azmi: Fashbir kamaa shobaro uulul ‘azmi – shobarlah sebagaimana rasul yang diberi keshobaran hati. Mereka adalah Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa dan Muhammad. Tetapi mengapa Musa sampai harus meminta-minta diajari ilmu mengetahui masa depan kepada Nabi Khidir yang di dalam daftar 25 Nabi pun, tidak ada? Tragisnya, boro-boro mendapatkan ilmu, Musa menjadi murid Khidir pun, gagal, karena tidak bisa menahan diri untuk tidak bertanya atas berbagai hal yang memang aneh dan layak ditanyakan. Misalnya, dengan enaknya Khidir membunuh orok yang masih merah, dll. Mengapa Khidir lebih pintar dari Musa? Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Dikejadian lain, mengapa Musa yang Ulul ‘Azmi bisa dikalahkan oleh ilmunya Bal’an bin Bauro sehingga muter-muter selama 40 tahun sampai bisa menemukan Baitul Maqdis? Jawabnya: karena Allah menghendaki demikian. Jika sejak tahun 1886 mobil Merdeces-Benz menemukan puluhan ribu paten, maka setiap paten sesungguhnya adalah Ilmu Allah, hanya saja awalnya ditemukan oleh orang Jerman, Tuan Gottlieb Daimler dan Tuan Carl Benz. Dst., dst. Tidak ada secuilpun di dunia ini yang tidak didasarkan atas ilmu Allah. Bahkan sekedar nama-nama benda. Ikhtilaf Sayang sekali, untuk 1 ilmu yang sama, Allah memberi keleluasaan kepada manusia untuk menafsirkannya secara berbeda. Terutama ilmu-ilmu non-eksakta. Untuk ilmu eksakta, atau dulu disebut ‘ilmu pasti’, dimana-mana di belahan dunia manapun yang namanya 2 kali 2 hasilnya 4; yang namanya air selalu mengalir ke tempat yang lebih rendah; yang namanya kecepatan cahaya selalu jauh lebih besar daripada kecepatan suara; dst., dst. Tetapi bagaimana dengan ilmu yang satu ini yang berbunyi: al-jamaa’atu rohmatun wal firqotu ‘adzabun – jamaah adalah rohmat dan pecah belah adalah siksa. Ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘jamaah’, ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘rohmat’, ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘firqoh’, dan ada seabrek pengertian yang dimaksud ‘adzab’. Kalau dibuat matriks 4x4 jamaah-rohmat-firqoh-adzab, maka pengertiannya sudah pasti seabrek-abrek. Maka disinilah fungsinya isnad atau mata rantai yang menjamin tersambungnya dengan pengertian yang sebenarnya dengan apa yang diajarkan dan dimaksudkan oleh Nabi. Disinilah pentingnya ilmu asbabun-nuzul atau sebab-sebab turunnya sebuah ayat Al-Quran atau asbabul-wurud atau sebab-sebab adanya sebuah hadits. Disinilah penting hadits Bukhori, Muslim, Nasai, Abu Daud, Tirmidzi, Ibnu Majah, dsb. Ilmu Tidak Bermanfaat. Hah! Mosok iya ada ilmu yang tidak bermanfaat? Yakin, haq: ada!. Buktinya Nabi mengajarkan do’a yang dibaca sebelum minum air zamzam: Alloohumma innii as-aluka ‘ilman naafi’a – Ya Allah hamba memohon ilmu yang bermanfaat. Bukti lain, di hadits lain, Nabi mengajarkan do’a: Alloohumma innii a’uudzu bika min ‘ilmin laa yanfa’ – Ya Allah hamba berlindung dari ilmu yang tidak bermanfaat. Nah. Banyak ilmu ternyata tidak selamanya identik dengan orang faqih atau orang faham. Faqihun wahidun asyaddu ‘alasy syaithooni min alfi ‘aabid – Satu orang faqih lebih berat bagi syaithan daripada seribu orang yang bodoh. Jadi bukan orang yang banyak ilmunya yang ditakuti syetan. Tapi orang faqih. Satu ketika ada seorang sahabat yang menyimpan sedekah di sebelah mimbar di masjid, dengan harapan diambil oleh orang miskin. Apa yang terjadi? Sedekah tadi diambil oleh seorang pencuri. Di lain hari, disimpannya lagi sedekah di sebelah mimbar masjid, dengan harapan yang sama. Apa yang terjadi? Sedekah tadi diambil oleh orang tidak baik lainnya. Demikian seterusnya. Sohabat tadi kemudian lapor kepada Nabi yang kemudian dijawab bahwa pada saat sedekah itu diletakkan di sebelah mimbar, pahalanya sudah diterima di sisi Allah. Ilmu Allah dari hadits diatas adalah, saat sedekah, pahala sudah jadi. Urusan sedekah itu menjadi apa, sudah menjadi urusan Allah. Identik dengan keadaan masa kini. Saat seorang Mumin menyerahkan sedekahnya kepada Baitul Maal wa Tamwil (BMT), saat itu pahalanya sudah diterima oleh Allah. Terserah Allah, melalui pengurus BMT mau diapakan sedekahnya itu. Itulah ilmu Allah, sebagaimana yang dapat dipetik dari hadits sedekah yang diambil bukan oleh orang miskin diatas. Sebaliknya mereka yang sedekah kemudian mengungkit-ungkit, mencari-cari, berprasangka, suudzon tanpa hak, itu adalah Ilmu Syetan yang mengajak menghancur-leburkan amal sedekahnya sendiri. Yaa ayyuhalladziina aamanuu laa tubtiluu shodaqootikum bil manni wal adza – Wahai orang-orang yang beriman janganlah kalian membatalkan sedekahmu dengan mengungkit-ungkit dan menyakitkan hati. Nah, apalagi kalau bukan Ilmu Syetan yang membatalkan amalan? Ibadah Ghoiro Maghdhoh Definisi syirik sudah jelas. Ada di Al-Quran dan ada di Al-Hadits. Syirik yang terang-terangan alias dzahar adalah menyembah kepada selain Allah, atau menduakan Allah. Syirik yang samar alias khoufi adalah ibadah mengharapkan ‘sesuatu’ selain pahala dari Allah. Segala macam syirik ganjarannya adalah dimasukkan kedalam neraka. Maka itu terhadap pendapat yang menyatakan bahwa menghormat bendera adalah perbuatan syirik, sudah pasti disebabkan bingung tidak bisa membedakan antara “menyembah” dengan “menghormat”. Hormat bendera adalah bagian dari kewajiban warga negara untuk selayaknya menghormati segala atribut yang melambangkan kebesaran negara. Bahkan untuk hal-hal tertentu, pelecehan terhadap atribut negara menimbulkan konsekwensi hukum. Jika istiqomah – konsisten dengan keyakinannya, yang menyatakan syirik terhadap menghormat bendera, seharusnya menyatakan syirik pula terhadap yang mentaati lampu setopan di perempatan jalan, dan yang mentaati tukang parkir, karena bukankan taat itu hanya kepada Allah dan Rasul? Bahkan seharusnya menyatakan perbuatan syirik pula terhadap pembayaran STNK, pembuatan KTP dan SIM, dll., dll., bukan? Karena kebanyakan ilmu, namun bukan Ilmu Allah, melainkan ro’yu ilmu fikiran sendiri, maka syetan pun masuk. Padahal ro’yu itu sangat berbahaya. Sabda Nabi, barang siapa yang berkata dengan ro’yu alias fikiran sendiri - fa ashooba faqod akhto – umpamapun perkataannya benar, maka tetap saja salah. Apalagi perkataannya salah. Pantas bingung. Kalau sudah bingung, firman Allah tsummun bukmun ‘umyun – tuli bisu buta, fahum laa yarji’uun – maka mereka tidak bisa kembali. Alhamdulillah bagi mereka yang bisa mengamalkan ibadah maghdhoh yang berkaitan dengan Rukun Iman percaya kepada Allah, Malaikat, Kitab, Nabi, Qodar dan Kiamat; serta ibadah yang berkaitan dengan Rukun Islam Syahadat, Sholat, Zakat, Puasa dan Haji. Alhamdulillah bagi mereka yang bisa membedakan mana ibadah ghoiro maghdhoh yang tidak berkaitan dengan kedua rukun diatas, melainkan ibadah sosial. Yaitu memiliki keyakinan bahwa menjadi warga negara yang taat kepada Pemerintah yang sah serta menghormati 4 pilar (1) Pancasila, (2) Undang-undang Dasar (UUD) 1945, (3) Bhineka Tunggal Ika dan (4) NKRI, adalah bagian daripada ibadah. Hanya Ilmu Allah yang sebenarnya yang bisa membawa keyakinan seperti itu. Maka sesekali tirukanlah ucapan Malaikat ketika menyerah kepada Allah untuk sujud kepada Adam: “Ya Allah, tidak ada ilmu bagi kami kecuali yang telah Engkau ajarkan kepada kami”. Kalau sudah demikian, setinggi apapun ilmu agama dan ilmu dunia yang dikuasai, bagaimana mungkin masih bisa sombong? Fa aina tadzhabuun? Liwon Maulana (galipat)ILMU ALLAH

Mungkin Anda banyak mencari tentang cara cepat belajar bahasa Inggris dan bagaimana bisa berbicara, menulis, dan hafal semua aturan tata bahasa dalam bahasa Inggris. Belajar bahasa Inggris banyak membuat siswa frustrasi, karena mereka tidak mengetahui bagaimana metode yang tepat. Sebagai hasilnya, pembelajaran yang mereka lakukan tentu saja sia-sia dan tidak membuahkan hasil dengan signifikan.

 
Dalam cara cepat belajar bahasa Inggris, sejatinya hanya ada tiga langkah mudah yang bisa Anda terapkan dan membuahkan hasil yang baik. Langkah-langkahnya akan kami jelaskan secara singkat berikut ini.

 

Fokus pada Input dan bukan hanya output

 
Kebanyakan siswa dan guru bahasa Inggris memberikan pemahaman bahwa kunci penguasaan bahasa terletak pada menulis dan berbicara. Memang, itu tidak salah karena banyak orang yang langsung praktik berbicara dengan berani, ia akan terbiasa dan kemudian mendapatkan kemampuan berbahasa Inggris dengan baik.
 
Tetapi untuk lebih cepat, seseorang juga harus mengasah kemampuan mendengar. Kemampuan mendengarkan merupakan salah satu kunci meraih keberhasilan dalam belajar bahasa Inggris. Untuk itu Anda harus menghabiskan waktu berjam-jam untuk mendengarkan lagu bahasa Inggris, teks bahasa Inggris, dan tentu saja film berbahasa Inggris.
 
Dengan mendengarkan beragam kata dalam bahasa Inggris dalam waktu yang lama, maka kemampuan mendengarkan bisa meningkat pesat. Anehnya, Anda juga akan meningkatkan kemampuan dengan pesat dalam konteks berbicara. Situasi tersebut telah terbukti dan kemudian, Anda harus menjadi orang berikutnya yang membuktikan hal ini.
Grammar itu penting namun jangan terlalu dibebankan
 
Grammar adalah hal yang penting bagi Anda sebagai pelajar. Mengapa demikian? Karena status bahasa Inggris di Indonesia adalah bahasa Asing, bukan bahasa asli, atau bahasa kedua. Jadi, grammar adalah sebuah hal yang wajib untuk dipelajari.
 
Kendati demikian, jangan anggap grammar sebagai beban yang mengharuskan Anda untuk menyesuaikannya sesempurna mungkin. Dalam hal menulis, tentu saja grammar penting, namun dalam berbicara bahasa Inggris, kita bisa sedikit memberikan toleransi dengan kesalahan-kesalahan grammatical atau tata bahasa. Namun, maksud dari perkataan yang kita ucapkan harus tetap jelas. 
 
Grammar itu penting namun jangan sampai mengalahkan keberanian kita untuk mengekspresikan bahasa Inggris.
 

Ulangi dan kemudian lakukan secara perlahan

 
Kunci dalam cara cepat belajar bahasa Inggris adalah dengan melambat dan terus mengulang. Di sekolah, siswa membaca teks terlalu cepat kemudian guru memberikan materi dengan sikap seakan terkejar oleh waktu. Akibatnya pemahaman seringkali tidak maksimal. Siswa hanya akan mendapatkan memori jangka pendek dan guru sulit untuk berhasil dalam mengajar.
 
Sebuah penelitian menunjukkan bahwa pengulangan yang dilakukan secara terus menerus dan dalam tempo yang lebih lambat akan menghasilkan prestasi belajar yang lebih baik. Siswa harus mendapatkan materi dengan pengulangan hingga belasan kali. Dengan pengulangan tersebut, maka terbentuklah memori jangka panjang. Kemudian, siswa mampu mempelajari bahasa Inggris dengan lebih baik, dan tentu saja efektif.  
Itulah 3 langkah utama dalam cara cepat belajar bahasa Inggris. Selamat mencoba dan semoga Anda berhasil. 
3 LANGKAH BELAJAR BAHASA INGGIRS

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

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

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.

Audio

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

Public perceptions of race relations in America have grown substantially more negative in the aftermath of the death of a young black man who was injured while in police custody in Baltimore and the subsequent unrest, far eclipsing the sentiment recorded in the wake of turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., last summer.

Americans are also increasingly likely to say that the police are more apt to use deadly force against a black person, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds.

The poll findings highlight the challenges for local leaders and police officials in trying to maintain order while sustaining faith in the criminal justice system in a racially polarized nation.

Sixty-one percent of Americans now say race relations in this country are generally bad. That figure is up sharply from 44 percent after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown and the unrest that followed in Ferguson in August, and 43 percent in December. In a CBS News poll just two months ago, 38 percent said race relations were generally bad. Current views are by far the worst of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The negative sentiment is echoed by broad majorities of blacks and whites alike, a stark change from earlier this year, when 58 percent of blacks thought race relations were bad, but just 35 percent of whites agreed. In August, 48 percent of blacks and 41 percent of whites said they felt that way.

Looking ahead, 44 percent of Americans think race relations are worsening, up from 36 percent in December. Forty-one percent of blacks and 46 percent of whites think so. Pessimism among whites has increased 10 points since December.

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Do you think race relations in the United States are generally good or generally bad?
60
40
20
0
White
Black
May '14
May '15
Generally bad
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Do you think race relations in the United States are getting better, getting worse or staying about the same?
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Getting better
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Whites
Blacks
44%
37
17
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The poll finds that profound racial divisions in views of how the police use deadly force remain. Blacks are more than twice as likely to say police in most communities are more apt to use deadly force against a black person — 79 percent of blacks say so compared with 37 percent of whites. A slim majority of whites say race is not a factor in a police officer’s decision to use deadly force.

Overall, 44 percent of Americans say deadly force is more likely to be used against a black person, up from 37 percent in August and 40 percent in December.

Blacks also remain far more likely than whites to say they feel mostly anxious about the police in their community. Forty-two percent say so, while 51 percent feel mostly safe. Among whites, 8 in 10 feel mostly safe.

One proposal to address the matter — having on-duty police officers wear body cameras — receives overwhelming support. More than 9 in 10 whites and blacks alike favor it.

Continue reading the main story
How would you describe your feelings about the police in your community? Would you say they make you feel mostly safe or mostly anxious?
Mostly safe
Mostly anxious
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All adults
Whites
Blacks
75%
21
3
81
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Continue reading the main story
In general, do you think the police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against a black person, or more likely to use it against a white person, or don’t you think race affects police use of deadly force?
Police more likely to use deadly force against a black person
Police more likely to use deadly force against a white person
Race DOES NOT affect police use of deadly force
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44%
37%
79%
2%
2%
1%
46%
53%
16%
9%
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Do you favor or oppose on-duty police officers wearing video cameras that would record events and actions as they occur?
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Oppose
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Blacks
92%
93%
93%
6%
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Asked specifically about the situation in Baltimore, most Americans expressed at least some confidence that the investigation by local authorities would be conducted fairly. But while nearly two-thirds of whites think so, fewer than half of blacks agree. Still, more blacks are confident now than were in August regarding the investigation in Ferguson. On Friday, six members of the police force involved in the arrest of Mr. Gray were charged with serious offenses, including manslaughter. The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday; results from before charges were announced are similar to those from after.

Reaction to the recent turmoil in Baltimore, however, is similar among blacks and whites. Most Americans, 61 percent, say the unrest after Mr. Gray’s death was not justified. That includes 64 percent of whites and 57 percent of blacks.

Continue reading the main story
As you may know, a Baltimore man, Freddie Gray, recently died after being in the custody of the Baltimore police. How much confidence do you have that the investigation by local authorities into this matter will be conducted fairly?
A lot
Some
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None at all
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Blacks
29%
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22
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22
In general, do you think the unrest in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray was justified, or do you think the unrest was not justified?
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Whites
Blacks
28%
61
11
26
64
11
37
57
6

Negative View of U.S. Race Relations Grows, Poll Finds

A 214-pound Queens housewife struggled with a lifelong addiction to food until she shed 72 pounds and became the public face of the worldwide weight-control empire Weight Watchers.

Jean Nidetch, 91, Dies; Pounds Came Off, and Weight Watchers Was Born

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 magical quality Mr. Lesnie created in shooting the “Babe” films caught the eye of the director Peter Jackson, who chose him to film the fantasy epic.

Andrew Lesnie, Cinematographer of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Dies at 59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Play Video|1:17

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

Obama Speaks of a ‘Sense of Unfairness’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

Advertisement Politics Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mazel tov,” his father replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is,” his father agreed.

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

A 2-minute-42-second demo recording captured in one take turned out to be a one-hit wonder for Mr. Ely, who was 19 when he sang the garage-band classic.

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“It was really nice to play with other women and not have this underlying tone of being at each other’s throats.”

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United’s first-class and business fliers get Rhapsody, its high-minded in-flight magazine, seen here at its office in Brooklyn. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Turner and her twin sister founded the Love Kitchen in 1986 in a church basement in Knoxville, Tenn., and it continues to provide clothing and meals.

Ellen Turner Dies at 87; Opened Kitchen to Feed the Needy of Knoxville

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

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