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    Ibadah haji adalah salah satu ibadah yang paling utama, berdasarkan hadits Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam :

(عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: سُئِلَ رَسُوْلُ الله : أَيُّ الْعَمَلِ أَفْضَلُ؟ قَالَ: (إِيْمَانٌ بِاللهِ وَ رَسُوْلِهِ)، قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: (الْجِهَادُ فِيْ سَبِيْلِ اللهِ)، قِيْلَ: ثُمَّ مَاذَا؟ قَالَ: (حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ

"Dari Abu Hurairah Radhiallaahu anhu ia berkata: Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam ditanya: ‘Amal ibadah apakah yang paling utama?’ Beliau bersabda: ‘Beriman kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya’. Dikatakan (kepadanya): ‘Kemudian apa?’ Beliau bersabda: ‘Jihad dijalan Allah’. Dikatakan (kepadanya): ‘Kemudian apa?’ Beliau bersabda: ‘Haji yang mabrur.’"( HR. Al-Bukhari dan Muslim, lihat Shahih at-Targhiib wat Tarhiib oleh al-Albani 3/3 hadits No. 1093. )

    Ibadah haji sebagai penghapus dosa, berdasarkan hadits Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam :

مَنْ حَجَّ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ مِنْ ذُنُوْبِهِ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ

"Barangsiapa yang mengerjakan ibadah haji dan dia tidak melakukan jima' dan tidak pula melakukan perbuatan dosa, dia akan kembali dari dosa-dosanya seperti pada hari ketika ia dilahirkan ibunya." ( HR. Al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasa-i, Ibnu Majah dan at-Tirmidzi )

    Balasan bagi haji mabrur adalah Surga, berdasarkan sabda Nabi Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam :

الْعُمْرَِةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرِةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَ الْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُوْرُ  لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةَ

"Umrah (yang pertama) kepada umrah yang berikutnya sebagai kaffarat (peng-hapus) bagi (dosa) yang dilakukan di antara keduanya, dan haji yang mabrur tidak ada balasan baginya, melainkan Surga." ( HR. Malik, al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidzi, an-Nasa-i dan Ibnu Majah). Lihat Shahih at-Targhiib No. 1096. )


Dan dari Jabir bin 'Abdillah dari Nabi Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam , beliau bersabda:
الْحَجَّ الْمَبْرُوْرُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةَ ، قِيْلَ : وَمَا بِرُّهُ؟ قَالَ: إِطْعَامُ الطَّعَامِ وَ طِيْبُ الْكَلاَمِ


"Haji mabrur tidak ada balasannya kecuali Surga. Dikatakan (kepada beliau): 'Apakah bentuk bakti dalam haji itu?' Beliau ber-kata: 'Memberi makanan dan berbicara yang baik.’”( HR. Ahmad, ath-Thabrani, Ibnu Khuzaimah, al-Baihaqi dan al-Hakim. Al-Albani berkata: "Shahih lighairihi, lihat Shahih at-Targhiib" No. 1104) )

    Haji adalah jihad bagi para wanita dan setiap orang yang lemah, berdasarkan hadits Nabi Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam :

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ d قَالَتْ ، قُلْتُ: يَارَسُوْلَ الله نَرَى الْجِهَادَ أَفْضَلَ اْلأَعْمَالِ ، أَفَلاَ نُجَاهِدُ ؟ فَقَالَ: لَكُنَّ أَفْضَلُ الْجِهَادِ حَجٌّ مَبْرُوْرٌ


"Dari 'Aisyah Radhiallaahu anha,, ia berkata, aku bertutur: 'Ya Rasulullah kami melihat bahwasanya berjihad adalah amal ibadah yang paling utama, apakah kami (para wanita, -pent) tidak berjihad? Maka beliau bersabda: 'Bagi kalian (kaum wanita,-Pent), jihad yang paling utama adalah haji mabrur'" .
Dalam riwayat Ibnu Khuzaimah, 'Aisyah d berkata:
قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُوْلَ اللهِ هَلْ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ مِنْ جِهَادٍ؟ قَالَ: (عَلَيْهِنَّ جِهَادٌ لاَ قِتَالَ فِيْهِ الْحَجُّ وَالْعُمْرَةُ)


"Aku bertutur: 'Ya Rasulullah, apakah ada kewajiban berjihad bagi kaum wanita?' Beliau berkata: 'Bagi wanita adalah jihad yang tidak ada peperangan padanya (yaitu) haji dan umrah.'" (Dishahihkan oleh al-Albani, lihat Shahih at-Targhiib No. 1099).
Dan dari Abu Hurairah Radhiallaahu anhu , dari Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam , beliau bersabda:
جِهَادُ الْكَبِيْرِ وَالضَّعِيْفِ وَالْمَرْأَةِ الْحَجُّ وَالْعُمْرَةُ

"Jihad orang yang tua, orang yang lemah dan wanita adalah haji dan umrah."

    Orang yang melaksanakan haji dan umrah adalah tamu Allah, dan permohonan mereka dikabulkan, berdasarkan hadits 'Abdullah Ibnu 'Umar Radhiallaahu anhu , Nabi Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam bersabda:

الْغَازِي فِي سَبِيْلِ اللهِ وَالْحَاجُّ وَالْمُعْتَمِرُ وَفْدُ اللهِ ، دَعَاهُمْ فَأَجَابُوْهُ وَسَأَلُوْهُ فَأَعْطَاهُمْ

"Orang yang berperang dijalan Allah, orang yang haji dan orang yang umrah, adalah tamu Allah. Dia memanggil mereka, maka mereka pun menjawab (panggilan)-Nya dan mereka memohon kepada-Nya. Dia-pun memberikan permohonan me-reka."

    Keutamaan perjalanan haji, keutamaan orang yang mati dalam perjalanan untuk melaksanakan ibadah haji, dan keutamaan orang yang mati dalam keadaan berihram (ditengah pelaksanaan ibadah haji dan/atau umrah.) Semuanya termaktub dalam hadits-hadits dibawah ini:

a. Dari 'Abdullah bin 'Umar Radhiallaahu anhu ia berkata, aku mendengar Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam bersabda:
مَاتَرْفَعُ إِبِلُ الْحَجِّ رِجْلاً ، وَلاَ يَدًا إِلاَّ كَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ بِهَا حَسَنَةً أَوْ رَفَعَهُ بِهَا دَرَجَةً

"Tidaklah unta (yang dikendarai) seseorang yang melaksanakan haji mengangkat kaki(nya) dan tidak pula meletakkan tangan(nya) melainkan Allah mencatat bagi orang itu satu kebaikan atau menghapus darinya satu kejelekan atau meng-angkatnya datu derajat."

b.Dari Abu Hurairah Radhiallaahu anhu, ia berkata, Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam bersabda:
مَنْ خَرَجَ حَاجًّا فَمَاتَ كُتِبَ لَهُ أَجْرُ الْحاَجِّ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ مُعْتَمِرًا فَمَاتَ كُتِبَ لَهُ أَجْرُ الْمُعْتَمِرِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ غَازِيًا فَمَاتَ كُتِبَ لَهُ أَجْرُ الْغَازِى إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ


"Barangsiapa keluar dalam melaksana-kan haji lalu ia mati, niscaya dicatat baginya pahala seorang haji hingga hari Kiamat. Barangsiapa keluar dalam melaksanakan umrah lalu ia mati, niscaya dicatat baginya pahala seorang yang melaksanakan umrah sampai hari Kiamat, dan barangsiapa keluar dalam berperang dijalan Allah lalu ia mati, niscaya dicatat baginya pahala seorang yang berperang dijalan Allah sampai hari Kiamat."

c. Dari 'Abdullah Ibnu 'Abbas Radhiallaahu anhu, ia berkata:
بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ وَاقِفٌ مَعَ رَسُوْلِ اللهِ ; بِعَرَفَةَ إِذْ وَقَعَ عَنْ رَاحِلَتِهِ فَأَقْعَصَتْهُ فَقَالَ رَسُوْلُ اللهِ ; ( اغْسِلُوْهُ بِمَاءٍ وَسِدْرٍ وَكَفِّنُوْهُ بِثَوْبَيْهِ وَلاَ تُخَمِّرُوْا رَأْسَهُ وَلاَ تُحَنِّطُوْهُ فَإِنَّهُ يُبْعَثُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَلَبِّيًا )

"Tatkala seseorang sedang wukuf bersama Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam dipadang 'Arafah, tiba-tiba ia dijatuhkan oleh binatang (unta) yang dikendarainya dan mematahkan lehernya, maka Rasu-lullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam bersabda: 'Mandikanlah dia dengan air dan daun bidara, kafanilah dia dengan dua helai (kain) ihramnya dan jangan kalian menutup kepalanya serta jangan pula kalian beri wangi-wangian padanya, karena sesungguh-nya dia akan dibangkitkan dihari Kiamat dalam keadaan mengucapkan talbiyah.'"

    Dan lain-lain.

Itulah sejumlah keutamaan ibadah haji dan umrah yang kami rangkum dari beberapa hadits yang shahih dan hasan. Jika kita telah mengetahuinya, maka sepatutnya bagi orang yang mampu untuk giat dan bersungguh-sungguh dalam melaksanakan ibadah haji, serta menggunakan kesempatan dengan sebaik-baiknya, manakala ia memilikinya.

Syaikh 'Abdullah bin Ibrahim al-Qar'awi berkata: "Disunnahkan melaksanakan haji setiap tahun bagi orang yang mampu selama tidak membahayakan dirinya dan orang-orang yang menjadi tanggung jawabnya" , berdasar-kan hadits 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud Radhiallaahu anhu , Rasulullah Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam bersabda:
تَابِعُوْا بَيْنَ الْحَجِّ وَالْعُمْرَةِ فَإِنَّهُمَا يَنْفِيَانِ الْفَقْرَ وَالذُّنُوْبِ كَمَا يَنْفِى الْكِيْرُ حَبَثَ الْحَدِيْدِ وَالذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَلَيْسَ لِلْحَجَّةِ الْمَبْرُوْرَةِ ثَوَابٌ إِلاَّ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَا مِنْ مُؤْمِنٍ يَظَلُّ يَوْمَهُ مُحْرِمًا إِلاَّ غَابَتِ الشَّمْسُ بِذُنُوْبِهِ

"Ikutilah antara ibadah haji dan umrah, karena keduanya akan menghilangkan kefakiran dan berbagai dosa sebagaimana alat pandai besi menghilangkan kotoran yang ada pada besi, emas dan perak. Dan tiada balasan pahala bagi haji yang mabrur kecuali Surga, tidaklah seorang mukmin dalam kesehariannya berada dalam keada-an ihram, melainkan matahari terbenam dengan membawa dosa-dosanya."

Sunnah tersebut semakin ditekankan lagi jika telah melewati empat atau lima tahun dari haji yang dilakukan sebelumnya, berdasarkan sabda Nabi Shalallaahu alaihi wasalam :

إِنَّ اللهَ يَقُوْلُ: إِنَّ عَبْدًا صَحَّحْتُ لَهُ جِسْمَهُ وَ وَسَّعْتُ عَلَيْهِ فِيْ الْمَعِيْشَهِ يَمْضِى عَلِيْهِ خَمْسَةُ أَعْوَامٍ لاَ يَفِدُ إِلَيَّ لَمَحْرُوْمٌ

"Sesungguhnya Allah berfirman: 'Sesung-guhnya seorang hamba yang telah Kusehat-kan jasadnya dan Kulapangkan penghi-dupannya, telah berlalu lima tahun atasnya, dia tidak datang kepada-Ku, benar-benar dia seorang yang diharamkan (dihalangi dari kebaikan-Pent). (HR. Ibnu Hibban dalam shahihnya, Abu Ya'la dan al-Bai-haqi).

Sedangkan Imam ath-Thabrani meriwayatkan dalam al-Ausath dengan redaksi:
إنَّ اللهَ يَقُوْلُ: إِنَّ عَبْدًا صَحَّحْتُ لَهُ بَدَنَهُ وَ أَوْسَعْتُ عَلَيْهِ فِي الرِّزْقِ لَمْ يَفِدْ إِلَيَّ فِيْ أَرْبَعَةِ أَعْوَامٍ لَمَحْرُوْمٌ


"Bahwasanya Allah berfirman: 'Sesungguh-nya seorang hamba yang telah Ku-sehatkan tubuhnya, Ku-lapangkan rizkinya, (namun) dia tidak datang kepada-Ku pada setiap empat tahun, benar-benar dia seorang yang diharamkan (dihalangi dari kebaikan,-Pent) (Al-Haitsami berkata dalam Majma'uz Zawaa-id perawi hadits ini semuanya perawi kitab ash-Shahih.)

 

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KAIRO, Saco-Indonesia.com — Seorang bocah perempuan berusia 13 tahun meninggal dunia saat disunat di sebuah desa terpencil di Provinsi Daqahliya, di timur laut Kairo. Demikian sejumlah media Mesir melaporkan, Senin (10/6/2013).

"Kami menyerahkan anak perempuan kami kepada dokter dan perawat. Setelah 15 menit kemudian, perawat membawa putri kami keluar dari ruang operasi ke sebuah ruang lain bersama tiga anak perempuan lain yang juga disunat," kata Mohammad Ibrahim, ayah anak perempuan malang itu.

"Saya menunggu selama setengah jam, berharap putri saya akan bangun, tetapi ternyata dia tidak bangun seperti anak-anak yang lain," tambah Ibrahim.

Dokter yang menyunat Suhair al-Bata'a, nama anak perempuan itu, sebelumnya juga menyunat kakak perempuan Suhair dua tahun lalu.

"Saya tidak ingin apa pun. Saya hanya ingin dokter itu bertanggung jawab dan kami ingin keadilan untuk putri kami," kata ibu Suhair, Hasanat Naeem Fawzy, kepada harian al-Masry al- Youm.

Polisi kemudian memeriksa dokter itu dan memerintahkan dilakukan otopsi untuk memastikan penyebab kematian bocah malang tersebut.

"Petugas dinas kesehatan mengatakan, penyebab kematian diduga adalah penurunan tekanan darah yang drastis yang kemudian mengakibatkan trauma," ujar kuasa hukum keluarga Suhair, Abdel Salam.

Dewan Nasional Perempuan Mesir mengecam keras insiden ini dan menganggap kelalaian ini sebagai sebuah tindakan kriminal yang menunjukkan sebuah "kebiadaban ekstrem".

Dewan juga menyerukan agar Pemerintah Mesir menggelar penyelidikan masalah ini dan menjatuhkan hukuman setimpal terhadap orang yang bertanggung jawab.

Organisasi Anak-anak Sedunia (Unicef) perwakilan Mesir juga mengecam tragedi sunat ini. Unicef mengatakan, sunat perempuan tidak memiliki landasan medis atau agama yang kuat.

Sementara itu, pejabat Departemen Kesehatan di Daqahliya, Abdel Wahab Sulaeman, mengatakan, pihaknya belum mendapatkan laporan soal insiden tersebut.

Namun, dia mengatakan praktik sunat perempuan adalah tindakan yang melanggar hukum Mesir.

Pada 1996, Mesir telah mengkriminalkan sunat perempuan, tetapi masih banyak warga negeri itu yang melakukan sunat perempuan secara ilegal.

Pada 2009, Pemerintah Mesir menahan seorang pria pelaku penyunatan perempuan. Ini adalah penahanan pertama sejak sunat perempuan dilarang.

Pria itu ditahan karena melakukan penyunatan ilegal terhadap seorang bocah perempuan berusia 11 tahun di wilayah Minya, sekitar 600 kilometer sebelah selatan Kairo.

 

Editor :Liwon Maulana
Anak Perempuan Mesir Tewas Usai Disunat

Ms. von Furstenberg made her debut in the movies and on the Broadway stage in the early 1950s as a teenager and later reinvented herself as a television actress, writer and philanthropist.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Document: The Formaldehyde Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

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

Typical

laminate

flooring

CLEAR FINISH LAYER

Often made of melamine resin

PATTERN LAYER

Paper printed to resemble wood,

or a thin wood veneer

GLUE

Layers may be bound using

formaldehyde-based glues

CORE LAYER

Fiberboard or other

composite, formed using

formaldehyde-based adhesives

BASE LAYER

Moisture-resistant vapor barrier

What is formaldehyde?

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

WHERE IT IS COMMONLY FOUND

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS

Pressed-wood and composite wood products

Wallpaper and paints

Spray foam insulation used in construction

Commercial wood floor finishes

Crease-resistant fabrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Vitter’s staff was pleased.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Uphill Battle to Better Regulate Formaldehyde

Ms. Plisetskaya, renowned for her fluidity of movement, expressive acting and willful personality, danced on the Bolshoi stage well into her 60s, but her life was shadowed by Stalinism.

Maya Plisetskaya, Ballerina Who Embodied Bolshoi, Dies at 89

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
Continue reading the main story
Do you think race relations in the United States are getting better, getting worse or staying about the same?
Getting worse
Staying the same
Getting better
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
44%
37
17
46
36
16
41
42
15

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.

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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
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
75%
21
3
81
16
3
51
42
7
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
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
44%
37%
79%
2%
2%
1%
46%
53%
16%
9%
8%
4%
Continue reading the main story
Do you favor or oppose on-duty police officers wearing video cameras that would record events and actions as they occur?
Favor
Oppose
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
92%
93%
93%
6%
5%
5%
2%
2%
2%

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.

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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
Not much
None at all
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
29%
31
22
14
5
31
33
20
11
5
20
26
30
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?
Justified
Not justified
Don't know/No answer
All adults
Whites
Blacks
28%
61
11
26
64
11
37
57
6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Play was tough and fights were frequent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tribute for a Roller Hockey Warrior

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

Since a white police officer, Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in a confrontation last August in Ferguson, Mo., there have been many other cases in which the police have shot and killed suspects, some of them unarmed. Mr. Brown's death set off protests throughout the country, pushing law enforcement into the spotlight and sparking a public debate on police tactics. Here is a selection of police shootings that have been reported by news organizations since Mr. Brown's death. In some cases, investigations are continuing.

Photo
 
 
The apartment complex northeast of Atlanta where Anthony Hill, 27, was fatally shot by a DeKalb County police officer. Credit Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Chamblee, Ga.
Fatal Police Shootings: Accounts Since Ferguson

Mr. Bartoszewski was given honorary Israeli citizenship for his work to save Jews during World War II and later surprised even himself by being instrumental in reconciling Poland and Germany.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 93, Dies; Polish Auschwitz Survivor Aided Jews
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