Community News (V13-I33)

Mohammed Nuru appointed Acting Director of SF DPW

SAN FRANCISCO,CA–Mohammed Nuru has been appointed as acting director for the San Francisco Department of Public Works, city officials announced today.

Nuru has served more than 11 years as deputy director for the department, and has worked closely with city communities, agencies, businesses and non-profit groups, according to Acting City Administrator Amy Brown.

His experience ranges from improving the cleanliness of city streets and sidewalks to successfully managing construction projects.

In his last position he was responsible for spearheading programs including the 7501 apprenticeship program, which provides entry level positions to individuals transitioning into construction or gardening jobs. He serves as Chair of the City’s Graffiti Advisory Board, and serves as liaison to other City and State agencies including CalTrans, BART, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He was recently appointed to the Housing Authority Transition Team and is charged with repairing vacant housing units, introducing garbage and recycling services, and with providing general grounds maintenance. Mr. Nuru is an advocate for cleaning and greening the City and has led notable efforts including San Francisco’s Trees for Tomorrow Program, which planted 26,408 trees in San Francisco between 2005 and 2009. Mr. Nuru also leads efforts to beautify street medians and the City’s gateways.

Prior to joining DPW, Mr. Nuru served as the Executive Director of the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG). Prior to his San Francisco experience, he worked as a landscape architect, planner, and project manager in the United States, Africa and Saudi Arabia. He has a B.L.A. in landscape architecture. Mr. Nuru lives in Bayview Hunters Point with his five children and volunteers with various organizations and neighborhood clean-up groups.

Dr.Mohammed Saleem leads to way in cancer research

AUSTIN,TX–Dr. Mohammed Saleem, a scientist at the Hormel Institute’s Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics lab, is leading the way in finding breakthrough cure for cancer.

He has published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study, co-authored by Dr. Hifzur Siddique and Dr. Shrawan Kumar Mishra — members of Saleem’s team at the Institute — along with Dr. R. Jeffrey Karnes of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Urology, is promising enough that scientists around the world, from the University of Wisconsin to South Korea, are replicating the Institute’s earlier work to catch up.

“We are the leaders in this research,” Bhat said.

Institute scientists are intrigued by Lupeol, a chemical that is found (in very low doses) in fruits and herbs like mangos, strawberries, tomatoes and other plants. The compound tends to prevent cancer from forming.

Lupeol has been studied by scientists for years, but Bhat and his team have found the compound can actually prevent prostate cancer from forming in test mice injected with human cancer cells. Bhat and his team also found the compound can affect early stages of cancer. In some cases, Hormel Institute scientists found mice with cancerous tumors had their tumors shrink over the course of eight to 12 weeks.

Friday prayers spill into parking lot

NEW HAVEN,CT–On the fifth day of Ramadan, a capacity crowd at Masjid Al-Islam couldn’t keep the faithful from the afternoon prayer. They simply unrolled their tan and red prayer rugs among the Nissans and Toyotas in the adjacent parking lot, the Independent reports.

It was emblematic of the growth the West River masjid has been seeing recently.

Dr. Jimmy Jones, the masjid’s leader, said that more than 300 people attend the jumah, or Friday afternoon prayer, not only during the month-long period of Ramadan that began last week but throughout the year. That’s a significant increase in attendance, he said.

Jimmy Jones said that new developments this year at the masjid, beside clearly increased and robust attendance, include high involvement of masjid personnel in the Muslim Endorsement Council of Connecticut and the Islamic Seminary Foundation. The former is setting standards for religious teachers and leaders, and the latter is training chaplains.

Author challenges misconceptions of Islam

MADISON,WI–Over 50 people crammed into Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative on Thursday recently to hear local author, Amitabh Pal present his new book, ““Islam” Means Peace.”

Pal, who is managing editor of The Progressive magazine, and co-editor of the Progressive Media Project, presented passages from his book, encouraging the audience to explore the pacifist side of Islam.

Pal, a non-Muslim, said he was inspired to write the book because of his own interest in non-violence and non-violent political struggles.

“I came into this sideways or backwards–my interest initially was in non-violence,” he said. “I learned of Ghaffar Khan and the Pashtun movement, I started looking at other instances in the Muslim world, and through that, eventually the book came about.”

“My aim is not to be reductionist, not to be simplistic,” he said, “but to complicate the image of Islam in the minds of Americans. To show that there is a good and a bad side..I think the image is so overwhelmingly generally negative, that even if I’ve managed to make it complex in the minds of Americans, I think I would have done a whole lot.”


Heavy Fighting in Misrata and Libyan Mountains

By Lin Noueihed

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s rebel-held city of Misrata won no respite from two months of bitter siege as Muammar Gaddafi’s forces bombarded the city and battled rebel fighters, despite pulling out of the city center.

Gaddafi’s forces were also pounding Berber towns in Libya’s Western Mountains with artillery, rebels and refugees said, in a remote region far from the view of international media.

Italy said its warplanes would join the British and French bombing of Libyan targets for the first time and NATO flattened a building inside Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound, in what his officials said was a failed attempt on the Libyan leader’s life.

Late on Monday, the “crusader aggressors” bombed civilian and military sites in Bir al Ghanam, 100 km (60 miles) south of Tripoli, and the Ayn Zara area of the capital, causing casualties, Libyan television said, without giving details. A Reuters correspondent heard explosions in Tripoli.

The report said foreign ships had also attacked and severed the al-Alyaf cable off Libya’s coast, cutting communications to the towns of Sirte, Ras Lanuf and Brega.

But more than a month of air strikes did not appear to be tipping the balance decisively in a conflict increasingly described as a stalemate.

People in Misrata emerged from homes after daybreak on Monday to scenes of devastation after Gaddafi’s forces pulled back from the city under cover of blistering rocket and tank fire, said witnesses contacted by phone.

Nearly 60 people had been killed in clashes in the city in the last three days, residents told Reuters by phone.

Although rebels’ celebrations of “victory” on Saturday turned out to be very premature, it was clear they had inflicted significant losses on government forces in Misrata.

“Bodies of Gaddafi’s troops are everywhere in the streets and in the buildings. We can’t tell how many. Some have been there for days,” said rebel Ibrahim.

Rebel spokesman Abdelsalam, speaking late on Monday, said Gaddafi’s forces were trying to re-enter the Nakl Thaqeel Road, which leads to Misrata’s port, its lifeline to the outside.

“Battles continue there. We can hear explosions,” he said by phone. He said Gaddafi’s forces positioned on the western outskirts of the city had also shelled the road from there.

Another rebel spokesman, Sami, said the humanitarian situation was worsening rapidly.

“It is indescribable. The hospital is very small. It is full of wounded people, most of them are in critical condition,” he told Reuters by phone.

U.S. officials said relief groups were rotating doctors into Misrata and evacuating migrant workers.

Mark Bartolini, director of foreign disaster assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said aid organizations were aiming to create stocks of food in the region in case Libyan supply chains began breaking down.

Among the places in particular need of food aid were isolated towns in the Western Mountains, from where tens of thousands of people have fled to Tunisia from the fighting.


“Our town is under constant bombardment by Gaddafi’s troops. They are using all means. Everyone is fleeing,” said one refugee, Imad, bringing his family out of the mountains.

NATO said its attack on the building in the Gaddafi compound was on a communications headquarters used to coordinate attacks on civilians. A Libyan spokesman said Gaddafi was unharmed and state television showed pictures of him meeting people in a tent, which it said had been taken on Monday.

Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam said the Libyan government would not be cowed.

“The bombing which targeted Muammar Gaddafi’s office today … will only scare children. It’s impossible that it will make us afraid or give up or raise the white flag,” he was quoted as saying by the state news agency, Jana.

Italy said its warplanes would join British and French aircraft in carrying out bombing of Libya. Geographically the closest major NATO member state to Libya, Italy had until Monday provided bases and reconnaissance and monitoring aircraft only.

The surprise decision immediately opened a fissure in Italy’s coalition government.

The African Union held separate talks on Monday with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi and rebel representatives in Addis Ababa to discuss a ceasefire plan.

The rebels had earlier rebuffed an AU plan because it did not entail Gaddafi’s departure, while the United States, Britain and France say there can be no political solution until the Libyan leader leaves power.

(Additional reporting by Guy Desmond and Maher Nazeh in Tripoli, Alexander Dziadosz in Benghazi and Sami Aboudi in Cairo; writing by Andrew Roche; Editing by Kevin Liffey)