JOHN AKOURI NEWSBLOG

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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, December 31, 2010

NEW YEAR'S EVE!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Akouri, Tawk Top List of Lebanese Officials Meeting with Turkish Leaders in the United States on the Eve of 2011



BIRMINGHAM, MI/USA – Lebanese and Turkish Leaders in the United States met on the eve of 2011 tonight as The Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan (TACAM) and Honorary Consul General of Turkey, Her Excellency Nurten Ural, hosted a special dinner reception honoring Lebanese American leaders. The dinner party was held at the posh Zazios of Birmingham on historic Woodward Avenue. This evening’s event confirms that TACAM plans to continue work on its most important strategy, that of strengthening the voice of the Turkish American community while collaborating with other ethnic communities in 2011.

In his welcoming speech, TACAM President Feridun Bek stated that TACAM successfully participated in the annual LEBFEST! 2010 Lebanese Festival which was held this past summer in Rochester Hills, Michigan. With this gathering, the association wanted to thank Lebanese-American leaders as well as TACAM event manager Elif Cila and ensure a systematic development of Turkish – Lebanese friendship, political and cultural relations by creating a synergy between the two communities. Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) TABAN director Yenal Küçüker, emphasized the value of such important partnerships and the strength that these partnerships provide for successful advocacy.
Honorary Consul General Ural, remarked on the significance of Lebanese – Turkish American relations and provided brochures printed specifically to highlight these relations. Acting Consul General of Lebanon to Detroit, His Excellency Bachir S. Tawk, indicated that the recent removal of the visa requirements between the two countries would indeed strengthen the relations. President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce (LACC) John Akouri emphasized the natural ties and positive history between the two nations suggested bringing the Lebanese and Turkish communities in America together with more events in 2011. TACAM Turkish American Broad Advocacy Network (TABAN) Committee Chair Ümit Menemenci, presented a TACAM 2011 Leadership plaque to Councilman Akouri for his contributions to the development of Lebanese – Turkish relations.
A special treat of the evening came when Executive Chef Matt Schellig addressed those assembled on the meal they should be prepared to indulge in, and the origins of the cuisine. In addition to Akouri and Tawk, also attending the reception were: LACC Chairman of the Board Louis J. Peters, Jr., General Counsel Jeffrey Lance Abood, Advisory Board Member Abe Karam, Executive Leadership Members Kamal Shouhayib, Frank Mamat and Fadi Achour, as well as Dr. Tony Abood, Sam Attisha, Ed Babbie, Senna Shehadeh, Yasmine Shouhayib, Nicole Mator, Ely Tawk, and Jackie & Suzy Tarzibashi. Community leaders and businessmen who participated the gathering, indicated how delighted they were to see a Lebenase – Turkish collaboration and were looking forward to future events.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bidding Adieu to 2010...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

MILAD MAJEED! Christmas in Lebanon

Visible from as far as the Mediterranean, streets are bright with Christmas lights as the Christmas season gets underway in Lebanon. On Christmas Eve families and friends gather around their Christmas tree for an evening of celebration. The meal often features turkey or chicken, wine or arak, and the dessert is Bûche de Noël, a French Christmas cake decorated to look like a yule log. At midnight, the churchbells ring in the cities and towns as people go to church in their new clothes. Papa Noel is the gift bringer and the children eagerly await his arrival. They hang red stocking by the chimney to be filled with sweets.
In Lebanon, preparation for Christmas begins like everywhere in the Middle East, about two weeks before Christmas. Then the Lebanese start planting seeds of peas, beans, wheat and lentils into cotton-wool balls. Until Christmas the seedlings grow up to a height of 15 centimetres. The Lebanese decorate the cribs with these seedlings. The figures of the cribs are mostly made out of brown paper. Also a star is fixed above the biblical scene. Like hardly any other nation the Lebanese prepare for Christmas. On the last nine days before Christmas Eve special sermons are held in all churches of the country. Christmas is not only a feast of the familiy; most of all it is a feast of the religious community.
Everybody helps to decorate the churches. Of course the pleasures of the flesh are very important. During the time before Christmas the Lebanese do the baking for all one is worth! Traditionally the people in the Middle East visit their friends on the morning of the 25th of December. Coffee, liqueur, cookies and sweet almonds are offered on these occasions. The most important banquet of the Christmas time takes place at midday on the 25th of December. Usually then the whole family comes together in the house of the oldest member of the family. Often the meal contains chicken with rice and 'Kubbeh' which is a paste made out of crushed and cooked wheat mixed with meat, onions, salt and pepper. The dessert is the cookies & pastries that were so eagerly produced before Christmas!
Like hardly any other nation the Lebanese prepare for Christmas.
Most of the countries of the Arab world have special traditions related to Christmas. Some of them are in common with those of the western world but there are some unique differences as well. For example, for many Christians, Christmas is preceded by a fasting period of 40 days. Another tradition is the ringing of huge church bells on Christmas Eve, to announce the birth of Christ. Most homes in the Middle East try to raise plants in small dishes, at least 3 weeks before Christmas. The living plants remind of the living Lord. These plants are grown in dishes into which they put a thin layer of cotton instead of soil. Different kinds of seeds like wheat, lentils, beans, chickpeas and other fast growing seeds are placed on the cotton. These plants, which usually grow to a height of about 17 cm during this time, are usually placed under the Christmas tree, at the entrance of the Christmas cave, or in different corners of the house, where they will be kept until the Christmas tree is taken down.
Food also plays a unique part of the Christmas celebration. There is a tradition of preparing a special type of pudding whenever a child is born into a family at this time of year, particularly if it is a boy. This kind of pudding is called Mughly. It is made up of rice flour, caraway, sugar and other spices, put into small plates. It is topped with coconut, raisins, peanuts, crushed almonds, and walnuts. This pudding is offered to the members of the family as well as to the visitors who come to the house visiting during the season. In Lebanese villages large bonfires are made in the town centers where everyone gathers in a circle around the fire to sing songs and tell stories. This is a chance to renew friendships and to reconcile with one another for any misunderstanding during the year. Special dances called Dabkeh are performed during the Christmas season. Young men and women hold hands in semi-circles dancing together to special music. The dances are made up of artistic footwork that harmonizes with the sound of the music. The dancers wear special colorful clothes and head covers or "tambourines."
Traditionally throughout the Middle East people visit friends on Christmas morning and are offered coffee, liqueurs and sugared almonds. Lunch at Christmas is the most important meal of the season and the whole family gathers together for it, usually at grandparents or the eldest sons' home. The meal consists of chicken and rice, and Kubbeh, which is made up of crushed boiled wheat or burghul mixed with meat, onion, salt and paper.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wall Street Journal OpEd by Firas Maksad: "Will Hezbollah Be Brought to Justice in Lebanon?"

WASHINGTON, DC - Surrounded by joyful children, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently inaugurated the holiday season in glitzy downtown Beirut. It was a festive scene—but one that ignored the demons currently threatening that country's fragile stability. Tensions in Lebanon are high. The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal, set up in the Hague to prosecute the killers of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister and Saad's father, is preparing to issue indictments.
All indications point to members of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group loyal to Iran, as the main culprits in the 2005 murder. If Hezbollah militants are indicted, it could lead to serious unrest between the group's Shiite base and the largely Sunni followers of the assassinated prime minister. Regional actors including Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States allhave a stake in the outcome.
"As for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, few Lebanese believe that Hezbollah would have acted without direction from—and coordination with—the Syrian forces that controlled their country at the time of the crime in February 2005. Collective Lebanese consciousness has been shaped by a long history of Syrian-inspired political killings, and Syria has long maintained close relations with Hezbollah."
Many have called for scuttling the tribunal out of fear of the instability it could create. Lebanon is not prepared for justice, these voices claim. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has argued that "Lebanese stability is precarious and tenuous: it trumps justice delayed, foreign and flawed." And Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has questioned "the use for tribunal justice if it leads to slaughter." True enough, the Middle East does not need another Sunni-Shiite conflict. But rewarding those who engage in assassinations by letting them walk free will only encourage more violence.
Justice is the only path to lasting stability in Lebanon. Without it, Sunni extremists itching to take on their Shiite counterparts will only grow in strength. Sunnis more generally will feel betrayed twice—first for having their leader assassinated and second for being denied justice. Thwarting the tribunal is a guaranteed path to further Sunni-Shiite tensions and a greater sense of anger in the country and the region.
For its part, Hezbollah is attempting to smear the tribunal, labeling it an "American-Israeli project." But no one knows what evidence an indictment will put forward. Judgments about the court's integrity should be withheld until then, and no one should be duped by Hezbollah's misinformation campaign.
Most people in Lebanon already believe that Hezbollah has been exposed for what it truly is, especially after the self-proclaimed "resistance" against Israel turned its weapons against fellow Lebanese in the domestic troubles of 2008. An indictment with solid evidence will only further isolate the group within Lebanon and tarnish its carefully cultivated image in the broader Arab and Muslim worlds.
That said, Hezbollah's overwhelming hold over Lebanon's Shiite community will no doubt remain a key source of its strength. Unraveling this relationship will require a long-term strategy, including engaging with local partners to find alternatives to the extensive social services and patronage networks that the group has employed to capture Shiite loyalty since its 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.
As for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, few Lebanese believe that Hezbollah would have acted without direction from—and coordination with—the Syrian forces that controlled their country at the time of the crime in February 2005. Collective Lebanese consciousness has been shaped by a long history of Syrian-inspired political killings, and Syria has long maintained close relations with Hezbollah.
It remains to be seen whether the evidence collected at the Hague will be enough to prosecute not only those who carried out the crime, but those who planned and ordered the killing. International pressure on the tribunal may spare the Syrian regime.
For those of us watching these developments in the relative safety of America, let us remember that what happens in the seemingly distant Middle East often comes to haunt us. As we prepare to usher in the new year, let us think of families who do so with genuine fear. And let us stand by those pursuing justice not only because it's the right thing, but for the sake of our long-term interests and theirs.
Mr. Maksad, a consultant with the law firm DLA Piper, is an executive director at the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation, which seeks to strengthen U.S.-Lebanon relations and support a free, pluralistic Lebanon.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas the Day After Christmas

Saturday, December 25, 2010

John Akouri Extends Warmest Wishes to All for a Blessed & Merry Christmas; May Peace Prevail Around the World, Echoing the True Meaning of Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

Adeste Fideles Laeti Triumphantes Venite, Venite in Bethlehem; Natum Videte Regem Angelorum, Venite Adoremus Dominum

Thursday, December 23, 2010

CHRISTMAS PAST: December 24, 1983: USO Ambassador of Goodwill Bob Hope on board the USS Battleship New Jersey BB-62 off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon

CHRISTMAS PAST: December 24, 1983: USO Ambassador of Goodwill Bob Hope on board the USS Battleship New Jersey BB-62 off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon for the Christmas Eve USO show. With Bob are from left to right; Miss USA Judy Hayek, Cathy Lee Crosby, Ann Jillian and actress Brooke Shields.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Partners with Detroit Marriott Hotel & Forgotten Harvest for Second Annual Good Neighbor Feast

(DETROIT, MI/USA)...Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce partners with Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center and Forgotten Harvest for the ‘2nd Annual Good Neighbor Feast’ with more than a thousand people, including over 300 children, served by emergency food providers across the City of Detroit enjoyed a Christmas meal to remember. Detroit Marriott’s General Manager Bob Farmery and Director of Sales Renee Hanna, along with noted Executive Chef Josef Zimmer – oversaw the preparations for the meal, consisting of 400 pounds of turkey, 400 pounds of ham, 8 cases of stuffing, green bean casserole, 250 pounds of potatoes, 6 cases of gravy, 15 cases of pasta salad, 5 cases of cranberry sauce, 1,500 dinner rolls donated by Sysco and 100 pies donated by Grand Traverse Pie Company. Chamber President John Akouri, joined by Advisory Board Director Judge Linda Saoud Hallmark, General Counsel Jeffrey Lance Abood, Leadership Member Dr. Tarik Daoud, and Special Assistant to the President Eric Swyak poured coffee & tea, served food and assisted with kitchen duty, providing for those in need, especially during this time of year. Also joining the team in serving the feast was Mable V. Jones, AAA Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Contributions. The event was covered by NBC-affiliate WDIV- TV Channel 4's Hank Winchester, who also took part in serving those less fortunate and in need.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In LebLish: Twas The Night Abil Chrussmuss!

Twas il night abil Chrussmuss and the house was mazboot, Not a wa-hish was stirring, not even a bar-ghoot. Il tree was lit up mit-lil shams al sham-moo-seh, And Jiddo complain, "you waste lek-trik ya man-hoo-see."
Il stockniss was hung hawalayt el chumley all day, We hope that St. Nick-luss soon baddo ye-jeh. And knowing that Santa would fill every one, We use Sitto’s stocknuss, ‘cause each holds a ton!
Il childrun was sleeping so very serene, They dream of baklaweh, im-jaddara, and tein. My wife lay beside me, she snoring so freely, She keeps me awake, so I smoke my nargeelee!
When up in the attic I hear a great harakee, It sounded like something was wrong with the karakee."Ya Batil," I shouted! "A tragic tak-teer!"
"The karakee is busted, no 3arak this year! "I fly to the attic, with tanjara in hand, To save a few drops of this whiskey so grand.
But when I arrive, now shou do I shouf ? Well nothing is wrong, so I climb to the roof. Il amarr was shining, il stars was so bright, And kil shee was covered with talej so white.
And right on my roof top I see Santa’s 3arabeyeh, And eight Buffing reindeer a looking my wayah. Bass waynak ya Santa, he’s missing, but why? No sooner I ask, then I hear his muffled cry.
I walk on the rooftop and look all about, And there min il chumley, two feet sticking out! Ya Dilli, it's Santa! Yee, shou lazzam I do? Yimkin I should BUSH him and BUSH him right through.
Bass Santa he cry, from below and afar, "Grab hold of my feet and Bull me ya H7amar. "One hour I am bulling, one hour balla stop, Hatta, finally Santa come down with a blop!
"Tafathal, tsharafna!" I joyfully toot, Bass blainly I see he’s not very mabsoot. He reaches in his bag and with bresents he fill me, Then shaking his finger, he start to bahdilnee.
"You must widen hal chumley and do it right quick, Or I’ll come back next year and bifrik-lack your neck."
And laughing he jump in his big shining 3arabayeh,
And cracking his whip he is off and awayah. On Usef, on Rustum, on Boutrous, Elyas,We’re way behind schedule, so tateeha the ghaz.
And he look back and shout as his 3arabayeh disappear, Merry Chrussmuss lay koolkun, and Habby New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chamber Leadership Converges on Palace of Auburn Hills for 'Lebanese Night' at Detroit Pistons Game Courtesy of The Abood Law Firm


(AUBURN HILLS, MI/USA)...Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce John Akouri joined General Counsel Jeffrey Lance Abood in leading a delegation of members, friends and family to 'Lebanese Night' at the Detroit Pistons basketball game last night. The Pistons would beat the New Orleans Hornets in overtime, during what was a very exciting game. In addition to Akouri and Abood, the group included Executive Committee Member Louis J. Peters, Jr. and his family, Special Assistant to the President Eric Sywak, Deputy Consul General of Mexico, His Excellency Jorge Sánchez-Cataño and his family and friends Elie Naim and Ely Tawk, who had just arrived from Beirut for the holidays and was attending his first NBA game. The Pistons defeated the Hornets 111-108 despite being two players short — Richard Hamilton (upset stomach) and Rodney Stuckey (toe). The Pistons remained determined throughout the match, rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit to pull it out in OT.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

NBC Hit TV Show 'Biggest Loser' Season 7 Winner Helen Phillips Delivers Celebrity Toast at Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party

Maxim Covergirl Jenny Bauer & MegaStar Nicolas El Osta at Lebanese Chamber Holiday Party; Amidst Tight Security Guests Clamor for Photos, Autographs

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chamber Officials Celebrate Christmas with Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence at Annual Holiday Gathering

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Akouri Hosts USA Welcome Reception for Lebanese Internal Security Forces


(REDFORD, MI/USA)...Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Officials joined President John Akouri in welcoming a formal delegation from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) at a luncheon generously offered by The Hallis Family of Beirut Bakery and prepared by Executive Chef Catherine. Lebanese Chamber Special Guests included V. Rev. Father Hanna Tayar of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church, Imam Mohamad Mardini of the American Muslim Center, Michigan District Court Officer/Bailiff Gregory J. Saffady, in addition to Fadi Achour, Abe Karam, and Milad Zohrob. The ISF delegation was invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program: LAW ENFORCEMENT IN THE U.S. A Project for Lebanon, arranged by the Office of International Visitors - Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The ISF is a national police force that undertakes the mission of general protection of the citizenry by apprehending criminals and preventing criminal activity. ISF’s duties include traffic control and traffic crimes oversight, security of official buildings, riot and crowd control, crime scene investigation and enforcement of drug and financial laws. The ISF Visitor Program offers Lebanese police trainees a unique opportunity to observe police training methods in the United States. In addition to meeting with law enforcement officers and partaking in police ride-a-longs, the participants will gain insight through observing the following: Diverse law enforcement training programs, including drug law enforcement; Police headquarters and stations with a focus on operations and communications centers; Forensics labs and crime scene units; SWAT and other special operations programs; Checkpoint operations, such as for DWIs; and American society and culture. The delegation arrived at Beirut Bakery following a visit to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn upon completion of training with the Michigan State Police in Lansing. The delegation dined on a traditional Mediterranean brunch and whose members included: Cadet Hassan Chouman, Internal Security Forces, Aspirant Bilal EL Assaad, Judicial police, Internal Security Forces, Adjutant Bachar EL Chakra, Community Policing, Internal Security Forces, Lt. Ali Hammoud, Internal Security Forces, Major Fawaz Mahfoud, Community policing, Internal Security Forces, Cadet Abbas Mansour, Mobile Forces, Internal Security Forces, Cadet Hussein Mansour, Internal Security Forces, Lt. Toufic Nasr, Roumiyeh prison, Internal Security Forces, Cadet Bachir Yaghi, Traffic Jounieh, Internal Security Forces, and Cadet Mohamad Zeinab, Mobile forces, Internal Security Forces. Akouri boarded the transport vehicle to present the delegation of law enforcement officials with a special token of their visit to take back with them to Lebanon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Visits Lebanon

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Octavia Nasr OpEd: "Some need to wake up... Others need to grow up... Most need to speak up!"

"At a time when Lebanon is going through yet another uncertain and tumultuous time in its modern history, I feel compelled to speak for the silent majority that is truly patriotic and chooses to live in peace away from the polarization of politics and religion."
(ATLANTA)...
I'm deeply disappointed with the Status Quo in Lebanon and people's adaptation to it. Notice I didn't say people's acceptance of the Status Quo, but adaptation. Just as they manage their lives around the absurd power shortages, they find ways to overcome the government ban on VOIP. They ignore abuse of power by civil servants, they deal with nepotism as a fact of life, and they count on bribes to get things done.
During my frequent trips, I speak to many Lebanese from all walks of life. Most of them are eager at first to give the impression they're "neutral" politically, ready to put "the past" behind them, move on in life and prosper. From the Taxi driver to the electrician, to the bank teller and the doctor. Even the passport controller and the luggage handler at the airport. So many Lebanese willing to share their opinion, convinced they're right and everyone else is wrong. Convinced they're neutral, independent thinkers and masters of their own destiny.
How I wish they were right!
It doesn't take long to realize that this neutrality is only temporary until they figure out where you stand. That's when their true jewels of wisdom are shared. A shower of finger-pointing follows. It's always the other side's fault. Mind you, the other side changes sometimes as often as these people change socks, and they don't even realize it or they choose not to admit it. After all, it's a painful truth when your "leader" the one who "leads you" down the ditch in some cases, changes affiliations every time the wind blows in a new direction. To make sure all are included here, note that new winds can show up within months, years or decades. For these "followers" blinded by a tribal mentality of "we're with you even if we have nothing left," or "we're with you until we have nothing left, and beyond," I say wake up! This is the 21st century. If your "leader" hasn't done anything for you so far, chances are he/she won't start now. If you must be "led" by someone, it's time to find a modern "leader" who isn't afraid to put you in touch with the rest of the world and doesn't wish for you to remain ignorant to the truth, living in a bubble and pretending like he/she is God's gift to you and to humanity.

The truth is, nothing has changed!
Most of Lebanon's politicians have remained the same since I lived there and covered the civil war as a local reporter. It really pains me to see that they haven't changed in twenty years. What can one politician offer a country or followers for more than 20, 30, or 40 years in some cases? Recycled politics, recycled speeches, recycled news and recycled leadership. Please note that I'm not against someone remaining active in politics for a long time or even a lifetime.
"Are you really waiting for Ahmadinejad, Erdogan, Abdallah, Assad, Sarkozy or Obama to "teach" you how to unite? Unite because that's your civic duty and because you care about people who entrusted you with their lives, blindly, despite a murky past that might not be worthy of their trust." -OCTAVIA NASR
What that requires, however, is for the person to constantly update themselves; to remain current with the times, to reinvent themselves along the way, and apply 21st century methods of communication and persuasion. Instead, I see politicians who still seek recognition, validation and support from foreign countries to legitimize their stance. Then you have leaders who say something one day, then change their mind another and switch sides completely without reasoning, only justifications. To those I say, forgive me if I and many others see you as immature and I would invite you to grow up! For your sake and for the sake of those who support you and follow you, start behaving like true leaders. Are you really waiting for Ahmadinejad, Erdogan, Abdallah, Assad, Sarkozy or Obama to "teach" you how to unite? Unite because that's your civic duty and because you care about people who entrusted you with their lives, blindly, despite a murky past that might not be worthy of their trust.
There is hope!
Then there is a group that is smart, educated, and open-minded. They are the moderates who have learned their lesson and know how to put politics aside to focus on the future. They are aware of Lebanon's potential and able to get its message across to the world through hard work, creativity, commitment and sacrifice. You are the people I meet everywhere I go and together we have meaningful conversations instead of shouting matches others engage in without convincing arguments. You are the professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, geeks, students, teachers, journalists, poets, even politicians that I spend hours talking to about the Lebanon we dream of, but find harder and harder to reach. To you I say, speak up! Each of you within your own circles and in your own capacity, can make a difference. Don't keep your valuable opinion of necessary change to yourself. Share it with the people around you and hold everyone accountable. Awaken people's social responsibility and speak up about how some people need to wake up while others need to grow up. Remind your audience, large or small, of the famous Lebanese saying: When 3antar was asked who gave him the authority to be 3antar he answered, "I gave myself the authority and no one stopped me."

Footnote: For non-Arabs - Aantar or 3antar is a fictional character in Arabic culture known to be muscular, gang-like and imposing his leadership through fear and intimidation. The Lebanese saying uses 3antar as the name of the character and the verb.

Monday, December 13, 2010

JOHN AKOURI LIVE Award Winning Television Program Returns on the MEA-TV Broadcast Network; February 2011 Season Premiere - Stay Tuned for Details

Sunday, December 12, 2010

VIDEO: Honoring Gebran Tueni - A Voice That Defies Death

A tribute to the memory of Gibran Tueni: On December 12, 2005, Gibran Tueni, Member of Parliament and publisher of An-Nahar daily newspaper, was murdered in Beirut for standing for Lebanon's freedom and advocating for unity and cooperation among the country's diverse communities. One of Lebanon's most prominant journalists and politicians with true aspirations of reform and renewal - his is one of a long list of political assassinations, intended to destabilize Lebanon.

Remembering Brigadier General Francois Hajj

Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Akouri Attends Lido Gallery Art Exhibit Opening Themed: 'Coming of Age in an Era of Celebrity Worship'

(11DEC, 2010 - BIRMINGHAM): Enjoying the exhibit premiere are (l-r) Diane Shipley DeCillis, owner of Lido Art Gallery & Gifts, Attorney Geoffrey Feiger and John Akouri

Akouri Joins WJR Radio Personality Paul W. Smith at the 45th Annual Christmas Sing this Morning at North Grand Court Inside the Somerset Collection

Thursday, December 09, 2010

John Akouri Makes Special Appearance at 'Athletes Adopting Families' Foundation Ball Tonight at The Reserve in Birmingham

(L-R): John Akouri with Helen Phillips, winner of 'The Biggest Loser' TV show & Foundation Major Sponsor Jeffrey Lance Abood, Esq., of The Abood Law Firm
(L-R): Foundation Major Sponsor Jeffrey Lance Abood, Esq., of The Abood Law Firm & NFL Great Herman Moore with John Akouri

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Akouri to Hariri: Press for the Unconditional Release & Return of All Lebanese Detainees in Syria

(WASHINGTON, DC)...In a statement released this morning, former Capitol Hill Senior Advisor & Washington Press Secretary John Akouri urged Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to boldly inquire the fate of all remaining Lebanese being detained in Syria, when he receives Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali at the Grand Serail today, and again strongly reiterated his call for the unconditional release and return of all Lebanese hostages, detainees, captives, MIA & POW in Syria:

"Your Excellency, Lebanese Americans have a vested interest in their country of origin and ancestral homeland. It is this fervent interest that fuels our desire to serve Lebanon and play an active role in its future. These are historic days for the people of Lebanon and throughout the Diaspora, with respect to the nation's national security and border relations. With the authority granted you by the duly elected Lebanese government in as it relates to the current state of diplomatic relations between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Lebanese Republic, I urge you to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned Lebanese detainees, hostages, MIA's & POW's held in that country and to insist upon the return of remains of any captives to their families in Lebanon.
Premier Hariri, as you are keenly aware, reputable Media Outlets along with Human Rights groups have evidence of over 200 Lebanese who are currently detained, or have rather "disappeared" in Syrian jails. They are primarily victims of the regional conflict and political struggles dominating the region, with many of whom have been there for more than a decade. Detainees include civilians, men and women, dozens of soldiers, two Maronite Christian monks and at least one politician. International Human Rights organizations say hundreds of Lebanese have been taken to Syria since it first sent troops on to Lebanese sovereign soil in 1976. These detainees are from various Muslim and Christian sects and different political factions and geographic locations within Lebanon. Some of the detainees were released, others died in custody, and the rest of them are still enduring the cruelty of the Syrian prisons.
Since 1976, and during the ensuing 28 years that followed, the Syrian forces perpetrated arbitrary detentions and kidnapping against thousands of Lebanese citizens, transferring them to the Syrian jails, with total disregard for the rule of International laws. The reality is that these individuals, who were kidnapped and taken as prisoners, are regularly subjected to extreme forms of torture. And during the absence of formal diplomatic relations, Syria's denial of holding these prisoners made their release a near-impossible task. While we continue to applaud the positive efforts you exude in your role as President of the Council of Ministers, and as Lebanon begins this new chapter with its sisterly neighbor, I implore you to heed the global call for freedom of these detainees arbitrarily held in Syrian jails under the cruelest of conditions, and bring an end to this tragic human rights crisis.
According to The Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances are considered crimes against humanity. Clearly, the plight of these captives, the fathers, brothers and sons of Lebanon, deserve every right of return to their families with amnesty and jubilant celebration in the same fashion afforded other former wartime captives, generals, leaders, soldiers, presidents and prisoners. And so, upon completion of today’s diplomatic discussion regarding Lebanese-Syrian relations and the upcoming French-Syrian meeting, I strongly urge you to insist upon the return of all Lebanese detainees, ending their fate of the unknown, and freeing them from the chains of Syrian dungeons.”

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

IN PICTURES: The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce President's Power Lunch & iT EXPO at Lawrence Technology University with L. Brooks Patterson


(SOUTHFIELD, MI)...The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce office of communications announced today the continuation of its monthly President’s ‘Power Lunch’ series in 2011. The extremely successful event gathers some of the region’s top business and civic leaders including: captains of industry, chief executives, financial gurus, medical & legal experts, academic heads, successful entrepreneurs, and fast-growing young professionals. This highly anticipated series is an extension of the Leadership Luncheon program, which was spearheaded in 2006 by Chamber President & CEO John Akouri, and features prominent elected officials and decision-makers from throughout the country.
The President’s Power Lunch series is an exclusive meeting designed to create new rules and new avenues for powerful impact in the region and business world. It is about bringing business leaders together to discuss current and future goals while forging tangible relationships that turn networking into substantial gains for Chamber members, associates and the business community. Invited participants enjoy a great meal and productive conversation ultimately leading to new opportunity. Some of the venues for the luncheon in the past have included: Indianwood Golf & Country Club, the scenic Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, the historic Detroit Athletic Club, the five-star Tribute Restaurant, the Lochmoor Country Club and the executive Skyline Club located on the 28th floor of the prestigious Town Centre. This month's winter luncheon was held on the campus of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, USA and hosted by the college President, Dr. Lewis Walker, an executive member of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce and featured Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
The theme of this month's luncheon was 'Transforming Business' and inluded an Information Technology (iT) EXPO. Special Guests attending the event included: NFL Great Eddie Murray, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, V. Rev. Father Edward Hanna of Saints Peter & Paul Church, Consul General of Macedonia, His Excellency Igor Dukoski, Deputy Consul General of Mexico, His Excellency Jorge Sánchez-Cataño, Northville Township Trustee Christopher Roosen, Lawrence Technological University Provost Dr. Maria Vaz, Attorney Andrew Abood, Esq. of the Lansing-based Abood Law Firm, Attorney Issa Haddad, Esq., National Arab American Medical Association Executive Director Renée Ahee, Madonna University Director of International Education Dr. Jonathan Swift, Attorney Frank T. Mamat, Esq., Shareholder at FosterSwift, CPA Martin Peters, MEA-TV President & General Manager Wally Jadan, Dianne Shipley DeCillis of Lido Gallery & Gifts, Builder & Developer Aziz Harridy, International Barrister Laurie Tannous, Employment Immigration Attorney Rami Fakhoury, Esq., Optech President & CEO Ronia Fakhoury Kruse, Detroit Philanthropist Dr. Tarik Daoud, Elie Naim, of the American Friends of Notre Dame University- Louaize, and newest Chamber Member Mende Bezanovski.
Joining Chamber leaders Akouri and Ahee, members of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board of Directors participating in the event included outgoing Chairman of the Board Ronald M. Pruette of UBS Peninsula Wealth Management Group and incoming Chairman Louis J. Peters, Jr., of Kenneth J. Dalto & Associates. Also appearing were General Counsel Jeffrey Lance Abood, and Directors Fred Andary of Andary Realty, Abe Karam and Michigan District Court Officer/Bailiff Gregory Saffady. In addition to Lawrence Technology University, featured EXPO technology exhibitors included: Automation Alley, represented by Senior Business Development Executive Sharon Blumeno, TechTown, represented by Faris Alami, CADSRPO, represented by CEO Fady Elias, Atrient founder Sam Attisha, and Pentacle Technologies & Vera Vault creator Ed Babbie. And once again this year, the Holiday Luncheon benefited the work of The Salvation Army, represented by Captain Scott Strissel.
The goals and objectives of the Chamber’s annual luncheon series are focused at achieving business objectives well beyond foremost organizations and prime individuals across the nation. These structured business goals are aggressive and participants are part of the power of working together to further deliver the mission and contribute to the overall growth and advancement of the national Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce. To be considered for attendance at a future President's Power Lunch or to learn more about and/or join the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, please visit: http://www.lebanesechamber.org/.

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