John Akouri Newsblog


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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lebanese Social Club at UCLA Presents Free Culture Show

Thursday, February 26, 2009

MEA Middle East Airlines Unveils Swanky New Music Video Commercial Directed by Amanda Abou Abdallah

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday - Lent Begins

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sister Marie Keyrouz to Perform Spiritual Concert at Casino du Liban to Raise Funds for Hospital

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lebanese American Community in Boston Holds Fundraising Dinner to Rebuild St. Elias Church in Btaarboura, Lebanon

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Washington, DC-based Lebanese-American Groups Ask Members of Congress to Press Syria on Lebanon

(WASHINGTON, DC)...A number of Lebanese-American groups have asked a US Congressional team to pressure Damascus to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and implement UN Resolutions. The congressional delegation's Mideast tour includes Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Syria. The team includes Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry, Senator Howard Berman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman of the Terrorism & Homeland Security Sub-committee. The six organizations addressed the congressmen with the following letter:
"We, the undersigned organizations, represent a broad cross-section of Lebanese Americans and the cause of a sovereign and prosperous Lebanon. On behalf of our members, we thank the United States Congress for an ongoing commitment to peace, democracy, and human rights throughout the Middle East. Several members of Congress currently are preparing to travel to Syria, and when they visit with Syrian officials we hope that you and your colleagues will keep in mind some important principles:
First, the UN Security Council has passed Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701, which deal with the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon. Security Council Resolution 1701 specifically calls for the "disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon" and "no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government." Syria must comply with these resolutions.
Second, Syria should expedite the workings of the Lebanese-Syrian "Joint Commission on Missing Persons," whose mission includes investigating the hundreds of Lebanese believed to be detained in Syria, and promptly release the findings.
Third, Syria should quickly and seriously implement the declaration of Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman and Syria's President Bashar Assad on August 14, 2008 to delimit and demarcate the borders between Lebanon and Syria.
Fourth, we welcome the exchange of embassies between Syria and Lebanon, including the opening of the Syrian embassy in Beirut on December 26, 2008, and urge that Syria appoint an ambassador expeditiously as an important sign of its respect for Lebanese sovereignty.
Fifth, all United Nations member-states, including Syria, are required to cooperate with the International Independent Investigation Committee probing the assassinations of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri and others and to cooperate with the Special Tribunal to try those indicted in the said assassinations.
Members of Congress who visit Syria have an opportunity to raise the above issues directly with Syrian officials, and to make clear the historic interest of the United States in the well-being of Lebanon and its people. We hope that visiting American officials emphasize to Syria that the United States expects Syrian compliance with UN resolutions and cooperation with UN bodies if Syria wants normalization in US-Syrian relations."
Upcoming congressional visits to Syria provide an opportunity to deliver a clear message to Syria's leaders that they must respect the sovereignty of Lebanon and respect the independence and dignity of the Lebanese people.
Lebanon Renaissance Foundation (LRF),
American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), Lebanese Information Center (LIC), National Association of Lebanese Americans (NALA), American Lebanese Coalition (ALC), American Lebanese Coordination Council (ALCC)
According to the Lebanese daily Annahar, sources close to Kerry said that during upcoming talks with the Syrian regime's dictator Bashar Assad, the senator is expected to discuss Syria's relations with Lebanon. The sources said that Berman is also expected to "conduct telephone calls with Lebanese leaders during his stay in Jordan before heading to Damascus."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

IN PICTURES: Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce February Power Lunch

(TROY, MI)...The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce (LACC) held its monthly President’s ‘Power Lunch’ today at Maggiano's Ristorante, gathering 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 LACC President & CEO John Akouri, and features prominent elected officials and decision-makers from throughout the country. At today's event, Akouri announced the inaugural 'Stars in the Skies' Concert to benefit the Lebanese Chamber which will debut April 3, 2009 at the Town Center's Skyline Club.
In addition to Akouri, luncheon guests included: Andary Real Estate Chairman Fred Andary, Ansara Restaurant Group (Big Boy/Red Robin) Vice President & LACC Chairman of the Board Lew Ansara, Advanced Strategies Group Senior Vice President Rick Appel, Atrient, Inc., Founder & CEO Sam Attisha, C Energy North America Partner Tony Cappussi, St. John Hospital & Medical Center Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Richard Cross (Saliba), Consulate of Macedonia Consul General & Chief Diplomat Hon. Igor Dukoski, Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association Past President Steve Hagar, Galaxy Homes Builder & Developer Aziz Haridy, NAI Farbman/The Farbman Group Chief Operating Officer Michael Kalil, Former Detroit FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge & Kerby, Bailey & Associates Vice-President Bill Kowalski, J-Mack Investigative & Security Solutions & Former Mount Clemens Police Chief Joe Macksoud, MCI Construction President & CEO Ibrahim Marji, The Community Guide Publisher Nizar Matta, the LACC General Counsel, Automotive Executive Elie Naim, CMPS Institute Chairman & CEO Gibran Nicholas, Madonna University Vice President for Academic Administration Dr. Ernest Nolan, Paramount Bank Executive Vice-President Louis J. Peters, Jr., Peninsula Wealth Management Group/UBS First Vice-President Ron Pruette, Consulate of Mexico Consul General & Chief Diplomat Vicente M. Sanchez-Ventura, ACN, Inc. Vice President of Customer Operations Claude Semaan, IPS Technology Services President Pradip Sengupta, and Chrysler NVH Development Laboratory Manager Elie Tohme. Participants in the past have included ABC -TV Channel 7 Action News Financial Survival Team Advisor Jack K. Riashi, Jr., and Michigan Bailiff's Association President Gregory Saffady.
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. The goals and objectives of the Chamber’s new 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.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lebanese American Community Mourns Loss of George Abu Karam, Victim of Continental Commuter Plane Crash Near Buffalo, New York

(BUFFALO, NY)...The Associated Press is reporting today that George Abu Karam was one of 50 people killed when a Continental Airlines plane crashed on Thursday in Clarence, New York. The plane plunged into a house just five miles short of its planned landing at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Abu Karam, of Tiberias, Israel, had been a member of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), founded and led by Major Saad Haddad originally as the Free Lebanon Army - a breakaway force of about 2,500 mostly Christian men who split from the Lebanese Army in 1976. In March 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon to clear out Palestinian guerrilla strongholds, after a bloody raid by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists. On April 18, 1979, in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal, Haddad proclaimed the area controlled by his force 'Independent Free Lebanon'. The following day, he was branded a traitor to the Lebanese government and officially dismissed from the Lebanese Army. The Free Lebanon Army was renamed the SLA in May 1980 and established a dominion in the region up to the Litani River to prevent further PLO incursions. SLA soldiers were mostly Christian but also included Lebanese Druze and Shiites. Haddad, a Greek Catholic Christian, was born and raised in the Lebanese village of Marjeyoun and received his military training in part at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA.
As Lebanon’s military disintegrated along sectarian lines in the early years of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, Haddad sought to establish a military force in south Lebanon who's sole objectives was to defeat the PLO in his country. Sadly, Haddad died of cancer at his home in Marjeyoun on Jan. 14, 1984. His wife, Theresa, and six daughters, were at his side. Antoine Lahd, a retired high ranking officer in the Lebanese Army was appointed Commander of the SLA at the request of former President Camille Chamoun, and replaced Haddad following his untimely death. Fromer SLA member George Abu Karam was flying to Buffalo last Thursday to visit his cousin. Abu Karam first arrived in the lakeside city of Tiberias in 2000, when Israeli troops pulled out of south Lebanon and many SLA men fled after them, fearing retribution if they stayed behind, a friend, Aviv Omer, told Israel Radio. "You could say that he didn't just fit in, he led," Omer told the radio station. "He was always surrounded by friends, always smiling. He had presence. He was a big man. He worked as a security guard after the SLA. He always tried to look tough and project confidence, but inside he had a heart as soft as butter, a heart of gold." Oded Zafti, the owner of a bar that employed Abu Karam as a security guard, told the newspaper Haaretz: "He was a man with a good soul, enterprising and devoted." Laizer Labkovski, a rabbi with the Chabad movement in Buffalo, said Abu Karam's cousin was at the airport to pick up Abu Karam when he learned of the crash.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lebanese American Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Jimmy Naifeh's Political Maneuver Caps Career of Power

(NASHVILLE, TN)...From The Tennessean - The lawmakers were nervous. On the morning of Jan. 13, an hour before the election of Tennessee's House speaker, Democrats crowded into the Old Supreme Court Chambers and barred the doors. Trusted staff members were told to stay out, and reporters prowled nearby. One lawmaker, en route from the bedside of his ailing wife, was updated by phone. At the front of the chamber, Speaker Jimmy Naifeh faced the hushed group and told them that he had been unable to gain a 50th vote from a Republican to secure his speakership and for the party to keep control of the House. And then he asked them to vote for Republican Kent Williams instead.
That request from Naifeh and his leadership team set in motion a political carousel that has yet to stop moving, and probably will be remembered as the most audacious — some would say deceptive — political maneuver in Naifeh's 18 years as House speaker, the longest tenure in Tennessee's history. The move to seat Williams, which thwarted Majority Leader Jason Mumpower's bid for the post, capped Naifeh's official tenure calling the shots in the House. Naifeh's post-speaker role is unclear, but some lawmakers, including Naifeh himself, expect the Covington Democrat to still wield at least some power in the chamber, even if it is from his desk in the back row of the House and his modest office on the first floor of the War Memorial Building, far from the sprawling speaker's suite he inhabited in the heart of Legislative Plaza for so many years. "I'm satisfied with my time as speaker, even though I would like to be serving as speaker right now," he said.
Quick to praise, punish
Naifeh's legacy is a long one, of more than 30 years in the General Assembly, 18 of them as speaker. During that time, he created legions of fierce supporters and seeded an army of equally fierce critics, but even Republicans express admiration for his ability to lead the state's scrappy, sometimes quarrelsome House. Former Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn, one of the six governors during Naifeh's decades in the House, described Naifeh as a "partisan Democrat to the core." While he would have preferred that the GOP been in charge of the House, he said Naifeh has "earned the right to be appreciated by the people of the state. He's been devoted to his responsibilities and has managed the House very well," Dunn said.
Naifeh's done so through a blend of reward and intimidation. Both parties say he is true to his word, quick to praise and quick to punish. At all times, he was in the eye of House politics, whether huddling with lobbyists in front of his office, whispering one-on-one in the warren of hallways behind the hearing rooms, back-slapping over drinks at Morton's steakhouse or at the family's famed Coon Supper in Covington. Former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, who was House majority leader under Naifeh, said that he was driven with constant attention to his legislative work and expected the same of his leadership team. Those who couldn't keep up, he said, didn't make it. "If he was awake, he was speaker, and I'm guessing that applied to the rest of the day, too. In many ways, that was who he was; that's how he saw himself," Purcell said.
Set his sights on the top
To outside eyes, Naifeh might appear indiscernible from other Tennessee politicians. In reality, he came from a very different background. His parents were Lebanese immigrants, and his father "didn't speak a word of English" when he arrived in the United States, Naifeh said. In 1994, James Zogby, now the president of the Arab American Institute, listed Naifeh among prominent Arab-American elected officials around the country. In addition to the family store, Naifeh's father was deeply involved in the community and a member of the town board. He also founded a community institution that continues today: the Coon Supper, a seen-and-be-seen event for politicians who flock to Covington for a meal of raccoon or, for the faint of heart, chicken.
After attending the University of Tennessee and finishing a stint in the U.S. Army, Naifeh returned to Covington and decided to run for the House. He failed in his first try, in 1972, by only about a dozen votes. After that loss, he pledged to take nothing for granted again, and won in 1974 by about 1,500 votes. From the beginning, Naifeh knew he didn't want to be just another lawmaker, and set his sights on the House leadership. "I made a decision then that I was either going to get involved or I was going to get out," he said. "I wasn't going to be someone who was just up here." He had a quick rise. In 1977, he became the Democrats' floor leader, then majority leader in 1985, and finally speaker in 1991, after Ned McWherter was elected governor. McWherter, whom Naifeh considers his mentor, said that he and Naifeh worked well together, when both were in the legislature and after McWherter moved to the governor's office. Sometimes, McWherter would help Naifeh corral votes when needed.
"When he felt he needed to be strong, and couldn't get a majority or consensus, he tried to put one together," McWherter said, "and most of the time was very successful in making things happen, in his own way and his own style." Naifeh made ethics and House decorum a priority when he came in, but Lt. Gov. John Wilder in the Senate stymied Naifeh's ethics overhaul, ending a session without a vote on reforms that had been passed in the House. That strained the two men's relationship, but they eventually repaired it. There was the success of education reform passed under McWherter, but then the famous, multi-year battle over tax reform in Gov. Don Sundquist's administration, which culminated when Naifeh famously held open voting in a vain hope to land crucial votes on the income tax.
One of the major criticisms of Naifeh through his term was his marriage to lobbyist Betty Anderson, whom he married in 1995. Critics said that the relationship was improper for the top official in the House. That complaint continued as recently as 2008, when Anderson represented AT&T — though not as an active lobbyist — during heated talks over cable TV deregulation. The two divorced last year after several years of separation. Both have said that their marriage never swayed Naifeh's votes, and in fact may have worked against Anderson, with Naifeh casting votes against the interests of her clients. "A lot of people don't believe that, but that's just the way it was. There was some folks that thought she had an advantage being married to me. The fact is, she was probably at a disadvantage," Naifeh said. Anderson echoed that, saying that "Jimmy and I did our best to separate our political lives from our private lives." "I do not feel that I or my issues got special attention from him," she said.
His role is uncertain
Naifeh held sway with a powerful hand. In 2002, when House Democrats revolted against Naifeh and tried to elect Rep. Frank Buck in his place, he came down hard on the insurgents. One of them was Rep. Mike Turner, who lost his committee assignments. Naifeh later returned to him and restored his assignments, and Turner now considers him a good friend, Turner said. "It's not for the faint of heart to be somebody who is in legislative leadership positions. You've got to make tough decisions, and you're going to make people mad occasionally. You can't make everybody happy," Turner said. Mumpower, who had the speaker's gavel snatched from his hand by the machinations of Jan. 13, said that he admires how Naifeh led the House, and would likely have emulated some of the former speaker's tactics, had he been elected last month, and which he hopes will happen in 2010.
"I know that Speaker Naifeh has a lot of critics on the right, and we don't necessarily agree on policy issues, but his style was —sometimes it was a little too hard charging — but overall I think he operated things the way he had to make progress," he said. Today, Naifeh's role is uncertain. Minority Leader Gary Odom is widely credited with persuading Williams to seek the speakership with Democrats' support, a plan cemented less than 24 hours before the speaker's vote. Naifeh has a newly created title of speaker emeritus, which he says gives him no special rights or privileges. He has pledged to be nothing more than an adviser to Williams, the man he urged Democrats to support. And, he said, he will help Democrats regain their majority. If they did, he's interested in seeking the speakership yet again, even with the start of his eighth decade on the horizon. "That's just numbers," he scoffed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Statement by the President on the Anniversary of the Assassination of Rafiq Hariri

(THE WHITE HOUSE)...Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. As we share our grief with the Lebanese people over the loss of Prime Minister Hariri, we also share our conviction that his sacrifice will not be in vain. The United States fully supports the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, whose work will begin in a few weeks, to bring those responsible for this horrific crime and those that followed to justice.
As Lebanon prepares for parliamentary elections, the United States will continue to support Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, the legitimate institutions of the Lebanese state, and the Lebanese people. The United States remains committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559. We also will continue to support the voices of peace and moderation in Lebanon, and hope that Lebanon continues down the path of national reconciliation, peace, and prosperity that its citizens so strongly deserve.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Safadi Foundation USA Announces Launch of New Washington, DC Based Office & Website to Support Lebanon's Human Development Objectives

(WASHINGTON, DC) 02.11.09/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Safadi Foundation USA announced yesterday the official opening of their office based in Washington, DC. Safadi Foundation USA is a non-partisan, charitable, tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting a national and strategic framework for Lebanon's human development needs. "This initiative will build support for Lebanese civil society and raise awareness about Lebanon's critical development challenges," said Osama Khoury, President of the Foundation.
The Foundation's development objectives include rallying support for a more efficient and sustainable development in Lebanon through projects aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society and fostering the growth of strong and independent state institutions dedicated to the rule of law, good governance and development in Lebanon. These objectives will be achieved by partnering international donors with local organizations proven to be accountable, transparent and effective.
The Foundation's position in Washington, DC allows it to serve as a link between Lebanese local actors, namely its sister organization, and international and American human development organizations based in the USA. The Foundation also aims to strengthen the bridge between Lebanese local communities and the Lebanese and Arab Diaspora in a manner that will transcend sectarian and partisan narratives that complicate a deep understanding of Lebanon's development challenges.
Since 2001, the Safadi Foundation in Lebanon has been working to improve the livelihood and participation of citizens through programs in the areas of information communication technology, agriculture, social development, health, sports, environment, education, culture, and youth.
A new opportunity for engagement with the Middle East and U.S. foreign assistance is at hand now. "It is likely that the ongoing economic crisis will reduce the level of resources available. Therefore, it's a good time to think about the priorities of U.S. development assistance to Lebanon and what kind of opportunities can be gained from enhancing the quality and effectiveness of current and future assistance," said Lara Alameh, the newly appointed Executive Director. The Foundation will serve as an educational resource among policymakers and government officials for sustained economic development assistance to Lebanon based on objective analysis, research and policy guidance.
Safadi Foundation USA is a non-partisan registered 501(c)(3) public charitable tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting a national and strategic framework for Lebanon's development. For more information, please visit:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Akouri Extends Congratulations to Cousin: His Grace Simon Atallah, Maronite Bishop of Baalbek-Deir El Ahmar, Lebanon on 3rd Anniversary of Ordination

February 11, 2006: Patriarch blesses four just-ordained BishopsCardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, Maronite patriarch, center, blesses four bishops during their ordination ceremony in Bkerke, Lebanon, Feb. 11. The bishops are Simon Atallah of Baalbeck-Deir el-Ahmar, Georges Bou-Jaoude of Tripoli, Francois Eid of Cairo, Egypt, and Elias Nassar of Saida.
(WASHINGTON, DC)...John Akouri today congratulated his cousin, His Grace, Bishop Simon Atallah of Baalbeck-Deir el-Ahmar, Lebanon on this the third anniversary of his ordination ceremony.
"Today, my family and I are proud to commemorate this joyous day in which one of our own was ordained a Bishop, continuing his journey in the service of the Lord and his people," said Akouri, of the former Superior General of the Antonine Maronite Order. "We congratulate Bishop Atallah for his decades of service to the Lord and promise him our prayers for his continued well-being and service to the Maronite Church. We ask God to grant Sayedna a long life filled with purity, goodness and heavenly grace as he continues his bountiful service in the vineyard of the Lord. He is truly an inspiration, and a guiding star to Maronites around the world, and our family shares in an abundance of joy on this special day."
The Akouri family has a long and active history in the Maronite Church with their ancestors originally hailing from the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, where Akouri's paternal grandfather was caretaker of St. Michael Maronite Cathedral. The dedication and leadership of his maternal grandmother led to the raising of funds and development of a new Maronite church in Detroit a half century ago. Akouri's father Fouad has served as a cantor in Maronite churches across Lebanon, Canada and the United States, and continues to do so still today.
Akouri was baptized in the Maronite Church by Msgr. Michael Abdoo and served as an Altar Server for many priests including, H.E. Archbishop Francis M. Zayek and the late Chor-Bishop Joseph Feghali.
At the bequest of and under the leadership and guidance of Msgr. Kenneth Michael, Akouri served on the James & Kathleen Tamer Gathering Place Board of Directors, following the construction of the facility on the campus of St. Sharbel Church in suburban Detroit, Michigan. Akouri also served on the Cathedral of St. Maron Maronite Church Parish Council during the notable administration of beloved priest and pastor Father Ghattas Khoury, currently of Phoenix, Arizona.
Akouri has met with His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, during both his visits to Capitol Hill and the Lebanese Embassy in 2001 & 2005. During the 2006 visit of the Patriarch to Detroit, Akouri presented the leader of the Maronite church with a specially engraved plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary of the forming of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron at the site of the first Maronite Cathedral in the United States. And in Washington, DC, at the invitation of Chorbishop Seeley Beggiani, Akouri attended the groundbreaking of the new wing at the Maronite Seminary.
For over a decade, Akouri hosted the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Princess Madiha Benefit Gala. An event that started with a modest dozen or so patrons – today numbers annually over 500 guests and has raised in excess of a quarter million dollars for the facility founded by the late Lebanese Maronite Christian Danny Thomas in Memphis, Tennessee. He began serving as master of ceremonies for the annual benefit in 1994 and continued to do so during his appointment on Capitol Hill as Washington Press Secretary and Senior Advisor to former US Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI).
The news of then-Abbott Atallah's elevation was announced from the Vatican, on Dec. 28 2005, just months after the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. At that time, the Holy Father approved the canonical election Fr. Abbott Simon Atallah, O.A.M., Superior of the Convent of Saint John in Ajaltoun, Lebanon, as Bishop of Baalbek - Deir El-Ahmar of the Maronites. The area consists of 30,000 Catholics, 14 priests, 20 religious, and 2 permanent deacons. Bishop Atallah was born in 1937 in Hemayri, Lebanon, took his vows in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1963.
In a recent news article, Bishop Atallah discussed the situation in Lebanon, noting that reading the Bible and listening to the word of God are the surest ways to find hope in difficult situations and to foster unity among Christians -- and even among members of different religions. Bishop Atallah said the forces that are trying to destabilize Lebanon" are trying to silence the word of God" among both Christians and Muslims. "Both Muslims and Christians have seen that it is not weapons and war that give hope for the future, but God," he said Feb. 27, 2008 during the annual conference of bishop-friends of the Focolare Movement, a worldwide Catholic lay movement. The 2008 conference focused on the Scriptures in preparation for the October world Synod of Bishops on the Bible. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Prague, Czech Republic, told reporters that when the communists controlled every aspect of organized religion in his country people were left only with their Bibles.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Speaks at LACC Winter Leadership Luncheon; Chamber President John Akouri Requests Minority Status for Lebanese Americans

(DETROIT, MI)...The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce hosted Detroit's new Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., who lead the Winter Leadership Luncheon Series as its first speaker last week. The event was sponsored by UBS/Peninsula Wealth Management Group and took place on Thursday, February 5th, at the Skyline Club located on the 28th floor of the Town Center overlooking the city's landscape. Many of the region's top business, civic and academic leaders gathered to hear the Mayor's address to Chamber officials and members.
Chamber President John Akouri presented the Mayor with a request that by executive order, he designate Lebanese American businessmen and women and their companies, to the status of Minority. This distinction would be crafted after the highly successful San Francisco model and recognize the Lebanese American community as a legal minority class afforded all the rights and benefits available to other traditional minorities under the City's contracting ordinance. Akouri noted that Detroit, along with San Francisco could lead the nation in paving the way for millions of Lebanese Americans to benefit through the minority status designation, while continuing to positively contribute to the nation’s economy. The Mayor agreed to seriously review and consider the request and to develop a working relationship with Chamber officials towards implementing such a possibility. The Chamber leadership met last fall with United States Senator Carl Levin (R-MI) and also sought of the lawmaker for a federal designation of minority status for Lebanese & Arab Americans.
ABOUT THE EVENT: The successful speaker series was launched in 2005 by President Akouri. In 2009, the Chamber will expand the series to include Media, CEO and Newsmaker programs. Past speakers at Chamber functions have included U.S. Ambassador Sam Zakhem, U.S. Senators John E. Sununu and Carl Levin, U.S. Representatives Mike Rogers, Candice Miller, Thaddeus McCotter, and Charles Boustany, Governor John H. Sununu, NASCAR Legend Bobby Rahal, NFL Great Lomas Brown, Actress/Director Nadine Labaki, Cardinal Adam Maida, Ford CEO Jacques Nasser, General Motors Chief Economist G. Mustafa Mohatarem, MSNBC News Analyst Raghida Dergham, FOX-2 News Business Editor Murray Feldman, Windsor, Canada Mayor Eddie Francis, Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor, Attorney General Mike Cox, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano, Fmr. Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, GOP National Committeeman Keith Butler, U.S. Army General Mark A. Montjar, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Kaddo, and Al Hurra Television Chief Pentagon Correspondent Joe Tabet. Additional notables who have addressed the Chamber include NBC's David Letterman, CNN's Octavia Nasr, Motown Legend Martha Reeves, Lebanese Consul General Bachir S. Tawk, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, among others.
ABOUT THE CHAMBER: The national Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit national business organization headquartered in Michigan with members nationwide and offices in Detroit, New York, Houston, Chicago & Washington, DC. The Chamber serves to actively develop, promote and advance Lebanese American business and to enhance the economic, social, educational, trade and cultural interests by providing leadership, legislative advocacy, social and philanthropic activities, business networking, special projects and the exchange of business and information. It also seeks to promote economic growth and development, expand business opportunities and heighten awareness between the Lebanese and American communities throughout the United States and Lebanon operating as an American, Michigan-based non-profit corporation linking business professionals locally, nationally, and globally.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce 2006 Honoree George Selim to Discuss Federal Jobs Opportunities at Southern Illinois University

CARBONDALE -- (From the Southern Illinoisan)...A U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy adviser will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale later this month to discuss career opportunities in the federal government. George Selim is a policy adviser in Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties. He is speaking at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Student Center auditorium. The presentation is free, and the public is invited.
While visiting SIUC, Selim “will share his story regarding the benefits of working in a federal organization and discuss the numerous benefits of government service,” said Michelle R. Garrett, an SIUC Career Services specialist. “Career Services hopes that students and community members will take advantage of this opportunity to hear first-hand about the many rewards of public service.”The federal government is the nation’s largest employer. According to a 2007 study by the Partnership for Public Service, the nation’s largest federal agencies will hire nearly 193,000 new workers for “mission-critical jobs,” Garrett said.
“Given this number of available positions coupled with the current uncertain economic times, students must not overlook the many career opportunities offered by the federal government,” she said. Among the many benefits available is student loan repayment assistance. In his current job, Selim provides counsel that enables federal policy makers to achieve national security and law enforcement goals in ways that also protect an individual’s civil rights and civil liberties. He works with federal agencies to develop and strengthen the federal government’s civic engagement, public outreach and public diplomacy initiatives; regularly meets with the American Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian communities; and helps law enforcement officials better interact with ethnic and religious minorities.
Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Selim served under a White House appointment to the U.S. Department of Justice as special assistant to the director of the Community Relations Service. Selim is a member of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Public Service Speakers Bureau. The speakers bureau, coordinated by the Partnership for Public Service, “is a dynamic, diverse group of federal employees ready to educate audiences about the federal workforce and to inspire a new generation to serve,” according to its Web site. A native of Cleveland, Selim received the 2006 Department of Justice “Meritorious Service Award,” the 2006 Arab American Institute “Public Service Award,” and the 2005 Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce “Chairman’s Award."
More information about the Partnership for Public Service is available at For more information on the presentation, contact Garrett at 618/453-2391, or via email at

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Basilica of St. Mary's Orthodox Church to Hold Second Annual Wine & Single Malt Scotch Tasting Event

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Valentine Party Monte Carlo Style at St. Ephrem Maronite Church in San Diego

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Detroit Winter Blast '09

Monday, February 02, 2009

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Says "Six More Weeks of Winter!"

Sunday, February 01, 2009


JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">