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.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Founders 1st Annual Summertime Family Picnic on Lone Pine Beach at Walnut Lake Park



Thursday, August 23, 2007

LEBFEST '07 Brings Thousands to Downtown Birmingham

The Forum & Link
By Suehaila M. Amen
(BIRMINGHAM, MI)...The Lebanese are a proud people with a heritage and history worthy of many honors and recognitions. A country rich with history, faith, and a land extraordinarily beautiful, Lebanon is the home to over four million residents with an additional several million expatriates having settled across the globe; from not only the Middle East and Asian regions but to South and North America and Africa to as far as Australia.
In Metro Detroit, where a large Lebanese population resides, there are many organizations which are dedicated to preserving their heritage, and culture while working to advance the Lebanese community, socially, economically, educationally, and religiously.
One of these outstanding organizations is the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce (LACC), an organization established in by several prominent Lebanese businessmen in Metro Detroit to promote business ties and advance the Lebanese business sector financially.
For LACC President and LEBFEST General Chairman, John Akouri, former Farmington Hills Councilman and a well-respected community leader, bringing LEBFEST to Birmingham was an idea that came about many years ago. "LEBFEST was a dream of mine whose seeds were rooted long ago," tells Akouri. "To see this dream come full bloom was personally rewarding to me and I am grateful to all who nourished and helped fuel the realization of this dream."
Akouri realizes the importance of bringing together the Lebanese as a people; united under one flag. "Lebanon has always been a refuge, an open home, for different religions, nationalities, and peoples," explains Akouri. "As southeast Michigan is home to so many Lebanese, LEBFEST offers not only a day for us to gather and rejoice in the splendor of our rich culture, heritage and traditions - but to also share these treasures with the thousands whom attended, both Lebanese and non-Lebanese alike."
LEBFEST was launched at an exclusive, by-invitation-only preview party the evening prior to the festival at the new Baci Salon and Spa in downtown Birmingham. Greeting each guest at the door were Baci creators Sam and FiFi Lachine, as Baci personnel offered champagne, hors'deuerves, and petite four throughout the evening while estheticians and masseurs offered mini salon treatments including paraffin wraps and mini massages as a treat to guests.
The preview party featured artwork by Lebanese American artist Stephen Deeb and music by harpist Diane Dunn. Nearly 400 of the Lebanese professional elite, community leadership and dignitaries including Lebanese Consul Bachir Tawk, Walsh College President Stephanie Bergeron and city of Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence.
"It was indeed an extravagant event," expresses Sami Abdallah, 22, a business owner and real estate agent in Metro Detroit. "The Spa is spectacular to say the least and the premier party was an exceptional way to launch LEBFEST. Highlighting local Lebanese artists and their works was a phenomenal addition to the already posh style of Baci's. It was impressive! The LACC hosts nothing less than first-class events."
On July 25, 2007 at 10:00 a.m., LEBFEST kicked off in Birmingham's Chene Park Square in the center of downtown. With artisan tents, delicious Lebanese cuisine vendors, and wholesalers sold Lebanese flags, pins, CD's, and paraphernalia which decorated tents throughout the park.
Birmingham, chosen for its central location within the metro Detroit area was a charming setting for this extravagant event. Though it drizzled for a brief moment, the sky opened and the heavens brightened as Lebanese and Non-Lebanese alike came together for a beautiful afternoon and evening of festivities and music.
"As a centrally geographic meeting point between east and west, the beauty of downtown Birmingham reminds many of our beloved Lebanese capital, Beirut," notes Akouri. "City officials and business leaders from across Birmingham welcomed LEBFEST with great enthusiasm and have already begun working with us to plan next year's festival."
A highlight of the event was the presentation of the key to the city of Birmingham to Akouri and the LACC. Paul W. Smith, a celebrated Lebanese American Radio personality served as the Festival Host Committee Chairman.
"It is always a pleasure to see the community gathering to celebrate their heritage. LEBFEST was a remarkable festival of culture, tradition, and family," tells Bachir Tawk, Consul of Lebanon in Detroit. "To see not only Lebanese, but Americans of Lebanese descent, and non-Arabs taking part in festivities was a significant moment for me. As a diplomat, I unconditionally support these events that bring together the community and preserve the heritage of our ancestral homeland."
Tawk looks forward to next year's festival, stating "We look forward to a longer celebration next year as opposed to a one day event. All in all, LEBFEST was phenomenal and I commend Akouri, the host committee, the LACC and its sponsors for hosting this festival and continuing to honor our heritage and traditions."
Event highlights included musical performances by Detroit Red Wings Singer Karen Newman, Usama Baalbaki, Amalia Kaddo and her Mediterranean Music Ensemble, Jimmy A & his Rat Pack Rollers, Ashley Peters (granddaughter of singing legend Odette Kaadou), and a cultural Lebanese dance performance by Layalina Dance Troupe of Folklore and Debkeh.
"It was an extraordinary sight to see as Christians, Muslims, and Druze danced together, hand in hand during the debkeh, united as Lebanese," notes Elie Naim, an Electrical Engineer and festival attendee. "It was a fantastic event that brought the Lebanese community from all over the metro Area together."
Festival booths included Mezza Grille, Big Boy, M. Shatila Pastries, Artist Adnan Charara's Gallerie Camille, ORA / Axcent Scandinavian Watch Company, Baci Salon and Spa, and the U.S Army, among others.
A multitude of dignitaries were present at the festival kickoff including Dearborn Heights District Judge David Turfe, Lebanese Consul Bachir Tawk, Warren City Clerk Richard Sulaka, Oakland Probate Judge Linda Saoud Hallmark, State Rep. Chuck Moss, Circuit Court Judge David Allen, Lebanese American Club of Michigan President Chawki Gemayel, United American Lebanese Federation President Walid Mourad, Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano Senior Advisor Wassim Mahfouz, Michigan House of Reps Policy Analyst Kenwah Dabaja, Jordanian Consul General Habib Fakhoury, American Jewish Committee Director Sharona Shapiro, Armenian Assembly of America Edgar Hagopian, Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan President Didem Seyhoglu, and Michigan Food & Beverage Association President Ed Deeb among many others.
"LEBFEST could not have happened without the generous contributions of so many including our sponsors, partners, volunteers, performers, staff and of course, The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce," tells Akouri.
To learn more, visit
www.lebanesefestival.org

Saturday, August 18, 2007

WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Text of Speech Delivered by Councilman John Akouri upon the Occasion Recognizing the Departure of AJC Director Sharona Shapiro

Sharona Shapiro Farewell Speech
American Jewish Committee Reception
Congregation Shaarey Zedek
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 / 8:00 PM
Good Evening.
Forty years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., he is still working towards peace and justice and bringing people together.
I met Sharona Shapiro six months ago on the campus of Wayne State University during its annual celebration of the birth of Dr. King. Since that time, I have learned a great deal about her – mostly that she is a woman of understanding.
Sharona understands
that her work at the AJC was meaningful & rewarding
Sharona understands persistence, perseverance and planning can only produce positive results
Sharona understands in the belief of understanding NOT misunderstanding
Sharona understands dialogue and discussion NOT division and discourse
Sharona understands there is NO difference between the blood of a Lebanese Child and an Israeli Child, they are still just a child
Sharona understands whether you are named Moshe, Michael or Mohamed, you are still a member of the human race
Sharona understands the road to Jerusalem does not run through Beirut; it runs through the blood and veins of all who believe in the miracles of the Holy Land
Sharona understands that Brenda Rosenberg is not the only child of Abraham – we’re all The Children of Abraham
Sharona understands the only way to securing a future for our peoples is not with a cluster of bombs but rather with a cluster of hope, exchange of ideas and ideals, and with open channels of communication.
Sharona you are a gem - a diamond in a field of zirconium. And as you depart AJC, please consider me a brother in arms. Armed with the ambition and truth to declare that we are the children of the Levant and together and only together can we build a future for our children and our children’s children.
I am confident that because of your work, there will come a day when our peoples will look back and see your efforts for what they truly were – a framework for peace. I know you believe with me that:
A Day Will Come
when Lebanese and Israeli school children will play on the playground together
A Day Will Come when Lebanese and Israeli students study side by side at the library
A Day Will Come when Lebanese and Israeli youth dance together at discotheques
A Day Will Come when Lebanese and Israeli doctors perform surgeries and save lives jointly
A Day Will Come when Lebanese and Israeli scientists collectively discover cures for all of mankind
A Day Will Come when we will break bread as one on Hanukah and Christmas and Ramadan
A Day Will Come for the Jews of Lebanon residing in Beirut to return to the only Lebanese Synagogue for prayer and shout loudly “I am a Lebanese Jew and I am Proud!”
And how do I know this? I know this because as long as there are people like Sharona Shapiro giving their blood, sweat and tears – THAT DAY WILL COME!
Thank you & God bless you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Akouri Appears on ART TV Network Program 'Min America'

(BEIRUT)
- At 10:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time this evening, the extremely popular prime time satellite program entitled 'Min America' airing on the ART-TV (Arab Radio & Television) Network featured prominent Lebanese American business and civic leader Councilman John Akouri, Chairman & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce and Publisher of Lebanese Monthly Magazine. The fifteen minute interview included topics covering politics, business, 9/11, Washington, DC, and Americans of Lebanese descent. This is the network’s most prestigious program produced in the United States, which covers activities of Arab Americans: cultural, social, political and artistic.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Akouri Attends Our Lady of Lebanon Pilgrimage, Meets with Maronite Bishop of Canada

Top - The Grotto of Mary:
A general view of the thousands who flocked to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Leamington, Ontario, Canada on the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
Middle - Visiting Dignitaries: Councilman John Akouri & Bishop Joseph Khoury

Above Left - Group Portrait: (l-r), St. Peter Maronite Church Pastor Monsignor Joseph Salame; Founding Vice President of the Lebanese-American Katayeb Charitable Organization Fouad Akouri; Pastor, Holy Family Chaldean Catholic Church; Maronite Bishop of Canada, His Excellency Joseph Khoury; Councilman John Akouri; St. Anthony Maronite Church Pastor Rev. Father Elie Zouein.
Above Right - Dinner & Discussion: Following the high Mass celebrated on the grounds of the Shrine, Akouri attended a private dinner in honor of the Bishop's arrival from Montreal, Quebec that included Members of the Clergy, Church Leaders and Officers of the Leamington Lebanese Club. In this photo, Akouri listens to a plan by the Bishop to coordinate the efforts of Maronites throughout North America.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

FESTIVAL OF PEACE

Friday, August 10, 2007

Remarks With New Lebanese Ambassador Antoine Chedid Before Meeting with US Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice

From the United States Deptartment of State
Washington, DC August 9, 2007
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's a real pleasure to receive you on behalf of the Democratic Government of Lebanon and I very much look forward to working with you. I'm sure we’ll have very close contact because the United States is and wants to be a friend of a free and sovereign Lebanon. And I speak frequently with the leadership of Prime Minister Siniora. And I look forward to working with you on whatever we can to make your country more prosperous and more stable.
MR. CHEDID: Thank you very much. I immediately felt the warmth at the reception here in Washington and I'm very honored and glad to be here, of course, to work with you, Madame Secretary, and visit with your colleagues to take (inaudible) organization to another level, whatever it is. So I'm glad to be here. And before I came, I talked with Prime Minister Siniora. He asked me to convey his greetings to you; that he is very appreciative of all the efforts that you are making.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Akouri Congratulates Warren Mayoral Candidate Richard Sulaka on Primary Election Win

(WARREN, MI) - Councilman John Akouri today telephoned his good friend Richard Sulaka, current City Clerk for the city of Warren, Michigan and candidate to replace the outgoing term-limited Mayor Mark Steenbergh. Sulaka, along with another candidate, topped the field in the city's mayoral primary Tuesday and will square off in November to determine which candidate will become the city's next top elected official. The non-partisan contest will be one of the most closely watched in Michigan's third largest city this Fall. Warren boasts a large population of Lebanese Americans, and has the only full-time mayor in Macomb County. Sulaka received the endorsements of both leading area newspapers, enjoying this statement from the Detroit Free Press: "With his long experience in local government, constructive and pragmatic ideas for redeveloping and improving the city, and commitment to clean government, RICHARD SULAKA is the best bet to lead Warren in the post-Steenbergh era." For more information on Richard Sulaka, please visit: http://www.sulakaformayor.com/

Lebanese Christian and Armenian Leaders in US to meet for talks on Lebanon

(BIRMINGHAM, MI) - Lebanese Christian and Armenian Leaders will meet this month to discuss the current situation in Lebanon ahead of next month's Presidential election to replace the pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud. Led by former Washington Senior Advisor & Capitol Hill Press Secretary John Akouri and Edgar Hagopian, Chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America Great Lakes Regional Council, the meeting will also address the role of the Armenian community in Sunday's by-election in the Metn district. The outcome of that poll witnessed a majority of Armenian Lebanese voting for a candidate with party ties to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. The US State Department says that Iran ranks as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorist organizations and along with its terrorist allies, has been branded by President George W. Bush a member of the 'axis of evil' arming to threaten the peace of the world. In 2003, the President signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act. Congress passed the Act to sanction Syria for its support for terrorism, its occupation of Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs, illegal imports of Iraqi oil, and its role in the ongoing security problems in the Middle East. Hezbollah is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. It has been linked to attacks against US and other Western targets, including the 1983 bombings of US Marine barracks that killed 241 peace-keepers who were asleep at the time. Reports indicate that the leading Armenian political party known as Tashnag and their allies resorted to electoral fraud in several areas, including their enclave of Burj Hammoud. Such fraud, the reports say, included voting by the deceased and by electors who had long emigrated from Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Please Support the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon

Established in Beirut on April 12, 2002, the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) is a non-profit medical institution dedicated to the comprehensive treatment of pediatric cancer. An affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded in 1962 by a Lebanese emigrant, Danny Thomas, in Memphis, Tennessee, the center works in association with the American University of Beirut Medical Center. It is the mission of CCCL to save young lives using the protocols of St. Jude with the help and support of a very well-trained medical team. Being a non profit organization, CCCL depends on donations and fundraising programs to fulfill this mission.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Our Lady of Lebanon-Leamington Annual Festival to Celebrate the Feast of the Assumption

Canadian Maronite Priests pose for a photo with Councilman John Akouri. On the left is Msgr. Joseph Salame, Pastor of St. Peter Maronite Church in Windsor and on the right is Rev. Father Elie Zouein, Pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Leamington - site of the upcoming Celebration.
OUR LADY OF LEBANON SHRINE
The Leamington Lebanese Club
447 Hwy., No. 77 North
Leamington, Ontario, Canada
Friday, August 10, 2007 - Mass at 7: 00 pm
Saturday, August 11, 2007 - Candlelight Procession at 9:30 pm
Sunday August 12, 2007 - Noon and 6:00 pm
For more information:
Ladies Auxiliary of Our Lady of Lebanon
Tel: 519.326.8291

Friday, August 03, 2007

From The White House

PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ORDER
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America...
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, determine that the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions, to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation, to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty contribute to political and economic instability in that country and the region and constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
I HEREBY ORDER: except to the extent provided in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State to have taken, or to pose a significant risk of taking, actions, including acts of violence, that have the purpose or effect of undermining Lebanon's democratic processes or institutions, contributing to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon, supporting the reassertion of Syrian control or otherwise contributing to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or infringing upon or undermining Lebanese sovereignty.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Akouri Leads State Department Reception Aboard the Infinity Yacht

(WASHINGTON, DC) - International Visitors Council of Detroit (IVC) recently received a grant to host the National Council of International Visitors (NCIV) Midwest Regional Conference in Detroit August 1-3, 2007. The Midwestern Regional Meeting is a professional development program sponsored and funded by the Office of International Visitors, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, as amended. With IVC as the local host, conference headquarters are at the Downtown Courtyard Marriott Hotel across from the General Motors Renaissance Center. Attendees at the Conference will be US State Department Officials, Washington, DC Programming Agencies’ representatives and 21 Visitor Councils from Midwest cities in the NCIV network.
With
Detroit located on the Great Lakes, conference guests had the opportunity to experience its international location in style as they sailed the Detroit River on the Infinity Yacht. Enjoying a refreshing summer breeze and scenic views of both Detroit and its neighbor to the south – Canada, guests were greeted by Councilman John Akouri, upon boarding the vessel. Once assembled and before leaving shore, Akouri, President & CEO of the national Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, served as emcee for the evening. Passengers mingled with diplomats, colleagues business & civic leaders and Detroiters aboard the Infinity Yacht, known as the premier vessel in the region, having hosted exquisite parties for some of the world’s top executives. Though the temperature was hovering around the 100 degree mark, the Infinity Yacht provided first class service from the glass enclosed climate controlled main level dining room and the open-air second deck.

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">