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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Melkite Association of Young Adults Announces Spring Fling Dinner Dance

Detroit Tigers Opening Day at Comerica Park Features Lebanese American Performer Louie Abraham at Hockey Town Cafe

Tigers Opening Day 2008: Celebrity musician Louie Abraham (first cousin to Councilman John Akouri) performs at an outdoor concert prior to the Detroit Tigers opening-day game against the Kansas City Royals in Detroit.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Award Winning Author Walid Phares to Speak at George Washington University

Friday, March 28, 2008

FOX News Analyst Walid Phares Presents Lecture at The Heritage Foundation and unveils his New Book

(WASHINGTON, DC)...In Future Jihad, terrorism and Middle East expert Walid Phares gave a definitive account of the historical and cultural forces that led to September 11 and the rise of radical Islam. In The War of Ideas, he revealed the conflict of ideologies that underlie the War on Terror. Now, in The Confrontation, he identifies the clashes to come and provides a blueprint for defeating the forces of jihad. Moving from the ravaged villages of the Sudan to London's Muslim neighborhoods to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, he illuminates the vast and complex world of the global jihadist movement. He offers a multi-pronged strategy, global in scope, and calls on the world's diverse local and international institutions to come together and coordinate their efforts. Pointing the way forward, this book shows how we might reclaim a world that is safe for freedom and democratic societies.
Walid Phares is a world-renowned terrorism and Middle East expert. He is a Senior Fellow at The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a Visiting Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy. He has testified before the State Department, European Parliament and U.N. Security Council many times. He is a Fox News analyst and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, al Jazeera, and al Hurra, among others. Dr. Phares is also a frequent contributor to U.S. and international radio programs. A former professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University, he now teaches at the National Defense University. He holds a doctorate in international relations and strategic studies.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

House of Lebanon Inaugural Golf Classic

(TARZANA, CA)...On Monday, May 12, 2008 the Lebanese American Foundation House of Lebanon will host its Inaugural LAF Golf Classic. This very special event will take place at Braemar Country Club – an exclusive 18-hole championship course – in Tarzana, CA. It is our pleasure to invite you to participate in this event. Please click on the following link to register: http://www.houseoflebanon.com/2future_events.html.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feltman: Washington Pursues Independent Policy on Lebanon

(WASHINGTON, DC)...According to a report by the Lebanese Daily An Nahar, Deputy assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was quoted Saturday as saying Washington has for the first time ever adopted an independent policy on Lebanon that would persist irrespective of who wins the forthcoming presidential elections. Feltman, who was ambassador to Lebanon for over three years, said such a policy is based on support by both the Republican and Democratic parties for Lebanon as a cornerstone in the foreign policy of the United States. He explained that Washington's stand on Lebanon is based on the nation's "democracy and sovereignty" in contrast with Israel's stand, which is based on a security concept. He accused Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun of carrying out a "Syrian agenda." Aoun' s alliance with the Iranian and Syrian backed Hizbullah group has irritated the Lebanese majority alliance, backed by Feltman who has said "Aoun sounds more and more like Butheina Shaaban," Syria's Expatriates Minister and a regular critic of the US. Hizbullah, according to Feltman, maintains its weapons "in line with a regional Syrian-Iranian agenda." He has said that there was clear evidence the Shiite militant group was still smuggling weapons across the Syrian border, in violation of UN resolutions. "We find the evidence to be strong that arms smuggling is continuing across the Syrian-Lebanese border," Feltman told AFP. He added: "In our view this poses one of the biggest dangers to Lebanon and it is a violation of the spirit and the letter of a number of Security Council resolutions."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

THIS JUST IN: Lebanon Announces its Boycott of the Arab Summit

BEIRUT...Lebanon's Information Minister Ghazi Aridi says the government will not attend this month's Arab summit in Syria. Aridi says one of the main reasons for boycotting the meeting was parliament's failure to elect a new Lebanese president. Many members of Lebanon's pro-Western majority blame Syria for working with the country's opposition to block the election.
Aridi: "Given the continuous vacuum and the insistence on the Arab initiative, and to confirm that Lebanon is represented at any summit by its Christian president, and in view of the harm done to Lebanon by Syrian-Lebanese relations, the Cabinet has decided to abstain from participation in the Arab Summit. The decision not to participate does not imply ruptures with Syria, but the need for Lebanon's sovereignty to be respected. Lebanon's absence from the summit does not mean absence from any work which strengthens Arab relations."
"The decision was adopted in light of blocking presidential elections and Lebanon's determination to be represented at the summit by "the only Christian president among all Arab heads of state."
A statement read by Aridi after a meeting by Premier Fouad Saniora's government, said Lebanon would also boycott preparatory meetings that set the stage for the summit that would convene in Damascus on March 29. The decision, according to the statement, reflects the need "to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and independence." The decision was adopted in light of blocking presidential elections and Lebanon's determination to be represented at the summit by "the only Christian president among all Arab heads of state," the statement noted. It also reflects the rejection by the Lebanese people to adapt to the existing presidential void, according to the statement. Such a boycott is a "precedent that has been imposed on us," it noted.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Celebrity Auctioneer John Akouri Raises Thousands for International Visitors Council at Annual Detroit Regional Chamber Consular Ball




(BIRMINGHAM)... Hundreds of Michigan's movers and shakers reveled in a night of international celebration earlier this month at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. Over 350 regional business leaders gathered to attend the annual Detroit Regional Chamber International Consular Ball honoring the Consular Corps of Detroit, the 2008 World Trader of the Year - Hon. Robert A. Ficano, Wayne County Executive and the 2008 Emerging Global Leader - Rex R. Struble, Stonebridge Business Partners. The World Trader of the Year award is given annually to recognize an individual or company that has demonstrated exceptional involvement and made significant contributions in the promotion of international trade with Southeast Michigan. Television personality John Akouri took to the stage for the second year in a row to serve as the evenings celebrity auctioneer - topping last years auction proceeds. The Chamber's International Consular Ball, a black-tie event, also recognizes the region's Consular Corps, official representatives of foreign governments serving this area. This year's honored Diplomats included Acting Consul General of Lebanon Bachir Tawk, Consul General of Turkey Nurten Ural, Consul General of Liberia Mohamad Baydoun, and Consul General of Jordan Habib Fakhouri.
The Detroit Regional Chamber, the largest chamber of commerce in the United States with more than 19,000 members, works to power the economy for Southeast Michigan and has done so with over 100 years of service to the business community. The Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation supports the efforts of the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership. The Partnership works with public and private sector partners to promote the world as a good place to do business throughout southeast Michigan. The partnership has worked to bring 355 companies and 8,650 jobs to the region resulting in more than $1.5 billion in new investment. The International Visitors Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IVC) holds both a silent and live auction at the Consular Ball each year to raise funds for its work. IVC plans professional, cultural and social arrangements for official international visitors who are sponsored by the United States Department of the State. International visitors are leaders and emerging leaders in various professions who are considered key decision-makers. As Detroit’s official host of U.S. Department of State sponsored visitors, IVC Detroit facilitates professional and personal meetings for international leaders during official visits to Detroit to enhance, respect, and communicate through international exchanges and alliances. IVC Detroit promotes the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan and their resources including Detroit's important business and cultural centers.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EASTER SUNDAY 2008 - The Greatest Message of All Came From an Empty Tomb

"Why seek ye the living, among the dead?"
Yen3ad 3al gami3 - al Masi7 kam, 7akan kam!

Friday, March 21, 2008

GOOD FRIDAY

Thursday, March 20, 2008

MAUNDY THURSDAY: Washing of the Disciples' Feet, the Last Supper, Agony of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, Betrayal by Judas Iscariot

JACOPO BASSANO-1542; Galleria Borghese, Rome: Jacopo Bassano's Last Supper is one of the masterpieces of 16th-century Italian painting. Instead of the elegant grouping of figures in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, which inspired it, this dramatic scene features barefoot fishermen at the crucial moment when Christ asks who will betray him, and the light passing through a glass of wine stains the clean tablecloth red.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy Week Begins

Sunday, March 16, 2008

PALM SUNDAY

From TIME Magazine (2000): Families hold up their children, dressed as angels, on iron rods outside a church in Beirut on Palm Sunday.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Statement by John McCain on Third Anniversary of the Cedar Revolution

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement on the third anniversary of the Cedar Revolution:
"It has been over three years since former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in the streets of Beirut. Following his murder, the Lebanese people came together in the Cedar Revolution,' which saw its culmination on March 14, 2005. This popular movement led to the demise of Lebanon's Syrian occupiers, Iranian proxies in their midst, and the puppet government that denied them independence and freedom.
"Sadly, three years later, so much of this promise remains unrealized as the forces of repression stand firm against the prospect of a free Lebanon. Syria and Iran have reasserted their dominance and paralyzed Lebanon's government, which earlier this week postponed election of a new president for the 16th time. Those who are systematically killing Lebanese patriots and denying the Lebanese people their democracy must be brought to justice. I commend Lebanese of all religions and sects who reject Syrian and Iranian terror and tyranny and embrace the great principles of the Cedar Revolution."

Friday, March 14, 2008

NOVI NEWS: Finance Lessons Result in Life-long Money Management

Novi High School teacher Mike Akouri gives a "thumbs-up" to a student's presentation during his afternoon business law class. In the fall Akouri will be teaching a finance class at Novi.
By Chris Jackett / STAFF WRITER
(NOVI, MI)...Money is often a loaded subject, especially in today's economy, but Mike Akouri is getting the word out to Novi High School students about the benefits of smart money management. Akouri, a business teacher at the high school, spent the fall semester showing students effective ways to manage their money. "The sidebar for the class is how well do they know their self. There's different levels of risk and their goal is to find out where they fit," Akouri said. "The three rules of the class are to pay yourself first, avoid debt and the miracle of compound interest." Currently teaching one international business and two business law classes, Akouri taught three finance classes last semester. He's excited about taking on a new round of finance classes this fall.
"It's my favorite class to teach. This is the one class where, anyone I've ever told what I teach, the instant response is, 'I wish I had that in high school,'" Akouri said. "One of the things I press on (students) is the one constant is they'll be thinking about money for the rest of their lives. "Habits are learned at an early age. Management skills are linked to the cell phone and cigarette industries. If they get 'em at an early age, they have a customer for life."
The same goes for financial responsibility, Akouri said. The federal curriculum may add investment to the reading, writing and arithmetic formula in the near future to enforce this life lesson. The finance classes taught 90 juniors and seniors about the importance of investments and starting at an early age, and brought in Tyler Ross of Telcom Credit Union to speak on the subject. The class, which has been at Novi High School since 2001 and will be available to sophomores this fall, has no prerequisites because the lessons are important for everyone.
"I learned how to manage money and about different types of stocks, different types of investments, like stocks, bonds and all that. I learned what dividends are and how to read charts," said 16-year-old junior Eric Esbrook. "We learned a lot about different retirement funds like 401k, traditional and untraditional IRAs, and mutual funds."
Educated
Students signed up for the finance class for several reasons, ranging from an interest in business and finance, to their parents suggesting it, to a simple need to manage their own accounts better. "I needed help with managing my money. I was interested a lot in the stock market," said Esbrook, who was inspired by the course and now seeks a career in the stock market. "I have my own separate account to buy stocks when I turn 18. A major component is time. The earlier you start, the more potential you have."
Senior Katie Martinez, 18, said her parents, who are both accountants, suggested she take the class and, although she isn't seeking a career in business, she's glad she did. "I learned how to manage my money and when to start a retirement account. I started a retirement account when I left the class," she said. "When I get older, I'll know how to manage my money. It's a good age (to learn about finances) because kids are just starting to get jobs."
Lauren McCloskey, a 17-year-old senior, said the class helped her in managing the money she earned in her first year with a job. "We learned how to fill out our tax return, which was good because this was the first year I had to do it because I had a job," she said. "I feel safer investing money. It was just really useful and he made it interesting. It wasn't just lecturing."
Martinez said Akouri used approaches including group discussions and examples students could relate to, like buying a vehicle, and the effects of leasing a new one or purchasing a used vehicle. Senior Jason Jankowski, 18, has taken most of the business classes offered at the high school and has his sights set on a marketing career through Western Michigan University. He said the finance class helped teach him things the other business courses hadn't.
"It really helped you learn how to deal with money. It kind of taught us, when you get a job, the different ways to save money. I opened up a savings account," Jankowski said. "Right now, seniors need to learn how to manage their money. A couple of the kids I've talked to take money more seriously. A lot of the activities showed, if you put a little bit away from each paycheck, it'll eventually add up."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

AbiAssaf Welcomes Congressional Leaders at National Commemoration of Lebanese Cedar Revolution on Capitol Hill


(WASHINGTON, DC)...The Lebanese Information Center today commemorated the third anniversary of the Lebanese Cedar Revolution with an event in the United States Capitol. Featured keynote speaker at the conference was leading March 14 figure and President of the Lebanese Forces Party, Dr. Samir Geagea who, while in Washington, has held a series of meetings with Members from the U.S. House and Senate, top officials from the Bush administration including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Steven Hadley, President George W. Bush's national security adviser and Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser. Emceeing the proceedings in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning was Michel Abi Assaf, a key representative for the Lebanese Forces in the United States. Abi Assaf is greatly respected and well-known within Congressional circles in Washington, DC and Michigan. From the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, Abi Assaf has been instrumental in advocating the Lebanon to many US Representatives including Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI), Thad McCotter (R-MI), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Elliot Engel (D-NY), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), and Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI), among others. Excerpts from his speech follow:
Remarks by Mr. Michel Abi Assaf
National Commemoration of the Cedar Revolution
The United States Capitol, Washington, DC
Thursday, March 13, 2008, 9:30 AM DST
Good Morning. Honorable representatives of the people of the United States, Heads of National and International Organizations, members of the Lebanese American communities throughout the United States and Canada, members and representatives of the media, members of the Lebanese delegation. I wish to welcome all of you present here today to what is truly an historic moment in America amongst our Lebanese Diaspora in the United States.
Today our special guest and current leader of the Lebanese Forces, Dr. Samir Geagea brings with him the Lebanese people’s message of truth. And this is the message he has been delivering to the White House, Congress and throughout Washington, DC. The promise of the Lebanese Spring remains upon us. Our march to freedom, sovereignty, and independence is not only attainable it is unstoppable.
Dr. Geagea’s journey to be with us here today has been a long and arduous one. We know of his endless sacrifices in the name of Lebanon. The world is aware of the atrocities levied against him by the Syrian regime and their agents in Lebanon. All this brought on by the regime that ruled Lebanon during the Syrian hegemony period to oust you from the political scene and dismantle our Lebanese Forces party. Severely restricted, you suffered endlessly, never knowing what tortures the next day would bring.
And yet, in speaking to a delegation from the Lebanese Parliament's Human Rights Committee, visiting you after 10 years in this dungeon, you said, "I would prefer to remain in prison for another 20 years than bargain my beliefs for freedom." And in keeping steadfast with your positions on Lebanon’s freedom, today the majority of Lebanese recognize that the destructive hand of the Syrian Regime has no future in Lebanon.
We, freedom-seeking and peace-loving people, categorically reject their attempts to usurp power through means of hegemony, terrorism, fear and intimidation. There is no place for this in our world today or at anytime in history, and especially in our beloved Lebanon. The Lebanese people are tired. They are tired of words. They are tired of wars. And, they are tired of being pawns of external forces on a global scene in which they never asked nor care to be part of.
Ours is a culture of life, not death. We join our Lebanese compatriots in their desire for a return to peace, prosperity, government reform, education, freedom, mutual respect and quality of life. We have suffered far too long at the hands of those who would interfere with these dreams and who work solely to satisfy their own agendas.
On this day of commemoration let us not forget those who rallied by our side. I would like to take a moment to recognize those individuals with us this morning that have stood not only by Lebanon and the Lebanese people, but with Dr. Geagea as well. Please know that we had a champion of your cause right here in the United States Capitol who worked tirelessly on behalf of Lebanon and continues to do so to this day.
US Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has been a stalwart supporter in defense of Lebanon’s struggle for freedom, sovereignty and independence. And for that I ask you all to join me in thanking him and his staff for their resolve and dedicated commitment to Lebanon’s future.
Weathering the weight of her husband’s incarceration, she bore this daily cross with a determination like none other. With Sitrida Geagea’s political activism having begun while a student at Lebanese University, she is known for being one of a few politicians to bravely and publicly criticize the presence of the Syrian army in Lebanon. And she did so throughout their illegal occupation over Lebanon from 1991 to April 2005, until Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon as a result of international pressure and the Cedar Revolution.
She also became the sole voice of the party during Dr. Geagea's decade-long political imprisonment. She led the LF in his absence as well as widespread calls for his release with other mainly Christian Lebanese parties, notable politicians and clerics, which finally happened on July 26, 2005. And with our insurmountable debt of gratitude to Sitrida, during Hakim’s incarceration, support for him among Lebanese Christians remained high, and by some accounts even increased.
Together, we can realize our dreams for a new Lebanon. Dr. Geagea is leading the charge for this new Lebanon, but he cannot do it alone. Nelson Mandela, upon his release from prison said to his countrymen:
“The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. No individual leader is able to take on this enormous task on his own. Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”
As we gather this morning to commemorate the third anniversary of the Cedar Revolution, let us heed these words of Mr. Mandela and join our own hero in the fight for our homeland’s liberty. We stand with you, Hakim, as you continue to put your own personal safety at risk and sacrifice your personal freedom so that Lebanon can one day be truly free.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chicago Lebanese Club to Celebrate 10 Year Anniversary Gala at Fountain Blue

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chamber Leadership Turns Out in Full Force for Mezza Mediterranean Grille Grand Opening




(NOVI, MI)...Restaurateurs Walid Khalife & Samir Salah officially opened the doors to their newest concept in Mediterranean dining last night at the Grand Opening Celebration for Mezza Mediterranean Grille in Novi, Michigan. With spotlights glaring, hundreds of guests arrived to a red carpet welcome and were treated to Mezza's savory tastes, colorful sights and enchanting sounds. Samplings of Lebanese & Middle Eastern cuisine from their unique menu lined the walls of this trendy new eatery with live entertainment. Together, American and Arabic music played throughout the evening, up until a Lebanese vocalist took to the stage to perform. Paparazzi abound, photos were taken all night long to capture the essence of the affair. Cocktails, cigars, desserts, speeches, proclamations, and gifts were all part of the mega-celebration to launch the new Mezza chain.
Special guests in attendance included President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce, Councilman John Akouri, Michigan State Senator Nancy Cassis, Federal District Court Judge George Caram Steeh, St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church Pastor V. Rev. Father Joseph Antypas, Publisher of the Arab American News Mr. Osama Siblani, Six Degrees Magazine Publisher Mikey George, United American Lebanese Federation President Walid Mourad, MGM Casino Executive Peter Varvaresos, Novi City Officials, a delegation of teachers from Dearborn Schools led by Ms. Josephine Kadado, and many other business and civic leaders from around the state. Mezza Mediterranean Grill was a featured food vendor at the 2007 Lebanese Festival (LEBFEST) in Birmingham, and is expected to serve thousands of festivalgoers again at this year's 2008 LEBFEST in July.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hundreds Gather to Honor Lebanese American Judges at 2008 Salute to Justice; Supreme Court Chief Justice Delivers Keynote Address








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">