Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Y.A.N.A. 1st Garage Sale Dec. 10-12, 2008

Y.A.N.A. 1st Garage Sale - Braderie
Fill their Christmas with Joy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 10:00am - 6:00pm
Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 10:00am - 6:00pm
Friday, December 12, 2008 at 10:00am - 6:00pm

CCU bldg, SS1, Dekwaneh
St. Joseph str
Beirut, Lebanon
Phone/fax: +9611691115

The Social Department of CCU is pleased to welcome you to its first Garage Sale (Braderie) for the funding of its newest project:
Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) for Social Care and Follow-up.

Buy items at very affordable prices and help us raise cash for needy mothers and children: clothes, toys, fake jewelry, kitchen appliances, gifts articles,...

Exact address:
St. Joseph str. parallele de Slave st. in Dekwaneh, take a turn next to Grace pharmacy and then another turn after Chidiac Market. CCU HQ bldg.

Join our FB group and help spread the word

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Y.A.N.A. Garage Sale

Y.A.N.A. has the pleasure to announce the launch of its "GARAGE SALE" to profit people in need. For this purpose, we will endeavour to collect the following: Clothing (man, woman, child), kitchen equipment, toys, gift items, school books, furniture, etc...

It is imperative that these items are in GOOD SHAPE!

In addition we are looking to receive FOOD provisions to distribute to needy families for the Christmas season: Preserves, cooking oil, milk, cereals, rice, pasta, etc... (anything that cannot be spoiled, so please no fruits or vegetables)

Your esteemed assistance is important to make their Christmas a real holiday.

Thank you in advance!

Kindly deliver goods to the following address:

Congregation of Hearts United in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
HQ: St. Joseph Street
CCU Building, Dekwaneh, Lebanon
PoBox: 55205 - Sin El Fil
Tel / Fax: +961 1 691 115

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom

When this man said the world’s economy was heading for disaster, he was scorned. Now traders, economists, even Nasa, are clamouring to hear him speak.

"He was born in 1960 in Lebanon, though he casts doubt on both these “facts”. The year is “close enough” – he doesn’t like to give out his birth date because of identity theft and he doesn’t believe in national character. He has, however, a regional identity; he calls himself a Levantine, a member of the indecipherably complex eastern Mediterranean civilisation. “My body and soul are Mediterranean.”

Both maternal and paternal antecedents are grand, privileged and politically prominent. They are also Christian – Greek Orthodox. Startlingly, this great sceptic, this non-guru who believes in nothing, is still a practising Christian. He regards with some contempt the militant atheism movement led by Richard Dawkins.

“Scientists don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about religion. Religion has nothing to do with belief, and I don’t believe it has any negative impact on people’s lives outside of intolerance. Why do I go to church? It’s like asking, why did you marry that woman? You make up reasons, but it’s probably just smell. I love the smell of candles. It’s an aesthetic thing.”

Take away religion, he says, and people start believing in nationalism, which has killed far more people. Religion is also a good way of handling uncertainty. It lowers blood pressure. He’s convinced that religious people take fewer financial risks.

He was educated at a French school. Three traditions formed him: Greek Orthodox, French Catholic and Arab. They also taught him to disbelieve conventional wisdom. Each tradition had a different history of the crusades, utterly different. This led him to disbelieve historians almost as much as he does bankers.

But, crucially, he also learnt from a very early age that grown-ups have a dodgy grasp of probability. It was in the midst of the Lebanese civil war and, hiding from the guns and bombs, he heard adults repeatedly say the war would soon be over. It lasted 15 years. He became obsessed with probability and, after a degree in management from the Wharton business school at Pennsylvania University, he focused on probability for his PhD at the University of Paris. "

My baby sister came accross this quite interesting article... very interesting read, I highly recommed it.

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone)

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) provides follow-up with families facing social difficulties and offers them different social services (dispensary/ clinic, orphanage/ foster home, children’s group, women’s group) to best serve their needs.

All families passing through social problems are targeted by this project, especially mothers and children.

Y.A.N.A. welcomes women who are:
a) Abused
b) Divorced
c) Widowed
d) Unmarried mothers (filles- mères)
e) Facing extreme poverty

Y.A.N.A. offers these mothers a dedicated specialized team of psychologists and social assistants. The ladies will be divided into groups and assistance will be provided in terms of:
• Psychological support, through listening and follow-up
• Team work, though “Group Dynamics”
• Medical care, through the association’s dispensary/ clinic

Y.A.N.A. welcomes children whose families are having difficult social circumstances:

Conditions for acceptance:
a) Orphaned by one or both parents
b) Abused child
c) Family’s in extreme poverty

Y.A.N.A. will provide the children with the following services and follow-up:

1. On the educational and schooling level:
a. Education by providing tutors to help with their after-school homework
b. Provision for a lunch meal before tutoring
c. From the beginning to the end of the school year excluding holidays

2. On the medical level:
The program includes medical care through the use of the association’s clinic/ dispensary

3. Miscellaneous activities:
a. Kids benefiting from this program are automatically part of the association’s “Children Group” supervised by a social assistant
b. The Children Group meets every Saturday between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm where kids will take part in a multitude of entertainment, cultural and spiritual activities
c. Many field trips during the school year
d. 1 week Summer camp to celebrate the end of the school year

4. Fostering home and Orphanage:
a. Provision for premises to accommodate up to 8 kids aged between 7 to 10 years old where they will benefit from the services provided by the home:
i. Living facilities (120m2 apartment) and nurture
ii. Education, healthcare and nourishment
iii. Guidance, emotional and psychological support
iv.Miscellaneous activities as provided above
b. Conditions for acceptance:
i. Orphans by one or both parents
ii. In need of shelter and referred by specialized official sources
c. The program will provide for psychologists and social assistants for follow-up with the children on a psychological and ethical basis

5. Child follow-up:
The association has the right to follow-up on the child at home and school through visits conducted by the social worker appointed by the organization. This point is conditional to acceptance of the child into the program

Who we are:

The CCU is a lay, apostolic, ecumenical, social and charitable movement free from religious or racial discriminations. Founded in Dekwaneh - Lebanon in 1960 by Sister Mathilde Riachi, it has the approval of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities according to a certificate of registration and acquaintance nr 15 A.D. amendment nr 20 A.D. /2007.

Tel/Fax: + 961 1 691 115
CCU Headquarters, St. Joseph str., Dekwaneh
Beirut, Lebanon

Monday, October 13, 2008

Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone) Fostering Home - UPDATE

Help us by Spreading the Word!
Invite your friends to our Facebook group: Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone)

Bank Details:
Congregation des Cœurs Unis dans les Cœurs de Jesus et de Marie
Fransabank – Hazmieh, Lebanon
Account # 40 22 11 487283.79
Swift / Code Bank: FSABLBBX

Other Methods to Donate:
To send donations locally or from abroad visit Western Union ( or MoneyGram International ( agents near you.
Please use the following data as YANA/ CCU contact:
First Name: Michel
Last Name: Baaklini
City: Beirut
Country: Lebanon
Send notification to Mr. Michel Baaklini (Vice President CCU):
Tel / Fax: +961 1 691 115 or mobile: +961 3 326 107
*Kindly note that relevant service fees may apply

Online Donations:
Send money online via Western Union, using a Visa® or MasterCard® credit or debit card if you live in one of the following countries:
Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA.
Please visit Western Union website:

OR Visit, it is as easy as 123:
1- Sign up for a secure online account at
2- Fill-in the relevant online information including YANA / CCU mailing address:
CCU, St. Joseph str., Dekwaneh – Beirut, Lebanon; 55205 Sin el Fil
3- YANA / CCU will received a prepaid Visa or Mastercard through courier to cash in at any ATM

Send notification to Mr. Michel Baaklini (Vice President CCU):
Tel / Fax: +961 1 691 115 or mobile: +961 3 326 107

*Kindly note that relevant service fees may apply

Monthly Sponsorship:
Sponsor a child or mother on a monthly basis and help them get adequate care, education, nurture, provisions and healthcare:
25$, 50$, 100$, 300$, 500 $

Other: ____________________ USD (U.S. Dollars)

Last Name: First Name:

Mobile Number:



Preferred method of contact: Phone Email

Direct / Goods donations:
Contact Mr. Michel Baaklini (Vice President)
Tel / Fax: +961 1 691 115 or Email:

Or deliver to Y.A.N.A., address as follows:
2nd floor, CCU Headquarters, St. Joseph str., Dekwaneh – Beirut, Lebanon 55205 Sin el Fil

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Moubarak!

May God Bless you with Happiness

and grace your home with Warmth and Peace!

Monday, September 29, 2008

"CCU" social solidarity and service

The "CCU" social solidarity and service, free from religious or racial discriminations:

- Orphanage YANA (You Are Not Alone):
Eight children (age brackets 6 – 8 years, boys) - provision for food, clothing, education, psychological and social assistance... project to be expanded, God willing.

- A charitable community clinic or dispensary:
In the context of its constant efforts to renovate the dispensary and provide the best medical services for the patients, the administration of the dispensary decide to replace the existing echocardiography machine, which has become relatively old, with a new one. The administration received an offer from medical supplies company LEAMED S.A.R.L., for the total price of USD 1,600.- Please contact us for assistance

- Social and humanitarian services:
i.e. food, clothing, medication, assistance social,... for about 200 Lebanese needy families.

- Arts and crafts permanent exhibit.

The "CCU" is a lay, apostolic, ecumenical, social and charitable movement. It was founded in Dekwaneh in 1960 by Sister Mathilde Riachi, with the approval of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, according to a certificate of registration and acquaintance nr 15 A.D.

The CCU expands its activities throughout the Lebanese territory, as well as in different countries around the world i.e. Congo, Brazil, Philippines.

Would you like to support our mission?

There are several ways to do that. You can:

1- Pray for us.

2- Tell a friend about us.

3- Introduce us to institutions that assist congregations such as ours.

4- Make a financial contribution by sending money to:


Account # 40 22 11 487283.79



Thank you and may Peace always be with you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lebanon bomb kills 16, including 7 soldiers

Lebanon bomb kills 16, including 7 soldiers
By Nazih Siddiq

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - A bomb targeted a civilian bus in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people, including seven soldiers, security sources said. The bomb, which wounded at least 40 people, was the deadliest attack on the army since its battle with al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants in the north last year. The Red Cross ferried casualties from the site of the blast. The ground was spattered with blood and covered in shards of glass, television pictures showed. No one claimed responsibility for the attack in Lebanon's second largest city, which has been the scene of fighting between security forces and Islamist militants and sectarian violence linked to the country's political troubles.

President Michel Suleiman, who had been army chief until his election in May, described the bombing as a terrorist attack. "The army and security forces will not yield to attempts to terrorize them with attacks and crimes," Suleiman said in a statement. Suleiman led the army during 15 weeks of fighting last year with the al Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam group, which was based at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli. The army lost 170 soldiers while putting down the insurrection. Fatah al-Islam, a group which drew fighters from across the Arab world, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed a soldier in north Lebanon in late May. Suleiman is scheduled to visit Damascus later on Wednesday to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Tripoli attack was the latest blow to stability in Lebanon, which has suffered a wave of bombings and political killings since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Qatar mediated a deal to in May defuse a political conflict between the U.S.-backed majority coalition and an opposition alliance led by Hezbollah, a group supported by Syria and Iran. But the sides have yet to fully reconcile their differences. At least 22 people have been killed in Tripoli in recent months in fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen in violence linked to lingering political tensions. A new national unity government, formed as part of a deal aimed at defusing the country's crisis, won a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday.

(Writing by Tom Perry, editing by Mary Gabriel)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Skandar Keynes, Chronicles of Narnia's Lebanese-British Star, Hosts Charity Event for Marjayoun

Screening of latest 'Narnia' instalment helps athletic club in Marjayoun
By Sarah Birke
Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Over 300 children descended on Furn al-Shubbak's Planete Abraj cinema on Friday afternoon, running around with tubs of popcorn in hand to see "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and to meet 17-year-old Skandar Keynes. The British-Lebanese actor played the role of Edmund Pevensie in first installment in the Narnia series, 2005's "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and reprised the character for the film's sequel. Adapted from the series of tales penned by C.S. Lewis, the second Narnia film sees the Pevensie children return to the magical kingdom to find hundreds of years have passed since their last visit and that Narnia is now ruled by an evil king. The children fight to restore the exiled Prince Caspian to his rightful place as ruler of the kingdom, with the guidance of the faithful lion Aslan. In Lebanon, the four Pevensie children were able to help another worthy cause - to raise both money and awareness for Marjayoun's Atallah Sports Club. The screening was organized as a charity event by Keynes' mother, Zefra Hourani, who hails from the Southern village and visits it with Keynes every summer.

Owing to its strategic location in South Lebanon, organizers explained, the Marjayoun area has felt the deleterious effects of war, occupation and emigration by local residents. Five hundred tickets to the screening were distributed to children at schools all over the region and in Beirut. With no costs for putting it on, all donations from the sponsors and audience were destined for the Atallah club."The Atallah Sports Club provides a big and important service for the local area," said Keynes, as he posed for photographs and signed autographs. "There are lots of interesting classes for local children, including Taekwondo and nunchucks. "Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Atallah Sports Club is situated between Jdeidet Marjayoun and Buwaidha. The club provides athletic facilities for children in the greater Marjayoun area which it has expanded to include a gymnasium, a studio for Taekwondo lessons, aerobics and kick-boxing, a sauna and a jacuzzi as well as showers. Most of the club's members are children between eight and 17 years old who come from the towns and villages in and near the qada of Marjayoun. The ratio of boys to girls at Atallah Sports Club is three to two. Walid Atallah, the club's founder and president, is himself a former international Taekwondo champion. Speaking at the screening, he said he hoped the event would raise awareness about the athletic facilities available for children in the Marjayoun area. He added that he wants to encourage more children to come to the club and take up a sport. Under his guidance, the club is training the next generation of Lebanese sportsmen and women. In 1999, the girl's team came in first in the Lebanese Taekwondo tournament, while the club took second in 2005 and 2006. Atallah said his mission is more ambitious than simply keeping children fit. "Sports build civilizations," he said at the screening. "They teach children to work together. "Every country needs to support sports because the small girls and boys will one day be mothers and fathers. The club can play a small part in building a better society." Atallah said that he hoped to use "every cent" of whatever money was raised - estimated at a few hundred dollars - to start new classes and add new facilities. The club is drawing up plans to build an outdoor stadium big enough to accommodate national sports tournaments.

Keynes' mother told The Daily Star that many local children were unaware of the sports club, something she hoped the screening would help change.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lebanon forms unity government with Hezbollah

Lebanon forms unity government with Hezbollah
By Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon ended weeks of wrangling on Friday and formed a unity government in which Hezbollah and its allies hold effective veto power, as agreed under a deal that ended a paralyzing political conflict in the country. The decisive say granted to the former opposition led by Hezbollah, an ally of Damascus, shows that Syria has succeeded in wrenching back some political leverage in Lebanon, where it was the main power broker until its troops left in 2005.

The birth of the government, the first under newly elected President Michel Suleiman, should close a long political crisis that had threatened to plunge Lebanon into a new civil war. But it also marks the start of a challenging new era in which leaders must contain rising sectarian tensions, prepare for a parliamentary election next year and start talks on the fate of Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah's military wing. A presidential decree announced the cabinet after Suleiman, a Maronite Christian, met Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a Sunni Muslim, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shi'ite Muslim. "This government has two main tasks: regaining confidence in the Lebanese political system... and securing the holding of a transparent parliamentary election," Siniora told reporters.

The new team has one Hezbollah minister in addition to 10 ministers from its Shi'ite, Druze and Christian allies. The opposition was guaranteed 11 of the cabinet's 30 seats under a May deal to defuse a conflict that had sparked some of the worst fighting since the 1975-90 civil war. All major decisions require a two-thirds majority or 20 cabinet votes.

The Qatari-brokered May 21 agreement opened the way for Suleiman's election four days later, but factional squabbling over portfolios had held up the formation of a government. The majority coalition chose 16 ministers. Suleiman picked the remaining three, including Interior Minister Ziad Baroud. Siniora's close adviser Mohammad Chatah takes the finance portfolio. Hezbollah's Mohammad Fneish becomes labor minister and Fawzi Salloukh, of the Shi'ite Amal group, foreign minister. The cabinet's main task will be to ease sectarian and political tensions to avert further violence, adopt an election law agreed in the Qatar talks and supervise next year's poll.


"Finally!" a 21-year-old Beirut man, who gave his name only as Ahmed, said of the new cabinet. "Hopefully it will be a real national unity government and they won't waste time fighting at the table and will sort out the problems of the Lebanese." European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana welcomed the formation of the new government which he said marked a "key achievement." "Important decisions need to be taken in the coming weeks and there is a lot of work to be done," Solana said in a statement, reiterating the EU's support to Siniora. Suleiman is due in Paris for Sunday's launch of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union project, his first foreign trip as president. He is expected to hold talks there with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

Assad's presence at the summit, which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will also attend, marks French recognition of Syria's role in facilitating a compromise in Lebanon. Damascus had given its blessing to the Doha deal, which effectively translated into political gains the military victory Hezbollah and its allies had won against their Western-backed foes in street fighting in Beirut and elsewhere earlier in May. With the government in place, Suleiman is expected to call rival leaders for round-table talks on divisive issues, with the fate of Hezbollah's weapons foremost among them. Hezbollah maintains a formidable guerrilla army that fought off Israeli forces in a 34-day war in 2006. Its domestic detractors say Hezbollah has had no reason to keep its weapons since Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah and its allies argue that it needs its arsenal to deter and defend Lebanon against possible Israeli attack.

(Additional reporting by Tala Shukri; Writing by Nadim Ladki; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Samia Nakhoul)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jesus Vivant!!

La Photographie de Jésus,avec l'apôtre Thaddée et Joseph d'Arimathie :

L'explication de Daniel Meurois :
'Voici une photo assez rare qui m'a été communiquée il y a quelques temps et on m'en a raconté l'histoire. Je ne sais pas de quand elle date exactement mais elle a été prise il y a un bon nombre d'années, c'est sûr. Jusqu'à présent, elle avait circulé d'une façon underground mais je crois que le temps est venu où il faut la diffuser le plus possible.

Elle aurait été prise par un touriste qui s'était rendu à Jérusalem et qui a photographié le mur des lamentations. Or, quand il a développé sa pellicule, à la place du mur des lamentations, c'est cette image qui est apparue sur la photo.

Lorsqu'on m'a montré celle-ci pour la première fois, on m'a demandé si ça me disait quelque chose et là, j'ai fait un bond et répondu :'Oui ! C'est le Maître Jésus avec Joseph d'Arimathie et l'apôtre Thaddée. C'est de cette façon-là que je les vois dans les annales akashiques.'

J'en conclu que c'est une photo qui a été transmise par voie divine et par je ne sais quel miracle, à cette personne pour que, progressivement, elle commence à être divulguée. La photo est un peu abîmée mais toujours est-il que c'est véritablement les visages tels que je les vois lorsque je fais mes plongées dans les annales akashiques. Je peux donc dire que ce sont bien les visage de Jésus, de Joseph d'Arimathie et de l'apôtre Thaddée. Lorsqu'on m'a mis cette photo dans les mains pour la première fois, j'ai été bouleversé parce que c'était la première fois que je voyais sur papier ce que je vois de façon extra-corporelle.

Il y a un détail sur cette photo qu'aucun tricheur ou un peintre n'aurait réussi à imaginer. Autour de la tête de Jésus, il y a une espèce de lanière... ce n'est pas un bandeau car celui-ci repasserait devant le front, or, ici, ce n'est pas le cas. En fait, c'est une sorte de diadème métalique cerclé d'un petit cordon de cuir que le Maître Jésus mettait parfois sur l'arrière de ses cheveux lorsqu'il y avait du vent. De le retrouver-là sur cette photo est tout à fait exceptionnel.

A propos de l'apôtre Thaddée, il est plus connu dans la tradition occidentale sous le nom de Jude. Il est surtout connu sous le nom de Thaddée parmi le peuple Arménien où il est allé enseigner les premières années suivant le départ du Maître.' Daniel Meurois

'Heureux ceux qui croient sans voir'
disait le Christ

Lebanese leaders in final stages of talks on unity government

Lebanese leaders in final stages of talks on unity government
New cabinet likely to be announced 'within 48 hours'

By Hussein Abdallah
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Lebanon's rival political parties were in the final stages of agreeing on the makeup of a new unity government on Sunday, with a cabinet lineup expected to be announced within the next 48 hours. Significant progress was reportedly made between the two camps after a meeting between Prime Minister designate Fouad Siniora and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Saturday. The two sides reportedly agreed on which portfolios would be given to the retired general in the new cabinet. The various parties of the March 14 alliance were reportedly sorting out their differences over the distribution of the remaining portfolios, and reports on Sunday said that the final government line-up would be decided once parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri returns to Beirut. Siniora said on Saturday that he was confident that a national unity government for Lebanon would be announced soon, but dismissed reports that it was imminent. "The clock has started ticking for the formation of a government," Siniora told reporters after talks with Aoun. "The formation of a government continues and I am confident that in the near future we will reach" a line-up, he added. Asked if the new government would be announced Saturday, he replied: "Not today." Siniora said he agreed with Aoun "on the portfolios and names" of new ministers, but also added that he must continue with his consultations.

Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Fatfat earlier told AFP that a government would be announced within hours. "The announcement of a national unity government will very probably take place today," Fatfat said. Rival leaders have been locked in political bickering over the past six weeks over the distribution of key portfolios in the new government, despite a deal reached in Qatar on May 21 after deadly sectarian fighting.

The Doha agreement paved the way for the election on May 25 of army chief Michel Sleiman as president, filling a post left vacant since November. The agreement stipulated that the parliamentary majority would get 16 seats in the new government, leaving 11 ministers for the opposition and three for the president. News reports on Sunday said Aoun's nominees for the cabinet were Gibran Bassil (telecommunications), Mario Aoun (social affairs), former minister Alan Tabourian (energy), MP Elias Skaff (agriculture) and retired general Issam Abu Jamra for the post of deputy premier.

Siniora, who resumed on Sunday his contacts aimed at speeding up the birth of the new government, discussed with both Mario Aoun and Tabourian their prospective roles in the cabinet. Siniora met Speaker Nabih Berri Saturday before receiving a delegation from Hizbullah at the Grand Serail. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's political aide Hussein Khalil, who was heading the delegation, told reporters after meeting Siniora that an agreement has been sealed over which portfolios would go the opposition. "After agreeing on the portfolios, we have now entered the stage of discussing names," Khalil said. News reports Sunday said Hizbullah had tipped caretaker Energy Minister Mohammad Fneish for the Labor Ministry.

However, the group remained vague on the two remaining names amid reports that said that one of Hizbullah's three cabinet seats might go to former Minister Talal Arslan. As for Berri's quota, the reports said caretaker Health Minister Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh was likely to stay in his post, while the foreign affairs portfolio would either stay with resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh or go to Mahmoud Berri, the speaker's brother. The name of Berri's nominee for the Industry Ministry remained uncertain. As for Sleiman's three ministers, the reports said caretaker Defense Minister Elias Murr (Greek Orthodox) was likely to stay in his post, while lawyer and legal expert Ziyad Baroud (Maronite) was reportedly tipped for the Interior Ministry. The name of Sleiman's Catholic nominee remained uncertain, but sources close to the Presidential Palace told The Daily Star that the president's third ministry might be taken by businessman Talal al-Makdessi. The agreement over the opposition's portfolios left the different parties constituting the March 14 Forces to share the portfolios of finance, justice, public works, education, economy, displaced, information, environment, culture, administrative development and tourism. News reports on Sunday said that there were some differences within the majority camp over allocating some portfolios, such as the Public Works Ministry. But March 14 lawmaker Butors Harb and former MP Fares Soueid denied those reports.

Meanwhile, The Daily Star learned that Qatari Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani contacted all Lebanese leaders over the weekend and that his effort contributed to ending the impasse in Lebanon. Sheikh Jabr bin Youssef, head of the Qatari prime minister's office and his emissary to Lebanon, has reportedly met with the rival leaders and encouraged them to continue with reconciliation in order to form a new government in adherence to the Doha agreement. Although there were other factors that led to the facilitation of forming a new cabinet, the Qatari goodwill that constituted a part of Doha's efforts have played a significant role in narrowing differences. Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa expressed hope that a government in Lebanon would see the light "in hours." Moussa said that his recent contacts with Lebanese parties had led him to draw the conclusion that real progress has been achieved - With AFP

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vatican delegation beatifies Lebanese priest

Vatican delegation beatifies Lebanese priest
Line of dignitaries on hand as thousands attend Beirut ceremony

By Anthony Elghossain

BEIRUT: Miraculous, perhaps. Tens of thousands of Lebanese gathered in Martyrs Square in Downtown Beirut on Sunday to witness the beatification of Yaaqoub Haddad, the late Capuchin priest who gained fame for his prolific work in founding an order of nuns, expanding the Capuchin school network and conceiving or establishing a number of religious and social institutions, some of which have gained iconic status in Lebanon. Haddad, who died more than 50 years ago, took a step toward sainthood in the first beatification ever to take place outside the Vatican - and people flocked to the capital to observe the ceremony. The service itself was presided over by a representative of Pope Benedict XVI, and the head of the Vatican's office for sainthood, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, in tandem with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir. Attended by a litany of Eastern Christian prelates, other clerics, international envoys and local political figures, the event also included the Lebanese political troika of President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Thunderous applause greeted Sleiman as he arrived minutes before the Mass, and ovations were repeated many times during the ceremony, which bestowed one of the highest honors in the Christian tradition upon a Lebanese priest mere meters away from an Ottoman-era mosque in the heart of the capital. Indeed, while respectful or appreciative clapping often arose, the loudest rounds of applause came after "the nation" or the "Lebanese cedars" were mentioned in one context or another. A procession of the cross was held before Western Catholic - Latinized - renditions of Syriac and Arabic Christian chants held the massive gathering rapt. As Cardinal Martins read out a message from the pope, "hoping that this beatification will lift Father Yaaqoub of Ghazir as a happy servant of the Lord," a white veil cloaking a portrait of the late priest was lifted, symbolizing recognition of Haddad's beatification.

"The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father," the Maronite patriarch said as he took the pulpit, evoking reverent silence through the assembled thousands. "The hope of so many Lebanese was realized today - that hope was the raising of Father Yaaqoub's portrait above the altar of the Catholic Church." Sfeir then outlined how Haddad "passed through the narrow door leading to sainthood," attributing the priest's ability to walk "the difficult road of a saintly life to three virtuous practices: surrender to the will of God, Christian modesty and the work of mercy." "Father Yaaqoub would say that 'All God has given me belongs to Him and the poor of Lebanon," added Sfeir, in reference to his first point regarding the late pastor. "He built hospitals, schools and took care of the sick, yet he was a man of simple means - Father Yaaqoub put his trust in the grace of God." Sfeir, describing the four "pillars of modesty" that characterized Haddad's life, again quoted the priest, saying: "Do not bestow virtue upon yourself that is not present within you; credit the Lord for that which is good in us; do not praise yourself in the presence of others; and do not count the shortcomings of those close to you in order to raise yourself." With the sun beating down on the packed city center and with Lebanese girl scouts handing out hats and bottled water, the patriarch closed by attributing Yaaqoub's work of mercy to his love of mankind, saying that "the measure of love is to love without measure."

Applause and chatter followed Sfeir's sermon but soon gave way to quiet laced with anticipation as an orchestra and choir provided a powerful undercurrent for the placing of testimonials at the altar. Intermittent cheers rose from the crowd as a key to the city of Ghazir, a copy of the Capuchin statutes, the late monk's scapular and various other relics of Yaaqoub's life were presented, but in another display of a distinct nationalist bent, roars of approval met the presentation of a young cedar as a symbol of the expansion of Haddad-founded institutions throughout Lebanon and abroad.

Once communion had been received, Sister Mary Makhlouf, who heads the Sisters of the Cross order of nuns, a network founded by Father Yaaqoub, capped the ceremony in a speech touching upon the broader meaning of the day. In the shadow of Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, the nun spoke of "seeing Jesus in Father Yaaqoub, overcoming the divisions, barriers and [narrower] affiliations in the nation that is a humanistic message." The sister continued, as the crowd met nearly her every word with an ovation, saying that "sainthood is not a restriction, but a good turn ... and can lead one to the message of salvation. It matters not who, where and how we are - we all need someone to love, to help and be helped by." "This nation, whose concept was founded on the contact of cultures, must - no matter what the differences and difficulties facing us - serve as a model of coexistence," she said. "The 17 communities that form this country should be a source of wealth, rather than discord ... Lebanon should spread its wings like an eagle and shed light into the heart of darkness, as the sky is lit by the rising sun." Sister Mary ended by expressing her hope that "the years spent for Lebanon and the Lebanese people in an appeal [to heaven] will be accepted, allowing Lebanon to remain."

A Step closer to sainthood

BEIRUT: The man who would become Abouna Yaaqoub Haddad Kabouchi - literally, Father Jacob Haddad the Capuchin - was born Khalil Haddad in the Kesrouan village of Ghazir in 1875. The young Haddad spent his childhood in Lebanon and Egypt before joining the seminary for theological studies at the age of 18, when he received the moniker "Brother Yaaqoub." In 1998, a woman from the village of Maghdouche, about 5 kilometers southeast of Sidon, said Yaaqoub's spirit cured her of a malignant tumor. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI officially attributed the miracle to the Lebanese priest. Kabouchi was beatified on Sunday, making him one step closer to sainthood. Beatification, which requires the recognition of one miracle, can be seen as allowing the Catholic faithful to pray to the soul in question for intercession, whereas canonization - the declaration of sainthood - makes obligatory a belief in the ability to intercede. - The Daily Star

Friday, June 13, 2008

Siniora predicts general public approval of new cabinet

Siniora predicts general public approval of new cabinet
Prime minister refuses to set date but expresses confidence

By Hussein Abdallah
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora said after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday that he would not set a date for the birth of the new cabinet, adding confidently that the Lebanese people will be glad with their next government. Siniora told reporters that all parties were on the right track and that every day was witnessing some more progress toward forming the new cabinet. Siniora, who also discussed the prospects of the new cabinet with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Thursday, reportedly proposed two formulas for the distribution of portfolios, but the opposition has yet to decide which of the two suits it best. According to published media reports, one plan gives the opposition finance, public works, education, displaced, tourism, environment, youth and sports, and culture, while the other gives the opposition foreign affairs, energy, justice, economy, industry, agriculture, social affairs, and health. Mohammad Shattah, Siniora's adviser, told LBC television on Thursday that the prime minister wanted to distribute the sovereign portfolios (finance, foreign, defense, interior) in the next cabinet in a fair and balanced way.

Shattah reiterated that Siniora was not holding on to any specific portfolio in the next cabinet. "We have already agreed that the interior minister will go to the president, but everything else is still being discussed," Shattah said. Shattah, who sounded optimistic, said that his meeting with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Wednesday was positive, saying, "Aoun has accepted both formulas forwarded to him by the prime minister and is consulting his allies before he comes out with a final position." Sources close to Berri told The Daily Star Thursday that the opposition was against the mechanism Siniora was using to form the new government. "Siniora should not be involved in the political bargaining over the portfolios as if he was negotiating on behalf of the parliamentary majority ... He should rather act as a prime minister," the sources said. The sources added that the efforts to eliminate all the hurdles to forming the new cabinet have not stopped, but stressed that the opposition was not likely to accept any formula which gives it less than nine portfolios in the next cabinet.

The opposition is due to get 11 seats in the 30-member cabinet, but only 22 of the 30 available seats are government portfolios. The eight remaining cabinet posts constitute no portfolios, with the holder of any of these being a "minister of state." But opposition sources told the Central News Agency (CNA) Thursday that the opposition has reservations about both formulas because neither includes the portfolio of telecommunications, which was allegedly demanded by Hizbullah. One source also said the opposition was not satisfied with the fact that two sovereign portfolios (defense, interior) would go to the president: "In Doha, we agreed that the Interior Ministry would go for a neutral figure appointed by the president, but nobody suggested that the Defense Ministry should be treated likewise." Earlier reports said the opposition was against keeping caretaker Defense Minister Elias Murr in his post. Murr, who was reportedly tipped by President Michel Sleiman for the Defense Ministry, is at odds with some opposition parties over his role in the highly disputed Siniora government, which assumed a caretaker role after the election of Sleiman.

Meanwhile, Sleiman said on Thursday that the May 21 Doha Agreement, which ended an 18-month political crisis in Lebanon, will be fully implemented because all parties were committed to the agreement and concerned about preserving stability and civil peace in the country. Sleiman met the head of the Arab Parliamentary Union, Jassem al-Saqr, who told reporters afterward that the president was optimistic about the formation of the new cabinet. "We will very soon see a national unity government running the country," he said. Saqr also met Berri, Siniora, and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Thursday. Sleiman also met former Prime Minister Salim Hoss, who hoped the new cabinet would be formed "as soon as possible." "There are some positive indications regarding the new government," he said. "I hope it is formed as soon as possible ... the country cannot afford another crisis." Meanwhile, Geagea said the opposition's demands regarding the new government were political blackmail against the parliamentary majority. "At first, they demanded to get veto power in the new cabinet. After a long process of political bargaining, they got the veto power that they wanted, but they continued to ask for more," Geagea said. He added that the Lebanese Forces would not keep the Tourism Ministry: "We had enough of it ... We will leave the floor for other parties to contribute to tourism." Geagea refused to specify which portfolios the Lebanese Forces are seeking. Earlier reports said the party was likely to get two seats in the new cabinet as opposed to one seat in the current lineup.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Re- Submerging the Statue of Our Lady: Lebanon's Biggest Underwater Statue of Our Lady of Lebanon

Re- Submerging the Statue of Our Lady
Lebanon's Biggest Underwater Statue of Our Lady of Lebanon

On their wedding anniversary in 2005, a young Lebanese couple (Joumana and Kamal) submerged a statue of Our Virgin Lady Mary, facing the historical " Lady of the Seas church" on the coast of Batroun where they had gotten married. It was placed at a very nice drop-off at a depth of 39 meters (photos uploaded to the facebook group).

War and crisis hit the country and, as in every war, there are always looters, even at sea. The statue was stolen and sold off as an antique to a rich millionnaire. By pure chance (or maybe divine intervention), the couple got word of the theft and location of the statue about 1 week later.

The pirates were jailed and the statue was returned, only this time it will be submerged soon at a different location.

"Dive the Med Club" ( invites you to join hands in re-submerging Lebanon's biggest underwater statue of Our Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon.

None-diving friends are welcome to witness this event from the boat...

Places are limited. Please indicate number of people for reservations.

Kindly RSVP or reserve your spots on the following number 03119002 or by email to

Pricing as follows:
20$ for divers + $ 15 equipment rental
10 $ for non divers.

Divers, please be there 1hr in advance for logistics and equipment preparations. Non divers about 30mns in advance.

Plus multiple dives to the site are sceduled on the same day after the statue is submerged (about 2 additional dives). Please make reservations separately.

Kamal E. Greig
Club Director & Nitrox Instructor

Sunday, June 22, 2008
11:00am - 1:00pm
Safra Marina, Jounieh
+961 3 119 002

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lebanon Festivals Links

Al Bustan Festival:
The Next Al Bustan Festival will take place: Tuesday 17 February - Sunday 22 March, 2009.

The Tyre Festival:
Events scheduled for the month of July 2008 here:

Beiteddine Festival:
Mika, Majida El Roumi, Matteo, Kasem el Saher, etc...
Check out the website for more, and details about dates and venue

Baalbeck Festival:
Sunday July 27th 2008
MIKA@ Martyr's Square
Pop Concert In Co-Production with Beiteddine Festival & 2U2C
Mika is the new genius of pop music. Born in Beirut to a Lebanese mother and living in London, he writes his own lyrics and music. He is often compared to Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters and Freddy Mercury. His first album «Life in Cartoon Motion» introduces such songs as « Grace Kelly», « Relax, Take it Easy» and « Love Today» and has beaten all records in Europe and the United States. His music is fabulous. His four-octaves voice drives the crowd wild.
The rest of the Baalback program will be announced soon.

Byblos Festival:
2008 Program will be announced soon.

Some events tickets for the above and others, like events at Casino du Liban, Murex d'Or, etc... can be purchased online at Virgin Ticketing:
You can subscribe to their mailing list for immediate notifications about tickets opportunities and events schedules.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

MIKA and MATTEO in Concerts this Summer in Lebanon

MIKA and MATTEO in Concerts this Summer in Lebanon

Our own Lebanese born International Stars:

"MIKA" Live in Beirut DT
Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 8:00pm
Martyr's Square
Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

Tickets will be on sales soon from Virgin ticketing, or online at

"MATTEO" Live in Beiteddine Festival

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
8:00pm - 11:00pm
Beiteddine Festival, Lebanon

Matteo, contre-tenor, will be singing Baroque and Romantic arias from his repertoire:
Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Purcell, Massenet, Bizet, Verdi... with the lebanese symphonic orchestra.

Tickets available in Virgin Megastores and Beiteddine Festival's point of sales (Starco building).
For more infos:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Magida El Roumy et la chorale

Magida El Roumy et la chorale

3000 personnes ont assiste a la messe celebree par Monseigneur Mansour Labaky et Pere Ramzi

Samedi 31 Mai, 2008

Procession et Masse in Beirut DT

Procession et Messe a l'occasion de la fin du mois de Marie le samedi 31 mai 2008
Location: Centre-Ville --> Achrafieh.
3000 personnes ont assiste a la messe celebree par Monseigneur Mansour Labaky et Pere Ramzi.

Athletes, students 'Run for Peace' in Beirut

Athletes, students 'Run for Peace' in Beirut
Thousands take part in event to 'bring peace and tourists again to the country'
By Eugene Yukin and Jay Heisler
Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Thousands of people ran through Beirut on Sunday morning as part of the HSBC Vivicitta Run for Peace, amid a positive atmosphere still clinging to the city after the presidential election and the Qatari-mediated end to the nation's 18-month political crisis. Smiling faces peppered a sea of white t-shirts and red baseball caps as the crowd waited to run for peace. Family members waved from behind a uniformed marching band as their children mingled among international athletes and enthusiastic volunteers. Clowns towered over the crowd on stilts, clapping along with the music that blared from loudspeakers. A small child waved a large Lebanese flag. A line of athletes stood hand-in-hand at the front of the crowd, already sweating under the morning sun. At the sound of the horn they were off, with hundreds of children swarming behind them. When they returned to the finish line, young women with colorful plastic pom-poms cheered as they passed. First came the athletes, shooting by as if in the Olympics, one of them jumping to touch the finish line banner. The rest of the crowd arrived a few minutes later, led by children who clearly hoped to one day wear the jerseys of the athletes they so closely followed. The spectators included a man with his daughter sitting on his shoulders and a smiling soldier leaning against the barricades.

Roughly 7,500 people took part in two events, a 5-kilometer run and a 21-kilometer race. The winner of the 21-kilometer race, which involved an international selection of star athletes, was Ethiopian runner Alemayehu Shumye Tafere. "We have here all religions and races," said Jinan Mantash, an 18-year-old participant in the 5-kilometer race who won her age bracket. "Because children and youth are the new generations, now that they have united in this event they will learn when they grow up that a united Lebanon is a must. It feels great to work for Lebanon." "The students are from many schools in Lebanon. They are running from all Lebanon, and we can run hand in hand," said volunteer Patrick Rizkallah, who helped coordinate schools and universities to participate in the event. According to Rizkallah, about 7,000 students were recruited.

Edgar Abou Rizk from the Teachers' Syndicate of Lebanon said he expected the event to reflect that stability had returned to Lebanon following recent events. "Outside Lebanon when they are going to see through the news that all the Lebanese are gathered together, this will bring peace and tourists again to the country and we hope that this race will be the pioneer program for this summer to bring a peaceful situation to our country," he said. For this year's race the Beirut Marathon Association focused on bringing children from across the country to the event. Beirut Marathon Association director May al-Khalil said children participating were also asked to draw pictures and write about their visions of peace. Khalil said that the Beirut Marathon Association (BMA) has signed an agreement with the Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti to continue doing the 21-kilometer as well as the 5-kilometer race. With this in mind, she said she hoped that the event would become more popular in the coming years. "I believe this year was the first attempt for the Beirut Marathon Association and our partners to work together, but I have the feeling that next year the number you see today is going to be - if not twice - [then] triple next year," she said. "Everybody is supporting us - the government and the opposition," said Ziad Shaaban, a volunteer at the event. Shaaban has volunteered for the BMA for five years, since the first race. Shaaban said that this year's run for peace event benefited from better organization than the year before. "We learned from our mistakes," he added. There were some "incidents" the previous year, when the location of key points in the run led to some confusion among those taking part.

Volunteer Tony Hajj said he joined the event to serve a good cause and gain organizational experience to add to his resume. He said the size of the run was smaller than the year before, in part due to the fact that income and tourism had suffered from the conflict earlier this month. Howard Miller, a tourist from London, said he had decided to participate in the marathon after arriving in Beirut 10 days ago. Miller, who is traveling across the Middle East, learned of the event from posters in the city. "I think it's a fascinating time to be here," he said. "It's amazing to see people kind of relaxing, because I get the sense there was a lot of energy built up in two weeks when they just weren't doing anything." "It's a breath of fresh air," said Amine Daouk, president of the humanitarian non-profit organization Makassed. "It's what Lebanese, especially young people want: They want peace; they are all here as one."

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