Québec: Does this punitive “public health” measure make sense to you, whether you are vaccinated or not and/or boosted or not?

Bambi is curious to hear from you. Please share your opinion.

As far as she is concerned, her first thoughts are the following: This measure is ONLY meant to be punitive. It does not seem to be concerned with infection. It is actually putting at least one employee of the store at risk by closely walking with and monitoring the “unvaccinated” customer. Plus, why are we turning store employees into cops?

Bambi offers Mr. Fred Pellerin’s song to our truck drivers

Of course, it is not easy to manage a country or a province or a territory at any time, and especially during a pandemic.

However, when we keep taking decision about measures that do not work and/or clearly irritate Canadian workers, it would be humble and clever to stop, question, assess, and re-consider those policies.

Instead of showing political evaluation and flexibility in decision-making, some world governments are becoming increasingly authoritarian. Add to the latter our notorious bureaucracy and related public inefficiency, the end result risks being what is reflected in the pictures shared below.

Bambi is saying so and she has almost always had trust in governments (minus the exceptional Lebanon of the recent decades). She is also saying so and she is double vaccinated and will consider at least the next forthcoming booster (+ assess for the next ones, depending on her bodily response and/or other factors like getting exposed to the virus, etc.).

Anyhow, here are some pictures taken by a resident of Sackville, New Brunswick last week who kindly shared them with Bambi and you. Were all those empty shelves all due to the supply chain problem created by the unwise policies of our governments (hello, Mr. Trudeau!)? Or did the cold wave play a role too?

A picture taken by a resident of Sackville, NB, Canada
A picture taken by a resident of Sackville, NB, Canada
A picture taken by a resident of Sackville, NB, Canada

Regardless, and to conclude this post, Bambi will offer Mr. Fred Pellerin’s beautiful French song to all our truck drivers. Many thanks to them at all times and especially now for their courage in being angry on our behalf, to use the VERY thoughtful words of Mr. Rex Murphy in the National Post (https://nationalpost.com/opinion/rex-murphy-truckers-are-the-proxy-protesters-for-a-lot-of-angry-canadians?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1643059233-1).

The National News: “Man hailed a hero in Lebanon for ‘robbing’ his own money”

No comment is needed… The story speaks for itself (https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/2022/01/23/lebanon-man-hailed-a-hero-for-robbing-his-own-money-from-a-bank/). It surely tells us about the level of desperation in the Lebanese population who was the victim of the world’s biggest bank fraud!

Mr. Mike Massy moves Bambi’s heart with his angelic voice singing “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”

Mr. Mike Massy

As shared on this blog more than once, Bambi is a fan of Mr. Mike Massy, an international Lebanese singer full of talent. Today, she searched his repertoire for fun. She discovered that in 2014 he sang a “Muwashshah called “Lamma Bada Yatathana” that she adores!

First, what is a Muwashshah? In classical Arabic, this term is the singular of Muwashahat and it means girdled. It refers to an Arabic poetry (or poetic form) and secular musical genre. Precisely, it is made of a multi-lined strophic verse poem written in classical or standard Arabic, usually “in five stanzas, alternating with a refrain with a running rhyme” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muwashshah).

Now, Lamma Bada Yatathanna is one of the most famous Arabic poems of its era. It is unclear who is the author of the piece (disputed). According to Wikipedia, “it is thought to be either Mr. Lisan al-Din al-Khatib (1313 – 1374 AD), which is the most plausible, or Mr. Muhammad Abdulrahim Al-Maslub [ar] (1793 – 1928 AD)” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamma_Bada_Yatathanna).

If you are interested in a quick English translation, here is a site for you: https://lyricmusicarabic.blogspot.com/2010/06/lyric-lama-bada-yatathana-lena.html. This being said, Bambi is not sure if the beauty of this Arabic verse poem translates well into other languages. This being said, she is happy to be able to find a public translation for you.

To conclude this post, regardless of who wrote this love poem or its precise era, it clearly stood the test of time. As for you, Mr. Mike Massy, Bambi visits heaven when you sing. Thank you for your voice and talent!

Lebanon: Hiba storm (Wion) and an open letter to the IMF (Orient Today)

First, here is Hiba and how its snow/cold is affecting the Lebanese population, especially in the context of their country’s economic fiasco:

Second, Hiba means a gift in Arabic.

The best gift the world can give to the Lebanese population is to support financial accountability while helping them put an end to impunity of criminality in their country.

Bearing the above thought in mind, Bambi would like to allow herself to thank Orient Today (the English edition of L’Orient Le Jour) for publishing (https://today.lorientlejour.com/article/1288415/an-open-letter-to-the-managing-director-of-the-imf.html) the following open letter to the Managing Director of the International Monetory Fund or IMF (https://www.imf.org/en/Home):

“Dear Ms. Kristalina Georgieva,

The Lebanese are suffering from a socio-economic catastrophe of nearly unprecedented global magnitude and gravity. We hold the ruling class — a coalition of sectarian leaders backed by a militia, with a complicit financial sector leadership — responsible.

The crisis is the result of decades of ill-designed policies, poor governance, nepotism, corruption, and state-capture by the same elite that remain in power today.

The balance of payments, currency, sovereign debt and financial crises has been compounded by deliberate inaction on behalf of the political and financial actors who sought to exclusively protect their interests.

Rather than accept losses, restructure the banking system and rebuild Lebanon’s economy, the ruling elite is enforcing the most violent and inequitable “adjustment” possible. Current policy combines an extreme currency devaluation, a huge inflation tax, unregulated capital controls, an unprecedented contraction of the economy, and an implicit incentive to emigrate.

The result is mass unemployment, poverty, and brain drain. The pillars of long-term growth are being systematically destroyed and many residents must now rely on humanitarian assistance and informal support networks.

Two and a half years have been wasted since the default of both the state and the banking sector, marking the bankruptcy of the post-war rent-based economic model. It is only now that authorities seem ready to negotiate the terms of a stabilization program with the Fund, long after having protected their interests.

The current adjustment clearly indicates that their objective is to stabilize the economy at a very low level, with weak-value-added activities, mainly based on informal trade, regardless of the extent of poverty and inequality.

The IMF’s responsibility is not to condone this crime.

In this context, we call upon the IMF to consider the grave concerns outlined in this letter in its negotiations with the Government of Lebanon.

While we welcome the involvement of the Fund, which can be a historical inflection point for the country, we are wary of, and shall vehemently reject, any agreement that compromises the principles set below thereby jeopardizing the equitability and effectiveness of any potential program.

Holistic and sustainable framework underpinned by an adequate governance structure: The authorities’ approach towards the crisis has relied on short-term piecemeal measures that have proven inefficient and unjust. Any financing plan engaging Lebanese taxpayers over several years must rest on a holistic, comprehensive macro-fiscal-banking/financial-monetary program. It should also aim at rebuilding a sovereign, effective and sustainable state with a regulatory environment conducive to private investment in competitive sectors, and one that guarantees to its citizens their fundamental social rights.

Coherent exchange rate regime and new leadership at Banque du Liban: The unification of multiple exchange rates is key for the restoration of sound monetary policy away from the pegged exchange rate regime, and a foundation of economic sovereignty. The central bank restructuring process must be assigned to a new management, committed to good governance and transparency and capable of re-instilling the confidence and credibility at the apex of the banking system.

Debt restructuring: The restructuring of public debt and that of the banking system and Central Bank are essential for long-term stabilization and recovery. A significant reduction in the stock of sovereign debt is necessary to create the fiscal space needed for growth-inducing and strategic spending on social programs and infrastructure. Closing the huge gap at the central bank is key for sound monetary policy.

Wholesale banking sector reform and an independent task force: A new banking resolution framework needs to lay the foundations of a new model for the Lebanese banking sector. This includes the abolition of banking secrecy, the right sizing of the sector, and the provision of incentives for banks to support long-term growth. The restructuring process should be entrusted to an independent authority.

Bank shareholder losses: The fair distribution of financial losses is a priority. We reject the current strategy of socialization of losses. Any bail-out scheme is unacceptable, and the distribution of financial losses must follow a “loss waterfall distribution” starting with shareholders’ equity, in line with best practices.

Strategic use of remaining state assets: State-owned enterprises, real estate and gold reserves are strategic resources that should be used to ensure social protection and economic recovery. They cannot be used to offset the financial losses of depositors who constitute less than half of the population, notwithstanding the extreme concentration of deposits (13 percent of the accounts hold 90 percent of deposits). That being said, gold assets, technically on the balance sheet of the central bank, could be partially allocated to protect the savings of certain categories of small depositors in the context of a comprehensive plan.

Protection of small depositors and pension funds: The allocation of losses should be gradual to protect smaller depositors. Deposits corresponding to pension funds (unions, professional orders and NSSF, etc.) must be protected and treated as first-class creditors.

Audit of financial sector activities: A forensic audit must be conducted on the accounts of all shareholders, members of boards of directors, members of the general management of the financial institutions and the central bank, as well as those who have exercised or are exercising political functions, and those who obtained major contracts with the government, to determine if any undue or excessive profits have been taken, or if transfers abroad occurred after October 2019. This audit fulfills the need to put an end to the culture of impunity that has prevailed since the amnesty in the aftermath of the 1975-90 Civil War. It is also aligned with Lebanon’s international commitments in the fight against money laundering, tax evasion, and embezzlement.

    • Fiscal policy that prioritizes growth and social protection: A fiscal overhaul, anchored in a medium-term planning framework, should ensure a complete detour from the state’s current mismanagement and redirect spending towards social services and growth enablers namely:

    • A social protection system based on universal access to healthcare and education.

    • Key infrastructure to support economic growth: electricity, telecommunications, and public transport. State intervention should be limited to areas where the multiplier effect is immediate on private investment, which should be the engine of growth.

    • A transformed civil service, made efficient and transparent by investing in technology and government digitization. This assumes the backing of a retirement fund and a training fund.

    • Security forces capable of national defense.

    • Tax reform: Even though Lebanon has been savagely impoverished, it still possesses important resources that can be used to the country’s socio-economic recovery if managed in a fair, efficient and transparent manner. Reforming income tax rates and schedules is needed to reduce inequality and informality and raise fiscal revenues.

As the ruling elite faces a destabilizing crisis, its top priority is to perpetuate itself, buy time ahead of key electoral milestones, evade accountability, and avoid assuming losses. These same priorities are guiding its negotiations, and a possible commitment, with the Fund. Instead, priorities should be set to reverse the severe social hemorrhage, ensure equitable loss distribution, and guarantee sustainable economic recovery.

As such, the upcoming discussions will place great responsibility on the IMF, whose intervention in the Lebanese crisis will enter the annals of history, and should not, by any means, contribute to the further build-up of odious debt and the perpetuation of an illegitimate regime, particularly ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2022.” 

Kulluna Irada is a Lebanese NGO. 

Lebanon’s and the Arab world’s diva: Is there anything more moving than Fairouz’ voice?

Surprise: Bambi would like to dedicate this post to you Mary as well as to her own dad. Both have an impressive collection of Fairouz songs. They must surely have the following two pieces.

Bambi is now also thinking of her friend Firas in heaven (yesterday was his birthday actually). He was also passionate about Fairouz.

To come back to the post now, it will introduce two songs. The first one is entitled “We used to meet” and it is from a famous musical of the Rahbanis. Bambi woke up this morning singing it. No clue why. She must have heard it on her internet radio this week. It kept coming to her mind several times during her busy day.

Below you can find the lyrics followed by the song:

“We used to meet at night

Sitting on the old bridge

And the fog used to come down the Valley

Erasing the horizon along with the road

No body then knew where we were

Except the sky and the autumn leaves

And then you said I love, I do love you

And the sad cloud took us and ran away

Oh, my old years that passed, please come back

Just for one time come back

And leave me on the door steps of my childhood

If you do, I will run under the sun of roads

Oh, my old years that passed, please come back

Just for one time come back

Give me back my smiles which have gone

Far away to the corners of yards

You remember what they said about me

when I waited and you just forgot to show up

And then winter came

And summer came too but you didn’t”.

The second song, Kifak Inta?” [How are you doing, you?], was written/composed by Fairouz’ son, Mr. Ziad Rahbani. It is sub-titled in English in the video shown below.

To conclude, Fairouz is surely the asset of tiny and now bankrupt Lebanon. Not only culturally/artistically, but also as a unifying voice: Yes, one Lebanon, one love, one singing voice. Thank you Fairouz (now 87) for your inspiring career that you began in your teen years in the late 1940s!

Good-bye Nawal: With a heavy heart, Bambi stands with your family and friends from the Moncton Lebanese Association

Ms. Nawal Ghosn (Moncton, NB, Canada) left us on January 19, 2022
A picture kindly shared by Ms. Nalida Timani and relayed by caring friends

Bambi is still speechless since yesterday evening, like ALL the “Lebanese diaspora” as she calls her wonderful friends in Moncton (NB) as well as in Sackville (NB), Amherst (NS), and many other nearby villages in both New Brunswick as well as Nova Scotia.

We all (Bambi included!) love Nawal. We are all mourning her now.

We are all in solidarity with her immediate family (spouse, children, grand-children) siblings, sister-in-laws (or rather sisters!), friends like family, etc. Bambi is thinking of each one of you, especially the Ghosns and the Timanis. She is also thinking of Nawal’s good friends in both Moncton and Sackville.

Perhaps her special thoughts are with Nawal’s grand-children now. Those with us on earth as well as of Abeer in heaven (as per the earlier post below).

Who knows? Perhaps you are hanging out with Abeer right now, Nawal? If so, this is a comforting thought for us in those sad times.

Ms. Nawal Ghosn and her adorable grand-daughter Abeer. A picture kindly shared by Ms. Nalida Timani

The last memory Bambi has of Ms. Nawal Ghosn was at the funeral of Abeer. In the past weeks or last month, she thought of Ms. Ghosn and sent a hello to her and to Abeer’s family through her relatives in Moncton. Too bad there was not enough time to see you more often, Nawal (at our wonderful dancing Lebanese parties pre-pandemic era or other friendly get-togethers in Sackville or Moncton).

You have touched so many hearts and lives. You have inspired so many of us with your big heart. Thank you for having existed. Thank you for hanging out with Abeer now… and watching over your beloved family from heaven.

May you rest in peace.

May your memory be eternal.

To conclude this post, and if she may, Bambi would like to offer you a song-prayer by Mr. Kendji Girac entitled “Les yeux de la mama” [They eyes of the mama].

Bambi was delighted and honoured to be interviewed by Professor Ora Itkin, along with Dr. Timothy Jackson!

Professor Ora Itkin is a talented pianist (if you do not believe Bambi, you can listen to her in the video at the end of this post!) and a music professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul (Minnesota, USA). She graduated from the Russian Academy of Music (Moscow). She then emigrated to Israel and graduated from Tel-Aviv University as well as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music. Following her impressive academic training journey, her performing career blossomed. In addition to her academic career ( https://cas.stthomas.edu/departments/faculty/ora-itkin/) , she is an active soloist and chamber musician.

Prior to their conversation entitled “The Unbearable Lightness of Post-Truth – in conversation with Dr. Rima Azar and Dr. Timothy Jackson“, Professor Ora Itkin was described by Dr. Jackson to Bambi with the following beautiful words: She is a thinker and a pianist whose name means “light” in Hebrew (this would be “Nour” in Arabic). Being a thinker in our current collectively insane times is a shining “ora” in the darkness. Thank you Ora (Itkin) for taking time off your very busy schedule to host your inspiring podcast show called “Openspace with Ora”. Bambi was honoured to be your guest!

Indeed, Bambi was even more delighted and honoured because Dr. Timothy Jackson, an American music theory professor of Canadian origins, recently featured on her blog (as you can see further below) was Ora’s co-guest (along with Bambi).

She hopes you will enjoy their enriching (and “three to tango“) chat!

Mr. Mike Massy: “Tomorrow the feast’s sun will rise” [“Boukra btechrok shamsel id”]

Bambi just discovered that, in 2011, Mr. Mike Massy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Massy) paid tribute to the great Lebanese singer Sabah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabah_(singer)) who died in 2014… May her memory be eternal.

First, please find the meaningful and joyful lyrics of Sabah’s famous song that can be summarized as follows: “Be happy today, not tomorrow (as it is far away)”:

Tomorrow the feast’s sun will rise

With the promise of a new day

Live today

Love today

Today is here… Tomorrow is far away

If life feels like all wounds

Your tears won’t do you any good

Let the sad song

Sing in your feast’s evening

Don’t let the days slip away

Slip away from your hands

Live today… Love today

Today is here… Tomorrow is far away

Don’t blame the garden’s flowers

It’s not their fault their thorns are big

And thank your God, human

For he has made you see those thorns

Flowers are picked up in April

Flowers don’t last a day

Like flowers live the day

Today is here… Tomorrow is far away”.

Second, a big thanks to Mr. Mike Massy for his BEAUTIFUL adaptation and interpretation of “Boukra btechrok shamsel id”.

To conclude this post on a note of hope for all, may the feast’s sun rise on everyone’s respective daily life, regardless of any dark circumstances!

Thank you, Mr. Mike Massy!