*Passengers either boarding or flying on two separate Colombia-based Avianca flights were treated to musical concerts sponsored by the carrier.
But the in-flight performance has drawn flak from authorities, who say it violates pandemic-related safety protocols.
The on-board concert, featuring the brass section of the Medellin Philharmonic Orchestra, took place aboard flight AV8565, which regularly travels from the José María Córdova International Airport near Medellin to Bogota. The second performance took place at the same airport on the same day, but was limited to a brass band playing at the boarding gate for flight AV0030, which goes to Miami.
In both cases, the musicians were part of a publicity push by Avianca. The airline hoped its passengers would “enjoy the best art has to offer.”
But Colombian authorities aren’t happy with the in-flight version of the publicity stunt, with the Civil Aeronautical Special Administrative Unit saying it has started a preliminary investigation into the flight for running afoul of the international Biosafety Protocol.
“Avianca’s AV 8565 flight is where a Biosafety Protocol was allegedly violated, established for air transportation according to Resolution 1517 from Sept. 1, 2020,” the unit stated.
The orchestra disagrees, releasing a statement saying it “followed the protocols of the airline and the airport” and chose the brass instruments “with the knowledge of European orchestra studies,” which it used as a reference. Those studies, the orchestra contends, “have found that said instruments do not spread drops of saliva due to their technical characteristics.”
It was not immediately known what possible sanctions Avianca faces, if found guilty of a violation. It’s also unclear whether the orchestra might also face legal action.
Avianca’s efforts to get passengers back in the sky by adding a musical interlude reflects the dire state of airlines, as pandemic-related restrictions and fears have greatly impacted traffic.
That reality was reinforced on Oct. 6, when major jet-maker Boeing released its annual forecast for the global aerospace market. Boeing projects the commercial aviation and services markets will continue to face “significant challenges” for the foreseeable future.
(Edited by Matthew Hall and Fern Siegel)
The Weeknd Calls Out ‘Corrupt’ Grammys After 2021 Nominations Snub
*The Weeknd has called out the Recording Academy after he was snubbed for next year’s Grammy Awards.
His fans are giving the Grammys the side-eye after the singer received zero nominations, even though, as TMZ points out, his single, “Blinding Lights,” topped the charts and his album, “After Hours,” hit to #1.
The Weeknd responded to the diss in a tweet hours after the nominees for the 63rd Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday.
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he wrote. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Meanwhile, TMZ reports that The Weeknd’s snub may have to due with him headlining next year’s Super Bowl, but Harvey Mason Jr., Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO, tells PEOPLE that’s not the case.
In a statement to the publication, he said “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” Mason Jr. says. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”
According to TMZ’s report, Grammy officials gave The Weeknd an ultimatum between the two events, and after heated negotiations, they came to an agreement.
“We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the GRAMMY stage the weekend before,” Mason Jr. adds in his statement. “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community.”
“To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process. All GRAMMY nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all,” the statement continues.
27 More Black Ex-Franchisees Join Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against McDonald’s
*MIAMI – Twenty-seven new plaintiffs, all former Black McDonald’s franchisees, joined an ongoing federal lawsuit against the fast-food chain claiming the company engaged in systemic discrimination and denied them the same opportunities as White franchisees.
The new amended complaint now has 77 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit originally filed by 52 Black former franchisees on Sept. 1, 2020.
The claims now include nearly 300 stores with compensatory damages that average between
$4 million and $5 million per store, exclusive of punitive damages.
The plaintiffs allege McDonald’s sold itself as a recruiter and developer of Black talent, profited from its Black consumer base and maintained a two-tier system that pigeonholed unsuspecting Black owners and assigned them horrible locations guaranteed to fail.
This suit comes on the heels of a federal class action lawsuit filed October 29 by current Black franchisees.
“McDonald’s is now fighting a four-front legal war. They are being sued by current and former Black operators, Black employees and senior executives,” said James L. Ferraro, the lead attorney for both the current and former franchisee lawsuits. “As the pool of plaintiffs grow, there will be more pressure on the company to dispense with the public relations ploys and focus on how it can help its Black employees and franchisees.”
At the same time there are calls for state pension funds to drop McDonald’s stock. States like New York, California, Ohio and Florida have massive investments in McDonald’s. In Tennessee, Rep. Joe Towns has requested Treasurer David H. Lillard to divest the state’s holdings and reallocate the money toward companies “practicing good corporate citizenship.”
Ferraro said all these challenges are coming together because the company has turned a blind eye to obvious racial problems while promoting its public image.
McDonald’s once boasted a high of 377 Black franchisees in 1998. That number now stands at 186 even though McDonald’s has increased its stores from 15,086 to 36,059. The cash flow gap for Black franchisees more than tripled from 2010 to 2019, per National Black McDonald’s
Operators Association (“NBMOA”) data.
Plaintiffs’ average annual sales of $2 million was more than $700,000 under McDonald’s national average of $2.7 million between 2011 and 2016 and $900,000 under the national average of $2.9 million in 2019.
The lawsuit claims McDonald’s was ruthless in steering Black operators toward the oldest, most decrepit stores in the toughest neighborhoods routinely rejected by Whites franchisees. This severely limited opportunities for expansion and growth, and far too often set in place a chain of events – low cash flow, decreased equity, debt and bankruptcy – that led to financial ruin.
The plaintiffs argue McDonald’s violated federal civil rights laws by:
- Excluding Black franchisees from the same growth opportunities found at safer, higher- volume, lower-cost stores offered to Whites.
- Retaliating against Black franchisees for rejecting strong-arm offers to continue operations in crime-ridden
- Denying Black franchisees meaningful assistance during financial hardships while White franchisees were routinely given such
- Failing to provide any legitimate business reasons for repeated denials of franchise opportunities over many
- Unfairly grading the operations of Black restaurants, which resulted in poor internal reviews, effectively pushing Black franchisees out of the McDonald’s system by denying them the eligibility for growth and favorable franchise
- Providing misleading projections which induced Black franchisees to purchase undesirable franchises.
The amended complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. To download the complaint, click here.
Duchess Meghan Opens Up About Miscarriage: ‘I Tried to Imagine How We’d Heal’
*Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, revealed in an essay published in the New York Times on Wednesday that she suffered a miscarriage in July.
The former actress and wife of Prince Harry said the moment occurred while she was caring for her son Archie.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan wrote, describing how she felt a sharp cramp, and dropped to the floor while holding her son.
“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears,” she wrote. “Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
Meghan added: “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, “Are you OK?”
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan Markle writes about her miscarriage. Today, we are sharing an essay by the Duchess of Sussex about the loss that she and Prince Harry suffered earlier this year. https://t.co/xCJbgPgufq
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) November 25, 2020
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she wrote.
“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning,” Meghan continued.
The duchess is receiving an outpouring of love on social media, with author Elizabeth Day writing on Twitter: “Chrissy Teigen and the Duchess of Sussex speaking openly about something that historically has given women so much pain, shame and trauma, is a game-changing step.
“I, and countless others, am so grateful to them. Beyond that, I simply want to tell them: I am so, so sorry.”
Prince Harry reportedly told the royal family about his wife’s miscarriage in the summer and they were “very supportive,” a royal expert says, Newsweek reports.
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