With Trump At 49% Approval, Many Countries Want A Business Leader To Run There Countries.

 Robert Massimi.
With the economic success of Donald Trump, many countries now are looking at business people to run there countries, IE Austria and Czechoslovakia.  It is no secret, doers do, politicians give lip service. Look what happened when career politicians like Schummer, Pelosi and Mc  Connell crossed Trump. Trump made them look like fools and bafoons.   The fact is that the people of America like Trumps plain speak, his brashness and what he is accomplishing , regardless of the left and the rights road blocks. Make no mistake, he is an outsider and Washington does not like that.  He bucks the new world order and the system, but as long as the economy picks up, so will Trumps ratings.
All wars were fought over economics, contrary to people saying it was because of religion. Malcolm Forbes said it best, people judge there happiness based on there economic situations. If the U.S. continues to prevail, many other countries will look to business people to run there nations.
I am glad to see Italy start a new movement that will make politicians accountable. These politicians live pretty well regardless of how the economy does, with there free healthcare, pensions, free lunches and donations. It is long time coming that we kick these career politicians out and get new blood, new ideas in Washington and around the world.
Robert M Massimi.

The Many Faces of Five Star Are Winning Votes All Over Italy

Some supporters expect tax cuts, others want more spending
A supporter holds a Five Star Movement flag.

Photographer: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

In Daniele Abate’s Sicilian home town, many people don’t even have running water, and he blames the politicians. So the former cook will be voting for Five Star on March 4.

At the other end of the country, across the economic divide that runs through Italy, a third of small company owners in Vicenza plan to do the same, according to Luigino Bari, who runs a local business association. They want tax cuts and deregulation, he says.

As an uncertain country gears up for a crucial election, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement is demonstrating a rare ability to appeal to disaffected voters across geography and social strata. Its eclectic mix of environmentalism, euro-skepticism and widely questioned promises on taxes and benefits offers something for anyone with an ax to grind about the way Italy has been run.

Luigi Di Maio, leader of Five Star.
Photographer: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

“It’s a catch-all party,” said Piergiorgio Corbetta, a political science professor at the University of Bologna. “There are many reasons to vote for Five Star.”

With four weeks to go, polls show Five Star may have provided enough reasons to secure one of the biggest victories yet for populists in western Europe. With an outright majority still a distant prospect and few natural allies in parliament, the party is still likely to be kept out of office by an alliance of establishment groups. But their success highlights the challenge facing the next administration.

“Whatever color of government Italy ends up with, they will weigh heavily on the debate,” said Marc Lazar, a professor at Sciences Po in Paris. “When you take almost 30 percent of the vote, you are a reality that must be dealt with.”

Since starting as an internet-based campaign group in 2009, Five Star’s rise has been driven by support in places like Abate’s home region of Trapani, which was found to have the lowest quality of life among Italy’s 110 provinces by La Sapienza University last year.

Abate has been living off a 280-euro ($350) disability pension each month since his knee gave out a few years ago, forcing him to give up kitchen work. He’s 53, but looks older and struggles to stand. For Abate, the appeal of Five Star is its pledge to take on the privileges of lawmakers and civil servants in Rome.

QuicktakeItaly’s Election

“We work for many years and barely get a thing,” he said, sitting in the main square of his hometown of Alcamo near a 17th century church. “They serve for a few months and can retire.’’

The key to electoral success for Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio will be pushing into Italy’s wealthier north. While the party won 40 percent of the vote in Trapani in the last national elections 2013, it got 25 percent in the manufacturing center of Vicenza near Venice.

Vicenza’s entrepreneurs are also frustrated with the status quo, regardless of the recent pickup in growth. They are demanding cuts to business taxes and regulations, and investment in the single-lane roads crowded with trucks carrying products from the region’s factories.

“It’s clear that the traditional parties have made promises that they haven’t kept,” said Bari, 64, who wouldn’t say who he’ll be voting for.

Roberto Castiglion
Source: Comune di Sarego

Just down the road, the 7,000 inhabitants of Sarego elected the first Five Star mayor in the northeastern Italy in 2012. Roberto Castiglion, a 37-year-old IT manager, was re-elected last year with an increased vote.

Most of Castiglion’s work as mayor has involved the environment, installing solar panels and increasing recycling, but he says the party is very keen to help local businesses which ship factory machinery, adult diapers and leather goods around the world.

“In this country, we are drowning in norms and regulations,” he said.

“Five Star is saying the right things to small businesses, but there is some hesitancy,” said Remigio Bisognin, the 63-year-old founder of a 14-employee Sarego firm that stamps plastic parts. “We don’t really know these people.’’

One source of concern for business leaders has been Five Star’s past threats to pull Italy out of the euro. Bisognin says mistakes were made introducing the single currency but it’s too late to go back now, and Di Maio has walked back his comments. It’s a move that broadens the party’s appeal in the north without hurting its base in the south.

“The euro is not something we worry about,” said Gaetano Milazzo, a 40-year-old tax collector as he talked to friends where the warren of narrow streets opens out into Alcamo’s square. “Some houses here get water one day a week and there’s hardly any public transport.”

Indeed, parts of the sprawling town of 45,000 aren’t even connected to the water mains and Domenico Surdi, the 34-year-old lawyer Five Star mayor since in 2016, says the existing pipes hadn’t been maintained for decades when he took office.

With no budget for repairs, Surdi has had to improvise. He’s aiming to raise the amount of garbage that’s recycled to 70 percent from about 60 percent to save about 1 million euros a year on trash hauling.

“We’ve been mismanaged for so long,” said Abate. “The problems won’t go away overnight.”

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

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The FBI And The Dems On The Run.

Trump to declassify surveillance memo, sources say – as Pelosi seeks Nunes ouster

President Trump is expected to swiftly declassify a controversial memo on purported surveillance abuses, sources tell Fox News, even as Democrats raise objections that edits were made to the document since it was approved for release by a key committee.

Those objections fueled a new round of partisan recriminations on Thursday, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi firing off a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan demanding the chairman of that committee, Republican Devin Nunes, be removed.

“Chairman Nunes’ deliberately dishonest actions make him unfit to serve as Chairman, and he must be immediately removed from this position,” she wrote.

But the objections don’t appear to be halting the publication plans.

The release is likely to come Friday morning, Fox News is told.

Trump already had made clear he supports the release of the document, but the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee late Wednesday charged that Nunes made “material changes” to the memo.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who opposes the memo’s release in any form, wrote that the committee’s minority determined the letter was not “the same document” its members have been reviewing since mid-January. Nunes’ office countered that the changes were minor and blasted the complaint as a “bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo.”

Fox News is told that the version Trump plans to declassify contains only “technical edits” made at the request of the FBI.

Sources said the edited version was shown to five FBI officials at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. Sources said the officials were satisfied that the edited memo addressed concerns they had about the earlier version they reviewed on Monday.

Yet, in a rare and surprising rebuke, an FBI statement was released on Wednesday asserting they had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Next steps are not yet clear, but the president may transmit the letter back to the committee with a declaration that it has been declassified. The committee would then release the memo.

Under official rules, the committee is technically able to release such information after a five-day period unless the president objects. The committee formally started that clock with a vote this past Monday.

Fox News’ Judson Berger contributed to this report. 

John Roberts currently serves as the chief White House correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network as a senior national correspondent in January 2011, based in the Atlanta bureau.

The Painful Parisian Women. Theater Review.

Put a story together about Washington D.C. ,with all the political drama, with some twists and turns and humor, followed by acting of Uma Thurman, directed by Pam Mac Kinnon , lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and written by Beau Willimon and you have a grand lop of crap.

Parisian was one of the worst plays that I have ever seen. other then Peter, (Marton Csokas), the acting was awful. Josh Lucas(Tom), who I loved in the movies Stealth, Glory Road and American Psycho, should stick to movies as he was not even a factor in this play.

The play is about Chloe, (Thurman), and her affair with Peter to enhance Tom’s career as a tax attorney who would rather be the 4th circuit judge. It seems a logical choice as it is a lifetime appointment.The play at this point could go in a better direction, could have been more meaningful, but it does not.

As the play moves on we find a women,Jeanette,(Blair Brown) who is in line for the chairman of the Fed, who can help Tom get the job through the channels that be. Brown, like her husband, are conservative, as is her husband Tom. At this point, we meet her ultra liberal Harvard Law School daughter Rebecca,(Phillipa Soo), who looks more like her grand daughter then daughter. Soo is also Asian, adding to the confusion, I guess the play went for the diversity effect.

It is soon revealed that Chloe is also having an affair with Rebecca. The ridiculousness goes even further in the last 15 minutes when it is revealed that Tom is a closet socialist who will champion gerrymandering, social issues and healthcare. It is revealed that Peter wants to take credit for now Tom’s appointment to the bench and that Tom has known about there fling for some time but it’s okay and that she is done with him because he couldn’t help them. The love affair is also over with Rebecca, who Chloe also used to blackmail her mother.

The show is weak, lacks any dept or substance. i have not seen such a subversive play since Death Watch? at the truck and theater in the East Village in 1981. That barn burner was about nuclear energy and was just as socialist. The Trump bashing was getting so stupid in this show that it just added to the bile that this show is. The lighting was equally as awful, I recognized Lucas by his unique voice, as I could not pick him nor Thurman up on stage. Thurman, a C actor at best could not carry her role, nor could Brown nor Soo. The direction had no direction. Facial expressions and timely pauses were no where to be found of any substance.

You can miss this one, Au Voir!

Robert Massimi.

Robert M Massimi.

Criminal FBI Has Another Resign. Mc Cabe, Gone!

With president Trump fighting everyone from the New World Order, to Chuck Schummer, Pelosi and Pocahontas, Trump is faced with another problem, the criminal DOJ and FBI. Mc Cabe, the left wing FBI agent who’s wife ran for the state senate on Virginia, who’s shady dealings with Mc Auliffe’s crooked political machine put a spotlight on Mc Cabe and his wife. This is a left winger who was out to get Trump regardless of the consequences. The consequences are, see ya jerk off!
I cannot get over just how corrupt the FBI is and has always been. They think rules don’t apply too them. Take Comey, this moron had his decision on Clinton before the investigation concluded! Where do these people get there balls! Any lay person would be in jail, but not these ass holes, they’re part of the club and answer to no one.
With Trump doing a phenomenal job with the economy, tonight we have Maxine Waters doing the rebut.  This lady maybe the dumbest bastard of all the Democrats.  Wasn’t she the one who thought we hat 750 million people living in America? I almost can’t wait to hear what this idiot has to say.
If all the Washington crap isn’t enough, you had Michael Moore come out today to say we need to get rid of white privilege. I don’t know what his ancestors did here in America when they came over from Ireland, but mine worked there ass off and earned what they had gotten. I don’t know about you, but I think America was made great by Western Europeans who came here and worked hard to make it. Pinko’s like Moore make me sick, first up he’s a fat slob, secondly, he should learn history before he speaks about politics. Thirdly, he is very rich and should maybe give all his money away. If you think back, he was chanced from occupy Wall St, people their knew his bullshit.
As liberals try to road block Trump, like Mc Cabe, they end up as road kill.
Trump has bucked the system, he will not cave to the CFR, he will not cave to the liberal DACA b.s., nor will he comprise. All the entertainer leftists in the world cannot sway him. Trump, like Churchill, will not be swayed in his beliefs and I applaud that.
Trump, I hope, will
make FBI, DOJ, Congress and anyone with responsibility accountable.
Robert M Massimi.

White House

Trump advisor Cohn: President to focus on $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in State of the Union

  • Trump’s State of the Union speech will include a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, Gary Cohn tells CNBC.
  • “More importantly, he’s going to talk about streamlining the approval process on infrastructure,” Cohn says.
  • Trump delivers the speech at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.

show chapters

Gary Cohn

White House advisor Gary Cohn: Infrastructure the ‘next leg of the stool’ on Trump’s agenda   

President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union speech Tuesday, plans to discuss a $1.5 trillion infrastructure improvement plan, White House economic advisor Gary Cohn told CNBC.

Fresh off a victory on a tax reform plan that Congress approved in December, the president next wants to focus on rebuilding the nation’s aging system of highways, transportation and other public works facilities.

In an interview on “Squawk Box,” Cohn called infrastructure “the next leg of the stool in our economic agenda.”

“He’s going to talk about a trillion and a half dollars of investment, but more importantly, he’s going to talk about streamlining the approval process on infrastructure,” Cohn said. “Right now, we have an infrastructure approval process that takes seven to 10 years to build relatively simple roads. We need to streamline that to less than two years.”

show chapters

CEA's Gary Cohn: President Trump will likely continue what he said at Davos

White House advisor Gary Cohn: President Trump will likely continue what he said at Davos   

Cohn added that Trump might even suggest getting the process down to less than one year.

Trump thus far has overseen a sharp uptick in economic activity, with GDP growth expected to be around 3 percent for the second year of his term. Other areas, though, particularly wage growth and productivity, remain weak.

Adopting an aggressive infrastructure program would help bring up some of the lagging parts of the economy, Cohn said.

“I think we all know how important infrastructure is to this country and how it is holding back economic growth and it’s holding back productivity,” he said. “When you look at some of the economic data, the one number that people pick on is productivity. We need more productivity growth. Our infrastructure and building our infrastructure and rebuilding our infrastructure can clearly lead to productivity growth in this country.”

Cohn, the former chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, is director of the National Economic Council.

Theater Review, Hallelujah, Baby!

Robert Massimi.

Hallelujah, Baby! Takes us through the decades of a Black couple, (was never clear of the two’s relationship), as they move through there lives and trials.

The play starts off in 1910 with the lead,Georgina, (Stephanie Umoh), and her mother, (Vivian Reed), as slaves on a southern farm. Georgina believes in her singing and her momma likes her lifestyle as a slave hand. To her, it is comfortable and secure which is what she needs since her husband left her.

She gets her big break when Mr Harvey books her at the BI Jou for a gig that is quickly shut down because of segregation. throughout the play, Mr Harvey shows that he has not one iota of prejudice in his body, and he also has it for Georgina, bad. Harvey and her boyfriend, maybe husband, (never made really clear), Clem, (Jarran Muse),  are at each other all the time, they fight for Georgina’s affections, her respect, but it is Mr Harvey who has her career and success at heart. Clem is always trying to find himself, whereas Harvey and Georgina know where she is going and that is to the top of the entertainment world.  Momma does not like Clem, she likes Mr Harvey better , but he is white and Momma knows that this will not fly in the segregated south.

The play takes us through the 1930’s before closing the first act with “Being Good’ which brings the house down.  Umoh really shows he vocal range in this song, as she did in Act 2 with “Now’s The Time”.

Act 2 takes us to the 1940’s , Fort Benning, G.A.  where Georgina Franklin is going to perform as a solo artist for the USO, two shows, one for the Whites, the other for the Negroes.

In the 50’s, it was Cabaret at the Cabaret Society Downtown in New York City, as she starts to gain traction with money and fame. She has to deal with Clem being a Civil Rights Activist, in the 40’s, he was a communist, and has hurt her with is subversive dealings.She admits in the show that she relishes the attention that Harvey and Clem give her, she loves them both.

the 60’s find her owning her own condominium, something that Mr Harvey had to pull off because the building did not allow any Negros to live there. It is at this point that Harvey walks out on her, he can no longer take her abuse and over indulgence in her importance.

the 70’s has her headlining the Waldorf Hotel and marching for the movement, (the show never tells you why, however).

The 80’s, 90’s are little mentioned, but in 2004, she is honored at the white house. It all ends to quickly, the last ten minutes were rushed forth , the play should have been another 15 minutes longer.

Hallelujah,Baby was written by Arthur Laurent’s, (West Side Story, Gypsy) has a good story too it. It does not get too deep about segregation or politics.

Lyrics were by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who worked together for over 60 years , winning multiple Tony’s.

Julie Styne’s was the composer and won the Tony for Hallelujah,Baby!

The show was well directed, even though coming on with script in hand is both limiting and distracting.

The lighting was done well, especially in the dance numbers.

The show had outstanding performances from both Umoh and Reed. Reed brought the house down with ” I don’t know where she got it”.  Both of these actors had great comedic timing, great expressions and feed off each other very well.

Mr Harvey, (Tally Sessions), had a very good voice and was the anchor that had to make his character work if the show was going to work.

The York is hosting there annual Mufti, this show and two others run till March 4th.

Robert M Massimi.

 

The Grammys , Just Sing.

Grammy rehearsals aim to be true to the political climate while celebrating music

 Robert Massimi.
The root canal known as the Grammys are coming soon. I guess we will here the anti Trump liberal diatribes from people like J HO, and Jay Z, Beyoncé, the little twerp Bon Jovi. I have been listening to people like Bono, who criticizes or country, when his was war torn. I listen to morons like Bruuuuuce and Frank Zappa, who like actors, think they know what’s good for us. You will never hear from Styx or Alice Cooper, whom are Republicans because who needs the aggravation. Smart people like Jagger, Bowie or Ian Anderson would never indulge in politics because they know one it is not called for and two, it hurts record sales.
People watching should not be subject to this crap. My recommendation is shut up about your political beliefs and just sing!
Robert M Massimi.

“Can I have more [sound] in my ear?” Miley Cyrus asked as she went over notes with Elton John.

The two were prepping a take of John’s signature “Tiny Dancer” as rehearsals for Sunday’s 60th Grammy Awards kicked off at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon.

It was the first day of the penultimate lap of the marathon that’s been underway since Grammy nominations were announced in November, and the well orchestrated chorus of chaos that comes with mounting a live 3½-hour music spectacle was apparent before you walked into the cavernous venue.

A forklift carrying barricades held up a crowd of commuters rushing toward Penn Station as construction was underway in and around the arena prepping for music’s biggest night, which is returning to New York for the first time in 15 years.

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“We love our home in L.A., but this offers us a chance to shake it up a little bit and message it a little differently to the audience,” said Jack Sussman, CBS’s vice president of live events and specials. “It’s the 60th anniversary and we haven’t been here in 15 years. This was an opportunity, for one year, to give [the show] a different spin.”

Elton John rehearses with Miley Cyrus for the Grammy Awards.
Elton John rehearses with Miley Cyrus for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

The red carpet stretches through a specially erected tent, which looks to be the length of a football field. More than a dozen workers, their labored breaths visible in the frigid 30-degree weather, assembled platforms that will house reporters from across the world.

There were gold-plated logos of the Grammys and its host network, CBS, embossed on black-velvet-dotted walls. Black chandeliers were hung throughout the stretch of bright red carpet, with rows of white columns adorning the space.

But the real action was going down inside the Garden, where Ken Ehrlich, the telecast’s longtime executive producer, Sussman and Recording Academy President Neil Portnow pieced together the more than 20 performances that will punctuate Sunday’s show.

The main stages were lighted with neon and light bulbs reminiscent of a Broadway marquee — a nod to the Great White Way that defines New York — and framed by nearly two dozen hanging video screens.

As John and Cyrus moved through a couple of takes — it was the first time the two ever sang together — the show’s host, James Corden, returning for a second stint as emcee, was in the producer’s bullpen snacking on fruit-flavored gumdrops and giddy over his exchange with John. “He really is the sweetest guy.”

“The night is really about the performances,” Corden told reporters earlier in the morning. “As a host you want to usher that in.”

Mounting the show in New York has kept producers on their toes as they contend with a number of challenges, from chilly temperatures to the logistics of navigating a sprawling city and a venue that, unlike Staples Center in L.A., wasn’t designed with the massive production in mind. In the days before the show, reports surfaced of tension between the city and the Recording Academy sparked by budget overruns and discussions of concessions to offset the event’s cost.

Although the Grammys are projected to pour a projected $200 million into the local economy, according to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Crain’s New York reported that the production will cost between $6 million to $8 million more than it would if it been in L.A.

Khalid and Alessia Cara rehearse for the Grammy Awards.
Khalid and Alessia Cara rehearse for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Portnow, who declined to divulge the show’s budget, said the city ultimately didn’t fully deliver on fundraising promises it made to the academy, which the mayor’s office declined to comment on.

“We know that it’s a lot more expensive to do the same week in New York that you do in L.A. — even if you change nothing. We came here fully aware,” he said. “The unions are different here … the costs of hotels … catered meetings, all of that stuff adds up.

“The city basically made a number of assertions and plans and commitments that we more or less relied on. Possible sponsorships and all kinds of different ways to cover [the cost],” he continued. “It hasn’t quite been what we expected or felt was promised to us … and we have an honest disagreement about that.”

Even so, while the show producers all groused about the financial challenges of the relocation, it was in the “rearview mirror” of thought as Sunday’s show started to take shape inside Madison Square Garden.

Sunday’s show will reflect a wave of change that began with the crop of nominations.

After largely being overlooked in major categories for nearly four decades, hip-hop figures prominently in this year’s nods — an embrace that acknowledges the genre’s ubiquity and pop influence. Jay-Z leads with eight nominations, followed by Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar with seven. Both emcees are front-runners for album of the year and landed in either record or song of the year. One of the night’s highlight performances will come courtesy of an explosive set from Lamar, which will feature U2 and Dave Chappelle.

Among the other artists on tap for Sunday’s show are Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Sam Smith, SZA, Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, Lady Gaga, Little Big Town, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Chris Stapleton, Emmylou Harris, Pink, Sting and Childish Gambino.

The show will cover the past year of nominated songs and those trademark Grammy moments of surprise pairings, along with several tributes to musicians who died during the year.

Chuck Berry and Fats Domino will be honored by Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste. Stapleton and Harris are pairing for a duet of “Wildflowers” in honor of Tom Petty that will lead the “In Memoriam” package.

Logic greets fan Linda Wolfe, of El Paso, Texas, after rehearsing for the Grammy Awards.
Logic greets fan Linda Wolfe, of El Paso, Texas, after rehearsing for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

More eyes likely will be glued to the moments of the show that will address social issues such as gun violence, mental illness and sexual abuse — hotly debated topics that in recent months have jolted the entertainment industry. Producers stressed that they never look to force politics into the show, instead leaving it up to artists to use the platform as they see fit.

“We really do believe in artists’ rights,” Ehrlich said. “Everything comes from them. They are more than the sum of their lyrics and music. There’s certainly more of a magnifying glass on our show because of the [Time’s Up show of support at the] Golden Globes.”

As Corden and Ehrlich discussed a potential segment, the newscast in the producer’s bullpen displayed a press conference of an Arizona woman who was leaving the hospital after recovering from a “non-survivable injury” after being shot in the head at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The attack that left 58 dead and hundreds more injured will be addressed on Sunday’s show with a tribute performance from Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brooks Osborne; the names of the victims will be displayed on paper lanterns.

Ehrlich was especially proud of the performance Kesha was prepping. The pop star, who saw her career stalled for years after going public with allegations of abuse against her mentor, superstar producer Dr. Luke, rebounded with last year’s “Rainbow” (up for pop album).

Executive producer Ken Ehrlich during rehearsals for the Grammy Awards.
Executive producer Ken Ehrlich during rehearsals for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Kesha will tackle the album’s stunning, redemptive ballad “Praying” alongside an all-star chorus of women in pop, including Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, new artist nominee Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha. They’ll be joined by members of the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women who come together to sing protest songs.

“It’s going to be powerful,” Ehrlich promised. “It would be an amazingly strong performance under any circumstance, but when you factor in what’s happening it becomes much more relevant, in a way. It’s what I love most about this show. Obviously there’s a lot of people wondering about Time’s Up and #MeToo and what’s so gratifying to me as a child of the ’60s is seeing this fervent commitment to change by a new generation.”

The day before rehearsal kicked off, an open letter was circulated among the music industry by a group calling itself the “Voices of Entertainment.”

Taking its cues from the Times Up campaign that defined the Golden Globes, the group is requesting attendees and nominees wear white roses in support of “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability.”

It’s a call to action for an industry that for all its history of “sex, drugs and rock & roll” has remained largely unscathed by the sea change. Even with a high-profile act like Kesha, her case had raged on for quite some time before she saw any support from her peers, and musicians have especially found themselves criticized for being silent on issues like sexual assault and harassment within the industry.

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement (which wasn’t involved in the white rose campaign), said she hopes the gesture sparks conversation and that shows like the Grammys should find ways to be impactful.

“The thing that is so powerful about #MeToo is it’s really emboldened other women,” she told The Times at a Grammy week event celebrating black women in music. “I’m sure there are a lot of #MeToos in the music industry. I don’t ever promote people being forced to come out and say anything at all. People take their own time and do it when they are ready.”

Still, she added: “Anything that’s culturally relevant — whether it’s political or societal — should find some way to address it,” she continued. “And this is a thing that’s so pervasive that you can’t ignore it. I don’t know if flowers is quite the way to go, but at least it’s some kind of acknowledgment, and it’s my hope that the gesture opens up more conversation and real dialogue.”

James Corden, host of the Grammy Awards, at rehearsals.
James Corden, host of the Grammy Awards, at rehearsals. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Back inside Madison Square Garden on Friday, Logic was atop a center platform rapping his anthem “1-800-273-8255.”

Titled after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the hit (it’s up for song and video of the year) had an effect far beyond the charts as calls to the lifeline went up between 30% and 50% after its video went viral, and Logic is using his moment on the Grammys stage to make a powerful statement.

He and collaborators Alessia Cara and Khalid (both competing for new artist) were flanked by more than a dozen suicide loss survivors and those who have recovered from suicide attempts — the rapper capping the emotional performance with a poignant call to action for equality for women, minorities and immigrants as the hot line number flashed across multiple video screens.

“Let’s reset and go once more, guys,” a disembodied voice from production echoed in the loudspeaker as everyone moved back into place.

ALSO

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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Grammy rehearsals aim to be true to the political climate while celebrating music

“Can I have more [sound] in my ear?” Miley Cyrus asked as she went over notes with Elton John.

The two were prepping a take of John’s signature “Tiny Dancer” as rehearsals for Sunday’s 60th Grammy Awards kicked off at Madison Square Garden Thursday afternoon.

It was the first day of the penultimate lap of the marathon that’s been underway since Grammy nominations were announced in November, and the well orchestrated chorus of chaos that comes with mounting a live 3½-hour music spectacle was apparent before you walked into the cavernous venue.

A forklift carrying barricades held up a crowd of commuters rushing toward Penn Station as construction was underway in and around the arena prepping for music’s biggest night, which is returning to New York for the first time in 15 years.

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“We love our home in L.A., but this offers us a chance to shake it up a little bit and message it a little differently to the audience,” said Jack Sussman, CBS’s vice president of live events and specials. “It’s the 60th anniversary and we haven’t been here in 15 years. This was an opportunity, for one year, to give [the show] a different spin.”

Elton John rehearses with Miley Cyrus for the Grammy Awards.
Elton John rehearses with Miley Cyrus for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

The red carpet stretches through a specially erected tent, which looks to be the length of a football field. More than a dozen workers, their labored breaths visible in the frigid 30-degree weather, assembled platforms that will house reporters from across the world.

There were gold-plated logos of the Grammys and its host network, CBS, embossed on black-velvet-dotted walls. Black chandeliers were hung throughout the stretch of bright red carpet, with rows of white columns adorning the space.

But the real action was going down inside the Garden, where Ken Ehrlich, the telecast’s longtime executive producer, Sussman and Recording Academy President Neil Portnow pieced together the more than 20 performances that will punctuate Sunday’s show.

The main stages were lighted with neon and light bulbs reminiscent of a Broadway marquee — a nod to the Great White Way that defines New York — and framed by nearly two dozen hanging video screens.

As John and Cyrus moved through a couple of takes — it was the first time the two ever sang together — the show’s host, James Corden, returning for a second stint as emcee, was in the producer’s bullpen snacking on fruit-flavored gumdrops and giddy over his exchange with John. “He really is the sweetest guy.”

“The night is really about the performances,” Corden told reporters earlier in the morning. “As a host you want to usher that in.”

Mounting the show in New York has kept producers on their toes as they contend with a number of challenges, from chilly temperatures to the logistics of navigating a sprawling city and a venue that, unlike Staples Center in L.A., wasn’t designed with the massive production in mind. In the days before the show, reports surfaced of tension between the city and the Recording Academy sparked by budget overruns and discussions of concessions to offset the event’s cost.

Although the Grammys are projected to pour a projected $200 million into the local economy, according to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Crain’s New York reported that the production will cost between $6 million to $8 million more than it would if it been in L.A.

Khalid and Alessia Cara rehearse for the Grammy Awards.
Khalid and Alessia Cara rehearse for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Portnow, who declined to divulge the show’s budget, said the city ultimately didn’t fully deliver on fundraising promises it made to the academy, which the mayor’s office declined to comment on.

“We know that it’s a lot more expensive to do the same week in New York that you do in L.A. — even if you change nothing. We came here fully aware,” he said. “The unions are different here … the costs of hotels … catered meetings, all of that stuff adds up.

“The city basically made a number of assertions and plans and commitments that we more or less relied on. Possible sponsorships and all kinds of different ways to cover [the cost],” he continued. “It hasn’t quite been what we expected or felt was promised to us … and we have an honest disagreement about that.”

Even so, while the show producers all groused about the financial challenges of the relocation, it was in the “rearview mirror” of thought as Sunday’s show started to take shape inside Madison Square Garden.

Sunday’s show will reflect a wave of change that began with the crop of nominations.

After largely being overlooked in major categories for nearly four decades, hip-hop figures prominently in this year’s nods — an embrace that acknowledges the genre’s ubiquity and pop influence. Jay-Z leads with eight nominations, followed by Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar with seven. Both emcees are front-runners for album of the year and landed in either record or song of the year. One of the night’s highlight performances will come courtesy of an explosive set from Lamar, which will feature U2 and Dave Chappelle.

Among the other artists on tap for Sunday’s show are Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Sam Smith, SZA, Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, Lady Gaga, Little Big Town, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Chris Stapleton, Emmylou Harris, Pink, Sting and Childish Gambino.

The show will cover the past year of nominated songs and those trademark Grammy moments of surprise pairings, along with several tributes to musicians who died during the year.

Chuck Berry and Fats Domino will be honored by Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste. Stapleton and Harris are pairing for a duet of “Wildflowers” in honor of Tom Petty that will lead the “In Memoriam” package.

Logic greets fan Linda Wolfe, of El Paso, Texas, after rehearsing for the Grammy Awards.
Logic greets fan Linda Wolfe, of El Paso, Texas, after rehearsing for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

More eyes likely will be glued to the moments of the show that will address social issues such as gun violence, mental illness and sexual abuse — hotly debated topics that in recent months have jolted the entertainment industry. Producers stressed that they never look to force politics into the show, instead leaving it up to artists to use the platform as they see fit.

“We really do believe in artists’ rights,” Ehrlich said. “Everything comes from them. They are more than the sum of their lyrics and music. There’s certainly more of a magnifying glass on our show because of the [Time’s Up show of support at the] Golden Globes.”

As Corden and Ehrlich discussed a potential segment, the newscast in the producer’s bullpen displayed a press conference of an Arizona woman who was leaving the hospital after recovering from a “non-survivable injury” after being shot in the head at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The attack that left 58 dead and hundreds more injured will be addressed on Sunday’s show with a tribute performance from Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brooks Osborne; the names of the victims will be displayed on paper lanterns.

Ehrlich was especially proud of the performance Kesha was prepping. The pop star, who saw her career stalled for years after going public with allegations of abuse against her mentor, superstar producer Dr. Luke, rebounded with last year’s “Rainbow” (up for pop album).

Executive producer Ken Ehrlich during rehearsals for the Grammy Awards.
Executive producer Ken Ehrlich during rehearsals for the Grammy Awards. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Kesha will tackle the album’s stunning, redemptive ballad “Praying” alongside an all-star chorus of women in pop, including Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, new artist nominee Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha. They’ll be joined by members of the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women who come together to sing protest songs.

“It’s going to be powerful,” Ehrlich promised. “It would be an amazingly strong performance under any circumstance, but when you factor in what’s happening it becomes much more relevant, in a way. It’s what I love most about this show. Obviously there’s a lot of people wondering about Time’s Up and #MeToo and what’s so gratifying to me as a child of the ’60s is seeing this fervent commitment to change by a new generation.”

The day before rehearsal kicked off, an open letter was circulated among the music industry by a group calling itself the “Voices of Entertainment.”

Taking its cues from the Times Up campaign that defined the Golden Globes, the group is requesting attendees and nominees wear white roses in support of “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability.”

It’s a call to action for an industry that for all its history of “sex, drugs and rock & roll” has remained largely unscathed by the sea change. Even with a high-profile act like Kesha, her case had raged on for quite some time before she saw any support from her peers, and musicians have especially found themselves criticized for being silent on issues like sexual assault and harassment within the industry.

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement (which wasn’t involved in the white rose campaign), said she hopes the gesture sparks conversation and that shows like the Grammys should find ways to be impactful.

“The thing that is so powerful about #MeToo is it’s really emboldened other women,” she told The Times at a Grammy week event celebrating black women in music. “I’m sure there are a lot of #MeToos in the music industry. I don’t ever promote people being forced to come out and say anything at all. People take their own time and do it when they are ready.”

Still, she added: “Anything that’s culturally relevant — whether it’s political or societal — should find some way to address it,” she continued. “And this is a thing that’s so pervasive that you can’t ignore it. I don’t know if flowers is quite the way to go, but at least it’s some kind of acknowledgment, and it’s my hope that the gesture opens up more conversation and real dialogue.”

James Corden, host of the Grammy Awards, at rehearsals.
James Corden, host of the Grammy Awards, at rehearsals. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) 

Back inside Madison Square Garden on Friday, Logic was atop a center platform rapping his anthem “1-800-273-8255.”

Titled after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the hit (it’s up for song and video of the year) had an effect far beyond the charts as calls to the lifeline went up between 30% and 50% after its video went viral, and Logic is using his moment on the Grammys stage to make a powerful statement.

He and collaborators Alessia Cara and Khalid (both competing for new artist) were flanked by more than a dozen suicide loss survivors and those who have recovered from suicide attempts — the rapper capping the emotional performance with a poignant call to action for equality for women, minorities and immigrants as the hot line number flashed across multiple video screens.

“Let’s reset and go once more, guys,” a disembodied voice from production echoed in the loudspeaker as everyone moved back into place.

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gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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Fed Ex Gives Pay Raises On The Heels Of Tax Reforms.

FedEx announces wage increases, bonuses amid tax reform

Trump touts economy at Davos
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FedEx announced wage increases, employee bonuses and pension funding on Friday, citing the new Republican-backed tax-reform plan.

The company announced that two-thirds of $200 million in increased compensation will go to hourly employees, while the remainder will be put toward performance-based incentive plans for salaried employees.

FedEx also said $1.5 billion will be put toward the company’s pension plan and another $1.5 billion would go toward expanding the company’s hub in Indianapolis.

“FedEx believes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase [gross domestic product] and investment in the United States,” the company said on its website.

President Trump signed the GOP-backed tax plan, which decreases the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, in December.

FedEx is the latest company to announce benefits as a result of tax reform.

Home Depot said on Thursday it would be giving a $1,000 bonus to employees who have worked at Home Depot at least 20 years, according to CNBC.

Starbucks announced new raises for its employees on Wednesday, while JPMorgan Chase and Disney said on Tuesday they would give their employees raises and bonuses as a result of tax reform.

Trump cited the gains in a tweet promoting the plan earlier this week.

h

Robert Massimi.
With new tax laws,  Fed Ex, Walmart and a plethora of companies are increasing  pay wages because it makes more sense to give the money to employees, that is a big step up from the days of Obama when the House used to debate the $15 dollar an hour wage increase.
I have written at lenth on this blog about tax reductions stimulate an economy.