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READ: Tim Morrison’s opening statement before House impeachment investigators

(CNN)A top National Security Council official testified Thursday that he was told President Donald Trump wanted a top Ukrainian official to announce an investigation that would help the President politically before US security aid to Ukraine would be released, corroborating a key part of US diplomat Bill Taylor’s testimony that’s central to the Democrats’ impeachment…

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READ: Tim Morrison’s opening statement before House impeachment investigators

(CNN)A top National Security Council official testified Thursday that he was told President Donald Trump wanted a top Ukrainian official to announce an investigation that would help the President politically before US security aid to Ukraine would be released, corroborating a key part of US diplomat Bill Taylor’s testimony that’s central to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to sources familiar with the testimony.CNN has obtained the text of Morrison’s opening statement, which you can read below. Opening Statement of Timothy Morrison Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform October 31, 2019 Chairman Schiff and Members of the Committees, I appear today under subpoena to answer your questions about my time as Senior Director for European Affairs at the White House and the National Security Council (“NSC”). I will give you the most complete information I can, consistent with my obligations to the President and the protection of classified information. I do not know who the whistleblower is, nor do I intend to speculate as to who it may be. Before joining the NSC in 2018, I spent 17 years as a Republican staffer, serving in a variety of roles in both houses of Congress. My last position was Policy Director for the then-Majority Staff of the House Armed Services Committee. I. The Role of the National Security Council From July 9, 2018 to July 15, 2019, I served as a Special Assistant to the President for National Security and as the NSC Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biodefense. In that role, I had limited exposure to Ukraine, focusing primarily on foreign military sales and arms control. On July 15, 2019, I became Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security. In this role, I serve as the lead interagency coordinator for national security issues involving Europe and Russia. It is important to start with the role of the NSC. Since its creation by Congress in 1947, the NSC has appropriately evolved in shape and size to suit the needs of the President and the National Security Advisor it serves at the time. But its mission and core function has fundamentally remained the same: to coordinate across departments and agencies of the Executive Branch to ensure the President has the policy options he needs to accomplish his objectives and to see that his decisions are implemented. The NSC staff does not make policy. NSC staff are most effective when we are neutral arbiters, helping the relevant Executive Branch agencies develop options for the President and implement his direction. In my current position, I understood our primary U.S. policy objective in Ukraine was to take advantage of the once-in-a-generation opportunity that resulted from the election of President Zelensky and the clear majority he had gained in the Ukrainian Rada to see real anti-corruption reform take root. The Administration’s policy was that the best way for the United States to show its support for President Zelensky’s reform efforts was to make sure the United States’ longstanding bipartisan commitment to strengthen Ukraine’s security remained unaltered, it is easy to forget here in Washington, but impossible in Kyiv, that Ukraine is still under armed assault by Russia, a nuclear-armed state. We also tend to forget that the United States had helped convince Ukraine to give up Soviet nuclear weapons in 1994. United States security sector assistance (from the Departments of Defense and State) is, therefore, essential to Ukraine. Also essential is a strong and positive relationship with Ukraine at the highest levels of our respective governments. In my role as Senior Director for European Affairs, I reported directly to former Deputy National Security Advisor, Dr. Charles Kupperman, and former National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton. I kept them fully informed on matters that I believed merited their awareness or when I felt I needed some direction. During the time relevant to this inquiry, I never briefed the President or Vice President on matters related to Ukrainian security. It was my job to coordinate with the U.S. Embassy Chief of Mission to Ukraine William Taylor, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker, and other interagency stakeholders in the Departments of Defense and State of Ukrainian matters. My primary responsibility has been to ensure federal agencies had consistent messaging and policy guidance on national security issues involving European and Russian affairs. As Dr. Fiona Hill and I prepared for me to succeed her, one of the areas we discussed was Ukraine. In that discussion, she informed me of her concerns about two Ukraine processes that were occurring: the normal interagency process led by the NSC with the typical department and agency participation and a separate process that involved chiefly the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. Dr. Hill told me that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were trying to get President Zelensky to reopen Ukrainian investigations into Burisma. At the time, I did not know what Burisma was or what the investigation entailed. After the meeting with Dr. Hill, I googled Burisma and learned that it was a Ukrainian energy company and that Hunter Biden was on its board. I also did not understand why Ambassador Sondland would be involved in Ukraine policy, often without the involvement of our duly-appointed Chief of Mission, Ambassador Bill Taylor. My most frequent conversations were with Ambassador Taylor because he was the U.S. Chief of Mission in Ukraine and I was his chief conduit for information related to White House deliberations, including security sector assistance and potential head-of-state meetings. This is a normal part of the coordination process. II. Review of Open Source Documents in Preparation for Testimony In preparation for my appearance today, I reviewed the statement Ambassador Taylor provided this inquiry on October 22, 2019. I can confirm that the substance of his statement, as it relates to conversations he and I had, is accurate. My recollections differ on two of the details, however. I have a slightly different recollection of my September 1, 2019 conversation with Ambassador Sondland. On page 10 of Ambassador Taylor’s statement, he recounts a conversation I relayed to him regarding Ambassador Sondland’s conversation with Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Yermak. Ambassador Taylor wrote: “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.” My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to Mr. Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general—not President Zelensky—would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation. I also would like to clarify that I did not meet with the Ukrainian National Security Advisor in his hotel room, as Ambassador Taylor indicated on page 11 of his statement. Instead, an NSC aide and I met with Mr. Danyliuk in the hotel’s business center. I also reviewed the Memorandum of Conversation (“MemCont’) of the July 25 phone call that was released by the White House. I listened to the call as it occurred from the Situation Room. To the best of my recollection, the MemCon accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call. I also recall that I did not see anyone from the NSC Legal Advisor’s Office in the room during the call. After the call, I promptly asked the NSC Legal Advisor and his Deputy to review it. I had three concerns about a potential leak of the MemCon: first, how it would play out in Washington’s polarized environment; second, how a leak would affect the bipartisan support our Ukrainian partners currently experience in Congress; and third, how it would affect the Ukrainian perceptions of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed. III. White House Hold on Security Sector Assistance I was not aware that the White House was holding up the security sector assistance passed by Congress until my superior, Dr. Charles Kupperman, told me soon after I succeeded Dr. Hill. I was aware that the President thought Ukraine had a corruption problem, as did many others familiar with Ukraine. I was also aware that the President believed that Europe did not contribute enough assistance to Ukraine. I was directed by Dr. Kupperman to coordinate with the interagency stakeholders to put together a policy process to demonstrate that the interagency supported security sector assistance to Ukraine. I was confident that our national security principals—the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the National Security Council—could convince President Trump to release the aid because President Zelensky and the reform-oriented Rada were genuinely invested in their anti-corruption agenda. Ambassador Taylor and I were concerned that the longer the money was withheld, the more questions the Zelensky administration would ask about the U.S. commitment to Ukraine. Our initial hope was that the money would be released before the hold became public because we did not want the newly constituted Ukrainian government to question U.S. support. I have no reason to believe the Ukrainians had any knowledge of the review until August 28, 2019. Ambassador Taylor and I had no reason to believe that the release of the security sector assistance might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation until my September 1, 2019 conversation with Ambassador Sondland. Even then I hoped that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own and would not be considered by leaders in the Administration and Congress, who understood the strategic importance of Ukraine to our national security. I am pleased our process gave the President the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance. My regret is that Ukraine ever learned of the review and that, with this impeachment inquiry, Ukraine has become subsumed in the U.S. political process. IV. Conclusion After 19 years of government service, I have decided to leave the NSC. I have not submitted a formal resignation at this time because I do not want anyone to think there is a connection between my testimony today and my impending departure. I plan to finalize my transition from the NSC after my testimony is complete.During my time in public service, I have worked with some of the smartest and most self-sacrificing people in this country. Serving at the White House in this time of unprecedented global change has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump Administration to accomplish. Thank you for your attention.
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European leaders seized more power during the pandemic. Few have ‘exit plans’ to hand it back

The move was seen as controversial by some of Macron’s liberal allies: after all, instructing your citizens to be home by a certain time and tracking their medical information is hardly consistent with France’s liberal traditions. It wasn’t long ago that the French president was extolling the values of democracy. Speaking to the US Congress…

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European leaders seized more power during the pandemic. Few have ‘exit plans’ to hand it back

The move was seen as controversial by some of Macron’s liberal allies: after all, instructing your citizens to be home by a certain time and tracking their medical information is hardly consistent with France’s liberal traditions.

It wasn’t long ago that the French president was extolling the values of democracy. Speaking to the US Congress in 2018, he paid tribute to the “sanctuary of democracy” he was addressing and reminded the world of the words “emblazoned on the flags of the French revolutionaries, ‘Vivre libre ou mourir.’ Live free or die.” Ironic, given the president’s apparent eagerness to boss his citizens around to stop the spread of a deadly virus.

Macron’s loosening relationship with democracy doesn’t stop at tracking who’s been injected and forcing people indoors. Throughout the pandemic, the president has reduced the role that his parliament plays in scrutinizing his policy announcements.

“Parliament’s role in France is more limited under the new state of health emergency than before,” said Joelle Grogan, senior lecturer in UK public and EU law at the University of Middlesex. “There is no obligation for governments and administrations to send copies of orders they adopt to parliament.”

Democracy Reporting International (DRI) recently published a comprehensive study on how governments across the European Union had responded in the context of democracy and the rule of law. France was listed as a country of “significant concern” for the extent to which its government has subverted legal norms.

France is not the only EU nation that has backslid on democracy.

In Austria, Slovenia, Belgium and Lithuania to name a few, there is serious concern that governments have misused existing laws to restrict the liberty of citizens. In fact, DRI listed only Spain out of the 27 EU member states as a country of “no concern” when it came to parliamentary or legal oversight of Covid measures.

The most egregious example probably comes from Hungary, where the government passed legislation that allowed it to rule by decree with no judicial review.

Courts in Cyprus and the Czech Republic claimed to have no jurisdiction over coronavirus measures. This significantly reduced moves to safeguard any attempted government overreach.

A central concern of DRI’s report is that few European countries have a clear “exit plan” for ending states of emergency and returning to normal ways of governance.

Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protesters demonstrate in Paris on the first day of a new four-week lockdown on March 20, 2021.

This is a real concern in the case of France. Phillippe Marlière, professor of French and European politics at University College London, notes that in recent years, France has introduced numerous states of emergency in response to terror attacks. Many of the measures introduced at these times concerning personal liberty have remained in place.

“I would bet that a lot of the illiberal measures that have come in under Covid, like the health pass and threats of curfews will remain in place or be seen again,” he said. “Politicians are very good at taking authority but less good at handing it back.”

There is particular concern among some that Macron, who is facing election next year, might see keeping a tight grip on power as advantageous.

“The French president has more power on paper than the American [resident. He can control the police, the army, all domestic policy, all foreign policy. He even appoints his own prime minister,” said Marlière. “This, combined with someone seeking re-election who is already shifting to the right on issues like Islam with no real oversight is very concerning.”

More worryingly, the DRI report also states that only five EU member states — the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal — have adequate exit strategies for a return to normal.

“It’s far easier to govern by decree than to govern within limits, so it’s obvious why leaders would want to hang onto powers,” said Grogan, who also noted that undermining the rule of law has been a problem within the EU for some time.

Police officers check a demonstrator during an anti-lockdown demonstration in Budapest, Hungary, on January 31, 2021.

In recent years, Hungary and Poland had both abused the rule of law to such an extent that article 7 of the EU’s treaty, which, if approved by all member states, would restrict both nations’ voting rights with the EU and restrict access to EU money, has been triggered against both.

The problem is that both Hungary and Poland are able to veto actions against the other, rendering the EU somewhat toothless. “What happens next is the big problem. We can talk about legal mechanisms and the laws. But ultimately we need political consensus,” Grogan adds.

Last summer, Brussels tried to force Hungary and Poland to fall in line though a mechanism in the EU’s long-term budget, but ultimately choked at the last minute and agreed a fudge in order to get the bloc’s Covid recovery funds approved.

That was two member states. What happens when it’s many more is a real unknown for the EU.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of using the pandemic to grab emergency powers in France.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has a long history of undermining his country's democratic institutions.

“Fundamentally, the EU is a legal structure. It exists to obligate mutual rights between states and citizens,” said Grogan. “But it would be remiss to ignore the complexity beyond that. As Brexit proved it is a group of states deciding to be part of the club. Brexit showed us you can leave, but the problem is if someone doesn’t accept the values and doesn’t want to leave, it is legally impossible to remove a state.”

Where this ends is anyone’s guess. The EU is unlikely to fall apart, as many have predicted, but it is possible that Euroskeptics across the bloc can force changes that undermine the whole thing. And if you were looking for a way to destabilize the EU, making a mockery of the rule of law would be a good place to start.

“We’re seeing, as usual with emergencies, a shift of power towards the executive with oversight from parliaments, judiciary and other bodies getting weaker,” said Jakub Jaraczewski, research coordinator at DRI.

Boris Johnson echoes Republicans with voter ID push. But election fraud is still rare on either side of the Atlantic

“The EU could work towards better legal oversight — be it through the Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency or even through the Court of Justice. But that would require political will from the leadership in member states for the central EU to take control of policy areas they prefer to keep close to their chests.”

It’s sometimes said that EU law is a complicated mess of narrow political interests dressed in a legal cloak. Those narrow political interests have had a greater impact on the bloc’s direction of travel than the ideals that supposedly unite 27 vastly different nations.

For the best part of a decade, member states bickering over precisely what Europe should be and how it should respond to crises has been the hardest thing for the EU to navigate. The disregard for law, however, is a more fundamental headache than disagreements on migration or how money should be spent.

When politics returns to something resembling normal, Brussels might find itself with more than just Poland and Hungary on the naughty step. And if these recent delinquents decide that their newfound powers matter more to them than keeping their EU neighbors happy, there is very little that EU grandees can do to stop the fallout destabilizing the whole bloc.

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Thousands evacuated as powerful Cyclone Tauktae threatens Indian region grappling with Covid

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, which formed in the Arabian Sea, is moving northward along India’s western coast, bringing damaging winds, heavy rain and the threat of storm surges to the state of Gujarat. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (127 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. That’s equivalent…

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Thousands evacuated as powerful Cyclone Tauktae threatens Indian region grappling with Covid
Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, which formed in the Arabian Sea, is moving northward along India’s western coast, bringing damaging winds, heavy rain and the threat of storm surges to the state of Gujarat.

The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (127 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. That’s equivalent to a strong Category 3 Atlantic hurricane and just shy of Category 4 strength, which begins at 209 kph (130 mph).

Tauktae has killed at least six people in southern Goa and Karnataka states.

At least two people died Sunday as a result of the storm, which caused heavy rainfall in Goa, the state’s chief minister Pramod Sawant said at a news conference.

“One boy died due to a tree falling on his head and the second death, two people were on a motorcycle when an electric pole fell on them and one died on the way to the hospital,” Sawant said.

In Karnataka, four people died, 216 houses were damaged and 253 people sought shelter in relief camps due to the cyclone as of Sunday evening, according to data from the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority.

Police clear fallen trees from a road following heavy rains and strong winds brought by Cyclone Tauktae, at Panjim, Goa on May 16.

A rescue operation was conducted in Karnataka Monday, after two tug boats capsized Saturday with 10 people aboard. One body was recovered Saturday and the coast guard and navy rescued five people. The remaining four were stranded overnight but were airlifted by a navy helicopter, according to the coast guard on Monday.

Rescue and repair efforts are also underway in Kerala state, where several districts are on red alert for extremely heavy rainfall following strong winds and rain that damaged houses, downed trees, cut power lines and brought flooding as the cyclone moved northwest up the coast.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said Monday that Tauktae has intensified into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm.” As of 11 a.m. local time (1.30 a.m. ET), it was about 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Mumbai and moving at a speed of approximately 15 kph (9 mph), the IMD said in its latest update. Landfall is expected on the Gujarat peninsula near the town of Diu around midnight on Tuesday local time.
Nearly 150,000 people are expected to be evacuated from villages and low-lying areas near the coast, and directions have been issued to complete the evacuation process by Sunday evening, the Gujarat government said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Rains over 200 millimeters (8 inches) have fallen in parts of India’s west coast and an additional 200 millimeters is possible in and around the Gujarat peninsula, according to CNN Weather. The threat to lives and property is likely to increase with storm surges expected between 1.5 and 3 meters (5 to 10 feet) in and around the landfall.

“It’s extremely rare for this time of year to have this cyclone, which is equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, making its way into a landfall in India,” said CNN meteorologist Tom Sater. “It’s been coasting along the west coast of India, dropping an incredible amount of rainfall, flooding communities, (and causing) power outages.”

“If you head down to southern India, the town of Koch in Kerala — already over 500 millimeters of rainfall,” Sater added. “So communities have (already) been dealing with massive flooding, evacuations, downed trees, power outages. It’s a massive undertaking.”

Police and rescue personnel evacuate a local resident through a flooded street in a coastal area in Kochi on May 14.

India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said it has deployed more than 100 teams across six coastal states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu to help with evacuations and relief and rescue measures. Some 22 teams have been readied for back up, according to Satya Pradhan, director general of the NDRF.

“The main impact state will be Gujarat, and that’s where we expect maximum impact,” Pradhan said, adding that more than 50 teams had been deployed to that region alone. 

In addition, the Indian Coast Guard and Navy have also deployed ships and helicopters for search and rescue operations.

The IMD has warned the strong winds are expected to destroy thatched houses along the coast in Diu and southern coastal areas of Gujarat. Major damage is expected to buildings and roads, overhead power lines and signaling systems, while floods will likely block escape routes and disrupt railways.

Covid vaccines suspended, patients evacuated

The cyclone comes as India battles a devastating second wave of Covid-19, with millions infected across the country in the past month and hospitals running out of oxygen and medicine. Thousands are dying every day.

Gujarat is seeing a high caseload of new infections, with more than 8,200 reported on Sunday, according to the state’s Health and Family Welfare Department.

Vaccinations have been suspended across Gujarat for Monday and Tuesday, and the state’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, has asked officials to ensure electricity supplies to Covid-19 hospitals and other medical facilities are not disrupted and the supply of oxygen is maintained, the state government said, according to Reuters.

“The state government is completely ready to deal with the Tauktae cyclone,” Rupani said Monday. “People in 655 villages have been identified across 17 districts for evacuation. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated.”

Rupani urged Gujarat residents to “remain indoors considering the possibility of heavy rains along with cyclone in the state.”

In neighboring Maharashtra state, home to India’s financial capital and most populous city Mumbai, coastal districts have been put on a “state of high alert,” the chief minister’s office said on Twitter.

In Mumbai, 580 Covid patients from “jumbo centers” — the city’s makeshift coronavirus care centers — were shifted to various hospitals ahead of the storm on Friday and Saturday, a statement from the city’s municipal corporation said.

Fishing boats anchored near Uttan village ahead of the expected arrival of Cyclone Tauktae on May 16,  in Mumbai, India.

The state government said it has also “taken adequate precautions to ensure continuous electricity and oxygen supply to hospitals.”

During the 2020 cyclone season, Indian authorities mounted multiple ambitious evacuation operations even as the virus complicated the emergency response. Relief teams grappled with how to get people to safety while also protecting them against the risk of Covid-19.

On Saturday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed senior officials to “ensure special preparedness on Covid management in hospitals, vaccine cold chain and other medical facilities on power back up and storage of essential medicines and to plan for unhindered movement of oxygen tankers,” according to a statement.

After making landfall, the cyclone is expected to lose some of its wind strength, CNN meteorologist Sater said. But heavy rainfall is still expected to continue to move into the high terrain of northern India.

CNN’s Gene Norman, Swati Gupta, Akanksha Sharma, Manveena Suri and Derek Van Dam contributed reporting.

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‘Money, Explained’ and more of what you need this weekend

All right, yes, I also like having it.’Money, Explained’Get-rich-quick schemes. Swindlers. Chasing the American dream. Money — and how we need it, don’t have it and maybe could get it — is never far from the mind.Netflix made note of that and has blessed us with this new docuseries.”We spend it, borrow it and save…

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‘Money, Explained’ and more of what you need this weekend

All right, yes, I also like having it.

‘Money, Explained’

US Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota appears in
Get-rich-quick schemes. Swindlers. Chasing the American dream. Money — and how we need it, don’t have it and maybe could get it — is never far from the mind.

Netflix made note of that and has blessed us with this new docuseries.

“We spend it, borrow it and save it,” the show’s description reads. “Now let’s talk about money and its many minefields, from credit cards to casinos, scammers to student loans.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems? I am personally willing to risk it.

The series currently is streaming.

‘The Underground Railroad’

Thuso Mbedu stars in Barry Jenkins' adaptation of

Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins has adapted a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead into a new limited series.

“The Underground Railroad” chronicles Cora Randall’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

But there is a twist.

After escaping a Georgia plantation, Randall (Thuso Mbedu) discovers the railroad is not a metaphor, but an actual structure beneath the soil.

The series starts streaming Friday on Amazon Prime.

‘Halston’

Ewan McGregor (center) as Halston, David Pittu (second from right) as Joe Eula, and Rebecca Dayan (far right) as Elsa Peretti star in the Netflix series

He was one of the first international superstars of fashion and now, more than 30 years after his death, he’s getting the biopic treatment.

This account of the rise — and fall — of Roy Halston Frowick, better known as Halston, stars Ewan McGregor as the famed designer, who came to be known for his elegant creations.

The limited series starts streaming on Netflix Friday.

Two things to listen to:

St. Vincent performs during the 61st Annual Grammy Awards at LA's Staples Center, February 10, 2019.

“Daddy’s Home” is the sixth and latest album from the artist known as St. Vincent.

It’s inspired by her father’s decade-long stint in prison for a white-collar financial crime.

“Pops was in the clink for 10 years, and he’s out,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t mention it for sympathy or trauma points or anything like that. It’s just that the story was told without me in a tabloid-y way, and then it kind of seeped into my narrative. I was like, ‘Oh, this is awkward.'”

The new album drops Friday.

J. Cole headlines the main stage at the Wireless Festival 2018 at London's Finsbury Park, July 6, 2018.

If you ever have been to a J. Cole concert, you know that the rapper has a tendency to perform all the tracks from his current album.

As of Friday, he will have some new material.

The North Carolina native is releasing his latest studio project, “The Off-Season.”

Can’t wait for the next tour.

One thing to talk about:

(From left) Roast Master Seth Rogen and James Franco onstage during the Comedy Central Roast of Franco in Culver City, California, August 25, 2013.

The ripples of the #MeToo movement still are being felt.

As reported by CNN’s Toyin Owoseje, Seth Rogen recently said in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times that he doesn’t plan on working with longtime friend and collaborator James Franco.
“What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment, and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that,” Rogen said when asked about comedian-actor Charlyne Yi‘s claim that he was Franco’s “enabler.”

Franco has denied claims that he was inappropriate and sexually exploitative with multiple women over the years.

But Rogen’s stance is a reminder that Hollywood takes claims seriously.

Something to sip on

Porsha Williams attends the

Can we get to the next season of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” already?!

Yes, Season 13 just wrapped up, but the news that cast member Porsha Williams is now engaged to a man viewers initially knew as the husband of one of her friends has folks chomping at the bit for more drama.

Here’s the deal: Businessman Simon Guobadia and his wife, Falynn, were introduced on the Bravo reality series this season — with her being listed as Williams’ “friend” in their first scenes.

“What we have is what we wish every single one of you out there — happiness. So when I asked … she said yes,” Guobadia now has said of his relationship with Williams.

For the record, Williams said their relationship began a month ago.

Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s unclear as to whether the Guobadias are legally divorced yet, but either way it all adds up to some possible not-to-miss content for Season 14.

“Real Housewives” maestro Andy Cohen is somewhere smiling so hard right now.

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