Culture Feature

​The US Is Fighting a Disinformation War — and Losing

A report declassified by the National Intelligence Council last month explains exactly how foreign powers tried to influence Americans during the 2020 election. Spoiler alert: Things don't look good.

Russian Hacker

Dmitry Nogaev | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The report, titled Foreign Threats to the US 2020 Federal Election, was compiled with help from every corner of the intelligence community.

The CIA, FBI, INR, NSA, DHS, NIC, and the Treasury Department were all involved in its preparation. The bombshell report has the weight of the entirety of US intelligence behind it – and it reveals a lot.

WYFFThe National Intelligence Council AssessmentWYFF NBC 4


First, the good news: They found no evidence that any foreign power directly interfered in our election infrastructure. That means they believe that there were no successful cyber attacks on the technical aspects of the election, including voter registration, casting and counting ballots, or reporting results. The results of the election are completely secure.

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Culture News

Why Trump Really Deleted the "White Power" Quote Tweet

Deleting the Villages tweet cost him nothing—it had already done its job.

Donald Trump

Photo by Annie Spratt (Unsplash)

Over the weekend, President Trump came under fire after quote-tweeting a video of protesters and Trump supporters clashing in The Villages—a massive retirement community in central Florida.

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Vlade Kay and DJ Snake Team Up on “All This Lovin'”

Their combined talents heat up the winter.

DJ Snake & Vlade Kay

Press Photo

Russian pop prodigy Vlade Kay linked up with DJ Snake to deliver "All This Lovin" after the two met at a L.A. writing camp.

A household name in Russia, Kay recently performed at the Dubai International Music Festival and the Bravo International Music Awards, while DJ Snake released his sophomore album, Carte Blanche, featuring big guns like Eptic, Tchami, Malaa, Mercer, and ZHU.

All This Lovin

With a joint effort with Martin Garrix as his next single, Kay is making all the right moves. "All This Lovin" rides an infectious dance groove topped by Kay's soulful, honeyed voice. "So baby, blend your heart with mine and ain't nobody else / This time we can't stop all of this loving."

Follow Vlade Kay Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Popdust Presents

Conversing with Oceans Found His Musical Voice in the Bronx

The singer songwriter performs new songs in the Popdust offices.

Photo by Popdust

Conversing with Oceans is the name of Alex Bondarev's new solo music project. Born in Russia, war and unrest forced the singer to flee the country with his family, eventually leading them to settle in the Bronx, where Alex was exposed to a wide range of music, from The Fugees to Wutang. He describes Conversing with Oceans as the most authentic musical offering so far, combining a devotion to melody with his characteristically introspective lyrical style. He collaborated with producer-engineer Tim O'Sullivan (Childish Gambino, Anderson Paak) to create his latest three part EP, Trilogy.

In his interview with Popdust's own Deascent, Alex discussed the way being from a war torn country affected his life and music, working with John Forte of The Fujees, the tiny Bronx project, and more.

Popdust Presents | Conversing with

Live at the Popdust offices, Conversing with Oceans performed two new songs, "Hanna" and "Courage," two inspiring numbers about letting go and focusing on what's important. Both feature infectious folk rhythms with pop stylings that highlight the diversity of Alex's musical abilities.

Conversing with Oceans "Courage"

Conversing with Oceans "Hanna"

Then, Alex was subjected to the infamous magic box. He explained why he'd rather be bursting with joy than cream cheese, whether he'd rather partake in an apple cider vinegar baptism or a salad dressing shower, and finally, got personal about his views on math class.

The Magic Box Interview With Conversing with

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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THE OPTION | World Cup: Who's Still Got a Chance?

As Perennial Favorites Get Knocked Off Left and Right, it Seems Like it's Anyone's Game.

This weekend, Russia stunned Spain and knocked them out in the round of 16.

France also sent home Messi and his fellow Argentinians on Saturday. The Netherlands didn't make the World Cup this year, and the Germans choked in against South Korea in the group stage. There are no finalists from the last two World Cups left in this year's tournament, and because of this it's becoming increasingly difficult to predict what's going to happen next.

At the beginning of the tournament, no one would have predicted Russia making the quarterfinals, yet there they are. Croatia has absolutely dominated the field. And Belgium seems to be the team to beat. There are still too many teams left in this World Cup to narrow the story lines to one particular club. With this in mind, I've decided to look at everyone remaining and discuss their chances of becoming world champions.


France is flying high from their victory over Argentina this weekend, and for good reason. 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé singlehandedly demolished last year's runner-up, torching Argentina's plodding defense and going on to score a brace. If France has one problem though, it's closing out when it counts. Even when they took a two goal lead late in Saturday's match, it never really felt like they had control. Argentina was able to score in the final minutes and managed to setup several close shots. Speed alone won't be enough to beat Uruguay's stout defensive unit. France will need to grab the lead and hold it if they're going to make it out of the next round.


Of all the teams in the tournament, Uruguay is perhaps the most complete looking. When they beat Portugal, they grabbed the lead and let their defense do the work. When Portugal tied it back up 1-1 in the second half, Edinson Cavani authoritatively buried a second goal, putting a cap on his brilliant performance. Unfortunately for Uruguay, there are reports that Cavani could miss up to a month of playing time due to an injury he sustained late in Saturday's game. Uruguay still has Suarez, making them an incredibly formative opponent, but Cavani has been their leader on offense. His loss significantly hurts Uruguay's chances.


When one thinks of soccer, Croatia probably isn't a country that comes to mind. That said, they have a very quiet roster of stars, including Luka Modrić and Mario Mandžukić. They steamrolled through the group stage and knocked off Denmark in PKs yesterday. They play Russia in the next round and don't have much legitimate competition on their side of the bracket besides England. Sometimes an easy path to the championship is just as important as having the best players.


The fact that Russia is still in this tournament is nothing short of a miracle. In a lot of ways, their team is like the American team, comprised of a bunch of players no one has ever heard of, most of which play in an inferior professional league. They beat perennial favorite Spain in PKs, but it's worth noting how Uruguay brought them back to Earth in the group stage. It's only a matter of time before the Russian team gets sent packing.


As the tournament favorites have fallen by the wayside, Belgium remains, dominating the competition so far. These guys are the real deal, and have a relatively cushy matchup against Japan later today. That said, they're in a tough bracket. To get to the championship, they'll need to beat Brazil and then the winner of Uruguay v France. They certainly have the toughest road to the championship, but they also have one of the toughest teams. Still, they haven't faced a real challenge yet in this tournament. It will be interesting to see how they match up against the elite teams.


Realistically, Japan has no chance. They barely made it out of an inferior group and now they have to play Belgium, one of the best teams in the tournament. For some countries, making it to the world stage is a victory in itself.


This is the first English team in a long time that seems to have some teeth. Harry Kane has scored 5 goals so far, and is leading the entire tournament, and partnered with his Tottenham teammate Deli Alli, he's sure to score a few more. England plays Colombia tomorrow, and should have an easy go of it. They also ended up in the easy side of the bracket, and their only real competition moving forward is Croatia. These guys are a lock for the semifinals.


Colombia made it into the knockout stage on a technicality. They committed two fewer yellow cards than Senegal and made it through the group stage on a bizarre tiebreaker. Their team is full of talented players, but they haven't really gelled this World Cup. If they beat England tomorrow, it'd be a massive upset.


Sweden managed to smack Mexico around in the group stage and played a relatively tight game against Germany before losing in the 95th minute. They're on the weaker side of the bracket, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're safe. They play Switzerland next round in what should be, despite Switzerland's FIFA rank of 6th, an even matchup. Still, even if they win, Sweden doesn't have the fire power to go toe-to-toe with either England or Croatia.


Switzerland played what was perhaps their most important game during the group stage. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri came to Switzerland as Albanian refugees from Kosovo. When Xhaka scored Switzerland's first goal, he put his hands in the shape of the Albanian eagle, an act of political antagonization that FIFA later fined him for. While the Swiss team clearly has a lot of heart, they'll be hard pressed to get past Croatia or England. I do think they'll beat Sweden and head to the semi-finals though.


After beating Mexico this morning, Brazil seems to be in top form, and are the clear favorites going forward. Between Marcelo, Neymar, and Thiago Silva, they have too much talent for most teams to handle. They're on the harder side of the bracket, and will most likely have to face Belgium next round, but Brazil remains the team to beat right now. That said, Neymar constantly rolling around the field crying is a bad look. Brazil is the best team in the tournament, but they're pretty tough to root for.

Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Website: Twitter: @mattclibanoff

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THE OPTION | The World Cup: Group by Group

The Group Stage is Coming to a Close. Who's Set to Advance?

This year's World Cup has been full of surprises, and has served as reminder that the United States doesn't sit at the center of the international sports community.

The tournament is no worse for the wear without the involvement of the stars and stripes. That said, American soccer fans don't really have any skin in the game, and many viewers are looking for someone to root for. Some have suggested that we root for Mexico due to geographic proximity, and, sure, if someone besides us has to win, it might as well be our neighbors to the south, but it's not the same. Enough complaining though.

For those of you unaware with how the World Cup works, it's relatively simple. At the start of the tournament, there are eight groups of four. Each team plays everyone in their group once. The top two teams in each group move on to the round of 16. The tournament then progresses in a way similar to March Madness. As we head into the third game of the group stage this week, there are too many story lines to keep track of. I've decided to give you a rundown of each group, so you can decide what day to take an extra long lunch and watch.

Group A (Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia)

The talent disparity in this group is wide. Many fans are wondering how much Putin paid FIFA to put Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the same group as his Russian national squad. That said, as I write this, I'm watching Uruguay absolutely dominate their Russian opponents, exposing them as a second-rate team.

Uruguay: First

Russia: Runner-up

Egypt: Out

Saudi Arabia: Out

Game to watch: None

Group B (Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Iran)

This is another two team group. Christiano Ronaldo has scored every goal for team Portugal thus far in the tournament, and seems committed to dragging his nonscoring companions into the next round. Spain, on the other hand, is dominating the group stage like they always do.

Spain: Tied for first. Advances with a tie, win, or Portugal loss (depending on goal differential)

Portugal: Tied for first. Advances with a tie, win, or Spain loss (depending on goal differential)

Iran: Advances with a win OR a tie and a Spain loss (depending on goal differential)

Morocco: Out

Game to watch: Iran v Portugal 2:00pm, EST 6/25

Group C (France, Denmark, Australia, Peru)

So far, France and Denmark have managed to control the group, but with those two teams playing each other tomorrow, Australia has a chance to sneak into the next round.

France: Tied for first. Advances with tie, win, or Australia loss.

Denmark: Tied for first. Advances with tie, win, or Australia loss.

Australia: Advances with win AND Denmark or French loss (depending on goal differential)

Peru: Out

Game to watch: France v Denmark 10am, EST 6/26

Group D (Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria)

Every tournament, there's a group that's so evenly matched that good teams get left behind. Group D is this year's group of death. Argentina, last year's tournament runner-ups, find themselves at the bottom of the table, and only Croatia has guaranteed their spot in the knockout round. Because of this, the scenarios surrounding advancement are a bit complicated. Stay with me.

Croatia: First

Nigeria: Advances with a win OR a tie and Croatia win/tie or loss (depending on goal differential)

Iceland: Advances with a win AND Argentina win or tie (depending on goal differential)

Argentina: Advances with a win and a Croatia win, or tie OR with a win and Croatia loss (depending on goal differential)

Game to watch: Argentina v Nigeria 2pm, EST 6/26

Group E (Brazil, Serbia, Costa Rica, Switzerland)

While Brazil should be dominating this group, Switzerland has been a thorn in everybody's side, beating Serbia and tying the Brazilians. The Serbs, for their part, are still hanging around as well.

Brazil: In with win or tie OR loss and Switzerland loss (depending on goal differential)

Switzerland: In with win or tie OR Serbia loss OR loss and Serbia tie (depending on goal differential)

Serbia: In with win OR tie and Switzerland loss (depending on goal differential)

Costa Rica: Out

Game to watch: Serbia v Brazil 2pm EST, 6/27

Group F (Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea)

Germany was the tournament favorite back at the beginning of the month, but after being stunned by Mexico, their stock has fallen a bit. Without that late Toni Kroos goal this Saturday, Germany would be in pretty bad shape. As it is, the defending champs look ready to head into the knockout round. All that stands in their way is South Korea.

Mexico: Advance with a win or tie OR Germany loss OR with a loss and Germany victory (depending on goal differential)

Germany: Advance with a win OR a tie with Sweden loss OR a tie with Sweden tie (depending on goal differential) OR a loss with Sweden loss (depending on goal differential)

Sweden: Advance with a win and German loss or tie OR with a tie and German loss OR with a loss and German loss (depending on goal differential) OR with a win and German win (depending on goal differential)

South Korea: Out

Game to watch: Sweden v Mexico 10am EST, 6/27

Group G (England, Belgium, Tunisia, Panama)

Both England and Belgium have absolutely dominated their group and are the only teams in Group G with wins. They face off on Wednesday to decide who comes in first. The teams are tied by every differentiator though, so if they tie in their matchup, the deciding factor will be fair play (the amount of yellow cards each team gets). The top half of the knockout bracket however is pretty stacked, with both Germany and Brazil as potential opponents. This gives each team incentive to foul one another, so they end up in the bottom half. This matchup is shaping up to be a violent one.

England: First place with win OR tie (depending on very strange fair play tiebreaker)

Belgium: First place with win OR tie (depending on very strange fair play tiebreaker)

Tunisia: Out

Panama: Out

Game to watch: England v Belgium 2pm EST, 6/28

Group H (Japan, Senegal, Poland, Colombia

Japan is the odd standout of this year's tournament. They weren't expected to make much of a splash, but they've proven that they have what it takes to win in this extremely competitive tournament. That said, they still have to prove themselves against Poland before they can advance to the knockout stage.

Japan: Advances with win OR tie and Colombia tie or loss OR with Colombia

Senegal: Advances with win or tie OR loss and Japan loss (depending on goal differential)

Colombia: Advances with win OR tie and Japan loss (depending on goal differential)

Poland: Out

Game to watch: Senegal v Colombia 10am EST, 6/28

Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Website: Twitter: @mattclibanoff

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