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Afghan security forces near the site of a Taliban attack in Ghazni in April 2018. Photo: Akeria Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. military has ended its long-running assessments of how much territory in Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban, the latest move to limit the information the American public has about the 17-year-old war, per the NY Times.

Why it matters: John Sopko, the U.S. inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, told the Times the move was "like turning off the scoreboard at a football game and saying scoring a touchdown or field goal isn't important." He added that it will ensure "the only people who don't know what's going on and how good or bad a job we're doing are the people paying for it — the American taxpayers."

On the one hand: A U.S. military spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, told the Times the assessments were "subjective" and "did little to serve our mission of protecting our citizens and allies."

On the other: Bill Roggio, an expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Times that the assessments "highlight failure": "Make no mistake, if these assessments showed the Afghan military retaking lost ground, the U.S. military would continue to publish the information."

What to watch: A new round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban began today in Qatar. They're aimed at securing a peace agreement, but have been criticized by Afghan officials who are wary of being left out of negotiations over the country's future.

Go deeper: 17 years later, Americans tend to consider Afghanistan a failure.

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."