May 1, 2019

U.S. to stop updating public about Taliban control in Afghanistan

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

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 45 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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