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Pentagon updates Syria troop count to 2,000

A U.S. silhouetted soldier, left, directs his armored convoy as Syrian children, background, watch, on a road that links to Raqqa city, northeast Syria.
A U.S. soldier directs his armored convoy as Syrian children watch, on a road that links to Raqqa city, northeast Syria. Photo: Hussein Malla / AP

The Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that there are currently about 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, rather than the 500 previously reported.

  • Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said Secretary Mattis has "been clear about improving our public reporting" on troop counts and directed the department "to revise how it accounts for deployed personnel carrying out major operations in Iraq and Syria." Pahon said Mattis directed this revision "months ago."

Why it matters: Pahon told Axios in November that the official count was "about 503," and did not include temporary assignment troops who would be there for a few months or less. The Pentagon would not clarify whether temporary assignment troops are now being included in the count.

Steve LeVine 12 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

Kia Kokalitcheva 58 mins ago
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Why Europeans are more skeptical of data-driven businesses

A European Union flag seen flying in Trafalgar Square. Photo: Brais G Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Europeans view privacy as a human rights issue, leading regulators there to be much more skeptical of data-driven businesses like social media. Americans are also beginning to worry about how data is used on some platforms like Facebook, particularly after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke this weekend.

The big picture: Europe's history and culture plays a large role in shaping its views toward privacy. Granted, this history has to do with government access to personal information, but it's since extended to businesses.