The US military will no longer divulge facts and figures about its costly effort to assist Afghan security forces, declaring the information top secret, officials said Thursday. The move marks an about-face for the Pentagon, which for the past six years has reported a range of data about the $65 billion program to build up the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). "The decision leaves SIGAR unable to publicly report on most of the $65 billion US-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip and sustain the ANSF," Sopko's office said in its latest report. The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, defended the move, saying the information -- which includes an assessment of the combat readiness of Afghan units -- could prove helpful to Taliban insurgents and needed to be kept secret.
Google on Thursday reported that its profit in the recently ended quarter jumped, but the leap fell short of market expectations. The Internet colossus reported net profit up 41 percent from last year at $4.76 billion in the final three months of last year. Revenues were up 15 percent in the quarter to $18.1 billion, also slower that anticipated as Google saw slowdowns in some of its online advertising metrics such as costs per click. Google shares fell 1.7 percent in after-hours trading on the news.
By Robin Emmott and Pavel Polityuk BRUSSELS/KIEV (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers extended existing sanctions against Russia on Thursday, holding off on tighter economic measures for now but winning the support of the new left-leaning government of Greece, whose position had been in doubt. They also agreed to list the names of additional people who could be targeted with sanctions when they meet again on Feb. 9. The bloc's foreign policy chief said a decision on such measures would be left to EU leaders meeting next month. On Saturday, suspected rebel forces shelled the major port city of Mariupol, killing 30 people.
Rocker Tom Petty says he never threatened to sue Sam Smith over his smash hit "Stay With Me" and agreed that similarities to his own "I Won't Back Down" were coincidence. Petty concurred with Smith's account that the two sides reached a quick agreement after the American rocker contacted the younger star.