It Came From Central Asia

How it got here or why it’s suddenly all over the news this week, well, your guess is as good as mine. But apparently, whatever you do, if you see one, don’t touch it and run for your lives!

Giant Weed Can Cause Blisters, Even Blindness

Call it the import that nobody wants.

Experts are urging residents of several states to beware of the “giant hogweed,” a tall plant native to Central Asia with umbrella-size flowers containing toxic sap that can cause burns, blisters and, in some cases, even blindness.

“Avoid it at all cost,” Jodi Holt, a professor of plant physiology at University of California, Riverside, told ABC News.

“The sap causes something called phytophotodermatitis when it touches humans,” causing scars and potentially blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes, Holt said. Some cases of blindness occurred after children used the hollow stalks as telescopes.

Heracleum Mantegazzianum, as hogweed is botanically known, is already a concern in the Northeast and spreading fast. Patches of giant hogweed have also been sighted in the Pacific Northwest.

See also:
Summer Plant from Hell: Giant Hogweed Can Burn, Scar and Blind You
Look out for Giant Hogweed
Giant worries over hogweed
Avoid Giant Hogweed: Noxious plant can cause blindness
Blistering, blinding weed creeps toward a city near you
Beware giant hogweed and its burning, blinding sap
Hogweed poses serious threat to New York citizens
Giant Hogweed Invades NY! This Weed Can Burn You, But Probably Won’t Eat You
What’s going on here? DEC to address hogweed problem in Springwater
Giant hogweed gone wild along Thames
Giant hogweed: 8 facts you must know about the toxic plant

I must confess, up until this week’s out of nowhere media blitz, despite years of extensive Boy Scout training, I’d never even heard of this marauding botanical menace.

/except as an early Genesis song

Coups Have Consequences

Apparently, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan, that came to power in a coup two months ago, has lost control of parts of the country and, so far, their pleas for the Russians to intervene and bail them out are being rebuffed. And so, the chaos and carnage continues to unfold.

Kyrgyzstan to get aid, no troops from regional security group

A Moscow-led security organization Monday recommended offering logistical support and goods such as fuel to Kyrgyzstan rather than peacekeeping troops to help stop ethnic violence in the Central Asian country.

Kyrgyzstan law enforcement organizations, with some help, can control the rioting that began Thursday in Osh, said Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is made up of several former Soviet republics, including Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Bordyuzha met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday as officials announced that the death toll from the rioting in southern Kyrgyzstan had increased to at least 125, with more than 1,200 injured. Tens of thousands of people have fled the violence, many of them ethnic Uzbeks moving either into Uzbekistan or massing at the border.

“The current situation in Kyrgyzstan is intolerable, people have been killed, blood is being shed, and mass ethnic unrest is continuing,” Medvedev said, Interfax news agency reported. “This is extremely dangerous to that region, and therefore anything possible should be done to prevent such developments.”

Medvedev also indicated that the security organization’s leaders may need to reconvene if the situation worsens. He said he had shared the same message with Roza Otunbayeva, prime minister of the interim government in Kyrgyzstan. On Saturday, Moscow rejected Otunbayeva’s request to send troops to quash the riots.

But former Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, speaking to reporters in Belarus on Monday, said bringing the situation back to normal required international forces. The interim government has lost control, said Bakiyev, who was ousted in a coup in April.

In Jalal-Abad, north of Osh, mobs continued to loot and burn houses and kill people.

See also:
Uzbeks flee Kyrgyzstan, seek safety at border
Thousands flee ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan
“Slaughter” in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan violence: ‘I saw two neighbours shot dead before my eyes’
Kyrgyzstan’s unrest exposes heavy political jockeying
UN slams Kyrgyzstan violence
Red Cross: No Quick End to Kyrgyzstan Crisis
Russian-led Security Group Considers Intervention in Kyrgyzstan
Russia Weighs Pleas to Step In as Refugees Flee Kyrgyzstan
Coup In Kyrgyzstan?

Let’s hope this doesn’t totally spin out of control and spread countrywide.

/the Transit Center at Manas, a key U.S. airbase, crucial to our logistics chain into Afghanistan, is located near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek

The New York Times, Spying For Iran

Once again, the New York Times gives aid and comfort to our enemies and puts American military service members’ lives at risk by publishing top secret information, conducting the espionage against the United States the Iranians could only dream of.

Petraeus orders US spies to prepare for anti-nuclear strike on Iran

Teams of American special forces have been authorised to conduct spying missions intended to pave the way for a military strike on Iran in case President Obama orders one, US government sources have confirmed.

The military units would penetrate Iranian territory to reconnoitre potential nuclear targets and make contact with friendly dissident groups, according to a secret directive written by General David Petraeus. The document’s existence was disclosed for the first time yesterday.

It authorises an expansion in the use of US special forces throughout the Middle East, US officials said. However, it is the possibility of American troops operating covertly inside Iran that has the greatest potential to destabilise regional security.

General Petraeus, the most senior American commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, relied on special forces to ensure the success of the US troop surge in Iraq in 2007. His order to increase the use of Delta Force, Navy Seal and Army Ranger units for intelligence gathering and combat missions could jeopardise US relations with allies in the region while intensifying a long-running turf war between US military intelligence and the CIA.

The seven-page document, seen by The New York Times, remained classified yesterday, though it was written in September. Since then US military specialists working with Yemeni armed forces have killed 6 out of 15 leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The raids followed reports linking the group to the murder of 13 Americans at Fort Hood, Texas, and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet.

See also:
U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast
General Said to Authorize Secret U.S. Reconnaissance in Iran
US ‘to expand covert operations’
US Reportedly Authorizes More Secret Military Activity in Hot Spots
US sends more soldiers on covert missions
US orders escalation in secret operations in Middle East
US expands covert military operations: officials
Commander OKs spy missions in Mideast
Revealed: the U.S. secret order allowing special forces’ covert missions in terror hotspots
US to launch covert strikes on terror targets
Pentagon ‘to boost covert missions in Middle East’
Secret Directive Said To Expand Clandestine U.S. Military Missions
Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare
Another Day, Another Security Leak
Just another act of deadly treason

Yes siree, there’s nothing like U.S. Special Forces trying to conduct sensitive, covert operations after the New York Times publishes your classified playbook for the whole world to read, making risking your life for your country that much riskier. What’s not to like, especially if your work for Iranian counter-intelligence?

/of course, this is far from the first time that the New York Times has severely compromised U.S. national security by publishing leaked, top secret information, yet no one ever seems to go to prison, why is that?