Sentinel Down

And yet again, after leaving behind a cutting edge stealth helicopter during the bin Laden raid, the U.S. conducts another, involuntary, state-of-the-art military technology transfer to the enemy.

Iran’s capture of US drone shines light on spy mission, but may reveal little

The Iranian capture of a high-tech, stealth U.S. drone shines a light on the American spying mission there, but probably doesn’t tell Tehran much that it didn’t already know, a senior U.S. official said.

The RQ-170 Sentinel was providing surveillance over Iran and didn’t just accidentally wander away from the Afghanistan border region, as first suggested. The official said Wednesday that the Iranians will no doubt be able to tell where the aircraft flew. A bigger U.S. concern, the official said, was that the Iranians are likely to share or sell whatever they have recovered of the aircraft to the Chinese, Russians or others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the mission.

Experts and officials acknowledge that there is no self-destruct mechanism on the Sentinels — which are used both by the military and the CIA for classified surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

. . .

U.S. officials said that while they have enough information to confirm that Iran does have the wreckage, they said they are not sure what the Iranians will be able to glean technologically from what they found. It is unlikely that Iran would be able to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

See also:
US admits downed drone spied on Iran
Iran says US spy drone was flying deep inside its airspace when it was downed
Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands
Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone
U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone
Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets
China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone
Sentinel unmanned drone lost in Iran among US most valuable warfare assets
Drone belonged to CIA, officials say
Downed drone was on CIA mission
Officials: Drone downed in Iran on CIA mission
Drone Lost in Iran Was Joint CIA-Military Reconnaissance Plane
Iran’s downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington
US ‘concerned’ over drone lost near Iran border
Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry
US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran
Spy drone may provide little help to Iran
U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
U.S. Made Covert Plan to Retrieve Iran Drone
Iran: The Stealth War Continues
Drone Drama Proves Iran Is Ready to Rumble
Stealth drone highlights tougher U.S. strategy on Iran
U.S. drones have been spying on Iran for years

The good news is that we seem to be paying close attention to what Iran is up to, have been for years, and can penetrate Iranian airspace with near impunity. These past and, hopefully, ongoing intelligence gathering and surveillance activities should help provide a detailed blueprint for when push comes to shove and Iran has to be dealt with militarily, which is sure to eventually become a necessity.

/that said, it’s a total unforced strategic error to just let Iran have this advanced technology drone, to share with or sell to other potential enemies of the United States, would it have killed us, if we didn’t want to risk lives to recover the Sentinel, to at least launch an airstrike package to obliterate the wreckage?

Famous Last Words

And for some bizarre, unexplained reason, Tim Geithner is still the U.S. Treasury Secretary.

Credit rating downgrade hits markets

U.S. stocks tumbled, following the biggest weekly drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since 2008, amid concern that a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating by S&P may worsen an economic slowdown.

The U.S. credit rating downgrade extended a rout that wiped out $1.94 trillion in market value from the country’s stocks. S&P lowered the U.S. long-term rating one level to AA+ after markets closed on Aug. 5 while keeping the outlook at “negative” as the company becomes less confident that Congress will end Bush-era tax cuts or tackle entitlements.

See also:
The Impact Of The S&P U.S. Credit Downgrade On Small Businesses
sting Icons Weigh In On U.S. Credit Downgrade
2ND UPDATE: Goldman Sachs: S&P’s US Downgrade May Be ‘Material And Adverse’ -Filing
U.S. Credit Downgrade Leaves ‘Horrible Impact’
Wall St. panics as Washington dawdles and the wheels come of the economy
GOP candidates slam Obama on US credit downgrade
Senate panel reviewing S&P downgrade
Was S&P downgrade an act of revenge?
Rating Agencies in Spotlight Following Downgrade

Of course, the Democrats got their talking points together and tried blaming the Tea Party.

Seriously, blaming the Tea Party is about as ridiculous as blaming the fireman for starting the fire.

/the obvious problem, to any sane observer, is that Obama and the Democrats just spend too damn much money

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

Iran Plays Cash For Karzai

Could Hamid Karzai be any more corrupt? Iran arms the Taliban against Coalition forces and the Afghan army.

Karzai: We receive cash from Iran

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said that his office receives cash in bags from Iran.

The Afghan leader said on Monday that this method of aid distribution is transparent and helps cover government expenses. He also said that the US makes similar cash payments.

The comments came after a report on Sunday that Karzai’s chief of staff, Omar Dawoodzai, receives covert bagfuls of money – possibly as much as $6 million in a single payment – sent by neighbouring Iran in a bid to secure influence.

Karzai said the money was used for palace expenses, salaries and for “people outside,” but gave no further details.

The New York Times, citing an unnamed Afghan official, said that millions of dollars in cash channelled from Iran are used to pay Afghan parliamentarians, tribal elders and Taliban commanders.

US concern

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said world leaders should have “every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan.”

He added Iran had a responsibility to exert “a positive influence on the formation of a government there, and to ensure that Afghanistan is not a country where terrorists can find safe harbour, or where attacks can be planned on their soil.”

Karzai said he gets money from several “friendly countries” but named only the US and Iran, the latter contributing almost $1 million twice per year. Karzai said he will continue to ask for Iranian money.

“The government of Iran assists (my) office with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice a year, which is official aid,” Karzai told reporters at a joint news conference in Kabul with visiting Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon.

See also:
Afghan president confirms large cash payments by Iranian officials
Karzai Says Iran, US Give Afghanistan ‘Bags Of Money’
Iran Is Said to Give Top Karzai Aide Cash by the Bagful
Karzai Admits Getting Cash From Iran
Hamid Karzai confirms Iranian cash
Karzai Says Iran Provides `Transparent’ Financial Aid in Euros or Dollars
White House says concerned about Iran’s “negative influence” on Afghanistan
US ‘concerned’ about Iran influence in Afghanistan
US ‘Skeptical’ of Iranian Motives in Cash Payments to Karzai Aides
Karzai’s bags of cash a conundrum for the U.S.
Karzai calls Iran payments to Afghanistan ‘normal’
Afghan President Karzai downplays cash from Iran; calls it ‘normal’
‘Let’s not make this an issue,’ says Karzai
Three Questions About Karzai Accepting Iranian Cash

The situation in Afghanistan gets more farcical by the day. Who the hell is the enemy, everybody?

/I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to think [expletive deleted] it, what’s the point of us even being there anymore?