Lawmakers and ‘leaders of our community’ in action

“Pungent aroma of dickwad” — not my most eloquent criticism, but it will suffice.

When they’re not busy enabling warrantless spy agency surveillance powers (under urgency) these lions of the Parliament, Peter Dunne and Jami-Lee Ross take potshots at opposition MPs as ‘muppets, cult-followers, hillbillies, bigots and racists’. How ignoble.

Peter Watts at Canada Privacy Symposium — ‘Burn the Data to the Ground’

A surprising and very interesting presentation about authoritarian surveillance — its link to fear, and being aware of hard-wired responses including dominance and anti-predator behaviours … with a side swipe at the roots of ‘religious belief’. I like Peter Watts’ approach to the topic, looking back at the powerful and another take on ‘only the paranoid survive’ (not a reference to the Andy Grove book) …

I watched this a month ago, and have been thinking about it. He makes sense to me.

The embedded video doesn’t include his slides, but they’re here in an imperfect but very worthwhile transcript (PDF) which is worth following along as you listen to the video.

h/t @SixthColumnist

Dedicated to no-one in particular …

‘Cool Kids’ by Echosmith — on Jimmy Fallon’s show (Update: that Jimmy Fallon link ‘expired’, so here’s a new ‘live’ version… albeit somewhat tightly produced & cut … I really did like the Fallon show live version)

‘Official’ music video here

John Pilger on the shabby persecution of Julian Assange

I have respected John Pilger since before I trained and entered journalism in the 1980s. I respect his courage and his tenacity, his willingness to show up and tell the truth as he sees it. He’s also no fool.

So, although it may not be a popular stand, in terms of some people’s interpretation of the ‘sex crimes’ kinda sorta alleged that Julian Assange may have possibly committed, I have tended to see him as the victim of a stitch-up. He has been a target of character assassination of the most cynical type. As I said somewhere here, about this: intelligence agencies tell lies for a living.

Documents leaked by NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden led me to ask: ‘Does anyone else think this spy agency ‘Discredit a target’ strategy might have been used against Julian Assange?

Well, John Pilger has more. Read his investigation

click to read at

click to read at

I hope Pilger won’t mind me stealing a little of his thunder by previewing one of his points (emphasis added):

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch”. It described a detailed plan to destroy the feeling of “trust” which is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. Hell hath no fury like great power scorned.

Assange has been smeared in an effort to neutralise him and his organisation, as I have tried to say pretty consistently. The pity of it is when I see former collaborators in the media used as tools. ‘Useful idiots‘.

Seriously, read the full John Pilger article. I commend it to you.

– P

She’s a hard road finding the perfect instrument to manipulate the market, son.

Another post from the Colliding Worlds department, here’s an article I just posted at the Empower Education website …


Click to read at Empower Education

Comments & discussion welcome there.

– P

Leaving ‘Dirty Politics’ questions hanging. (It’s a PR strategy)

This recently published wrap of one aspect of the PR attack blog activities of Cameron Slater1 on behalf of his clients idealogical soulmates illustrates a couple of things.

News item Hager book

1) Calls to ‘seek answers’ from corporate groups (like the Ports of Auckland, or even Auckland Council) to ‘questions raised’ will often be ignored. People and organisations under fire as the result of revelations of unsavoury or unethical behaviour (such as those in Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics‘) can just go to ground or ‘go dark’ as Jason Ede did. Just brazen it out and rely on a lack of public/media attention span. Which leads to …

2) Even an implausible-sounding bald denial in the face of quite credible allegations will sometimes be quite sufficient. Just go through the motions.

Observe this overt stonewall from the Ports of Auckland Head of Communications:


Riiiight. And the settlement of those privacy breach complaints …? Oh, never mind.

NZ Herald writer John Drinnan’s lack of progress with his attempts to ‘raise questions’ about the photogenic Food & Grocery Council CEO Katherine Rich’s [alleged] involvement in the deployment* of Carrick Graham’s pet hate blogger Cameron Slater** to demean and smear health advocates and critics of sugar and fat illustrates the same principle:

click to read at NZ Herald

click to read at NZ Herald

It seems some people don’t want to talk about their ethics … or, perhaps better put: they don’t want their claims of good ethics questioned. No matter how ludicrous those claims seem in the face of evidence.

– P
1 And his tag-team wrestling buddy David Farrar, of course.
* Commercial deployment? Yes, I think so, probably.
** Well, in name only. From Dirty Politics it seems clear Carrick Graham was the true author of much of Cameron Slater’s … er, output.

Power of music

Wow, watch this.

click to watch at Digital Human's tumbler

click to watch at Digital Human’s tumbler

via the extraordinary, effervescent Aleks Krotoski.

– P

Taylor Swift NOT entertaining misogyny, even for laughs

SwiftI saw this on Graham Norton’s show last night and was impressed with Taylor Swift’s deft ‘warning’ to comedian John Cleese … to not engage in comic misogyny – not even as a joke. Good on her.

Here’s a short clip of the show. Watch as Taylor Swift considers her response to Cleese’s sexist tease. The ‘moment’ is very nice, in my opinion. The other guest is cricketer Kevin Pietersen explaining how he doesn’t like cats.


As a dad of teenagers, I like this young woman’s role modelling.

– P

Blinding Flash of the Obvious re composing encrypted emails – Avoid auto-saved drafts


I recently reviewed Edward Snowden’s instructions for setting up and using PGP/encrypted email available on Vimeo: GPG for Journalists – Windows edition | Encryption for Journalists | Anonymous 2013.
It’s a good tutorial. One of the points it makes about keeping your communications secure is a very important one: Don’t compose your message (pre-encryption) in an internet-enabled window.

Gmail & Apple mail (for example) by default enable a ‘feature’ where the programme saves a draft of your message as you’re composing it. They save it to their servers.* Spotted the problem? Anything on their servers is (a) interceptable , (b) subject to search warrant/subpoena. That’s why you’re using encryption.

So, as Snowden so clearly advises, compose your message – the one you’re going to encrypt once you’ve written it – offline, in a text editor …

screen grab from Edward Snowden's guide to encryption for journalists.

screen grab from Edward Snowden’s guide to encryption for journalists. (click to enlarge)

… otherwise, well, you get the picture?

* In Apple Mail you can turn that behaviour off – make sure this box Mail> Preferences >Accounts is unticked:
Just to be safe. (-ish.)

– P

PS My own PGP credentials are available on the About page. (At the bottom.)

Read Nicky Hager’s search warrant

How we want it to be:

Your friendly police officer. Looking after the community.

How it sometimes is (click to read documents):


Search warrant


List of property seized

Documents from New Zealand cops raided home of reporter working on Snowden documents by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher (The Intercept). Worth reading to see how our government’s actions are perceived.

– P

Why privacy matters: a TED talk by Glenn Greenwald

Comments about Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerburg — actions speak louder than their words.

– P

Fran O’Sullivan calls for a wider inquiry into Dirty Politics allegations

Worth reading.

click to read at NZ Herald.

click to read at NZ Herald.

Fran O’Sullivan says she told Cathy Odgers she was “damn angry about being drawn into a MH [Mark Hotchin] sting.”

Well, well, well.

I’ll put some comments up later. (It’s just too nice a Saturday morning to be blogging.)

– P

The escape of exnzpat, Part 25

The Hive Mound of the Chora


Lester’s Eidolon looked at the golem and said, “Down!”  She pulled him into a crouching position in the deep snow, though why she did it she did not know.

The boy stared at her and whistled softly.

“What?” Lester asked annoyed, for she felt the boy’s attention hotly upon her cheeks.

“Your eyes are blue again… Continue reading →

Eric Clapton’s ‘Edge of Darkness’

Some Twitter buddies discussed a movie of Dirty Politics


… which reminded me of the spooky music Eric Clapton composed/performed for the tv series ‘Edge of Darkness’.

Let’s remember the real victims here


Guy Body’s NZ Herald cartoon today (click to enlarge)

It looks like Nicky Hager is digging in for a fight with the police about access to the material they took from his house. An effort is being made to raise funds for his legal fighting fund. For details, and to donate, see:

Click to read how the police fired a shot across the news media’s bows over the teapot tapes.

For reference, and because it’s interesting, here’s the audio (below) of Prime Minister John Key’s appearance on TV3’s Firstline justifying making a complaint to the Police about the actions of journalists — he accused the Herald on Sunday of using ‘News of The World’ tactics – which saw search warrants executed on various arms of the NZ media (NZ Herald, Radio NZ, Mediaworks) two weeks before the 2011 election.

[You can watch the video of the exchange here at the 3News website: Key reiterates that he is ‘teapot-tape’ victim.]

As noted earlier, other newsrooms (including the one I was working in at the time) received extraordinary ‘chilling’ warnings from police — that any reporting of the contents of the tape would be “an offence against the Crimes Act s216B”.

John Key explains why he laid a complaint with the police over the teapot tape – Firstline 15 Nov 2011
MP3 file


Click to watch at

Listening to the interview again this morning, I was struck by how Rachel Smalley (who said she was ‘privy’ to the contents of the tape) gave Mr Key a chance to address some of the ‘political’ topics that he had been recorded discussing with John Banks (e.g. NZ First’s supporters ‘dying out’, replacing then ACT leader Don Brash with Banks) … but Mr Key didn’t bite. It all came out later — but that was well after the election. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Also, I’m struck again — genuinely impressed — by what a good communicator John Key is. He comes across very well in that interview. Even if what he’s actually saying, and his somewhat slippery argument, makes you uneasy … or to consider how politicians abuse power and intimidate/charm/manipulate the news media for their political advantage — you could almost call it Dirty Politics, eh?

Duncan Garner later revealed that John Key had been telephoning him ‘every night’ towards the end of the 2011 election (looks like some things don’t change!) He said John Key was anxious to know what was on the teapot tape, clearly desperate to suppress its publication. Which Mr Key managed to to. But none of that tension shows in the interview with Rachel Smalley, does it?

– P