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

Dirty Politics author’s house raided. Ten hour search by five detectives. Police say he’s ‘a witness’.

click to read the full statement at

click to read the full statement at

This is a sobering development. Police raiding journalists who publish material which is politically embarrassing to the ruling party. Is this New Zealand? Not Russia or Zimbabwe?

The timing of the raid (leave aside ‘after the election’) when Hager was away in Auckland, suggests to me he may have been under surveillance. At one level that shouldn’t surprise us.

Nicky Hager’s sister Mandy tweeted tonight “I observed police as they searched – polite and respectful (and slightly sheepish) – clearly strings pulled from above #dirtypolitics” which, particularly her comment ‘strings being pulled from above’, I have to say, reminds me of: Are you dating a tyrant? Take our simple quiz to find out!

… and also: Is NZ’s international reputation as a democracy taking a pasting? which I wrote around the Bradley Ambrose teapot tape (cough) ‘prosecution’.

Nicky Hager told the media repeatedly that he had gotten rid of the leaked emails and material prior to publishing the book. And also, if I recall correctly, that he had prepared for a police raid. So at best it seems police could only have been hoping he’d been careless or foolish about material that might have exposed the ‘hacker’ Rawshark/Whaledump. Which, given his history (e.g. Secret Power) seemed … unlikely.

As a wag on Twiiter said, drily —

click to read on Twitter

click to read on Twitter

So, we’re left with another possibility: The state is heavying Nicky Hager as a lesson for other journalists to observe. Chilling.

– P

and then there’s this:

Dirty Politics: John Key confesses to secret relationship with campaign worker

Election night Sept 2014: John Key comes clean about secret after-hours contact [pic by Mark Mitchell NZ Herald]

In the aftermath of the National Party’s emphatic re-election to lead a coalition government in New Zealand, surprisingly little has been made of Party Leader John Key’s confession to a secret relationship.

It was contact John Key admitted he was warned not to engage in.

“I was told not to … I know I shouldn’t have,” Mr Key admitted, confiding to friends that he had deliberately cultivated a relationship in ways he kept hidden from others. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister-elect seemed to make no excuses for his deceit, saying: “But anyway. Whatever. It was our little secret.”

The object of Mr Key’s forbidden attention was (as is so often the case, insiders say) a National Party campaign worker with whom he had worked extremely closely.

Political observers say it’s common, almost a cliché, to discover that the intensity of an election campaign can throw people together. As well as the ‘thrill’ of pursuing a joint goal, defending one another from attacks, election campaigns also bring long hours, hard work, and time away from home. It all takes a toll. The stresses and tensions of the campaign trail can create unbearable pressures — pressures that demand to be released.
Continue reading →

Yellow Flicker Beat – live

This is impressive. One impressive ‘Australasian’. :-)

Has Lorde got any imitators yet? Seems to me she is a hard act to ‘follow’. So distinctive.

– P

There goes the majority


click to read at the NZ Herald website

Final election result




Proportional representation, New Zealand style.

A good discussion about interviewing politicians

I heard this on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Media Show’ this morning, and thought, “That’s worth sharing” — and not just because it features my sole remaining favourite right wing vixen Louise Mensch. (Best line: ‘blood on the carpet’.)

Sparked by a recent changing of the guard at BBC’s Newsnight programme, the discussion traverses various types and styles of political interview. Despite the shop talk and references to events offstage, I found it interesting to consider the place of ‘theatre’ and aggressive/defensive approaches in interviews … and how our own players compare when extracting information or putting politicians on the spot.

So, here you go … listen to the excerpt (approx 11 mins) here:

Interviewing politicians, excerpt from BBC’s The Media Show 1 Oct 2014
MP3 file

click to listen at

click to listen at

Or you can listen to the whole very worthwhile episode of The Media Show — which covers the recent scandal about the entrapment via fake Twitter profile of a UK minister, and dangers faced by journalists — at The Media Show’s BBC Radio 4 webpage.

Or podcast here.

See what you think.

– P

Update: Helen Thomson helpfully pointed to this FT article … The death of the political interview By Ian Katz

click to read at

click to read at

The law of unintended consequences. Data security edition.

This report from Flashpoint: ‘Measuring the Impact of the Snowden Leaks on the Use of Encryption by Online Jihadists’ (available here as web page or PDF) concludes (SPOILER:) Meh, not so much.

click to read at Flashpoint Partners website

click to read at Flashpoint Partners website

The Flashpoint report recounts how the use of encryption techniques by such groups — and the promotion by them of such techniques — was already underway and stayed pretty much unchanged by the Snowden revelations. It’s worth a read but I wouldn’t click on any of the links in it to the jihadi web sites mentioned (and especially the dark web sites) unless you want to set off a little hooter at the NSA and flag your IP address as one ‘of interest’. Continue reading →

NZ General Election results

Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to those who missed out.
These are the results as at close of counting 1:10am today. This is where the rubber hits the road in a democracy.


Check for latest results. [link updated]

{Fill the in the rugby metaphor of your choice here. e.g “game of two halves”, “better team on the day”, “hard work in training”, “superior ball handling skills” … etc.}

I’ve said it before: If you want to win an election, get more votes.

– P

Tim Cook denies ‘rumours’ of NSA back-door into Apple servers

This 3 minute excerpt of Apple’s CEO Tim Cook talking to Charlie Rose yesterday interested me for a couple of reasons 1) encrypted iMessages with Apple keyless and 2) his very strong denial of rumours/suggestions of NSA back-door access … ‘the Snowden thing’ (starts 2:10, but watch the whole 3 mins):

Which accords with this privacy statement from June last year

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.
For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

But, for the record, remember this:


So maybe the NSA was talking big (‘embellishing’, to use Cameron Slater’s approved nomenclature) to impress their mates?

– P

Eminem Publishers Sue New Zealand National Party

Ha! Those of us who thought, Gee, that sounds pretty close to Eminem …

click to read at

click to read at

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

– P

h/t: Radio NZ’s Chris Bramwell

Allegations re mass surveillance by NZ’s GCSB

Here are the articles published by Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden about mass surveillance of New Zealand citizens by spy agencies that form part of the FIVE EYES intelligence alliance.

These were released in the lead up to the anyway-you-look-at-it history-making event at Auckland Town Hall last night, ‘The Moment of Truth’ featuring Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Robert Amsterdam, Kim Dotcom and Laila Harre. That’s viewable on youtube here.

Click to watch a video of the event at youtube

Click to watch a video of the event at youtube

I think it’s always good to read such documents carefully and consider their wording — and also the wording of any denials or contradictions. Take your time.

Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

PDF of the Snowden article (600k)


Click to read at The Intercept or PDF archive below

PDF of the Greenwald article (950k)

I also recommend you read Andrea Vance’s analysis ‘Moment of truth’ – do believe the hype

Click to read at

Click to read at

Regular readers will know my views of suspicionless, non-targetted government surveillance. I oppose it.

I oppose it whichever ‘colour’ of government would seek to carry it out. That’s why with hundreds, thousands of other New Zealanders I marched down Queen Street in protest last year, why I attended public meetings and rallies and argued against it. And I will continue to. (Does that make me a ‘target’ for government surveillance? Dunno. What do you think?)

click to see other photos of the anti GCSB Bill march in Auckland 27 July 2013

click to see other photos of the anti GCSB Bill march in Auckland 27 July 2013

These revelations are deeply disturbing to me, even given the obvious double-talk and head-patting we were given by Mr Key over the expansion of spy agency powers in 2013.

– P

The turnout at July 2013's

The turnout at July 2013’s “Stop the GCSB Bill” protest rally near Auckland’s Aotea Square. Pic: Peter Aranyi. (Click to enlarge.)

O Mary!

U2 has been in the news lately … which reminded me of  Mary J Blige …

You really should watch this interview with Glenn Greenwald, despite the smears

It’s easy to fall for a rapid PR ‘framing’ response, especially from an experienced spin team like Prime Minister John Key’s media machine.

This comment seems a fair description of what happens:

click to read on Twitter

click to read on Twitter

Mr Key has been very quick with the personal attacks lately, hasn’t he?

He has repeatedly described Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald as a ‘henchman’. Does anyone remember Jason Ede, working in Mr Key’s Beehive office, feeding smears, Official Information, unflattering photos, leaked/hacked info from websites etc to attack bloggers Cameron Slater and David Farrar … to destabilise and discredit Mr Key’s political opponents? Now THAT’S a henchman!

Take the time to watch Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Lisa Owen on TV3’s The Nation, as I did this morning …

Click to watch at

Click to watch at

Greenwald has enormous credibility in my eyes. I guess that makes me a screaming conspiracy theorist. :-)

But remember this, from July 2013, around the time of public dissent about the GCSB Bill’s proposed expansion of state security/spy agencies’ power — to (legally) spy on New Zealanders:
With respect, Mr Key, you misjudge me.

But let me say this as clearly as I can: ‘Politically aligned or misinformed’? Actually Mr Key, no, I’m neither of those.
Expressing my misgivings and concerns as a citizen about some of the Government of the Day’s policies and actions doesn’t automatically make me (a) ignorant or (b) a supporter of the National Party’s political rivals.
Not just ‘No’, Mr Key. ‘Hell no!’ (With apologies to Harper Lee.)

John Key plays the man, not the ball. Again

Mr Key seems quick to disparage Rodney Harrison QC by name. That is the prime minister’s MO, as I have observed before. He does that. It’s one of the traits people point to when seeking to compare John Key with Sir Robert Muldoon. Another example: John Key threatens Human Rights Commission funding.

Continue reading →