Sorry, but this man is treating us like children (or fools)

John Key's line:


Smearing the messenger before even hearing the message. That's how John Key works.


As I had reason to tell someone in a completely different context recently …


No doubt Mr Key's line, “Look, members of the news media, despite what those NSA/GCSB documents say, you're completely wrong — but it's not my job to tell you how you are” approach will work for some people, — like National Party/SkyCity cheerleader Mike Hosking, and this group, which Alastair Thompson described as the “cult of Key”, in particular:

Click to view conversation on Twitter

Click to view conversation on Twitter

Personally, reading the articles Nicky Hager, Ryan Gallagher and David Fisher have been publishing over the last day or so, I think it's requisite on the political leader of our country (and minister in charge of the state spy agencies, hand-off to the Attorney General notwithstanding) to offer the electorate something more substantial than a child's bedtime assurance akin to, “Everything is going to be OK, because I say it is”.

In my view, Mr Key is exposed as his most intellectually vapid in these matters. He also seems petulant.Key inconsistentLike his double-minded (right), inconsistent rationale for the imminent NZ Army deployment to Iraq, in 'explaining' his government's international security policy the prime minister seems to suffer from a real authenticity deficit.

The effect of that is to leave us with a slippery, politics-of-convenience moral leadership vacuum. [See also: John Key’s changing narrative on al-Qaeda threat in NZ]

It's troubling, because these are important things.

– P

UPDATE: Fairfax NZ's Tracy Watkins considers aspects of Mr Key's handling of these matters in a thoughtful, and perhaps more diplomatic way than my brief comments.


I recommend you read it, if you're interested. See: John Key burning up political capital following Edward Snowden revelations



The escape of exnzpat, Part 29

Bartholomew Leading


A broken rib is no big deal. Sure, it hurts like Hell, but three or more broken ribs hurt worse and, snapped and broken and freely moving under the weight and pressure of a 280lb man can be unpleasantly deadly. The man in my body struggled madly, and Jerry, angry and frightened for his dying friend with the giant sliver of wood sticking from out of his chest, fought executionerofthewill back to the cell floor to contain him.

My separated ribs floated freely and one penetrated my thoracic cavity. It sliced cleanly through the protective layers of fat and sinuous fiber shrouding my lungs and heart. Blood vessels exploded and blood bubbled liberally into my lungs. I was drowning, but of all this I was blissfully unaware, for I sat under a golden sun in a faraway time with a hairy Chaldean at my side.

Continue reading →

For some reason this SERCO baby ID card troubles me

I saw this image shortly after it was published on Twitter, and it has affected me. My kids both had passports at very early ages — my daughter starting walking on one of our (then) frequent business trips to Malaysia and Singapore. My son could barely hold his head up for the pharmacy assistant taking his passport photo when it was his turn. We liked to travel with our children.

Click to view on Twitter

Click to view on Twitter

But this image, and the implicit background ‘facts of life’ for the child in it, hurts, somehow.

It has troubled me for days.

– P

BlueChip: Running out of courts to appeal to

It’s a bad look when someone wins in the District Court, loses in the Court of Appeal, then wins in the Supreme Court.

Still, them’s the breaks.

Click to read at the NZ Herald website (includes link to SC decision)

Click to read at the NZ Herald website (includes link to SC decision)

What a terrible trail of devastation Mark Bryers and his BlueChip gang left in New Zealand — and that was among the people who got off their chuff to do something about providing for their retirement. Ghastly.

– P

The escape of exnzpat, Part 28

The Ghost of things to come


I went up the tree and, taking one last look across the pallid, soup-bowl horizon of Wormwood, I saw it as dismal.  Its flatness and smell of rotting vegetation from the vast swamp below seemed somehow now appalling to me after the glory of the hive mound.  I looked away and pushed my way through the ferns and vines of the enormous tree to find whatever was hiding up there.

Wide branches the size of regular tree trunks had grown together to make a flat, woven raft on which it was easy to walk, drifting dirt had caught in its weave and from out of this grew grasses, ferns, and tall flowering plants.  The flowers were not particularly attractive.  They looked sickly, and from out of their gaping, mouth-like petals wept a pale, viscous fluid that looked poisonous.  Only one branch was clear of them and so I made my way along it.  There was a path of sorts along this branch and I decided that it must be right one.  And after only a few yards I was rewarded with a brilliant, golden light creeping in between the fronds of the wide-splayed leaves of the old oak.  I pushed the foliage aside and stepped out onto a pasture of green grass. Continue reading →

BBC Scotland on spying. Some of the same issues and questions as New Zealand

I heard part of this BBC Scotland report by Eamonn O’Neill as he “explores the world of contemporary espionage” this morning and recognised several of the same talking points about increased state security agency surveillance keeping us ‘safe’ as are deployed here in New Zealand — it’s right there in the title: ‘How safe are you?’

Beyond the interesting discussion of UK spy recruitment, the distinctions between ‘agents’ and ‘officers’, and questions about the potential impact of future Scottish independence, further into the report, there are a number of parallels with the controversy in New Zealand about such matters.

There are echoes of the tensions our own nation faces: being part of a bigger ‘alliance’ or network of electronic spy agencies; economic spying on allies and neighbours; the insatiable hunger of state spy agencies to ‘make the haystack bigger and bigger’ by bringing in more data (and retaining it) – supposedly in an effort to pick up terrorism ‘clues’; the shift of the field of engagement to the ‘cyber frontier’ i.e. electronic communications, with ‘human intelligence’ discounted in favour of electronic information/surveillance — all making computer boffins GCHQ and their equivalents the ‘lead agencies’.

Also, listen to what they say about the burgeoning cost of surveillance of computer and communications networks, and the public’s innocent ignorance of the ‘risks the country faces’ (epitomised here recently by MP Jami-Lee Ross’s reported comment to a select committee submitter on the ‘Countering Terrorist Fighters’ Bill: “If you knew what we know you’d support this legislation”. Oh, god.) And its corollary, the self-proving justification: “Look, the lack of attacks shows just how effective we are!”

The whole episode (28 mins) is definitely worth hearing, if these topics interest you, as they do me.

You can listen here at the BBC website using iPlayer (Flash required) for the next month. After that, drop me a line by email (address on the ‘About’ page) and I’ll point you to a friendly MP3 archive of it. :-)

click to visit BBC to listen

click to visit BBC to listen

At the beach over the Christmas break I read a couple of books about the fairly paranoid intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts of the British and Americans during the Cold War (MI5’s Peter Wright and CIA’s James Jesus Angleton). I was struck by how routine it was for these agencies to burgle and bug foreign embassies, consulates and various delegations … and to spy on other countries (even allies) purely to gain economic advantage. No such fig leaf excuses as ‘War on Terror’ were deployed.
nsa octopus
Human nature hasn’t changed. Then it was just a case of “if we can do it, we should do it”. Ask Angela Merkel. The same gung-ho attitudes to spying on ‘friends’ and domestic political organisations or ‘activists’ apply just as much now. Edward Snowden’s revelations and others show that increasingly the key resources have become ‘taps’ on computer networks.

For instance, remember this NSA spy satellite launch rocket logo? This was real.

'Nothing is beyond our reach' - click to enlarge

‘Nothing is beyond our reach’ – click to enlarge

Fletcher resignation ‘welcome’

There was a very good editorial (translation: I agree with it) in the Dominion Post recently about the sudden announcement of Ian Fletcher’s imminent departure from the post of GCSB Director. The Dom writer makes the point that Fletcher’s appointment was controversial for several reasons (family friend of our ‘forgetful’ PM) and those reasons weren’t going away. Also, the editorial calls for a politically bipartisan approach to appointing the next GCSB director (assuming there is such a post after the proposed ‘statutory review’ of security agencies, I guess. (Mr Key has scotched as ‘speculation’ the idea of a GCSB-SIS merger.)

Read the Dominion Post editorial here:

click to read at

click to read at

– P

Nicky Hager on protecting sources

Investigative journalist and author Nicky Hager was part of the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s recent Logan Symposium …

Check out CIJournalism’s YouTube channel for more.

Update: If you’re a journalist, don’t miss John Pilger’s blistering presentation on media vs propaganda & news ‘agenda’. An important message. Pilger’s speech notes War by media and the triumph of propaganda are available at his website too, but the speech is definitely worth a watch.

So why say it, Mr Cameron?

Very odd.

click to read at the Guardian

click to read at the Guardian

See also Cory Doctorow’s article at Boingboing: ‘What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry

From ‘News of the World tactics’, journalists as ‘little henchmen’ to … #hypocrisy

Context is everything.

Context is everything.

See earlier: Teapot tape saga sputters out with withdrawal of ‘costs’ action against cameraman.

Another deceitful photoshop fail

One more in my occasional series highlighting Photoshop deceit… this time showing the unreality of distorting body images using Photoshop — i.e. bulking up Justin Bieber.

Before and after

Before and after – bulging in all the right places?

via @caffiene_addict

Of course, as previously noted, women generally get slimmed down …



“We love surveillance”

On the day it’s announced that Ian Fletcher is to depart from the GCSB, a few thoughts about surveillance …

(click to read at NZ Herald)

(click to read at NZ Herald)

British PM David Cameron is already making the appropriate noises … nicely framed by John Gruber at


click to read the Independent’s report

And, for context, here’s Mr Fletcher’s rather soothing speech to the 2014 Privacy Forum …

The escape of exnzpat, Part 27


The Magus on the couch remained catatonic, lost to the past and to her charges in Wormwood and too, her sister in the Shadow Lands.  Lester on the bed, almost dead, and we:  Maxwell, Lilith, Becky, the Chaldean (for that was his race), and I walked out from under the living umbrella of the Hive Mound of the Chora.

Mia, the Magus-She, gasped aloud, and coughing, drew back from her England and saw the pattern clearly before her eyes.

It was that which had brought her here to begin with:  Ben!  Her curiosity aside, she saw the net unfolding and Ben floundering in blood at its center.  And suddenly awake and aware.  Her essences and powers flooded back into her like an overfull river and pushed the crushing pain of her heart aside.

Ben.  Ben.  It began with Ben and not the ghost in her kitchen. Continue reading →

The escape of exnzpat, Part 26

Magus Young, Magus Old


The couch, the couch, the couch, my God… thank God for it.  The Magus sunk back in its softness but found little comfort in her collapse, for she felt monumentally sick to her stomach.  The confusion between the worlds she thought she would walk with the golem and the Eidolon and that of the reality of Wormwood was extraordinarily exhausting and wholly unexpected. Continue reading →

Alexa O’Brien, Amnesty International, testimony to Catalonia Parliament re Chelsea Manning

This testimony by Alexa O’Brien provides a good, compact ‘highlights’ package/history of the treatment whistle-blower Chelsea Manning received at the hands of the US Military judicial system. The video features her speaking with a translator (21 mins) while in the audio below (mp3 10 mins) the translator has been trimmed out.

Worth paying attention to, in my opinion. See what you think.

click to watch bi0lingual video [or listen to trimmed English-only audio below]

click to watch bi-lingual video [or listen to trimmed English-only audio below]

Speaking to the Parliament of Catalonia, Alexa O’Brien outlines whistle-blower Chelsea Manning’s treatment at the hands of the US Military judicial system and appeals for ‘pressure’ on the Obama administration.
MP3 file

– P

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.