On the ‘NZ Taxpayers Union Inc’ PR attack machine

Following some discussion on Twitter about this astroturf political attack machine’s activities, I’ve been asked for these. They’re public documents available on the Register of Incorporated Societies

Curious about the source of this attack group’s finances, I looked at its public filings…

Funnily enough, I hear there have been moves towards changing the status of the ‘NZ Taxpayers Union Inc’ PR attack machine — from an Incorporated Society, moving to a Limited Liability company structure with a Company Constitution and a Trust Deed.
Continue reading →

Jordan Williams is still a lawyer

New Yorker

A quick follow-up. Earlier, I had wondered aloud whether New Zealand’s most defamed man, part-time propagandist and bad boyfriend Jordan Williams would still be ‘good to go’ as a lawyer, by New Zealand Law Society standards. I noted his practising certificate was due to expire on June 30.

Published on the NZ Law Society’s website as part of the public register of lawyers. (Click to visit the page at www.lawsociety.org,nz)

And it seems it’s been renewed (right). This despite Judge Sarah Katz’s blistering assessments of Williams’s actions:

…among other things, repeatedly breaking confidentiality undertakings he made to a woman with whom he was ‘romantically involved’ (and to her lawyer); launching a campaign to remove a political party leader using untrue statements, leaks, and providing ghostwritten material to a notorious PR attack blog; issuing untrue denials of his actions, etc. (See my earlier post ‘About that Jordan Williams damages award…‘ for a summary.)

A friend told me the process of renewing a Lawyer’s Practising Certificate is pretty much a rubber-stamp thing, rather than involving assessments of ‘fit and proper’ person. Yeah, I thought it was pretty automatic. But I had wondered if Judge Katz’s let’s face it, pretty adverse findings might have had an impact.

The Law Society is, naturally, fairly protective of the income-producing capacity of its members — somewhat like a real trade union, in contrast to the transparent astroturf group dubbed ‘Taxpayers Union’ which Williams fronts for god-knows-which special interest groups.

Sugar-laden food and beverage manufacturers are on the roster, I suspect, given some of the positions the TPU propaganda team seems to have adopted in recent months. (Somewhat Carrick Graham-esque issues? But that’s just a fat-free theory.)

Anyway, that’s happened. Jordan Williams is still a lawyer.

– P

Michael Hayden on James Comey

Former CIA boss Michael Hayden talking on BBC Newsday about what an honest, careful, note-taking, honourable and honest opponent James Comey is, in his experience.

Archived here in case BBC audio fails to play. MP3 file

“Michael Hayden on James Comey” by BBC Newsday 8 June 2017 prior to his appearance before the US Congress on Donald Trump’s obstruction of probes into Russia influencing the 2016 US Presidential election.

– P

PS Here’s Comey’s statement for the record, released the day before. (PDF 109kb)

Phishing season is open

Wow, this phishing season is really stepping up – three attempts today and it’s only early afternoon.

I hadn’t seen this ‘You have remaining funds in your account, [target email address]’ one before, but I got two of them today.

Coincidentally, I received them about the same time as I had two calls on my cellphone from Caller ID  ‘+00 1 00’.

I answered the first call and was subjected to a faint but clear stream of what sounded like a female Asian woman speaking in a language I didn’t recognise. She didn’t respond to anything I said, and there was ringing signal in the background like a call waiting to be merged. I hung up. I just ignored a second call which came in with the same Caller ID.

Those calls may have nothing to do with the phishing emails. I don’t know.

Naturally, I didn’t respond to this. You shouldn’t either if you receive it. Ridiculous.

The third phishing email I got (today) purports to be from the ANZ bank. (Similar to this one ‘Another day, another phish‘ earlier in the week, and sent to the same email address as that.

Fake fake fake. They really are scumbags doing this.

In this case,the ‘Start’ button would take to you
https:// redirect.businessresultsrevolution [dot] com/ <DON’T CLICK THIS. And the sender address, far from being anything to do with ANZ Bank is a human-sounding address at xtra.co.nz

It makes you wonder if any selection process is engaged to identify targets. Probably not.

ANZ Bank, to its credit, has published a warning on its website …

Click to read the warning page at ANZ bank website (the real one!)

– P

Teach a man to phish

I’m still not taking these personally.

This is clearly fake…(i.e. Not really from Apple. Looking behind the sender, the address is kiwe@ovcsexn.com and the link goes to a domain using a Twitter t.co URL shortener. Very unApple-like.)

Oh gee, really? Will these phish attacks never end?

Again, you’re in for a hard time if you actually click on these things, but hey, it’s a numbers game for these deceitful guys, whatever they’re actually after.

I listened to Susan Glasser’s Global Politico podcast with John Podesta (Clinton campaign manager whose gmail was hacked after a very sophisticated phish) this week and it was interesting to hear his take on the whole thing. He doesn’t blame the assistant who clicked on the link, nor the technical expert she consulted who said it was OK to do so.

Podesta: You know, look, there’s a long, complicated story about that. I had assistants that had access to the link. One of them checked what—one of them saw this question, changed the password, asked our cybersecurity expert. He inadvertently told her to click on it, and she did. So, I don’t blame them. I mean, it was, you know, a fast-moving campaign. It’s easy to say, oh, if you’ve already done this and that and the other thing—I think we’re—I’m, you know, I’ve been around for a while. I’m fairly careful. I don’t just go click on random links, and—but, you know, if—I’m sure that if I had gotten the advice to go ahead and click on it, I probably would have done it, too, so you know, it is what it is. And people make mistakes. And if you look—if you think about it, the Bundestag has been hacked, you know, the Norwegian defense department has been hacked, the White House was hacked by the Russians, and the State Department’s been hacked. It’s like, I think you can’t come back and blame the victim for this. This was a crime; it was painful. You know, I thought I was, you know, had a relatively secure profile. It turned out I didn’t, but a lot of other people have fallen prey to fairly sophisticated hackers that are operating under Russian intelligence. In this case, most likely, from the GRU, but it’s Russian military intelligence. It’s pretty sophisticated, so they did this. So, it is what it is. I can’t really beat myself up or beat my team up over that. I just have to move on, and you know, they committed a crime. I was a victim of the crime.

“It was painful” sounds like an understatement!

I’ve been thinking about what I leave accessible online lately. I try to keep it light and tight, and to download things off the server, (or encrypt tightly and protect what’s left up there). But none of us is immune. And if you read this Motherboard article referred to by John Gruber, Russian Hackers Are Using Google’s Own Infrastructure to Hack Gmail Users  you too might start to see gmail might just be a bad place to be, despite their wonderful security (these days) and legal teams protecting your privacy etc etc.

Anyway, take care.

– P

Life consists of …

Life consists of what a man is thinking of all day.

Life consists of what a man is thinking of all day – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So guard your mind.

– P

Sorry, I didn’t adequately note who I pinched that image from. If you know, please tell me and I’ll credit it.

Another day, another phish

As if we need this stuff floating around. Remember: Don’t click!

These things look pretty sophisticated. Some people will be fooled.

I’m still not taking this personally.

– P

Phishing attacks – be careful out there

I got this by email tonight:

FAKE. If you get one, do NOT ‘Click Here’. It’s not really from Apple.

You can’t be too careful. The ‘Click Here’ link goes off to a php page citing Ottawa, and the sender, far from being Apple, shows up as a local (i.e. xtra.co.nz) email address – probably hacked.

Drop me a line if you’re a security researcher and you want a copy of the full email with headers etc.

I don’t take this stuff personally – just like I don’t take the threats and abusive stuff that’s directed my way by obviously upset, frustrated people who appear to have a capacity to dish it out which isn’t matched by their ability to take it.

– P

The defamation case that never was

Colin Craig cross examining Cameron Slater during their Auckland High Court defamation proceedings.

Prompted by a reported comment in court yesterday where dirty PR attack blogger Cameron Slater claimed to be “…by profession a journalist; I was simply doing my job” I had a wry chuckle at how far Slater Jnr has come from ‘Peter, FFS, I’m not a journalist, I’m a partisan blogger, when will you fucking understand that?‘… and then took a quick fossick through my Dirty Politics archive.

I came across a 2014 article (below) featuring MP Mark Mitchell which mentioned the ‘job’ Slater and his puppet master Simon Lusk did for him. It’s all in Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. But the ‘job’ they did wasn’t journalism. In fact, the ‘job’ they did for Mitchell reminded me of this:

Norovirus – by profession a micro-organism; simply doing its job infecting people and giving them the shits.

The article in question provided a platform for Mark Mitchell to make bold statements via his local paper, the Rodney Times, which in turn made its own bold prediction in the first paragraph: “Mark Mitchell is likely to take legal action over Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics“.

Oh really? “…a defamation case” no less. … “likely to”? Continue reading →

US Senate adopts Signal, HTTPS a year after trying to kill encryption

In today’s dose of irony …

pic: mailchimp

After some attempts to backdoor encryption, led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Richard Burr (NC), who are also the top ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate staff has been approved to use the Signal messenger. Signal is currently considered by most experts as the most secure way to communicate due to its open source nature, use of end-to-end encryption, and self-destructing messages.

US Senate Adopts Signal, HTTPS A Year After Trying To Kill Encryption

via @Tomshardware

High Noon for duelling banjos Slater & Craig

Snowflake Cameron Slater and team do ‘walkies’ to court for news media. Video grab: Chris McKeen/Fairfax NZ

One way or another Cameron Slater is going to have to get used to not having Colin Craig as a meal ticket/bogeyman to scare funds out of his cult members.

It’s been awful watching Slater, his deputy dog Pete Belt, and wife Juana Atkins milk the outrage and paranoia they have foamed up among the branded cap wearers who read their dreadful website. They’ve rabbited on to their readers about nasty ‘bullying’ Colin Craig trying to ‘silence’ their ‘truth-telling’ website … (excuse me, I need to find a spittoon) … while repeatedly raising ‘defence’ funds from them.

Sure, we all love begging bowl kitty, but the repeated use of ‘Oh noes, we need your money because we are sooo intimidated by nasty Colin Craig who wants to [sob] shut us down and take the food off our table’ (or words to that effect) gave me the heebie-jeebies after a while.
Likewise the peddling of their own victimhood, laced with attacks on Craig, like this from January referring to “Colin deep pockets Craig” and “vexatious Colin Craig”:

I guess nobody ever went broke overestimating the gullibility of readers of the Slater PR attack blog

Why, if they didn’t have Colin Craig to rally around as a fund-raising theme, they’d have to invent him.

Juana Atkins clutches victimhood and simultaneously threatens Craig with public exposure of “every juicy and sordid detail”. I don’t know about you, but I find that… troubling.

Of course, I could  be completely misunderstanding this whole situation. It could be Juana is right and Colin Craig is really determined to dedicate his life and his fortune to smashing the innocent truth-telling angels over at Whaleoil into the ground for no reason whatsoever except angry ‘vexatiousness’. All they did at the Slater family hate blog was ‘tell the truth’. And now, to defend themselves the Slaters have to expose ‘every sordid detail’. Sure. Could be. Maybe. Is that how you read that?

Continue reading →

What a photo of Patrick Gower!

Wow. Great shot. Talk about moody.

Click to enlarge (if you dare).

Source: Newshub Features on Twitter.

I’ve recently been thinking (again) about how media organizations harvest people-in-the-news’s social media profiles – often without permission and often murky about attribution – Source: “supplied” or “Facebook”.

I hope I don’t sound too much like a hypocrite because I do use pix “published” on social media,  (like this example) but my view is that different rules apply to people in the public eye by choice (e.g. political commentators, activists, those suing others for defamation – Jordan Williams ticks all those boxes, eh?) than to those who find themselves of interest to the news media accidentally, incidentally, as a result of unfortunate circumstances or victimhood.

I’ve seen the unsavoury operators of local PR attack blogs use exposure of private life details, including photos, as a cudgel to beat down their targets. There’s only so much even an outspoken voice can/will put up with. The bullies/paid character assassins count on the mortifying effect of naming names and seeing other personal details being published, often surrounded by negative ‘comment’ – and some of that attacking ‘comment’, as we have seen, is dishonest: sock puppetry. AstroTurf.

Often this form of ‘doxxing’ is carried out in a vile way, in an obvious effort to hurt and embarrass the victim/target. The objective is to damage their reputation (slander, aspersions, defamation as we’ve discussed) with what is effectively a smear campaign. To discredit them. But another agenda of the attack, more importantly, is to try to dishearten and discourage the victim/target. To silence them.

Of course, we seen practitioners of these ‘dark arts’ complain, whine, grizzle and call for a waaaambulance when it’s their own moment in the spotlight. “Rockets falling on me.” etc. Gawd.

I really try to stay away from that sort of thing.

I’m all for robust discussion and criticism, but I don’t seek to ‘expose’ people’s private lives or their personal information. This saying haunts me at times…

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

… because I think there is a place for condemnation and what’s come to be referred to as “calling out” wrongdoing or bigotry, malfeasance etc. That’s something I do. Try to do. Badly at times, I’m sure.

If for any reason you think I’ve crossed a line, let me know. I’m open to hearing from you, I promise. Contact details on the ‘About’ page.

Cheers, – P

Silencing critical voices with personal attacks

Watch this video. It’s short, less than 5 min, but it’s very good.

The ‘flack’ filter — attempts to attack, invalidate and delegitimize “inconvenient” media narratives (starting about 3′ 30″ in the video) — was clearly on display in the NZ Government and NZ Defence Force spin response to Nicky Hager & Jon Stephenson’s book Hit & Run. That was obvious.

Of course, as we’ve discussed here, Teflon John Key frequently used that ‘attack/discredit’ technique to dismiss criticism, and dodge inconvenient facts (remember “Screaming left wing conspiracy theorist”?).

John Key: Not lying, he said. Just forgetful. (click)

John Key also sometimes used others of Chomsky’s ‘filters’ and methods exposed in Manufacturing Consent to defend his own changing narratives as they came apart under scrutiny. Or sometimes Mr Key’s bald statements were clearly shown to be false.

Remember how he denied knowing, let alone hand picking and approaching in person that old school mate as head of the GCSB? You know, the guy whose phone number he had? Who he’d had breakfast with? That guy. See: John Key addresses Parliament on his earlier misleading statement about Ian Fletcher’s appointment and following.
Bobbing and weaving cost Key some credibility. But not enough, some would say.

Sure, some in the media tried to hold Barbecue John to account. Like PM’s “fabricated” smear on Snowden documents, but over his time as Prime Minister, from what I saw, Key had a habit of making statements of dubious veracity and slithering away from them when confronted. Remember this example?: Hansard can be a real bitch, eh Mr Key?
The most popular political leader of my lifetime and, at the same time, a Hollow Man. Continue reading →

Most Defamed Man Ever Jordan Williams to appeal ruling

Litigation risk – lawsuits can be a very expensive version of ‘Snakes and Ladders’

Record defamation damages winner (oops, then loser) Jordan Williams has announced he’s going to appeal the ruling striking out the damages bonanza a jury awarded him last year.

As we saw previously (See: ‘About that Jordan Williams damages award…‘), the judge presiding over the defamation action Williams took against Colin Craig struck out the jury’s verdict and the ‘record’ $1.27m damages award made to Williams. That had to hurt.

Judge Sarah Katz issued a carefully reasoned 39-page judgement – available in the footnotes here. (Given the high stakes, no doubt it was written anticipating an appeal.) In her ruling, Judge Katz faulted the jury’s reasoning, its application of guidance from the court, and its understanding/ability to calculate damages.

She described the jury decision to award Jordan Williams 50% more in damages than the Commonwealth’s worst defamation case as a ‘miscarriage of justice’ – warranting a retrial. She also dismantled brick by brick the arguments Williams’s lawyers put up in submissions to try to justify the ‘excessive’ damages award as somehow ‘within the available range’. (See my last post for Andrew Geddis’s analysis of a ‘tactical error’ he thinks Peter McKnight made.)


The decision by Team Williams to appeal her ruling wasn’t really a surprise.

Another option offered – that the two parties (Colin Craig and Williams) should accept the jury finding of defamation(!) and agree to let Judge Katz set a more realistic damages figure – was a non-starter. Why would Craig agree to that?

For his part, Colin Craig told Radio NZ he was relieved at the miscarriage of justice finding, describing the judge’s ruling as “bang on”. (Well he would, wouldn’t he?) “The only correct course coming out of that trial last year was to in fact rule it as a mistrial. The law has been properly exercised in this particular case.”

Craig also said he would not be agreeing to any new damages. “The fact of that matter is Mr Williams simply hasn’t made his case against me yet. He is entitled to take this matter back to court. If he does I will defend myself.”

So, given the choice, Craig opted for retrial … which left Williams with few palatable options. Thus:

Patient Zero Jordan Williams (right) with character witness (pic: @jordnz)

Press Release: Jordan Williams
Friday, 28 April 2017, 4:40 pm

Lawyers for Jordan Williams are appealing the judgment setting aside last year’s jury verdict in the Williams v Craig defamation proceedings.

Mr Williams says, “Colin Craig argued that the jury’s damages award was too high. The judge agreed but the High Court is only able to reset the damages if both parties agree.”
“Last week Colin Craig’s lawyers told Justice Katz that Colin Craig was not willing to have her determine the damages; they want a full retrial.”

“I don’t want Rachel MacGregor or my mother or any other of my witnesses to have to go through it all again. The jury made clear findings. At every stage Mr Craig has wanted to stretch things out. We have no assurance he would not appeal after a new trial. So an appeal now could get to the key issues directly. It is the best way forward.”

You might say it’s sweet and humanising that in his Friday afternoon press release Jordan Williams cited his concern for Ms MacGregor (whom the evidence at court showed he repeatedly deceived, betrayed and lied to, as Judge Katz’s judgement related) and also concern for Williams’s mum – not wanting them “or any other of my witnesses to have to go through it all again”. (Note: ‘my witnesses’.)

I’m sure that trial was gruelling on everybody involved. Continue reading →

About that Jordan Williams damages award…

How many lawyers does it take to create a miscarriage of justice? Depends on the lawyers.

I had an ‘incomplete’ feeling about that jury award in the Colin Craig/Jordan Williams defamation case – the ‘record’ amount of damages totalling $1.27M awarded in September 2016. It seemed to me there was a step outstanding: It hadn’t been confirmed by the judge in the case.

So every now and then I asked a few people, including the court reporters who covered the trial. Nope. Every week that went past after verdict was announced seemed bad for Jordan Williams, even allowing time for submissions, arguments and counter arguments. (Remember my comment about ‘litigation risk‘?)

It wasn’t until 12 April 2017 that Judge Sarah Katz released her judgment SETTING ASIDE the jury’s record damages award to Jordan Willliams as a miscarriage of justice.

By extension, it was also bad news for Cameron Slater, Jordan Williams’s Life Coach and co-conspirator in the ugly, brutal destabilisation campaign at the heart of this defamation action.

Slater Jnr is approaching his own day in court – as defendant in a defamation suit brought by Colin Craig. He’s also facing another, similar lawsuit brought by scientists he [allegedly] smeared on behalf of Carrick Graham’s client Katherine Rich and the food manufacturer lobby group she headed up. More on that another time.

But Slater had crowed about the ‘record’ damages award against Craig to Williams, apparently interpreting it as a good omen. Indeed, he predicted massive success in his own case (in between publishing begging letters to his cult, asking them to help pay his ‘legal fees’).

We all knew the jury found for Williams – found him to have been defamed, and awarded record-setting, ‘breathtaking’ damages. As it turned out, this week, Judge Sarah Katz released her decision: rather than confirming the damages the jury awarded, she ruled  that they were excessive, way out of bounds. So excessive, that she ruled the outcome was a miscarriage of justice which qualified for a retrial. Golly.

I remember at the end of last year’s trial (in Jordan Williams judged to have a reputation that could be harmed) saying that Williams had “written himself into the history books, whatever the final outcome.” So it seems. Now he’s an entry under ‘miscarriages of justice’ too. #winning Continue reading →