Sunday, July 28, 2013


All hail the birth of Prince George of Orwell, third in line to the throne of Airstrip One, Defender of the faith of the Church of England and Patron Saint of women's magazines, lazy newspaper editors and the vacuous live cross-promotional soapbox theatre sock puppets of TV news.

# We have always been at war with *CLASSIFIED*:

The US refuses to name its clear and present antagonists in the War on Terror on the grounds of national security.

# Truth is Treason

Nicky Hagar reports on Stuff that the NZ Defence Force, GCSB and SIS were among the people tracking and tracing freelance journalist Jon Stephenson in Afghanistan:
An internal Defence document leaked to the Star-Times reveals that defence security staff viewed investigative journalists as "hostile" threats requiring "counteraction". The classified security manual lists security threats, including "certain investigative journalists" who may attempt to obtain "politically sensitive information".

The manual says Chief of Defence Force approval is required before any NZDF participation in "counter intelligence activity" is undertaken.
What lengths would the NZDF go to in order to save face on the basis of national security? Would they nobble a civilian jury, for example? I have met Defence Force PR people in the past. It's a safe bet that what they know about ethics could be written on an SD card in crayon.

# Hard is Soft

Rachel Smalley loses her 2012 Loki Award for the cross-promotional fluff that has infected The Nation. Who gives a rat's fat crack about X Factor on an alleged hard news program?

# Arbeit Macht Frei

The welfare reforms continue to bite. It's early days yet, but cracks are beginning to show. If the UK experience in outsourced welfare is anything to go by, big problems should be evident in time for next year's election.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mainstream Monomania

After bearing witness to the passing of the Psychoactives Act into law, albeit via modem, a few observations can be made.

1) The MSM tend to focus on their own pre-conceived narrative to the exclusion of all else.

The day the Law Commission released the generational review on the Misuse of Drugs Act, all the MSM buzzards wanted to talk about was artificial cannabis, a slender part of the broad spectrum review. Cannabis? Stuff what the Law Commission said about that. Synthetic cannabis was where the heat was at.

This time, instead of focusing on the new rules over the lolly weed, the MSM fixated on animal testing. Fair go and all. The Greens' Mojo Mathers should chalk up the interest in that as a win, but it's far from the entire story.

2) Speaking of that Law Commission report, Colorado and Washington State's cannabis legalisation roll outs make a mockery of the Commission's blinkered terms of reference regarding the UN Conventions.

3) Is this new law really world leading? Wasn't the world leading legislation really the Schedule D of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which created an R18 schedule for recreational substances way back during the Clark years?

4) It's amazing how such fluff as the Pakeha "Party" rakes in the headlines, while everyone ignores the elephant in the room wearing the Rastafari tricolor. Steve Braunias is right. This is NZ's lamest decade since the 1950's.

The beige bastards and vanilla people might have won this round, but it'll be all on in 2020.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Could be worse

Just as Sky City gets permission to buy out the last small player in the casino market in Queenstown and become the monopoly casino provider in NZ, details over the Shon Kee Convention Centre haggling process spill out into the open.

The voodoo economists in Treasury failed to see the merits of either convention centre or Sky City concessions. Clearly, logic and reason had nothing to do with it. More likely Keynesian economics, corrupted by tender favoritism.

This is conviction politics at its most cynical. If the government must throw money away to create temporary jobs to juke the stats, and minimum slave wage temp jobs to suck up the aftermath, there are no whiter elephants than a Mega Convention Centre. Especially seeing how the financial hub brainfart was stillborn and all.

Much fuss has been had over the foul concessions negotiated between the Nats and Sky City, with good reason. Still, it could have been worse:

# Sky City didn't ask for an expansion of table games to include Russian Roulette or Cock Fighting, hosted by Mike Hosking.

# They didn't ask for a Juice Bank, where punters could exchange blood, sperm, or DNA copyright for printed gambling tickets.

# They didn't ask for an on-site pawn shop, where punters could hand over house and car keys for credit.

# They only got TVNZ land. They could have asked for first right of refusal to purchase Auckland CBD land in perpetuity, in fitting with the thousand year plan to take over the entire city. The gutters would be lined with pokie machines, while a Skywalk above conveyed important people to yet another meeting.

# They didn't ask for $40 million from the government each year to fund a 24 hour carpark childcare centre and library.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Submarine Bells

It was well worth rooting the data cap to watch the Nethui panel on state surveillance the other day. Big bang for buck was also had with Campbell Live's long form look into the time line, hard power, and soft targets behind the GCSB Bill.

Stuff covered the Nethui revelations with the Koru Club angle. On them, even if Ferguson was stating the bleeding obvious there. Hospo is a great way to meet the movers and shakers and check the vibe. That's how I bumped into Ferguson, after all. Long live the tolerable level of chaos known as food and beverage, lest the Soccer Mum puritans shut them all down.

One thing is clear from the panel debate, and reinforced by the Campbell Live piece. There needs to be a review of the security services before any expansion of their powers. They have lost public confidence.

This began long before John Key fucked the dog for Hollywood, although that certainly didn't help. As with any secret squirrel department, only the really stupid security screw ups make it into the public arena. All the rest get buried deep. The public is left to judge SIGINT incompetence over the stuff that can't be hidden, such as the Munchausen fantasist Stephen Wilce, or the creative enhancement of Maryanne Thompson's PhD going under the radar.

The Kitteridge Report backed up what Ferguson said about Wolfensohn, a spymaster overburdened by mission sprawl, and marooned by singular knowledge. Sage counsel is sorely needed. Any oversight panel should remain in the Judiciary, and not be subject to the prime minister's whim as the current Bill wishes. I would suggest not only a retired High Court Judge, but a current Supreme Court and High Court judge sit on any oversight panel. Hell, I'd even be happy with District Court Judge and IT wonk David Harvey helping keep an eye on things.

Paul Buchanan's comments over the dangers of NZ withdrawing from or reforming Five Eyes are worth bearing in mind. His comments regarding NZ having a bob each way over the US China thing is relevant too. Having gone through the Cold War experience, neutrality might be worth a go in the future. Dithering is not going to be an option.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Showdown at Big Sky

If there's a quantum of Kiwi Geek in your DNA, you really should be a member of Internet NZ.

Whether you're a Press Gallery journalist pondering their Parliamentary swipe card with ambivalence, a teeny bopper VPNing their way to whatever currently bounces their bed, an entrepreneur trying to crack the big one without patent trolls leeching their ideas, or just a concerned citizen wishing to expressly help draw the border between security and privacy, join Internet NZ.

They throw out amazing bang for their buck. Take NetHui, for example. It's stuff like this that makes me wish I lived in Wellington again. Fortunately, they have video streams catering for the world's fastest dialup (Joke created by Raybon Kan, riffing Stephen Fry, who ripped Telecom, etc. xkcd isn't the only one into infinite ripples).

Internet NZ has lined up a fine panel for tomorrow morning's panel discussion on state surveillance:
Former Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Sir Bruce Ferguson will tomorrow participate in a NetHui 2013 panel discussion on state surveillance and the GCSB.

The panel is titled ‘State Surveillance of Online Communications’ and will be held at 11.30am at the Wellington Town Hall Auditorium. Discussion will revolve around the proposed legislation that would expand the powers of the GCSB in monitoring private communications, including online communications.

Sir Bruce will join three other distinguished panellists, all of whom have expertise in the area and are frequent media commentators on the subject. Cloud consultant Ian Apperley, solicitor Michael Wigley, and Dr. Paul Buchanan, whose expertise is in security, comparative and international politics, will join Sir Bruce.
In the meantime, why not ponder Jon Stephenson's ongoing defamation trial against Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

The Body Politic might be frozen, but the eyes are wide open.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Minority Report

Plenty of real and virtual ink has been spilled over a Labour Party remit over mandated female representation. I've just waded through 61 pages of it, courtesy of Bryce Edwards' summary of the latest gender skirmishes.

Once again, Tag Team Farrar and Whale have put the headlights on Labour. Once again, Labour have stared at the headlights in a hypnotic stupor, before faceplanting into the radiator of public opinion. Labour's struggle for traction against National continues to look like the lop-sided and fatalistic narrative of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner.

My guess is that the Labour Council-endorsed remit is an attempt for the Women's Council to regain some power after the unions screwed the scrum last year with the new Byzantine rules on the leadership, which left the unions with disproportionate clout.

It goes to show that not all the blame for Labour's dismal poll ratings are David Shearer's fault. And, if Labour's other Councils catch on to the power play, there could be more infighting ahead.