NRT: The NSA spies on its own government

Written By: - Date published: 11:11 am, January 8th, 2014 - 51 comments
Categories: International, Spying, us politics - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn asks the question.

Since Edward Snowden leaked proof of widespread NSA spying on US citizens, people have been wondering who exactly they’re spying on. Are they spying on their own government? Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wanted to know, so he asked them directly. The response was not reassuring:

“Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other elected officials?”

That’s the question Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) put to the National Security Agency’s chief in a bluntly worded letter Friday. It seems, however, that the agency cannot categorically say no.

Sanders didn’t use the word “spy” lightly. He was careful to define his terms, indicating he meant the collection of phone records from personal as well as official telephones, “content from Web sites visited or e-mails sent,” and data that companies collect but don’t release to the public.

When asked by The Washington Post, an NSA spokesman said that the agency’s privacy safeguards are effective at covering all Americans.

“Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons,” the spokesman said.

Which means “none”. But think about this for a moment: Congress is meant to oversee the NSA, setting its budgets, regulating its powers, and holding its management accountable to the people. And the NSA is basically trawling them for blackmail material on their movements, relationships, and web-surfing habits. Even if they never use it (something we’ll never be able to prove), the potential is there. Which is a strong disincentive to effective oversight.

Or we can look at it another way: spies are supposed to protect their governments against enemies. The NSA clearly thinks Congress and by extension, elected representatives in general) are an enemy of the US.

Meanwhile, its worth asking: is this happening here? John Key has said that the GCSB is not engaged in the “wholesale” collection of metadata. But even if you believe him, there’s another problem: the NSA is using the data-exchange agreements that make global roaming work to
track everyone’s cellphones (which can reveal all sorts of interesting secrets). New Zealand data is almost certainly included, and almost certainly includes MPs. And it all goes into the same spy-cloud, to which the GCSB has access… Even if they’re not abusing it, their mere ability to access this data is a danger to our democracy. If MPs want to be safe from spying and spy-blackmail, they need to shut down the GCSB or sever its links to the American panopticon.

gcsb-scum

51 comments on “NRT: The NSA spies on its own government”

  1. karol 1

    This seems to be partly to do with the fact that 5 eyes, the NSA, etc have shifted their focus to strongly protecting commercial (corporate) interests and “economic” threats – and that could then be in conflict with elected representatives opposed to the corproate plutocracy.

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    What it comes down to is this:

    How gutless are our MPs? Are they going to go along with this like good little authoritarians? Perhaps they could negotiate special privileges for themselves. The rights to privacy and freedom of speech and association, for example.

    Or are they going to grow a collective spine?

    PS: and if our parliament proves craven, a bought government, will the judiciary lie down too?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      PPS: now idly speculating on whether anyone has had a peek at Justice Winklemann’s illegally collected meta-data…and what she’d do if evidence of said collection were presented to her…ah well, a Knucklehead can dream.

  3. adam 3

    Spying has always been part of authoritarianism – they have done it since the dawn of time. The left should know, being spied on is common – hell we have case histories of it in this country. This is normal for them.

    Do I think it is wrong and kinda sick? – yeap. Do I think it is anti-democratic? Hell yes! So what do we do, be paranoid and freak out – or go out and keep doing what we do?

    I say keep doing what we do, and ignore the spies. Essentially, at the end of the day they have information which is dated, – yesterday. And if they going to use it – then they are the enemy and we know they are. And who cares – seriously – they are the ones with the problem – there wasting our money, and yes, we need to get to power – so it’s bye bye money for the spy freaks.

    So spy on you little authoritarian asses, masturbate at the same time if you must (yes I’m implying there is something patriarchal about this) . I’m right, your wrong. I’m a human being your a scum sucking freak.We will beat you in the end, and put all that data through the shredder.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      I’m sure you have already come across LOVEINT

    • Chooky 3.2

      @adam….Yes there have always been spies and spying but this time it is different….in Snowden’s words:

      “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying … and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever … These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”[145]

      “I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”[299]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden

      This post raises the very serious question of who is in control of the NSA…because the elected USA govt does not seem to be…and this has very serious implications for the elected NZ govt and for New Zealanders living in a democracy

      • adam 3.2.1

        I don’t live under the illusion of living in a democracy Chooky. I think we live in a benign dictatorship with the illusions of power/a say.

        Yes Viper I have 🙂 I also spend time on right wing blogs, they are foaming at the mouth at the moment, especially the ones in the US. They can’t decide to tip their cap to there masters at these obvious intrusions to there lives, or be mighty upset – makes for fun reading – also creates a confused web footprint.

        On creating confusing foot prints – people are doing that right? Going to web sites you disagree with, extreme or otherwise. You don’t have to post or anything, just go – makes it harder for them to get a clear picture of who you are. Tea party web site is a good one – funny too – they are being attacked by traditional conservatives by being upset about this issue.

  4. Philj 4

    Xox
    WHAT does this mean for the legality of the undertaking of lawyers and doctors to safeguard our privacy?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1

      It means said privacy doesn’t exist, especially when (their clients) we find ourselves in positions of commercial sensitivity where export markets are involved.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      You have to understand that the literal goal of the Five Eyes system is to eliminate all human privacy, everywhere, all the time.

      If you use a smartphone, you are carrying a combination tracking device, human relationship monitor, and hot mic/hot camera which can turned on at any time without you knowing.

      From this, it should be easy to conclude what lawyers and doctors can do to maintain client confidentiality is very limited.

      HOWEVER, use of strong database, txt and email/IM encryption*, TOR for browsing*, simple precautions like fully shutting down and powering off computers when you are not using them and ensuring that people leave their mobile phones, tablets and notebooks at home when they go for meetings, are just some of the practical steps which make surveillance harder, slower and more costly to carry out.

      *This will get you noticed on any network analysis, but it is a type of civil peaceful resistance and if you were going to say it anyway, why not.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.2.1

        That’s the story from a political perspective. From an economic perspective it isn’t going to happen. Most engineering software, for example, requires an internet connection. Bye bye commercial sensitivity.

        • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.1

          Also, trying to “air gap” devices like PCs, tablets and notebooks by unplugging network cables and turning off the wi-fi can finally be defeated by the silent turning on of your devices wifi/wireless circuits.

        • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.2

          STUXNET

      • Tracey 4.2.2

        ” txt and email/IM encryption*, ” this requires those you communicate with to encrypt too?

        • Colonial Viper 4.2.2.1

          Often it means they have to use the same secure communication application as you e.g. OTR for instant messaging. Or the same encryption application eg Pretty Good Privacy (PGP).

          With PGP the way I understand it works is that you make a ‘public (encoding) key’ available to everyone. With it they can encrypt files which can then only be decrypted with the ‘private (decoding) key’ that only you have.

          Keith Ng for instance puts a pointer (finger print) to his ‘public key’ on his twitter account.

          btw I’m not really a tech guy, lprent and others will have much more idea than me…

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.2.2.1.1

            GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard), open source and backed by strong German privacy legislation, is a safer option even than PGP.

  5. fender 5

    With the amount of information available through tracking cell phones highlighted by the reveal all sorts of interesting secrets link I wonder how long it will be until it’s illegal to not carry at all times a functioning tracking device (cell phone).

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Don’t need to go to such lengths. Consider banking: At one point it was possible to get by without a bank account, now it’s impossible (and that’s another reason why I think banking should be a public service instead of private).

      • fender 5.1.1

        True, only there’s not the same detail available by tracking bank accounts, unless we all make eft-pos transactions everywhere we go/visit.

        Authorities must love being able to follow people around and see who they mix with, I guess soon those without cell phones will be assumed to be up to no good.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          They can track many different dimensions of your activity via analysis tools called “graphs.” One graph might contain all your bank transactions. Another might contain all your card transactions. A third might contain all your mobile phone GPS readings. A fourth might contain lists of all your phone contacts, FB friends, etc. A fifth might contain all the electronic and text messages you send and receive.

          What they then do is layer all these graphs on top of each other on top of public information like google maps, etc. to understand in detail your entire day. They can then answer in detail: where did you go? Who else was there? Did you spend or receive money there? How long did you stay? Who did you communicate with at the time? Who communicated with you? And where were those people?

          If you are a person of interest and you then go to a town hall community meeting (say on the GCSB legislation), they can then identify all 2,000 other mobile phones which are in the same location, their relationship to you, and add those numbers to their target list. Using such a newly gained phone number as a “selector” they can they pull out all the graphs relevant to that phone number, and so on.

          • fender 5.1.1.1.1

            Very intrusive stuff even for law abiding citizens (like us) with ‘nothing to hide’.

            By the way, it’s good to have you “home”. 😀

  6. Chooky 6

    chookies don’t have cell phones….so that is why i have seen those ferrets lurking around

    • fender 6.1

      Glad to hear you keep your eyes on the job of ferret lookout, but are those ferrets finding chookies via leg ring tracking? 😉

  7. Chooky 7

    no leg rings!….but maybe they have the chook house rigged…where do you get those bug finding devices?

  8. Philj 8

    Xox
    Good to see you CV. I didn’t support the flamers. Your insight and persistence was too much for some. Take care and Kia Kaha

  9. burt 9

    Draco

    Don’t need to go to such lengths. Consider banking: At one point it was possible to get by without a bank account, now it’s impossible (and that’s another reason why I think banking should be a public service instead of private).

    Well having a state run banking system would save the government a lot if time legislating to be allowed access to commercial banking systems.

    Let me guess… The glorious government should have full access to its citisens financial transactions but government run spy agencies getting access to the same for government is bad – how’s that working for you ?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 9.1

      Full access to citizens financial transactions?

      Is that what authoritarian gimps think of as governance or something? Why would anyone here vote for anything of the kind? Reality really is a bit much for you, isn’t it?

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        The intel services (and the IRD) already have this.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 9.1.1.1

          Perhaps, but Burt is indulging a fantasy of a right wing government keeping tabs 24/7, not the IRD processing tax returns. The “intelligence” services are acting illegally.

  10. burt 10

    Knucklehead

    One of the basic issues of how government works seems to have escaped you. You might trust the party you blindly serve and that’s fine but you do know don’t you that your team aren’t perpetually in power to ensure the great powers they have are never abused.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.1

      What great powers? Be specific. I note recent surveillance has made the news because it is illegal.

      Your feeble misinterpretation of DtB’s remarks doesn’t mean shit, Burt, just like your ludicrous notion that I have blind faith in anything, let alone a political party.

      You failed (like a miserable failure) to argue coherently yesterday, preferring to sit in a corner and throw faeces. Are we going to see more of the same today? Or are you capable of conducting a rational discussion?

  11. burt 11

    Knucklehead

    Is it too much for you to grasp that in a parliament such as our half Westminster system the government of the day passes pretty much any law it wants. Hell some self serving governments have even used parliament in urgency to kill off a court case against a PM.

    Access to health records, banking transactions, cellphone meta data and message content are only ‘illegal’ if the government of the day don’t legislate to say its legal. Remember the biggest threat to democracy is a government arrogant enough to declare that the business of government is whatever government define it to be.

    • Access to health records, banking transactions, cellphone meta data and message content are only ‘illegal’ if the government of the day don’t legislate to say its legal.

      Not to mention, if the government of the day doesn’t legislate to retrospectively declare its previously-uncovered illegal activity legal – Labour and National both have form for this.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.2

      So, nothing specific, just false notions of my “grasp” of the situation, and vague bogeymen. This from a person who prefers the small government Pike River approach to work safety.

      • burt 11.2.1

        I bet you were glad when Pike River happened so you could stop using Cave Creek as your whacking stick to support big bureaucracy.

        FFS Knucklehead, this is the second time in 2 days I’ve seen you reference the size of government in terms of Pike River. How bloody insensitive of you.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.2.1.1

          The policies you support killed them. It’s that simple. Blood on your hands.

          PS: that would be a good job change for the “intelligence” services. Identifying the enemies of New Zealand who advocate for “small government” (ie: deaths at work) and destroying them.

          • Colonial Viper 11.2.1.1.1

            Court. Help take them to court (criminal or civil). Rule of valid, legitimate law is going to be very important going forward.

          • burt 11.2.1.1.2

            You are an idiot OAK

            See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Mine

            Now tell me it’s the current governments cutbacks that created this situation. You might want to read the ‘Approvals history’ and ‘Mine operation’ paras.

            On 12 March 2004, Minister of Conservation Chris Carter approved the access arrangement for Pike River Coal Ltd. The arrangement included four 1.5-metre (4.9 ft)-wide emergency escape shafts within the boundaries of Paparoa National Park and a requirement for Pike River Coal Ltd to spend NZ$70,000 annually on conservation projects. Carter stated that the “safeguards and compensation” outweighed the inconsistencies with objectives of the Conservation Act 1987 and the relevant management plans.[8]

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.2.1.1.2.1

              No, Burt, I am not criticising an individual government, I am criticising the policy of the “high trust model” – what you call “small government”. The policies that increase the child mortality rate, that destroy wealth – especially the value of work – that cause workplace “accidents”.

              How do you propose New Zealand should defend itself against this hateful, wilful incompetence?

              • Colonial Viper

                The alternative model with small government would be with worker owned, co-operative and democratically managed mines, and strong national based mining unions. Govt intervention and oversight could be fairly minimal in that case.

          • burt 11.2.1.1.3

            First they came for the supporters of small government.

            • Colonial Viper 11.2.1.1.3.1

              Who ironically seem to love massive expensive government surveillance apparatus and over-reach.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 11.2.1.1.3.2

              Oh get over yourself. The whole reason to have security or intelligence services – spies – in the first place is to help defend the nation. That means defending it against physical threats, obviously (and what a fine job they did when France committed an act of war on our soil.) but it also means defending our democracy, because while we have few physical threats, democracy is alive because strong arms keep it that way. Do you honestly believe that organised crime will not infiltrate the law-makers were it not for these rules of law and strong arms to enforce them?

              Perhaps you believe market fundamentalism presents no such threat, as the infectious disease admission rate climbs higher and higher, and forestry deaths continue apace.

              • burt

                Knucklehead

                How would you suggest dissenters of big government are ‘destroyed’ ?

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Burt, the alternative to “small government” isn’t “big government”, it’s just “government”.

                  I’d go after their ideology. Win the economic argument with cold hard facts. Implement stronger rules of evidence at a select committee level, initiate judicial review of evidence-free legislation, that sort of thing.

                  Once people stop paying attention to you, and you go back to just being a bunch of breathless Rand enthusiasts, I reckon the attention desert will take care of the rest.

  12. Clifford Pain 12

    Lesson 101: From George Orwell

    (taken from http://www.openculture.com/2014/01/george-orwell-explains-in-a-revealing-1944-letter-why-hed-write-1984.html )

    Asked by Noel Willmett “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade” given “that they are not apparently growing in [England] and the USA”:

    George replied with consummate balance:

    ” I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer. Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history. He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it. That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving, though, of course, the process is reversible.

    As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom. I believe very deeply, as I explained in my book The Lion and the Unicorn, in the English people and in their capacity to centralise their economy without destroying freedom in doing so. But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering, and there are some bad symptoms to balance the good ones. To begin with there is the general indifference to the decay of democracy. Do you realise, for instance, that no one in England under 26 now has a vote and that so far as one can see the great mass of people of that age don’t give a damn for this? Secondly there is the fact that the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. Indeed the statement that we haven’t a Fascist movement in England largely means that the young, at this moment, look for their fuhrer elsewhere. One can’t be sure that that won’t change, nor can one be sure that the common people won’t think ten years hence as the intellectuals do now. I hope they won’t, I even trust they won’t, but if so it will be at the cost of a struggle. If one simply proclaims that all is for the best and doesn’t point to the sinister symptoms, one is merely helping to bring totalitarianism nearer.

    You also ask, if I think the world tendency is towards Fascism, why do I support the war. It is a choice of evils—I fancy nearly every war is that. I know enough of British imperialism not to like it, but I would support it against Nazism or Japanese imperialism, as the lesser evil. Similarly I would support the USSR against Germany because I think the USSR cannot altogether escape its past and retains enough of the original ideas of the Revolution to make it a more hopeful phenomenon than Nazi Germany. I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.

    Yours sincerely,
    Geo. Orwell”

    Goes to show, not much has changed in the human Zoo

  13. Chooky 13

    @ Clifford Pain….very interesting on Orwell thanks!

    I know this is completely frivolous but don’t you think Edward Snowden looks a bit like George Orwell?

    …..reincarnation anyone? ( smirk)

  14. Clifford Pain 14

    Chooky, yes Snowden does look at little like George Orwell (if you squint a bit). Consider this:

    GOLDILOCKs and the 5 Eyes – Its hard to get it just right:

    This quote for me is pivotal in the debate about the GCSB & NSA and their respective powers:

    “Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed” – Niccolò Machiavelli (substitute Orwells fuhrers or your favourite spy agency for prophets if need be).

    In his writings Orwell makes the point

    “But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat”

    Maybe, with expanding power of certain countries with their new technological warfare capabilities the time is coming when the USA & England Inc. will be sorely tried. The job of Government/Business will be increasingly to manage public opinion. One cannot have public discontent with a “caste system” (Orwell phrase). One must give the illusion all is well, the die is fair (i.e. united we stand). On the other hand countries will manipulate information in order to conquer (divided we fall). This is where the problem sits. The fog of information, who is telling the truth, what system gives the better deal, how can one be informed such that one can vote with ones feet?

    For the individual, when do you start to take action, if it appears that all other systems are worse, you will just shut up and obey, if it’s a case of into the firing pan out of the fire, you’ll just shut up and obey. Or more insipidly, we just don’t have time to consider the options because we are all, to some degree, working the economic handle for utopia (in reality most of the analysis is not really that hard). Maybe that’s the job of Government/Business to keep you in the washing machine of perpetual apathy, to maintain the status quo. NZ inc and its media outlets occasionally casts its eyes to alternative systems in countries like Sweden and Norway, however, they remain firmly fixed on the USA and UK style of economics. Sweden and Norway give us an alternative (biodiversity) upon which we can see how systems can be run differently. Will it be that even these are eroded (wiped from history) in order that status quo is maintained?

    If you look at statistics New Zealand, in the latest census, they call us the “Village”. It is not a pretty picture. We see a few muted attempts at physical protest, that are although do not appear to come from an analysis of such figures still show discontent. For example, a man in wellington set a car alight protesting the banking system. The way it was reported seemed dismissive of his concerns and further hit home the point, that the Panopticon is watching and you shall obey. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6040675/Car-set-on-fire-in-Cuba-Mall-protest). Was this guy nuts, I doubt it. Was he just unable to articulate it and so went off in frustrated fury, I suspect so. Odly, in Cities around NZ when protests are conducted, the workers (business men, shop assistances, government workers etc) appear to ignore protestors of assets sales, as if they were somehow unclean.

    Coincidently the term “Village” was used in the series the Prisoner 2009. Some great dialogue here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4etGIGRqNk):
    No.2 “For people like 6, life is not enough, they want to escape”
    No. 6 “Where is the road out of here?”
    No.2 “ There is no out, there is only in”
    No. 2. If you truly want to go, you must find the open door rather than the beast that keeps you here.

    So the question remains for me is, does the surveillance system empower me or bind me (i.e. what’s the cost benefit in this multi dimensional process)? Can another ideology offer me a better deal? Under current commercial media programming how would I know? Why would I bother with a system that gives children a mediocre education (training kids to obey rather than think and only perform to their social status or function).

    New Zealand is supposedly one of the least corrupt countries in the world yet a cursory look will show anyone that soft corruption (i.e. cliques working on public boards) is alive and well.

    Is it simple a case of “The Strong Do What They Can, And The Weak Suffer What They Must”

    George Dyson article “NSA: THE DECISION PROBLEM” seems to present similar views as to Orwell

    “We are much, much deeper in a far more complicated matrix now. And now, more than ever, we should heed Eisenhower’s parting advice. Yes, we need big data, and big algorithms—but beware.”
    http://www.edge.org/conversation/nsa-the-decision-problem

    So just as Goldilocks wants her porridge to be just right, how do people want their surveillance system? One that is there for the good of the many, not just the few?

    No. 2, Time to wake up now, 6, I give you the village.

  15. Chooky 15

    Thanks again!….wow food for thought there…it will take a bit of time to read and digest it…

    I suspect many don’t want to think about the implications too much of what Snowden is talking about ….because it has such Orwellian implications, which were fine in Orwell’s books, but way scarier to contemplate as a reality in the present..

    However this is a very good forum for the sharing of information…and knowledge is power and forewarned is forearmed to some extent

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    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    1 day ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    1 day ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    2 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    2 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    3 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    5 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    6 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    7 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    7 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago

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