Open mike 27/12/2015

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 27th, 2015 - 39 comments
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39 comments on “Open mike 27/12/2015 ”

  1. DH 1

    This is curious…..

    My first thought was how did MFAT know the guy had just received electronic gifts. The narrative seems a little strange.

    • Anne 1.1

      Having glanced through the story it suggests the following:

      Chinese business visitors are being kept under 24hr surveillance from the moment they step off their plane until the moment they leave.

      Now, isn’t that ironic. Didn’t JK and co. call out Labour for being racist when they suggested Chinese immigrants were buying up properties at inflated prices thus contributing to market distortion? I venture to suggest this surveillance not only has racial overtones, it’s sinister.

      By all means, keep an eye on people who have form (or are associated with those who have form) in attempts to steal trade secrets from other countries but this, in my view, is a step too far!

    • alwyn 1.2

      It is possible, and from the wording about it being a delegation and a group of businessmen, that the arrangements for the group, and their hosts in New Zealand was MFAT itself.
      There would probably have been MFAT people present with the group and they would have observed the gift being made, Those gifts are made totally publicly as part of the aim is to highlight your generosity.
      MFAT would not have said anything at the time, as this could embarrass the Chinese group, but might have called the recipient later.
      I have no way of knowing this explanation to be a true one but it is quite a likely alternative to the more scary option Anne has proposed. It would also fit in with the way these delegation’s visits are routinely organised.

      • Paul 1.2.1

        That was insightful, alwyn

      • DH 1.2.2

        That certainly makes sense Alwyn. It’s still odd that they’d call the man though. Unknown USB devices are suspect no matter where they come from so why did they think this was important enough to call the guy ‘urgently’? It does suggest they’ve previously found spyware in similar circumstances (?)

        I also gained the impression the meeting occured in NZ, in which case you’d have to be mad to pass on gifts with spyware in them. That’s a criminal offence here and you can be easily caught in that type of scenario. Unless they’re using an unknown zero-day exploit the chances their spyware would be picked up by antivirus software is very high.

        The story still looks a bit contrived to me, or at least missing something.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          That’s a criminal offence here…

          “Our” spies conspire to commit similar criminal offences in or against other nations on a daily basis. Pot, meet kettle.

        • alwyn

          “It’s still odd that they’d call the man though”

          I was only giving a relatively benign reason for how MFAT would know that he had just received some electronic gear in answer to your final sentence that “how did MFAT know the guy had just received electronic gifts”
          Why they had any reason to be suspicious of the items is a different matter, on which I have no ideas.

          There seems to be little doubt that the Chinese do carry out industrial espionage though. It is widely reported in reputable publications as this example of a story from Reuters illustrates.

          I have also seen stories fairly regularly in The Economist on the subject.

          • Draco T Bastard

            There seems to be little doubt that the Chinese do carry out industrial espionage though.

            Industrial espionage happens at all times from all countries:

            The U.S. continued to borrow from abroad for decades, refining and improving, and borrowing some more. Eventually, the laggard became the world’s biggest economy in the 1870s. Since then, the shoe has often been on the other foot, with entrepreneurs in other nations eager to take U.S. innovations to jumpstart their economies.

            The Cold War marked a departure from the usual dynamic: the Soviet Union and its allies coveted capitalist technologies to further their distinctly anti-capitalist ambitions. But the end of that era, and the rise of China, has brought a return to form as free-market economies vie against one another.

            The Chinese understand the futility of reinventing the wheel. Far better — and faster — to steal it from someone else.

            It would, of course, be better for all of us if that technology was freely shared as it would boost innovation rather than the present system that actively prevents it.

            And I wouldn’t be surprised if the US still carried out such industrial espionage so would MFAT be calling up the business if the gifts had come from US business people?

          • DH

            “There seems to be little doubt that the Chinese do carry out industrial espionage though.”

            They certainly do that and it’s no secret. Speaking technically I’m still a little surprised that a person would see fit to alert someone over a gift such as this unless there was more to it.

            The Chinese involved in industrial espionage are no fools, this is about the last vector of attack I’d expect them to use. It’s too risky, little chance of actually installing the spyware and with only small opportunity for reward. Most Chinese hacking is done through email.

            • alwyn

              In a reply to Anne, just below, I have proposed a reason why they might toss in a warning even if they neither knew, or even suspected, that the gear might be suspect.
              Just butt covering.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Speaking technically I’m still a little surprised that a person would see fit to alert someone over a gift such as this unless there was more to it.

              It’s probably SOP for MFAT in such cases. The real problem is that the person warned then went to the MSM which published it.

      • Anne 1.2.3

        I won’t have a chance to read it more carefully until later today, but my impression was: MFAT rang the NZ businessman immediately after the visitors left. But I stand to be corrected if I have read it wrong.

        • alwyn

          They did report that Anne. I was only commenting on a way they would know without quite the extremes suggested in your comment. Perhaps MFAT are a bit more efficient than many of us sometimes suspect?

          • alwyn

            As an afterthought I would also add the following.
            If, as I have suggested, the trip and the visits including the one to this company, were arranged by MFAT they would be very likely to warn him even if they were only basing it on the Chinese being suspected of carrying out hacking type attacks elsewhere.
            It would be the old story. How would MFAT, and its political masters, feel if the story on the front page of the Herald a week later had a headline like “MFAT introduced spying activities into my firm” with a story about them asking the company to welcome the Chinese and that it is all the Government’s fault that malware was introduced into their computer systems?
            You wouldn’t need much of a reason to talk to the company would you, if you were an MFAT official? You’d just be covering your butt.

            • Anne

              alwyn @
              You seem to have superior knowledge on this subject so I bow to your thesis as being entirely reasonable. However I have re-read the article and this excerpt might be relevant to MFAT’s most recent activity:

              Earlier this month, the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams and former Minister of Police, Michael Woodhouse, launched a cybercrime plan as part of the government’s “refreshed Cyber Security Strategy” after reports that cyber attacks were on the rise.

              Last year, the cost of online attacks in New Zealand cost more than $250 million, and about 856,000 New Zealanders were impacted by online crime.

              A recent report estimated the annual cost of cybercrime to the global economy at more than $600 billion.

              At the launch of the plan, Woodhouse said cybercrime could range from personal theft and attacks on businesses to extortion and fraud.

              “In a changing world where online security is an issue, we need to be on the front foot against cybercrime,” he said.

              Seems like there might be a bit of over-enthusiasm for Amy and Mike’s bran new Cyber Security Strategy.

              • Anne

                I left out the most important bit to back up my claim of over-enthusiasm:

                The plan included a computer emergency response team to handle computer security threats and provide information to help businesses and individuals to protect themselves online.

    • Naturesong 1.3


      scratched my comment – re-read the article and noticed a failure in reading comprehension; mine.

  2. h 2

    I’ve just been shown the Palestinian flag.
    Am I a bit slow or is it common knowledge its almost the same as Red Peak.

    • Naturesong 2.1

      In that the flag has a ration of 1:2 and contains somewhere in its design a red triangle. Yes.

      It’s almost the same as the Canadian flag; that one has the same ratio and contains a red bit too.

      • H 2.1.1

        Yes but it doesn’t look like the Canadian flag because it doesn’t have a big fuck off maple leaf does it.
        Which looks nothing like a triangle.

        • Naturesong

          It’s a red bit though.

          Which is the same level of approximation you put forward as red peak = Palestinian flag.

          But, you may have the wrong audience.

          As someone who has lived and worked for several years in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Maale Adumim and Jericho. Who met and talked to hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians and Israelis while I was there I can tell you this: there is no shame in having a flag similar to the Palestinians.

          But back to my actual point; trying to create hazy and loose associations between flags because you wish to project your distaste of the Palestinians onto the Red Peak design is as weak as it is destructive (of goodwill, of reconciliation, of peace).
          My comparing the Red Peak to the Canadian flag was simply to point out the paucity of your argument.

  3. maui 4

    The US vs John Lennon doco was on Prime tv the other night. interesting to see snippets from Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali in it, two people banished from mainstream media for telling the uncomfortable truth. The world would be in a much better place if these guys had made it onto our screens every week, sadly not.

    I had no idea that Lennon was so politically active either. The doco is dedinitely worth a watch, the whole thing is on youtube.

    • Whispering Kate 4.1

      I saw it too Maui and he certainly was an activist although he maintained he was a peacenik. Didn’t people have fire in their bellies in the 60’s and 70’s. Rallies were massive and they did make a difference. These days certainly here the crowds can be pretty big but the young people do not get out in the numbers they did then. I suppose conscription would bring out the crowds here – imagine all the rich kids actually having to face the conscription call up. Not all would be able to slide out of it like not all were able to do for Vietnam but you can betcha there would be a lot of A-listers whose sons wouldn’t be called up. It was a great documentary..

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Didn’t people have fire in their bellies in the 60’s and 70’s. Rallies were massive and they did make a difference.

        And then in 1980 there was this deep and pervasive shift. Something happened in that year (I believe Reagan and Thatcher were symptomatic, not causal) to change everything.

        I’ve often pondered this question, and while I have some ideas, I’ve never come up with a satisfying or complete answer.

  4. Draco T Bastard 5

    Overuse of pesticides is devastating China’s crops, study says

    In the early 2000s, the Chinese government decided to invest in chemical production facilities, which served them well on the international market until the global recession. Then, as exports plummeted, these facilities began to flood local markets with their products—including now-cheaper insecticides. Farmers began spraying their fields in earnest.

    But, according to a study published in Ecological Applications, this sudden surge in pesticide usage had an unusual effect: While helping to eliminate much of a one of the top 100 invasive species, a pest known as the whitefly, it appears to actually have driven the growth of a different subtype of the same species.
    This would all be fine and dandy, except for one enormous issue: This now-booming subtype of whitefly is an enormous plant disease carrier—and as of 2012, it had become dominant in all but two of the 28 provinces and territories examined.

    The Market Strikes Again.

    What we see here are the true ecological terrorists – corporations and the drive for profit.

  5. Whispering Kate 6

    Santa delivered a collection of old publications of NZ provinces and ports for my partner. They are extremely interesting and we have been browsing over some of them over the break. Thought this cartoon might interest some of our commentators – it seems Northland has been ignored for at least 100 years or so by successive governments, we don’t seem to progress much in this country and the provinces are bleeding slowly right now and were probably just as bad then. So the recent episode of bribing Northland with bridges hasn’t changed one jot – only the roads were stuffed back then … but of course, they are stuffed now as well.

    [lprent: added the image for WK. ]

    • Expat 6.1

      Kaitaia Hospital was completely rebuilt in 2007 after Nats threatened to close completely during their previous tenure, the Labour Coalition also made major extentions to ALL the local schools, the road to Cape Reinga was finally being sealed, more money was invested in the far north during that era than had been for a very long time, a shame some people don’t remember the historical low in unemployment for the area due to the investment.

  6. AsleepWhileWalking 7

    Okinawa objects to US military base and is suing Japanese government to stop it.

    More than a simple bureaucratic battle, the relocation issue reflects the decade-long demand by Okinawans to eject US military presence from the island entirely. The residents cite a long record of pollution, noise, public disorder and crime, including sexual abuse that comes from US base Futenma, located slap in the middle of residential blocks in the town of Ginowan.

  7. Ecosse_Maidy 8

    Oh, I see the Slime Master General is to be awarded with a Knighthood by Cameron for services to fear & loathing in the UK….I just wonder how long it might be before Mr Keys feels left behind and awards his old mate some pompous baubles, like Order of The My Flagreferendum Star, 2nd Class.?

    Lynton Crosby……. What a low life bastard!

    • Marie 8.1

      Everything is going to be fine. I was in the same position just like you – it will make you strong.

      There is no-one more beautiful than you, I have been ‘everywhere’ and there is no-one more beautiful than you.

      You’re the only one who could ‘break my heart’.

      No-one else has that ability.

    • Wensleydale 8.2

      Can’t say I’m really surprised by this latest development. First Peter Talley, now Lynton Crosby. I’m just waiting for Genghis Khan and Josef Mengele to be awarded posthumous knighthoods. I wonder if Sir Peter Jackson is considering handing his back, given the dubious nature of his “peers”.

      Don’t accept it, Richie McCaw! Just say no!

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