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Entertainment, New Zealand - Mar 12, 2014 16:25 - 0 Comments

‘Beam me up Scotty!’ – Star Trek’s Captain Kirk arrested in land of hobbits

Actor Chris Pine, who plays Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the Star Trek movie reboots, will need more than the help of Bones and Spock to get him out of his latest mess.

New Zealand’s Ashburton Guardian newspaper is tonight reporting Pine is cooling his heels in the foothills of the Southern Alps, where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, after being picked up by local police for driving under the influence last weekend.

It’s understood Pine had just wrapped filming Z for Zachariah when he got caught.

Other celebs in the area included his girlfriend Iris Bjork Johannesdottir and Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie, although they were not directly involved in the incident according to reports.

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New Zealand, World - Aug 30, 2014 14:26 - 2 Comments

Judith Collins forced to resign – the fallout

Justice Minister Judith Collins has been forced to walk the plank by Prime Minister John Key in  what appears to have been the deliberate scuttling of her ship, rather than the result of enemy attack.

2014-08-30 13.33.16

An ‘anonymous’ source whose identity the Prime Minister admits is known to his office sent the PM’s chief of staff a copy of an email originally written by blogger Cameron Slater in 2011. The leaked email did not appear in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book, yet if Hager had seen it there is no doubt he would have used it, as the allegation was far more serious than the email he did use about Collins leaking the name of a civil servant to Slater.

NZ First leader Winston Peters told TV3′s Patrick Gower this afternoon that the email appears to have been leaked from within National circles in a bid to force Key to remove Collins – although Peters claims the motivation was to divert attention from his own allegation that a Collins’ supporter was making quiet approaches about a possible leadership bid.

Either way, it seems likely that Collins has taken a direct hit from within, rather than without. It’s not the first time a story of infighting within National has emerged.

Turning to the email that broke the PM’s back, Slater claims to have had a lengthy phone conversation that day with Collins and reported to his other contacts that the Minister was “gunning” for Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley, who’d been caught up in a scandal over a champagne bottle.

As Collins had stated on other occasions, Feeley was “operationally independent”, so any inference of the Minister taking part in a campaign to “undermine” the head of the SFO was a constitutional no-no.

READ THE EMAIL HERE Email

Read John Key’s statement:

Judith Collins resigns as a Minister

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.
Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs.

READ JUDITH COLLINS’ STATEMENT:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour. I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

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New Zealand - Sep 17, 2014 17:54 - 0 Comments

NSA spies on Kiwis – journalist

Investigative journalist and author Ian Wishart says Prime Minister John Key can’t ‘rule out’ that America’s NSA is conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders, because they are and if the Prime Minister asked the right question of the GCSB his ‘plausible deniability’ defence would crumble.

“In 1993, when I was still working for TV3 News and investigating the Cook Islands winebox scandal, I stumbled across New Zealand’s involvement in what was known as the UKUSA Treaty. I was the first New Zealand journalist to write about it.

“John Key cannot admit to the existence of a mass surveillance programme, it’s more than his job’s worth and would compromise New Zealand security. At the moment the world knows what Edward Snowden has disclosed, but political comment from the governments involved has been noticeably sparse.”

Details of what happened when Wishart discovered the terms of the UK/USA agreement are in his book 1995 book The Paradise Conspiracy where he reveals how he set the alarm bells off:

“The UK/USA Treaty is classified on the ‘If I told you, I’d have to kill you!’ level. Its existence is neither confirmed nor denied, but essentially it relates to interception of radio and phone communications. Virtually all international calls, cellular calls and radio transmissions can be and are intercepted – those containing certain keywords are captured by computer for further analysis.” [Paradise Conspiracy pages 61-62]

Remember, this was a year before Nicky Hager’s first book ‘Secret Power’, which revealed the same thing.

“It is interesting to note some of the behind the scenes machinations that accompanied my Official Information Act requests on these matters,” Wishart writes in The Paradise Conspiracy.

“A week before my first request to Defence I had fired in an OIA application about the UK/USA Treaty, a top secret military intelligence treaty that New Zealand was a signatory to. That request had resulted in a call to TV3 News director Rod Pedersen’s office from defence officials representing the Minister of Defence, Warren Cooper.

“Pedersen’s executive assistant, Carol van Stockum, told me they’d asked for an urgent meeting with him in Cooper’s Beehive office, and they were prepared to fly Pedersen down to Wellington at their expense. Rod and Carol stalled for time – eventually the follow-up calls dwindled and stopped”.

Wishart writes that he received a tip off from a businessman with foreign intelligence connections warning him, “Your Official Information request is creating waves. This is a dangerous business, so I want you to be extremely careful and vigilant around your house and car. You’ll get a letter on Monday denying the existence of the information you are seeking. I wish we’d had a chance to discuss this before you put the request in, but what’s done is done,” the businessman told Wishart.

Sure enough, the denial letter turned up on the Monday, as promised.

Ian Wishart, who has since revealed far more about the mass surveillance systems in his new book Totalitaria, says John Key is caught between a rock and a hard place.

“The media can keep on asking the questions, but they won’t get the answers. I went there 21 years ago, and they’re even more sensitive about it now for obvious reasons. The way the UKUSA deal works is that the governments agree to spy on each others’ citizens, not their own. In this way, they can get around domestic laws in each country that forbid spy agencies from conducting mass surveillance on their own citizens.

“Thus, the NSA spies on NZ and Australian communications, the kiwis spy on the Americans and so on.”

Wishart says the term “mass surveillance” is better defined as “screening”, where the software screens a multitude of conversations looking for keywords or messages to or from other persons of interest.

“It is indiscriminate surveillance, in that it could pick up your grandma if she happened to use the wrong word in an email, but it is currently targeted at terror cells. The issue I raise in Totalitaria is that most people wouldn’t have a problem with that kind of security now, but what happens if that infrastructure is turned against domestic political dissidents in future?”

Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald both raised the issue with a new series of revelations at Kim Dotcom’s so-called “Moment of Truth” meeting this week in Auckland.

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