Bloody Sunday

Back in ’04 we went to Derry. (That’s my photo above.) Met with far-uncle Hugh, who lives there still and sent a lovely gift for our wedding. Hugh’s father (my great-grandmother’s brother) was in the Easter Rising; I’d known this, but talking with Hugh, and wandering around Derry, gave it some more context; getting a better sense of the hard road Ireland has been down this last century.

We visited the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre, and stopped in at an information centre, a spartan and simple hall with lots of material crammed inside. They obviously didn’t have much money. What they wanted was justice; what that would imply varied depending on whoever you spoke to, but what everyone agreed on was an acknowledgement by Westminster of the wrongs that were committed, and an apology for them. The Saville Inquiry was long underway (and indeed we wandered through the Guildhall where it was held) but there was little confidence that it would deliver what was hoped. They carried on nonetheless, hoping for a peaceful future for Derry. (I can’t recall for sure, but my memory tells me that the centre had volunteers from both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide, people who want to move beyond the divisions of Republican and Unionist.)

Yesterday the Saville Inquiry’s report was released, and Westminster – in the person of British PM David Cameron acknowledged the wrongs that were committed, and issued an apology. It was an unequivocal acceptance of horrific wrongdoing and unwarranted state violence against innocent people.

My friend natural20 is my lightning rod for Irish politics – he always has something useful to say about what’s happening there. Over on his journal, he and his commenters express amazement and approval. Says one: “Never thought I’d see the day.”

It’s a great day. Ireland’s Troubles were brutal and real and founded in layers of historical injustice, exacerbated by contemporary violence and confounded by self-interested politics. Ireland has slowly been unwinding the barbed wire of history from around itself, moving cautiously towards peace. This is a major symbolic advance. This is a milestone in a wider and longer process, and while we haven’t heard the last of Bloody Sunday, the conversation around it will now have changed irrevocably, and for the better.

It’s a great day because of what it demonstrates. The Troubles in Ireland echo the problems in many other parts of the world. What we’re seeing, grindingly slowly but genuinely, is proof that these problems can be resolved. Perhaps the grinding slowness is inevitable; perhaps every day of atrocity requires a decade’s hard work to unpick; but the fact remains that Saville’s report, Cameron’s words, and the new mood in Ireland show change can happen.

It’s the best news I’ve heard all year.

(The Bloody Sunday information centre has, if I’ve followed the information trail correctly, developed into the Museum of Free Derry.)

ICONS for oil spill relief

More news related to ICONS, the new RPG for which I have a minor co-author credit: all sales from the forthcoming EPUB and MOBI-format editions are going to relief efforts around the Gulf oil spill. So if you like those formats, consider making that purchase (when it becomes available).

Adamant Entertainment and Steve Kenson will be devoting 100% of the proceeds of the 2010 sales of a special EPUB and MOBI-format release of ICONS: Superpowered Roleplaying to relief efforts surrounding the Gulf oil spill.

On April 20th, 2010, an explosion on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven crew members, sparking the greatest environmental disaster in United States history. Current estimates put the amount of oil being discharged from the broken well at above 1,050,000 US gallons per day, with no end in sight, devastating wildlife and fishing communities along the Gulf coast, potentially moving into the Florida Keys and up the Eastern seaboard of the United States by later this summer.

“My grandfather was a clammer, and worked on the water nearly his entire life,” says Gareth-Michael Skarka, Director of Adamant Entertainment, “and my brother has worked as a fishing captain — I wanted to do something for those whose livelihood depends on the sea, as well as contributing to ongoing conservancy and clean-up efforts. It seemed to me that a game encouraging players to become a hero represented the perfect outlet for this.”

“New Orleans is a place very dear to me,” adds Steve Kenson, designer of ICONS, “and I’ve wanted to be able to do something for this tragedy.”

ICONS is the newest superheroic roleplaying game designed by Steve Kenson, published by Adamant Entertainment– now available in PDF and shipping to game stores world-wide in the next two weeks. The game is currently also being readied for release in the EPUB format for sale on Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Sony via and for the Kindle-ready MOBI format for release via Amazon., and should be available this month across those sales sites, and for download via DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

From June through December 2010, all proceeds from the sales of the EPUB and MOBI versions of the game will be donated to the Gulf oil spill funds of Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, and The Greater New Orleans Fund, who are providing critical services to Gulf fishermen and communities directly impacted by the disaster.

Oceana, an international ocean conservation group, works to restore and protect the world’s oceans. For more information, please visit

For more information on the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Oil Spill Fund, please visit their website.

The “Be A Hero” editions of ICONS will be released in June. Watch for further announcements of their availability on Adamant Entertainment’s website, or via Twitter at AdamantEnt.

Gaza Flotilla

Lots of politics, lots of misinformation, lots of chaff over the flotilla/blockade/raid/deaths.

I’ve seen footage of Israeli soldiers rapelling to the deck of a ship and being met by a bunch of people beating them with poles. The flotilla’s twitter feed says there’s video of soldiers landing and opening fire but I haven’t seen that anywhere. These might have been on different boats, it’s hard to know. The exact course of events during this raid will be picked over at length, as will the legal basis for Israel’s action and for resistance to that action by people on the boats.

Unchanged is the bigger picture. The blockade of Gaza is a massive collective punishment. Basic supplies in the territory are insufficient. Previous aid shipments have been turned away. Israeli ambassador on Radio NZ this morning said that the flotilla was a political provocation; of course it was. The flotilla wanted to either make it through the blockade, or to be stopped by it and arrested and deported; either way they get political wins. Israel’s decision to drop armed commandoes on to the flotilla at 4.30am was a bizarre answer to what was essentially a political problem. Surely there are other ways to stop ships arriving in a blaze of publicity to test your blockade, ways that don’t risk the deaths of unarmed civilians, or indeed risk the deaths of Israeli personnel.

There is already massive international condemnation for Israel’s actions in this raid. Rightly so. But I can’t help but wonder how there is any way back to peace. Israel is increasingly isolated politically, even the US is standing at a distance from it now, but its status as a regional power is undisputed. If there’s any way to wind back the pressure in the Middle East, I just can’t see it. And the only other way to go is towards confrontation.

It’s an unhappy day.

Conserve Versus Converse

Heard Kelvyn Eglinton of Newmont Waihi Gold on National Radio this morning making the case for drilling into conservation land. His line (people who’ve had media training always repeat their line word for word several times unless they’re very skilled) was that there’s plenty of low-value conservation land in the protected Schedule 4 territories, so lets see if we find some high-value minerals there and then we’ll have a conversation about what to do.

There have been well over 30,000 submissions on the government’s mining proposals. That is a phenomenal number – one for every hundred voters in the country. It’s impossible to know how many are against the mining of schedule four land, but I think 95% would be a fair guess.

I think that means, Kelvyn, that we’ve already had the conversation. What’s more, the government know it – they are carefully preparing a backdown, with the man responsible Gerry Brownlee seizing on a minor issue to pointedly distance himself from Newmont. It’s clearly the enormous vote-loser everyone sensible expected it to be. We’re no closer to understanding why the Nats didn’t see this steamroller of negative public opinion a mile off, they certainly haven’t revealed any late-stage maneuvers to show they were controlling the story the whole time. It isn’t because they’re poor at media management – witness their expert delivery of the budget, as smooth a piece of media control as has ever been seen in this country. They just didn’t see it as a problem until it was far too late. I can only presume they really are that out of touch with the national identity and with what New Zealanders truly value.

Its pleasing to see a grass-roots opposition movement really take off. Kelvyn Eglinton’s conversation is over before it starts. And that makes me happy.

(More info: )

Transmissions from a broken system

The DomPost yesterday:

Front page, the entirety of the above-the-fold:

Serepisos sells spare Ferrari. Guy owes the council money while on telly as the Donald on The Apprentice NZ. Is he selling the Ferrari for money to pay the council? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!

Bottom of page 2, entire story smaller than the photo of Terry’s spare Ferrari: Thousands march against mining about “one of the biggest protests in Auckland for decades”. A genuine grass-roots popular protest that appears to cross party lines and is the first sign of unrest at a decision by the current government.

It is to weep.

ACTA: protecting your internet

ACTA isn’t well-known to those who aren’t web people, true internet natives. And it should be. From ACTA, a description:

While in name it is about protecting consumers from counterfeit merchandise, the agreement is much wider in scope and addresses the regulation of Internet use by private citizens in an attempt to prevent unauthorised sharing of copyrighted works.

ACTA is being negotiated between a large group of countries in a series of secret meetings. This is a big deal. As internet use becomes more and more central to civic participation, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need to fight against attempts to attach commerce-driven barriers and traps. (It’s the secret meetings that really set me off – the lack of transparency is appalling.)

The next (secret) meeting between the countries is here in Wellington, and on Saturday a group of local web-people produced and issued the Wellington Declaration, which calls for:

  • acknowledging fair use in copyright
  • no protection for technology that limits users interaction with their own files
  • preservation of normal consumer protections and due process
  • maintaining right to privacy
  • avoiding punishment of ISPs, hosts and search engines
  • preserving access to the internet for all
  • in a copyright violation, ensuring that Courts (or equivalent) determine damages, proportionate to intent and harm
  • setting a high bar for criminal liability

This is all very important stuff. I urge you to sign the petition. It will be given to the NZ govt and they will circulate it to all countries in the negotiations. This is not an NZ issue, this is a global issue, and I hope you’ll all take a minute to add your name.

More info: the PublicACTA site

Mining Protest Was Mining Protest

There were a lot of people there. The house monkey spotted me and my Cal in this crowd photo from Scoop’s coverage (and I found him in this one). Ran into china_shop, who pointed out how weird it was that the speakers kept citing The Economist (thanks to this article that rips into this nation’s environmental credentials).

The fellow moose was elsewhere in the crowd, and mentions it at the end of this post. Also there was Stephen Judd, who adds a mighty GRAR, too. Both the dancing moose and Mr Judd lead with another story I hadn’t even heard of until their posts: sacking the democratically elected Environment Canterbury council to make way for some National cronies. See also Brother Knife. The Nats have opened the ‘gates and it’s all rushing through now. Expect morer, and worser.

A few dates short in the scone department

The above title is from Claire Browning’s great response to Gerry Brownlee on the subject of mining. It’s a clean and precise rebuttal. Read it. (I found it via the Dim-Post.)

I was talking to Dale yesterday about this and we shared our confusion at this whole situation. As Dale said, how can they not see this as a big vote-loser? Where are the gains to balance that out? Claire expresses similar feelings down in the comments, with the post title above being one of her explanations for the behaviour on display. I am no wiser. I’ve heard some conspiracy theories that it’s about controlling the media while other changes get pushed through, or about putting this or that MP over, and the govt will pull back and say “sorry folks we listen love us!” but I don’t have any faith in the present govt’s ability to run that kind of disciplined strategy, and Brownlee has totally nailed his credibility to this endeavour so I don’t think an elegant backdown is possible any more.

Insanity. So I’m intending to get to the protest today at Parliament, 12.30 to 1.30.

Waihopai Ploughshares

I’d also like to add my voice to all those expressing bewildered delight that the Waihopai Three were acquitted. They were three nonviolent peace activists who broke into a secure base and deflated the canopy over one of the Echelon system‘s monitoring dishes.

I have no idea how the jury found them not guilty; the defence were running a pretty unlikely line. I can only conclude that the jury respected their actions and fudged the decision to avoid punishing them.

There might yet be an appeal. I feel the Crown might decide not to, though, as they probably know they’d be on a hiding to nothing pursuing the case – better to let it sink into history. One can only imagine what will be going on in the diplomatic backchannels about this, though.

Anyway. Crazy outcome.