Anniversaries Today, October 12, 2005, is the third anniversary of the first Bali bombings. It is the date when some of our ‘War on Terror’ chickens came home to roost – the moment in 2002 when we realised the price tag attached to our government’s decision to join the invasion of Afghanistan. Soon afterwards, the stakes got even higher when we agreed to invade Iraq without authority from the UN Security Council, and without, as it turned out, real evidence of either Weapons of Mass Destruction or substantial connection between Saddam and Osama.

Thanks to Vince O’Farrell of The Illawarra Mercury, Australia.

George, Tony and John, the three wise men of the Coalition of the Willing (CoW), have dragged us along on their bloody journey to Baghdad and beyond. And so here we are, starting to count the cost. The reckoning will need to include not only the lives already lost in Iraq, but also those soon to be snuffed out in what many commentators expect to be a brutal civil war in that country as soon as George, Tony and John make good their getaway. (Of course, they won’t skip town before the ‘Job’s finished’ and there’s a viable, representative and competent government in place that won’t collapse overnight, or split into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions, or align with Iran, or be taken over by military warlords or a council of religious fanatics. No that could never happen.) This reckoning will also, of course, have many, many billions of dollar signs attached – we’re good at accounting on this side of the Rio Grande, and the dollars we count up will relate to the price of oil, rather than the value of an Iraqi’s life. But what about the fear all of us now face whenever we travel, whenever we go on holidays (especially overseas, but increasingly at home)? How do we measure that? And then there’s the imminent unveiling of Howard’s draconian ‘anti-terrorist laws’. How do we calculate the cost of this legislation as it undermines our faith in principles like the accountability of police, freedom from detention without charge, freedom of speech, freedom to associate, and the accumulated checks and balances on the power of the executive? How do we measure the cost of our loss of trust in our elected and appointed representatives and guardians? And in our very system of government? Is there a ready reckoner that plugs in a value for the rise of cynicism and our resignation to our fates? Human Rights Act Launch The only possible response is to keep on fighting, to keep on persuading, arguing and appealing to our better angels. As John Menadue said at the launch of New Matilda’s Human Rights Act for Australia campaign, last week:

Terrorism must be resisted. Perpetrators must be brought to justice. But this must not be at the expense of undermining the values that are so important to our Australian way of life. What are at stake are Australian values of freedom and fairness for all … In the face of terrorism, we must not become the evil we deplore.

We must be confident in our values – in their inclusiveness and flexibility, as much as in their fairness and correctness. And we must act with a conviction that change is both possible and necessary.


New Matilda Re-Design Update Responses to last week’s re-design of the New Matilda site have been positive when it comes to the new look and to the improved navigational set up. But we received considerable flak about the new forum structure. We re continuing to try to improve this part of New Matilda. Emails will go out to inform subscribers as we make changes. Please persevere with the new system and send us your feedback, either on the forums themselves or to enquiries@newmatilda.com Renewals With the successful launch, last week, of our Human Rights Act campaign and the re-design of the New Matilda site, we have now begun sending out subscription renewals. These were due in August but were held over for the past two months. The new annual subscription rate is $88 ($44 for concession-holders). We urge you to take advantage of our $77 per year ‘early bird’ rate and keep on singing New Matilda’s different tune. Farewells This issue we say farewell to James Gallaway, who has been working at New Matilda since issue 11. James’s contribution to New Matilda has been enormous – from writing and researching stories, to commissioning, editing, sub-editing, doing picture research and helping to set up the myriad systems required to put every issue together. Most of all, James has been a committed workmate and a loyal friend to New Matilda and all we stand for. We are also saying goodbye to Dan Fitzgerald – writer, picture-researcher, and titler-extraordinaire. Dan has been an intern at the New Matilda office since issue last year and we have appreciated his know-how and journalistic skills, his common sense and his wry sense of humour. Farewell James and Dan. Hello We have a new intern, as of last week. Jessica Tham is studying for a Masters of Media Practice at Sydney University. She has worked for EWN Publishing in the past and hopes to be a publisher in the future. We welcome Jessica to New Matilda. Apology Finally, we unintentionally sent out an email earlier today to all subscribers. This was intended for the Human Rights Campaign members. It also included an incorrect template. As you can see, we too are getting used to the new site. Our apologies and thanks for your patience.

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