Blogs are a familiar feature on the internet - where users post content in an accumulating manner, with comments, and search options, etc. They facilitate expression and exploration, and via attached comments, also debate and synthesis.
Reading and Navigating Blogs
Our blogs are quite powerful. Each writer can post, as is typically the case. Sustainers who have the option can also post, however. All Blogs appear in the blog system, and sometimes also in content boxes the top page of ZNet - and always via the left menu of the top page - and can be found via searches, etc.
Commenting on blogs follows the blogs, attached at the bottom, and blog comments, like all others, are also visible in many places that show comments including in the forum system. In addition, the entire blog system gathers content for everyone - but one can look at the accumulating content in many ways.
For example one can look at one writer's efforts - so one is seeing what is effectively a blog system for that one writer, or Sustainer.
One can also look at the content by topic, seeing blogs that are tagged as being about a certain topic - or place, as well. Thus, when doing that, it is a blog system about a topic, or a place, with many contributors.
One can look at only writer blogs, or only sustainer blogs, as well.
One can look at blogs for particular Groups, too.
All this is easily done using the left menu. Searches allow even more variables and refinements.
Creating Blog Posts
If you are a Sustainer with permission, and are logged in, you will see a link in the left menu for you to post a blog - and you can use that to post one, and then tag it various ways (such as with a topic or place, or a group tag), and once you do, it is in the system with you as the author.
You can also use the console button to the left to post a blog - anytime and from anywhere in the site, as long as you are logged in.
Meanwhile, enjoy the blogs - and, by the way, if you are a Free Member or a Sustainer with a ZSpace page, of course you can put one or more content boxes on it, pulling blog links of any sort you may want to filter for, for example, by you or by your friends or by others - and by topic, about places, for groups, etc.
In many respects, the elections were successful. The main success, however, is being mentioned only marginally, by a few reporters: the US was compelled to allow them to take place.
That is a real triumph of non-violent resistance, for which Sistani has been the symbol. The US sought in every possible way to avoid elections, but has been compelled to back down, step-by-step. First, it tried to ram through a US-written constitution. That was barred by a Sistani fatwa. Then it tried to impose one or another device (caucuses, etc.) that could be controlled completely. Also blocked by non-violent resistance. It continued until finally the US (and UK, trailing obediently behind) had no recourse but to allow an election -- and of course, the doctrinal system went into high gear to present it as a US initiative, once it could no longer be avoided. The US also sought to undermine it as much as possible, e.g., by driving independent media out of the country (notably al-Jazeera, the most important), by ensuring that its own candidates, particularly Allawi, would be the only ones to have access to state resources to reach the public (most candidates had to remain unidentified), etc. But the US-UK couldn't block the elections, greatly to the distress of Washington and London. The question now is whether they can be compelled to accept the outcome. There's little doubt, even from the more serious mainstream press as well as from polls and from properly hawkish experts (like Anthony Cordesman) that people voted with the hope that it would end the occupation. Blair announced at once, loud and clear, that the prospect is not even being contemplated, clearly articulating his usual contempt for democracy.
Washington also announced that the US military forces would stay at least into 2007, whatever Iraqis want. The more serious press, like the Wall St Journal, is reporting that the US is attempting to secure some kind of agreement on a "vague promise" to withdraw eventually.
Other issues will be whether the US can pressure the elected officials to keep to the occupation-imposed legal structure to open up the economy to US takeover. The oil minister of the interim (effectively,
US-appointed) government has already announced his intention to open up the oil industry to foreign (meaning primarily US) takeover. And so on.
There are sure to be continuing struggles over these matters, and what happens here can have a significant outcome. There will be a major effort to project the required imagery about how the "free" and "sovereign" government wants the US to keep a long-term military presence, to take over a commanding role in the economy, etc. But that's normal, as in Indochina, Central America, etc. It's routine, not just in the US, of course.
I don't think comparisons to 1984 in ES [El Salvador] or 1990 in NIcaragua are very useful. In those cases, the US was eager to have an election in the hope that it would ratify Washington's resort to violence to undermine any prospect of democracy. This case is different. Whether it will be good for the people of Iraq is, in large measure, up to us.