WORLDNOTES: Mali, Germany, Iraq, Paraguay, South Korea, Greece, Cuba

Mali: Forum of the Peoples convenes A gathering in Bandiagara last month offered solutions for crises facing the world’s poor. Proposals there contrasted with disaster-causing prescriptions emanating from the recently-concluded G8 conclave of wealthy nations. Over 1,000 mostly African delegates representing social movements endorsed a final declaration appearing on rebelion.org. The Forum demanded that northern and southern governments “break with the capitalist system and guarantee fundamental human rights.” Its list of demands included food sovereignty, free movement of peoples, women’s emancipation, debt nullification, workers’ rights, respect for nature, struggle against climate change, self-determination and peace among peoples, and recognition of wealth held in common ― particularly water. References to an energy crisis were lacking. The declaration featured a list of upcoming international mobilizations.

Germany: Nuclear power not needed No power shortages resulted from failure last month by seven of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants to generate electricity. Three reactors closed down due to transformer problems. Four others have been undergoing repairs for months, according to Inter Press Service. With 46 percent coal generation, Germany exports electricity. Germany leads European nations in the use of solar power and wind as sources of energy. Government investment in renewable energy has led to15 percent of the country’s electricity being derived from renewable sources, with 30 percent targeted for 2020. Nuclear plants now produce 22 percent of the nation’s electricity. A lack of negative impact from plant closures revived a waning Social Democrat-Green Party campaign to phase out nuclear power.

Iraq: Violence keeps U.S. troops in the streets Worsening violence that killed 94 people last month, mostly in Mosul, has converted Ninevah into Iraq’s most dangerous province. Conditions deteriorated after January when local elections put Arab Sunnis in charge of the provincial council, replacing Iraqi Kurds. Kurdish militias, enforcers for the previous government, account for the turmoil, according to Azzaman News. Outlying towns under Kurdish leadership have severed ties with provincial authorities. The BBC says U.S. troops are still conducting joint patrols with Iraqi counterparts in Mosul, despite the requirement under January’s Status of Forces Agreement for U.S. soldiers to have left cities and towns by June 30. Prime Minister al-Maliki recently told reporters in Washington he’d welcome their remaining beyond the agreement’s 2011 deadline.

Paraguay: Agree on hydroelectric project An agreement signed July 25 by Presidents Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Lula da Silva of Brazil rights a long-festering injustice over benefits realized from electricity produced at the Itaipú dam crossing the Parana River, the world’s largest hydroelectric facility. Ownership is shared equally, but Paraguay, using 5 percent of the electricity produced, must sell the unused portion to Brazil at below market prices. Under the new pact, Brazil would pay Paraguay $360 million annually, up from $120 million. Brazil will build transmission lines in Paraguay worth $660 million. For Lugo, the agreement represented fulfillment of a 2008 campaign pledge to achieve “energy sovereignty,” according to Argenpress. Bloomberg news reported Brazil’s Congress may nix the deal.

South Korea: – Autoworkers resist brutal repression Thousands of police surrounded the Ssangyong Motor factory in Pyeongtaek full time last week. Helicopters were overhead, and solidarity activists maintained a tent city to support 800 strikers occupying the paint shop for 75 days. Police using tear gas had repeatedly attempted to force them out. Access to food, water, and doctors had been cut for two weeks. International labor groups cited an “unacceptable level of unrestrained brutality.” Two days of resumed negotiations had yet to resolve the triggering incident, dismissal of 947 workers. Union leaders remained in jail and striking workers still faced criminal charges and damage assessments. Hankyoreh news reported that the company remained under court order “to submit a self-rescue plan to avoid liquidation.”

Greece: Labor federations renew ties In an historic development, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) last month hosted a three-day meeting at its headquarters in Athens with a delegation from the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). No exchange had taken place between the two labor organizations since 1965 when the ACFTU separated from the WFTU. Discussions led to agreements on strengthening the International Labor Organization, international labor activism on behalf of peace and self-determination of all peoples, support for the World Trade Union Forum of Beijing, and continued dialogue between the two federations. The WFTU web site noted extensive local media coverage of the ACFTU group’s visit with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

Cuba: Communist Party Congress is postponed The Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party last week announced postponement of what would have been its sixth Party Congress, the first since 1997. Prensa Latina indicated that a “deep process of analysis of the present situation” must come first. The reference was to mounting economic problems signified by successive downward revisions of economic growth forecasts for the year, from 6 percent, to 2.5 percent, and recently to 1.7 percent. An assessment is underway as to strategies, available resources, and further adjustments, President Raul Castro said. For a Congress to be successful in “identifying solutions and looking to the future,” he explained, the Party must be prepared beforehand and analysis shared with the people.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit@roadrunner.com)