Morning Brief, Monday, December 3

Venezuelan Referendum RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images Venezuelan voters narrowly rejected Hugo Chávez’s bid to become president for life, handing the Venezuelan leader his first major electoral defeat. (Now may be a good time to revisit the idea that Chávez “has virtually eliminated the contradiction between autocracy and political competitiveness.”) Asia A judge deemed former PM Nawaz ...

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Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez react after hearing the result of a referendum, in Caracas 03 December 2007. Venezuela's voters handed President Hugo Chavez his first ever ballot-box defeat on the weekend, rejecting constitutional changes in a referendum that would have greatly expanded his powers and turned their oil-rich country into a socialist state. "I don't feel sad, no, I don't feel sad," a chastened-looking Chavez told a media conference early 03 December, stressing that he had lost by only a "minimal" margin and that he was encouraged by the support he did get. AFP PHOTO Rodrigo ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuelan Referendum

RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan voters narrowly rejected Hugo Chávez's bid to become president for life, handing the Venezuelan leader his first major electoral defeat. (Now may be a good time to revisit the idea that Chávez "has virtually eliminated the contradiction between autocracy and political competitiveness.")

Venezuelan Referendum

RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan voters narrowly rejected Hugo Chávez’s bid to become president for life, handing the Venezuelan leader his first major electoral defeat. (Now may be a good time to revisit the idea that Chávez “has virtually eliminated the contradiction between autocracy and political competitiveness.”)

Asia

A judge deemed former PM Nawaz Sharif ineligible to run for the Pakistani presidency.

Eighty percent of “major cyber attacks on government targets” this year were perpetrated by hackers in China, according to a new report by Internet security firm McAfee.

A popular democracy advocate has won a seat in Hong Kong’s legislature. 

Europe

As expected, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party dominated Sunday’s Russian parliamentary elections, but European monitors said it was “not a fair election.” 

Belgium’s political stalemate deepens.

A giant white truffle sold for $330,000 at an auction. 

Middle East

China signaled its support for fresh U.N. sanctions on Iran after Iran’s new nuclear negotiator told EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana bluntly, “None of your proposals has any standing.”

Israel released 429 Palestinian prisoners in an effort to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But Israeli President Ehud Olmert’s announcement that 2008 is not a hard and fast deadline for concluding a peace agreement probably undercuts that move.

Lebanon’s factions have appeared to have settled on the head of the army as a compromise candidate for president

A British judiciary body has declared that the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, which seeks the overthrow of the regime in Tehran, is not a terrorist organization.

Elsewhere 

The first thing Australia’s new PM Kevin Rudd did upon assuming office? Ratify the Kyoto Protocol

President Omar Bashir of Sudan pardoned a British teacher who was jailed for naming a teddy bear “Mohammed” at the behest of her students. 

Cuban President Fidel Castro may be looking to return to power, if his nomination for the National Assembly is any indication.

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