CARACAS, Venezuela

Measure’s defeat means Chavez can’t serve indefinitely

President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat early today in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.

Voters defeated the sweeping measures yesterday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent.

She said that with 88 percent of the votes counted, the trend was irreversible.

Opposition supporters shouted with joy as Lucena announced the results on national television early Monday, their first victory against Chavez after nine years of electoral defeats.

MOSCOW

Putin’s party coasts to election victory

Vladimir Putin’s party won a crushing victory in parliamentary elections yesterday, paving the way for the authoritarian leader to remain in control even after he steps down as president.

The vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country into a more assertive position on the global stage.

“The vote affirmed the main idea: that Vladimir Putin is the national leader, that the people support his course, and this course will continue,” party leader and parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said after exit polls were announced.

Several opposition leaders accused the Kremlin of rigging the vote, and the Bush administration called for a probe into voting irregularities.

DETROIT

Winter storm kills 11 across region

Rain fell over much of the Midwest yesterday, one day after a pre-winter Midwestern snow and ice storm swept through the region, slickening roads and causing crashes that killed at least 11 people from Colorado to Indiana.

Four deaths in Michigan were blamed on weather conditions.

In suburban Detroit, a 54-year-old man driving with his 57-year-old wife spun out of control and crashed about 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

“The truck left the roadway, struck a guardrail and rolled on its side in the median,” Sterling Heights police Lt. Alan A. Byrd said Sunday in a news release. “Both husband and wife had to be extricated from the vehicle. … Both were dead at the scene.”

BALI, Indonesia

U.N. kicks off global warming conference

Delegates and scientists from around the world opened the biggest-ever climate change conference today, urging rapid progress in building a new international pact by 2009 to combat global warming – or risk economic and environmental disaster.

Some 10,000 conferees, activists and journalists from nearly 190 countries gathered on the resort island of Bali for two weeks of U.N.-led talks that follow a series of scientific reports this year concluding that the world has the technology to slow global warming, but must act immediately.

The Bali meeting will be the first major climate change conference since former Vice President Al Gore – due to arrive next week – and a U.N. scientific council won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their environmental work, fueling the growing sense of urgency as ice-caps melt, oceans rise and extreme weather increases.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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