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Chatter: Hugo Chavez is Venezuela's president, still

Venezuela's president gets six more years in office, the US labels Chinese firms a security risk, and Nobel Prize season is officially here.
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Need to know:
In Venezuela, Goliath beat David. Hugo Chavez defeated the opposition to win a fourth term as president.

Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, won 54 percent of the vote. His opponent, Henrique Capriles, got 45 percent. It was the closest victory of Chavez's presidency, decided by one of the largest turnouts in years.

Capriles tried to take comfort from the fact that he came closer than anyone else to toppling the strongman. "We have planted many seeds," he said, "and I know that these seeds are going to produce many trees."

Chavez, meanwhile, told crowds of supporters that his next term would be a new era of more effective and responsive government. "I promise you I'll be a better president," he said. Practice makes perfect: by the end of his next six years in power, Chavez will have been Venezuela's president for two decades.

Want to know:
A US congressional panel has labelled two Chinese telecom companies a threat to national security.

Huawei Technologies and ZTE, both of which are seeking to expand in the US market, "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence," according to a report due to be released today by the House intelligence committee. In other words, the panel fears that the firms would let the Chinese government use their equipment to spy on Americans.

Both companies have always denied any such thing, but the committee is advising Washington to avoid buying from them and to bar them from any mergers and acquisitions in the US. It's the latest in a series of blows to Chinese business interests in the US, and, like the others, it probably won't go down too well with Beijing.

Dull but important:
Libya's lawmakers meet today to discuss how to proceed without a prime minister.

The one they had, Mustafa Abushagur, was fired yesterday after failing to get parliament to agree to his plans for a new cabinet. His first proposal, on Thursday, was rejected by lawmakers and met with public protests; a revised line-up was no more popular and prompted an overwhelming vote of no confidence in him.

Abushagur's dismissal means that the Libyan government may be without permanent, democratically-elected leadership for some time. The legislature has three to four weeks to elect a new leader, who will have to begin the process of forming a cabinet anew.

Just because:
Like autumn leaves, Nobel Prizes have begun their annual drop. This week sees five of the awards announced, starting today with medicine/physiology, followed on successive days by physics, chemistry and literature, and culminating Friday with the Peace Prize.

The first has gone to two biologists, John Gurdon of Britain and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan, for their research into stem cells. Their work has shown it is possible to transform mature, specialized cells from one part of the body into "pluripotent" stem cells that can develop into any other type of cell.

The Nobel committee said their work had "revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop."

Strange but true:
Anyone who celebrated a wedding this weekend, we can only hope it was, er, less memorable than this one in Philadelphia that left one man dead of a heart attack and three others cited for crimes.

A post-reception argument at a hotel bar turned into a mass brawl between guests, police and even the couple themselves. Highlight of the nightmarish video: someone asking, "Did they just deck the bride?"

Romance might not be dead, but it's probably concussed.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-hugo-chavez-venezuelas-president-still