In response to devastating floods in Venezuela that have killed 38 and affected 130,000, the Venezuelan national assembly granted President Hugo Chavez the right to rule by decree for the next 18 months. It is the fourth time Chavez has been given the right to rule by decree, but Friday’s vote comes just weeks before there are new members of the national assembly, in which 40 percent of seats will be held by opposition parties. Opposition parties had been at a distinct disadvantage after boycotting the 2005 election. Chavez has said he has at least 20 laws he intends to implement immediately, among them a law authorizing censorship in radio, television, and online media.
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