The World

10 ESSENTIAL STORIES

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1 | Louisiana

BP's Latest Gulf Gambit

Containing what could become the worst oil spill in U.S. history is no easy matter. On May 26, energy giant BP launched yet another creatively monikered attempt to seal the burst well that has spewed more than 7 million gal. (26 million L) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20.

BP's lexicon of deepening desperation

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]

2 | Washington

Military Ban On Gays Closer to Repeal

On May 24, in what was hailed as a breakthrough in the years-long battle to overturn "Don't ask, don't tell," President Obama, the Pentagon and lawmakers agreed on both legislative language and a timetable to repeal the measure, which bars gay men and women from serving openly in the military. Though the agreement clears the way for a vote in Congress within weeks or even days, the proposed legislation would not take effect until the Pentagon finishes its review of how to implement the repeal on Dec. 1. While Dems are pushing for a full rollback of the measure, the GOP still supports the controversial ban.

3 | Jamaica

Deadly Search for Kingpin

Violence erupted in Jamaica's Tivoli Gardens ghetto, near the capital, Kingston, on May 23, leaving nearly 50 dead and causing the government to declare a monthlong state of emergency. Supporters of Christopher Coke, an alleged drug lord and leader of the Shower Posse gang, battled police and soldiers for days in an effort to fight Coke's extradition to the U.S., where he is wanted on drug-trafficking charges.

4 | China

Factory Suicides

"We are not a sweatshop," said Terry Gou, chairman of Chinese gadgetmaker Foxconn, as he allowed reporters to visit his largest factory after a worker jumped to his death on May 25. It was the ninth suicide there this year. Foxconn--which has more than 300,000 workers at that location assembling goods like the Apple iPhone and products for companies including Dell and Nokia--has long been criticized for its stressful working conditions.

5 | Maryland

Scientists Build the First Synthetic Life-Form

Further blurring the line between science fiction and science fact, a team of researchers--led by J. Craig Venter, co-mapper of the human genome--has synthesized a bacterial cell from scratch using chemicals and computer data. The breakthrough could lead to new alternative energy sources and vaccines as well as, critics note, a new age of bioterrorism.

[The following text appears within 3 diagrams. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual diagrams.]

DNA letter sequence

Chemical copy

Snippets link together

Cell copies

1 SYNTHESIS

A bacterium's four-letter-based genome is sequenced on a computer and duplicated using chemicals

2 CONSTRUCTION

Snippets of DNA are fed into yeast cells that stitch them together until they form a complete, million-letter-long genome

3 ACTIVATION

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