LAKE TAWAKONI STATE PARK, TEXAS A 200-yd. (180 m) spiderweb blankets seven trees
BASRA, IRAQ British troops withdraw from Basra Palace
SAN FRANCISCO Heat wave leaves over 500,000 without power
DES MOINES, IOWA Gay couple marries after state strikes down ban
WUHAN, CHINA Parent sleepover on first day of college
SHIRAZ, IRAN Iran executes 21 criminals in a single day
THE MAP [This article contains a detailed map. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]
How Free Is Your Country?
According to the Worldwide Governance Indicators report, which ranks countries by the amount of freedom citizens have to voice opinions and select a government, the U.S. tops out at 35th place--a drop from its rank of 22nd in 2005 because of a decreased trust in public officials and restrictions on the freedom of the press. "The U.S. is not a model," says Daniel Kaufmann, a lead author of the report, but it is far from the doghouse.
DEFINITION leet-speak also l33t 5p34k n. An Internet lingo that often substitutes symbols or numbers for letters and codifies common typos.
pwn: to destroy (own) a foe
haxor: a hacker
warez: pirated software
n00b: inexperienced, a newbie
kekeke: laughter (in Korean)
fufufu: laughter (in Japanese)
CONTEXT The techie slang was developed in the 1980s by hackers who wanted to communicate on the sly. Now online gamers and everyday users have picked it up.
USAGE Much to teachers' dismay, this nerdy shorthand has invaded the formal written word. Even students at Lake Superior State University have suggested, tongue in cheek, banning the word pwn.
LEGAL RESTRAINTS Illegal immigrants who physically resist deportation from Spain will now have to wear straitjackets, ostensibly to prevent them from self-harm.
NEW MEASURES The Spanish Interior Ministry wrote the new guidelines after the June death of a Nigerian immigrant who was handcuffed and gagged.
HUMAN RIGHTS Experts say the design of the jackets is very important. "Europe limits restraint used on immigrants," say officials at Human Rights Watch. "We don't have details about how far the straitjackets restrict breathing--those are the details we need."
How Do These Genes Look?
Forget donating one's body to science--biologist J. Craig Venter mapped his entire genetic code, marking the first time a single person's genome has been plotted. The sequence, more complete and complex than the 2001 human-genome model, is a glimpse at a future in which individuals can mine their DNA for medical information.
LOOKING AHEAD Venter's breakthrough, says genome expert Dr. Edward Rubin, means individual DNA sequencing is inevitable: "It's not clear whether it'll be 10 years or 50 years, but in our lifetime, this will happen."
Top economic minds like bond guru Bill Gross have been clamoring for federal action to help out the estimated 2 million people who are in danger of losing their homes. But it may take more dire circumstances to push Congress and President Bush. Here's what they've done so far:
Borrowers could refinance their mortgages with fixed-rate loans under a cautious remedy proposed by Bush on Aug. 31. But this will apply to only the 80,000 who have 3% equity in their home and can prove their original loan was being repaid until it was reset.
Legislators are divided on measures that would ease mortgage problems. Proposals include urging federally chartered mortgage companies to help refinance delinquent mortgages held by the kind of people that Bush's plan won't cover.
THE FEDERAL RESERVE
Later this month, the Fed could cut interest rates, which would lower payments for those struggling to pay their adjustable-rate mortgages. The Fed has issued guidance urging loan-service companies to work with borrowers who are in danger of default.
Banks could renegotiate loans, but that's not easy, as home loans are often sold to investors, so the original lender has no stake in the credit. The bottom line: "More needs to be done," says Bernard Markstein of the National Association of Home Builders.