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  Iran May Force Non-Muslims To Wear Colored Badges In PublicMay 19, 2006 21:53 The Canadian and Australian prime ministers expressed concern at unconfirmed reports that said Iran may force non-Muslims to wear colored badges in public so they can be identified.

The National Post newspaper reported Friday, citing human rights groups, that Iran's parliament passed a law this week that sets a public dress code and requires non-Muslims to wear a special insignia.

Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear a yellow, red or blue strip of cloth, respectively, on the front of their clothes, according to the newspaper.

"Anything of that kind would be totally repugnant to civilized countries, if it's the case, and something that would just further indicate to me the nature of this regime," Australia's Prime Minister John Howard told reporters during an official visit to Ottawa.

  China Bans Endangered Species Imports & ExportsMay 18, 2006 21:14 China has banned the import and export of endangered species of wild fauna and flora.

The regulation, effective from September 1, is a move by the Chinese government to regulate the trade, protect wild fauna and flora, and comply with the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

According to the regulation, the import and export of endangered wild animals and plants and their related products for commercial purposes is banned. For special purposes such as scientific research, artificial naturalization and propagation and cultural exchange, the import and export of endangered wildlife must be approved by departments under the state council in charge of the management of wild fauna and flora.

  DNA Study: Human-Chimp Split Was MessyMay 18, 2006 03:37 Humans and chimps diverged from a single ancestral population through a complex process that took 4 million years, according to a new study comparing DNA from the two species.

By analyzing about 800 times more DNA than previous studies of the human-chimp split, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard were able to learn not just when, but a little bit about how the sister species arose.

"For the first time we're able to see the details written out in the DNA," said Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute. "What they tell us at the least is that the human-chimp speciation was very unusual."

The researchers hypothesize that an ancestral ape species split into two isolated populations about 10 million years ago, then got back together after a few thousand millennia. At that time the two groups, though somewhat genetically different, would have mated to form a third, hybrid population. That population could have interbred with one or both of its parent populations. Then, at some point after 6.3 million years ago, two distinct lines arose.

  Censorship and the InternetMay 03, 2006 16:27 Annual report: everyone's interested in the Internet - especially dictators

The Internet has revolutionised the world's media. Personal websites, blogs and discussion groups have given a voice to men and women who were once only passive consumers of information. It has made many newspaper readers and TV viewers into fairly successful amateur journalists.

Dictators would seem powerless faced with this explosion of online material. How could they monitor the e-mails of China's 130 million users or censor the messages posted by Iran's 70,000 bloggers? The enemies of the Internet have unfortunately shown their determination and skill in doing just that.

China was the first repressive country to realise that the Internet was an extraordinary tool of free expression and quickly assembled the money and personnel to spy on e-mail and censor "subversive" websites. The regime soon showed that the Internet, like traditional media, could be controlled. All that was needed was the right technology and to crack down on the first "cyber-dissidents."

The Chinese model has been a great success and the regime has managed to dissuade Internet users from openly mentioning political topics and when they do to just recycle the official line. But in the past two years, the priority of just monitoring online political dissidence has given way to efforts to cope with unrest among the population.