Internet Area for Kids

* President Bush yesterday put a fence around part of the Internet, creating a safe area just for kids.

Bush signed a bill creating the ".kids" domain. It will be within the ".us" part of the Web. Starting in mid-2003, Web sites will appear whose addresses end in Officials will keep an eye on the sites to make sure nothing is inappropriate for ages 13 and under.

The sites won't be allowed to post links to Web sites outside the domain. Chat and instant messaging won't be allowed either, unless the site operator can guarantee kids will be safe.

The Web has been a great communications achievement, but some people worry that it allows kids to see disturbing material. Before he signed the bill, Bush said, "We must give our parents the peace of mind knowing their children are learning in safety."

It's not clear yet what sort of Web sites will sign up. Will Yahooligans and Ask Jeeves Kids be there? "We certainly hope so," said James Casey of NeuStar Inc., the company that maintains the .us address. "They are logical users of a space like this, but of course it's a voluntary space."

The .us domain is similar to .com, .org and .gov. Lots of public school teachers have e-mail addresses ending in .us. Starting last April, anyone with a connection to the United States could register a site ending with those letters.

Cracking the Code

* Two years after untangling the genetic code of humans, scientists have cracked the DNA of another creature: the mouse.

Big deal, you say? Experts say it is a big deal, because the mouse is used in so many research projects. By studying mice and their DNA -- the chemical building blocks that influence everything from fur color to sense of smell -- scientists hope to discover new ways to fight disease. By comparing the genetic code of mice and humans, who last shared a common mammal ancestor 75 million years ago, they might learn about evolution.

Details of the analysis appear in today's issue of the journal Nature. Scientists hope they soon will complete similar blueprints of the rat, cow, chimpanzee and dog.

-- From staff and wire reports

Scientists now know the DNA of mice.