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There is probably no garment in the world that is as much a visual political and moral statement as the hijab - the veil worn by Muslim women. The last of our series on Arab women explores the current state of thought about this powerful symbol . It may be as simple as a headscarf or as anonymous as the complete body wrap of the Afghan burqa. For some women, it is worn out of obedience to the Koran. For others, it is a social stop sign that prevents unwanted advances of men. And for others still, it's an acceptable costume that disguises a woman's true thinking.

David Clark Scott World editor

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REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

*SYDNEY VS. MELBOURNE: Reporter Shawn Donnan says that the building of the Sydney Opera House was part of the deep and enduring rivalry between Australia's two largest cities. Melbourne had just hosted the Olympics in 1956 and was considered the cultural heart of Australia. The Opera House was Sydney's bid to recoup some prestige. If Shawn's experience is any indicator, it worked. "I've never had a visitor come to Sydney who then went to Melbourne. And every guest has gone to see the Opera House. The icon has come to define Australia." Shawn admits, however, to some personal bias. "I've never been to Melbourne myself - I've never felt the need."

PRESS CLIPPING..

* POOR MAN'S VACATION: Germany's unemployed must settle for three weeks' holiday a year with full benefits, a court ruled yesterday. The court rejected a jobless man's claim that he was entitled to four weeks' vacation. Reuters reports that the man took his case for longer holidays for welfare recipients to a labor court in Kassel, based on the German federal law that gives workers a minimum of four weeks' vacation per year. The court disagreed. Germany's welfare system is among Europe's most generous. People turn down jobs because jobless benefits can be as high as take-home pay in some sectors.

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