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Wailing Wall gender issues

Women for and against reading aloud from the Torah at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, argued their cases Sunday before an expanded Supreme Court panel that agreed to rehear the controversial issue.

Six months ago, Supreme Court justices issued a groundbreaking ruling that said Jewish women could read aloud from the Torah at the Western Wall. But a state prosecutor asked for a review, arguing that the May decision would offend the majority of worshippers at the wall and might provoke violent demonstrations. The court has not yet issued a ruling.

The site is revered by Jews because it is a remnant of the Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

A boost for narcotics officers

Chemists have come up with a new way to determine the country of origin of a cocaine sample with supreme accuracy. The drug bears distinctive isotope-ratio signatures for carbon and nitrogen as well as patterns of trace alkaloids that are peculiar to the region where it was grown.

Combined with existing techniques that identify processing methods of different regions, this will allow forensic scientists "to determine the distribution of an illegal drug as well as to identify new coca-producing regions," explains a report by James Ehleringer at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City.

Stable isotope ratios have been used before to determine the source of a variety of materials, from migrating butterflies to emeralds.

New lemur species discovered

An international team of scientists has discovered three previously unknown species of primates in the Madagascar forests. The species are mouse lemurs, the world's smallest primates. There are about 40 known species of living lemurs, but more than half are endangered because of forest destruction.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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