U.S. Report

NEW YORK (JTA) — The American Jewish Committee is filing a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the University of Michigan's affirmative action program.

Two cases involving the school mark the first time in 25 years that the high court will examine the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education.

"Diversity not only provides all students with a richer educational experience, but also prepares them for participation in our pluralistic democracy," says the AJCommittee's brief, filed on behalf of a coalition of religious and civil rights organizations. "Exposure in universities to those of diverse backgrounds and experiences will equip those graduates who go on to become the leaders of our future."

Shuttle experiments saved from disaster

NEW YORK (JPS) — More than 80 percent of the results of Israeli experiments conducted aboard the Columbia space shuttle were relayed to Earth prior to the shuttle disaster.

A report published this week by the Israel Space Agency and scientists from Tel Aviv University and Open University said a large portion of the data was relayed to Earth in real time, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

According to the report, the data yielded a number of important scientific findings, including photographs of lightning formed at high altitudes and dust movement in the Middle East, the report said.

Anti-Semites twist Columbia tragedy

NEW YORK (JTA) — Holocaust deniers and Israel bashers are promoting conspiracy theories on the Internet about Jewish or Israeli involvement in the Columbia space shuttle disaster, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Several conspiracy theorists suggest that the shuttle accident was staged by Israel and America. Others suggest that Col. Ilan Ramon, the Israeli who perished along with six NASA astronauts on the mission, was really a spy who was collecting information on Iraq, according to the ADL.

Screening reduces Tay-Sachs disease

NEW YORK (JTA) — Genetic testing has virtually eliminated a Jewish genetic disease in the United States.

According to The New York Times, an aggressive 30-year effort has reduced the number of babies born with Tay-Sachs in the United States to five per year.

Ashkenazi Jews are more prone than the general population to carry the gene that leads to Tay-Sachs, a progressive neurological disorder. Most children born with Tay-Sachs die before they are 5 years old.