House Passes Dream Act
The United States House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act on Dec. 8. The measure, also known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, allows immigrants between the ages of 12 and 35, a path to citizenship after they enlist in the military or go to college.
Supporters say the bill will help the American economy and military, while critics point out that it gives “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. Qualifications for the act include entering the U.S. before the age of 16, having a high school diploma, GED or being accepted to a higher education institution, and having “good moral character.” Under the DREAM Act, individuals would receive conditional permanent residency after they complete at least two years of either higher education or service in a branch of the U.S. military. After five and a half years of conditional residency, individuals can apply for citizenship.
The measure must pass the Senate before it makes it to President Barack Obama’s desk.
First Commercial Spacecraft Returns from Low Earth Orbit
On Dec. 8, the SpaceX Dragon splashed down into the Pacific Ocean 500 miles from the coast of Southern California, making SpaceX the first commercial company to fly a spaceship to low Earth orbit and land in one piece.
The Dragon went into low Earth orbit riding the back of a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:43 a.m. Eastern standard time at the Air Force Station and re-entered the atmosphere just after 2 p.m.
The Dragon and the Falcon 9 are expected to fly at least a dozen missions to the International Space Station to deliver supplies once NASA’s Space Shuttle retires.
Though the test didn’t have passengers, the spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts.
Movie Star, Politician's Wife Die
Leslie Nielsen and Elizabeth Edwards have passed away.
Nielsen died at the age of 84 from complications of pneumonia on the evening of Dec. 5. He had been in the hospital for two weeks battling the illness before his death. His acting career started with “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Bonanza,” but was most often remembered for his role in the “Naked Gun” trilogy and the 1980 film “Airplane!” He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Elizabeth Edwards died at the age of 61 after a six-year battle with breast cancer.
Her husband, John Edwards, was a 2008 Democratic vice president hopeful with John Kerry. The Edwards’ marriage came under strain after it emerged that John Edwards fathered a child with his mistress, but the marriage remained intact. She is survived by her husband and three children.
Panda Suits to Save the Pandas
The giant panda, one of the rarest animals and the poster child for endangered species, was seen walking around on two legs in the Wolong Nature Reserve in China. The panda, in fact, was a researcher dressed in a suit to help raise baby pandas.
Researchers from the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda released pregnant pandas into the protected reserve. One of the resulting babies is being monitored by the researchers. Researchers wear panda suits to prevent the baby from imprinting on humans or learning to rely on them. The final goal is to release the panda into the wild.