Category Archives: National/International News

Pope Bridges Separation Between Church and State by Marcus O’Cyrus

Laughter is the best medicine... Pope Francis  and President Obama share a joke. Photo found at
Laughter is the best medicine… Pope Francis and President Obama share a joke. Photo found at

Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States was a historical and noteworthy one. The Pope first met with President Barrack Obama on September 23, 2015 and made a speech at the White House addressing the press. The following day Pope Francis was scheduled to address a joint session of United States Congress with the Supreme Court in attendance. This was a first for the Vatican to address the United States in this fashion.

Weeks before cities began their safety planning for the arrival of Pope Francis by rerouting entire freeway systems to escort him quickly and conveniently to each speaking engagement. Preferential treatment of this magnitude has not been seen for any person before in our country’s history. Surprisingly, not once was the mention of separation of church and state broadcasted as each municipality, county, state, and even our national government bowed its will in servitude to Pope Francis’ visit.

Addressing the Nation... A historical even in the making as Pope Francis addresses Congress and the Supreme Court.  Photo found at
Addressing the Nation… A historical even in the making as Pope Francis addresses Congress and the Supreme Court. Photo found at

During Pope Francis’ address to Congress, members of both Houses applauded and gave several standing ovations as he spoke words of peace and encouragement. He addressed topics covering a wide range; from the importance of family, taking in refugees fleeing ISIS, religious entities joining together to combat radicalism within their ranks, solving the abortion issue in America by helping solve the cause verses preventing the choice, use of technology to improve lives, encourage the need to solve climate change, and to continue to help the homeless.

The historical significance for the United States on this occasion was immense. This was the first time the Pope and Vatican had directly addressed our national government in this manner. This is the first time the United States has officially acknowledged the Pope as an authority in spiritual as well as a political influence throughout the world.

What did the United States learn from the Pope’s visit? Pope Francis demonstrated his kindness and compassion to all he came into contact with. Instead of receiving an expensive luncheon provided by Congress on the taxpayer’s dime in his honor, he chose to visit a homeless shelter. He kissed babies, shook the hands of the homeless and those assisting them. He visited New York and the epicenter of 9/11 now fourteen years passed. His words of encouragement touched many lives and brought hope to many weary people in our nation.

Live Justly, love mercy, and walk humbly...  Pope Francis demonstrates many biblical traits to those around him.  Photo-by
Live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly… Pope Francis demonstrates many biblical traits to those around him. Photo-by

As time elapses after Pope Francis’ visit, it is up to Americans to not lose hope in their country. People need to continue to seek and practice justice at every decision, and yet remain merciful in how justice is upheld.   Pope Francis reminds us of this, but it is up to Americans to put it into practice. No law or legal system can bring out a desire to help others that must come from within each individual.



Despite Many Predictions; We’re still Here… Story by Charles Harrison

Earth our beautiful home... What are the chances a extinction event could take place scientist speculate the Earth has had 6 already thus far. Photo-by
Earth our beautiful home… What are the chances a extinction event could take place? Scientist speculate the Earth has had 6 already thus far. Photo-by NASA

Chances are you have noticed a number of doomsday predictions on the internet for 2015 on the internet. Specifically, a number of websites have been claiming that an asteroid will hit the Earth sometime in the past month. If you have not heard, simply Google “September 2015 Asteroid” and you will get pages and pages of results ether perpetuating or disproving the theory. There are theories that FEMA is stocking up on body bags on the eastern seaboard. Some believe that there is even a massive cover up on the part of NASA itself to convince the general population that they are in no danger when in fact; they will be destroyed by an asteroid. (It is difficult to insert a link here because I don’t trust these websites not to give me a virus. You can if you want. Just Google September 2015 asteroid NASA cover up.)

According to theorist, NASA is vehemently denying the truth to keep the world in the dark about their impending doom for the purposes of… world domination? There are mountains of sketchy evidence against NASA, including leaked photo shopped documents, anonymous tips, and good old creepy websites, complete with news that planets lightyears away are actually changing our day to day weather.

The rumor became so widespread that NASA, along with several news organizations such as Fox 8 and CNN have released press statements specifically addressing the rumor. According to NASA’s own statement, “There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth…”. That was from Paul Chodas, Manager of the Near Earth Object office at the Jet Population Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The moral of the story here is DON’T BELIVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET. Before you repost or share something, check with a reputable source on the subject. NASA is excellent for doomsday predictions, astronomical news, and anything to do with space. CNN, Fox News, anything that ends in “.gov”, university websites, research institutes, there are plenty of reliable news and information sources. You could disagree with everything the organizations I listed above stand for, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are more infinitely reliable than that blog you saw one time that was run by a single individual claiming the arrival of our alien overlord, or that website that was saying that the world was actually going to end September 23 using only crazy theories to back it up. People have believed end of the world predictions from the same websites for years, and they have been wrong every time, as evident for the fact that we’re still alive and kicking. Because the fact is, if the world is going to end, I can guarantee you we won’t hear about it first from “”.

Polar shift: The End of the World?… Story by Sherman Peabody

The End is Near! Could everything be ended by a massive polar shift?
The End is Near!… Could everything be ended by a massive polar shift? Photo by

There are many theories on when the world will end, and nearly all of them describe the cataclysmic circumstances that cause it. Some theories are based on the destructive nature of man, such as a nuclear war or global warming. These theories are preventable, as it is possible to destroy nuclear weapons before they detonate or reduce our carbon footprint. But what can we do when the very core of our earth is going to change patterns?

The polar shift theory describes an event just like that. Imagine all migratory animals going North during fall instead of South, GPS satellites not knowing where they are, and navigation systems all pointing the wrong way. These are just some of the things that could happen if the polarity of our North and South poles switched, and some think that this could happen soon.

But NASA has thoroughly debunked this theory in an article they wrote[1], explaining that in the last pole shift “no drastic changes in plant life or animal life” occurred. So, if we trust NASA with this (which I do), we shouldn’t worry about global chaos caused by the shifting poles. But what about the lights in the sky? And I’m not talking about aliens…

What are those strange lights?... The aurora borealis makes its grand appearance in Sandpoint, Idaho several times these past few years. This is a photo of Priest Lake and the northern lights. Photo By Craig Goodwin
What are those strange lights?… The aurora borealis makes its grand appearance in Sandpoint, Idaho several times this year. This is a picture of Priest Lake and the Northern Lights. Photo By Craig Goodwin

The aurora borealis, or the northern lights, is caused by space weather (solar radiation) and our magnetic field colliding. This is actually indirectly associated with the polar shift, as the gradual moving of these poles makes the magnetic fields vary in strength. These beautiful sights can actually be seen by us here in Sandpoint. Amelia Goldworm describes these lights as “whiteish with a tint of brown” and “cloud like.”

Though it is rare, it does happen, so if you don’t want to miss out on the next one throw Soft Serve News ( onto your bookmarks bar and check it out, it predicts where the northern lights will be seen and when.

[1] Please see this article for more indepth information on pole shifts:

Marijuana Legalization…Story by Patrick Feyen

Now that Marijuana is legal, adults can use it recreationally, but only in Washington and Colorado.  Last year it was voted in each state that marijuana would be allowed recreationally and purchasable in sanctioned “pot shops.” Only customers over the age of 21 can legally walk in and purchase up to an ounce of different strains and food based items infused with Marijuana.  Although it  is legal in Washington to use marijuana recreationally, however, it may only be used in private and never in public places. Legalized marijuana won’t mean much in terms of Idaho, at least not for the foreseeable future, but it may lead to more drug related arrests coming from Washington into any state that is still criminalized. It is definitely legal to use marijuana in Washington and Colorado, but they will both have very different laws regarding the manufacture, selling, storage, and possession of their product.



In Washington, you can buy marijuana, but only about a quarter of an ounce at a time. In Colorado, anyone who goes to the dispensary can leave the premises with up to an entire ounce of the product although it must be kept in a child safe container.  Washington has set in place a similar way of tracking the marijuana through the processes it goes through before being sold, which includes growing, clipping, packaging, distribution, and finally selling to the customer. A computer chip travels with each specific plant, and the chip can be used to track the plants so nothing can go missing.

The state of Washington has openly accepted that the general population of its citizens wants marijuana to be legal, whereas Colorado towns have taken opposition to the new law even though its citizens want it. Most Colorado towns will only let already active marijuana dispensaries to remain in business, and will not allow even those shops to apply

for a recreational business license until well into 2016 when other new to the scene stores may apply for those licenses as well.

Colorado is being called the “New Amsterdam” of the US, but the governor of the state, John

Hickenlooper, has made it clear to the state and all cities within that marijuana stores are not allowed within the main streets of any city.  Also, advertisements are not allowed anywhere that it may be seen by minors.  Commercials may be aired, but only if there is without a doubt that less than 25% of the viewers will be under the age of 21. It may be strange to think about having a marijuana store close to you, especially if you live close to a big city.  Spokane, Washington will have marijuana dispensaries by the end of next year.  Five stores will be in the city limits of Spokane, while another 15-20 will be opening around Spokane County within the next 3 years and 334 state wide.

If you are in the mindset that you want nothing to do with marijuana and are staunchly opposed to the subject and the plant, Idaho should be fine for you for now.  Every time the state tries to pass a bill bringing medicinal marijuana to the state; it has been shot down time and time again.

If you are of the pot smoking variety, don’t expect to be lighting up at cheap prices either, the states will be putting a heavy tax on the substance in question and will be implementing them for each step.  Washington ha

 Whether you like it or not, marijuana is legally making its way to cities and states near you, and is believed that it will continue forward to the rest now that it has been decriminalized in these two prominent states.s imposed a high 25% tax on each step, bringing the price to an easy $12 a gram which is designed to be competitive to illicit street prices. Washington has put a cap on how much product can be grown each year, which equals to about 80 tons, 40 for marketable smoking substance and the other for other substances (I.e. food or baked goods). The cap is placed to stop diversion and illegal smuggling of the substance to other states, which is a major concern to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.  Colorado has yet to impose a cap, but state officials have said they will if it becomes necessary.  Washington is not stricter on all fronts, unlike Colorado who says they will not allow out of state investing.  Washington has said that you must live in state for at least 2 years minimum to be able to invest in growth or manufacturing of marijuana.

Deaths on Black Friday?…..Story by Jack Meier


Yes, it’s official.  People care so much about their new Xbox or PlayStation that they will kill to get it.  What have we come to as a nation?

Black Friday does get heated; sure, that one guy who took the last copy of the new movie or game got you pretty ticked, but bringing pepper spray and spraying them in the face and then taking their items is crossing the line.

One of our own students witnessed someone get mugged over a Wii a few years back.  Mario Bushell watched a fellow shopper hit a person over the head with a frying pan.  This incident was the result of the past Black Friday, all over a simple Wii system.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it is the largest retail shopping day in the world.  It has historically been the day when large companies have certain items largely discounted. It has a history of violence and even death.  It is the start of the official Christmas shopping season.

It was up until a few years ago an American holiday, but many countries around the world have recently taken up the trend too.

Many people use Black Friday for their Christmas shopping, and it gets very, very crowded.  People often begin to line up hours before the shopping equivalent of Shanghai rush hour.

Why is this day so violent?  What drives people over the edge?  After all, if people are shooting each other over toys, imagine what we’ll do to the guy that bumps into us!

Many people are struggling in the present-day economy.  Black Friday offers great deals on things that their kids want.  Parents want to give their kids the best they can for a cheaper price.

Many parents resort to violence to get their kids the things they want.  One woman cut in front of 300+ people in a Black Friday line.  Her items were taken, and later she said that she just wanted to get her son the newest toy, and that it probably wouldn’t be there anymore.  “Everyone was doing it” she said.

“I was trying to get a videogame, and some dude picked me up, and threw me across the aisle, and threw a bunch of clothes at me.” Mario Bushell, FBCS student.


Black Friday is getting more and more violent as the years pass by.

Wal-Mart has announced that it will be moving the start of Black Friday up two hours from last year.  This will start the rush earlier, essentially turning it into Black Thursday Night.

Many people think that Black Friday is a great day to get good deals on items you like.  Others think that it should be removed from the calendar.

Some people who have never been to Black Friday don’t understand the hype.  I mean $150 off a flat screen television is pretty sweet, but would you really risk your life for it?

Black Friday, (or Black Thursday Night now), is a shopping event that offers big savings on popular items.  Whether or not you want to risk your life for a new TV is your choice.  But if you’re going to go to Black Thursday Night this year, you might want to come prepared.

The Beginning of the Affordable Care Act

Story by Nate Pollard


Is the Affordable Care Act right for you? Forrest Bird Middle School Educational Leader, Jennifer Greve shares her thoughts about the Affordable Care Act.  “I think that is a good idea and there are some points that need some fine tuning.” Well, that depends on what your yearly income is. If you are under the poverty level, and if you and your children can be insured by the state that you live in then healthcare may be more affordable. The following website shares the Affordable Health Care Act’s poverty line for the United States.

Person in the household Poverty guideline

















For families/households with more than 8 persons, and $4,020 for each additional person














If you get insurance from your work then you are okay, unless your employer drops your coverage in favor of the new regulation.  If you do not have insurance then do not worry because you can buy insurance right now, just go to this website:

When asked if they would buy the Affordable Care Act this year, Jennifer Greve said not for my daughter or her because they have insurance, but her husband does not, and they would look into it.  When Jennifer Greve was asked if her family would buy health insurance she said no.  She would like to wait and see if the price will go down. There are many parts of the to the affordable care act.

If you do not buy insurance than a typical poverty level person will pay a fine of $95.00 per adult or 1% of the family income. The penalty comes down to which one is greater. The window to register for the state offered insurance plan is from October 1st to December 7th every year.  If a person does not register during this window they will be fined and not have insurance until the next window opens the next year in October again.

However, due the federal website failures, causing funding issues and the lack of ability for people to sign up, it is a wonder if the Affordable Health Care Plan will be able to get off the ground this year.  The American people will just have to wait and see.

Works Cited

“2013 Poverty Guidelines.” ASPE. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <>.

“Get Affordable Health Insurance.” Health Insurance. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <>.

Website “History of Health Care Reform in the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <>.

Luhby, Tami. “I’m Paying the Obamacare Penalty.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <>.

The End of the World?

Story By Elijah

12:00am: October 1, 2013, President Obama announced the American Government is going to be shut down. This is the 18th time the American government has been shut down.  The last time was in 1995 for 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency. The reason why the government shut down this time was the two political parties hadn’t agreed on a budget resolution before the deadline.

The United States government just walked out on the crisis while the economy was still fragile and unstable.

How dare the American Government shut down?  But they did. No one thought it is a good idea.


According to economists’ reports, if the government shutdown lasts up to 3 weeks, it will evaporate 5 billion (5,000,000,000) dollars and results in the 4th season of US GDP growth rate decreasing 25%!  The government shut down lasted for 17 days.

The two parties, like children, quarreled, the result was it caused a great disruption to America and even the world.

How did it happen?  The government needed money to operate – money is from financial budget – financial budget needs congress’s approval. The two parties argue vehemently about whether to increase the national debt ceiling. But this time, the Republican Party stopped the ‘financial budget’ because they outnumbered the Democrats in the House. Then the Republican Party threatened Democratic Party to agree to fund the budget or they would shut the government down.


The government is has now been open since October 17th, 2013. Lots of questions have been asked. Would the business environment deteriorate immediately from the shutdown? Does Congress still have the ability to manage the rest of the country’s business? Will the economy recover after the shutdown?

Everything that is happening is affecting people’s confidence in the government.  The government shutdown closed all of the national parks and all of the zoos and museums which are funded with grants by the federal government. All the licenses and certificates stopped being transacted and approved.  In some places, nutrition money for women and children was delayed. 1600 programs of children enlightenment were forced to stop, preventing 19,000 children from going to school.  The service of providing 1 million meals for the old halted. Some poor people could not use their heaters because the energy aid for the low income families were cut off. The government shutdown had a great impact on Americans, and the people are very dissatisfied with the federal government.

Is it the end of the world? Probably not.

Kenyan Mall Massacre: Story by Jack Meier

By Jack Meier, 10/1/13

A soldier clears a store inside Westgate mall during the search for the militants. Photo by: The New York Times
A soldier clears a store inside Westgate mall during the search for the militants.
Photo by: The New York Times

On the fine morning of September 21st, at 11:30 AM, an armed group of Islamist militants walked into the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya and took everybody in the building hostage.  People sitting in the café near the entrance were gunned down in cold blood, before they even had a chance to react.

At first, the governments thought they wanted a ransom.  But the militants had a different plan.

“We’ll not negotiate with the Kenyan govt. as long as its forces are invading our country, so reap the bitter fruits of your harvest #Westgate.” Al-Shabab, the terrorist group responsible, tweeted.

They murdered and mutilated everybody they could find inside that mall.  Men, women, children, none were spared.  They wanted to send a message to the world.

They hunted down people in their hiding places, like some deranged person’s idea of a game of hide and seek.

The Shabab, a Somali militant group, has taken credit for the massacre at Westgate.  Evidence suggests the attack is a form of protest against the U.S government and Kenya for trying to oust them from their position as the self-proclaimed government of Somalia.

The Shabab are a Somali militant group that stepped in a few years ago to take control of Somalia.  However, when they were pushed back by the Kenyan military, they became extraordinarily brutal.

They beheaded and amputated people, and did countless other equally horrible and grisly things.  Osama Bin Laden himself said the violence was excessive.

They became monsters, where the people had formerly seen them as stabilizers.

They became desperate to hold onto any shred of power, and yielded no inches.  Kenya has been one of the countries that have been spearheading the effort to drive Al-Shabab out from Somalia.

They are a truly ruthless opponent; and Kenya has a big disadvantage.  The country has never invested in its public safety as a whole.

Police officers are poorly paid, (somewhere in the ballpark of $200 a month), and most do not have cars.  Lots of them are extremely corrupt.

There is no hotline for people that are in trouble to call.

A manikin sits abandoned at a shot-up storefront inside Westgate. Photo by: Tyler Hicks
A manikin sits abandoned at a shot-up storefront inside Westgate.
Photo by: Tyler Hicks

Nevertheless, many flocked to Westgate after the shooting started, some giving their lives to rescue children and people from the mall.

Without the bravery of these officers, the death toll at the Westgate mall would have easily numbered in the hundreds.

One of the most horrible aspects of the attack was that it was tweeted live by the militants.

“The Mujahideen (‘holy warriors’) entered Westgate mall today at around noon and they are still inside the mall, fighting the Kenyan kuffar (‘infidels’) inside their own turf” a Twitter account controlled by Al-Shabab tweeted several hours into the attack.

After a tense three day stand-off, the police finally defeated the last of the extremists.  There is some controversy as to whether or not some out the militants escaped or not.

The military had to enter the mall and clear it room by room, to root out the last of the militants.

Throughout all the horror, the blood and tears, and the pain, many, many Kenyans lined up to donate blood for those injured in the terror attack.  In fact, so many showed up that they had to be turned away.

This is the kind of camaraderie that Kenya needs to make it through this disaster.  IF they band together, maybe they can weather this disaster.

Syria chemical weapons disarment deal

Story by: Andrew Van Winkle

After three days of talks John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov reached an agreement. The US and Russia agreed on September 14 a framework that they would remove and destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons. It definitely stalled the US military strikes on Syria that they were going to do as punishment for the deadly chemical weapons attack on a suburb in Damascus on August 21st .             

The agreement states under the framework deal, the US and Russia will ask the organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to destroy Syria’s chemical weapon program, and for verification that it had happened.

The government of Syria was given until September 21 to submit a listing, including names, munitions, storage, and research and development facilities. Inspections of the chemical weapon sites will and must be completed by November. The munitions will also need to be destroyed by November. The complete elimination of the munitions must be completed by the first half of 2014.

The US and Russia agree that the chemicals and chemical agents must be destroyed outside of Syria if possible. But the framework says they could also be destroyed inside of Syria.

The US and Russia are working together on a UN security council resolution that includes steps to make sure verification and effective execution of the OPCW’s

disarmament plan. According to the framework “in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer,, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, The UN security council should impse measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter”. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made clear that his country remains opposed to any military action in Syria. September 16 he stressed that the framework does not mention a threat of Chapter VII measures being part of the resolution being drafted by the US and Russia. But US Secretary of State John Kerry said Lavrov had agreed to that part.

On 14 September, the UN confirmed Syria had come to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which commits members to destroying their stockpiles.

Seven days later, the OPCW confirmed it had received an expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons program. It declined to release details of what was in the declaration.

The US-Russia agreement says the two countries have reached an agreement that the type and amount of chemical weapons was indeed involved. A US official said that there were about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons including a blister agent, sulfur mustard, and saran nerve agent.

Voyager 1 makes history as first man-made object to leave solar system

Story by: Jack Meier

Voyager 1 has just made history by being the first manmade object to exit our solar system, NASA stated on Thursday.  It has crossed the heliosphere, the magnetic boundary that defines the border between interstellar space and our solar system.

The probe and its brother, Voyager 2, were launched in 1977, sixteen days apart.  Voyager 1 is currently at a distance of 18.8 billion kilometers from Earth, and its brother Voyager 2 is 15.3 billion kilometers away.  Voyager 1 is currently traveling at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour.

Voyager 2 is estimated to leave the heliosphere in three to four years.  Since Voyager 2’s plasma instrument is still functional, we will have a better idea of when exactly the probe crosses into interstellar space.

“In leaving the heliosphere and setting sail on the cosmic sea between the stars, Voyager has joined other historic journeys of exploration; the first circumnavigation of the globe, the first steps on the moon” Ed Stone, chief scientist on the Voyager mission remarked.

How they determined when the spacecraft actually crossed the threshold was tricky, as the plasma measuring instrument broke way back in 1980.  To skirt around that handicap, the scientists working on the project measured the waves in the plasma around the craft, and used it to calculate density.

The vibrations were caused by a large coronal mass ejection (solar flare), from the sun in 2012.  The ejection formed what Stone called a ‘solar wind tsunami.’

Between October 23rd and November 27th, the spacecraft traveled through an area with an electron density of 0.06 per cubic centimeter.  This is still within the interstellar space range, meaning the craft passed through plasma with increasing electron density.

In the interstellar medium, the density of electrons is thought to be between 0.22 and 0.05 electrons per cubic centimeter.  Interstellar plasma particles are created by the explosions of giant stars, scientists theorize.

The theory, led by the University of Iowa physicist Donald Gurnett, states that the concentration of plasma particles is thirty times greater outside the heliosphere than inside.  This middle ground between the heliosphere and interstellar space is called the heliopause.

The probe itself has 68KB of data storage, much, much less than the average smartphone.  Scientists communicate with it daily to retrieve the pictures and wipe the memory so more pictures can be taken.

“It’s the little spacecraft that could” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager.

Scientists are interested in observing the differences between our solar wind, and the solar wind from interstellar space.  Our heliosphere is akin to a rock in a river, the solar wind has to flow around it like water around a rock.

Both probes carry the ‘golden record’, a 12 inch gold plated copper disk with sights and sounds from Earth.  The idea was that if extraterrestrials find the probe, they will listen to the disk and learn about us and our culture.

The disk has 115 images, and many natural sounds such as birds, surf, thunder, wind, and animals.  There is also a compilation of music from different genres and eras.  There are greetings spoken in fifty-five different languages, beginning with Akkadian, an ancient Sumer language, and ending with Wu, a modern-day Chinese dialect.

Natural radioactive decay generates enough power to allow Voyager to communicate with Earth and run its instruments.  The first instrument will be shut off in 2020, and the spacecraft will go dark in 2025.

But for now, the probe will forge on through the complete darkness that is interstellar space, and hopefully, one day, something else will pick it up.