Tag Archives: Forrest M. Bird Charter School

Hurricane Matthew… By Mack Jastle


Weeks after Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti and the southeastern United States, people and emergency management officials alike are finally able to focus on recovering from the damage.

Hurricane Matthew caused an estimated $1.5 billion dollars in damage, and that’s just what North Carolina reported.  The state suffered some of the worst flooding it has ever had, and waters are just now receding.


Devastation…Hurricane Matthew destroyed many homes, and left many without a place to go.  Only now is aid starting to reach these more remote areas.  Photo-by: Rebecca Blackwell/AP
Devastation…Hurricane Matthew destroyed many homes, and left many without a place to go. Only now is aid starting to reach these more remote areas. Photo-by: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

However, North Carolina wasn’t the only one hit hard by the hurricane.


Haiti is in dire straits after floodwaters and high winds have destroyed much of the nation’s crops, contaminated drinking water, and demolished thousands of homes.

Many people are left without basic staples in the wake of the disaster.  In more remote areas, people are forced to walk for hours just to get basic essentials like food and water.  Prices of essential goods have skyrocketed, pushing many families into poverty as they try to find enough to eat and drink.  While aid is being provided, many citizens watch as aid trucks drive right past them to help the major cities.

This is where Hurricane Matthew’s effects are the most pronounced.

Some of the more remote villages have been all but wiped off the map.  The extent of the devastation has prompted many to flee for the relative safety of the larger cities.  As a consequence, many of the small villages that were populated and secure before the hurricane are now desolate and empty.

However, while it has been over two weeks since Hurricane Matthew subsided, the danger is far from over.

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters and water contamination, cholera is able to flourish.  Haiti has been battling the disease since late 2010, when it was introduced via UN peacekeepers leaking waste into a river.  It has ravaged the country since then, taking advantage of inadequate hygiene and medical facilities.  The hurricane only exacerbated this problem.

IV…Clinics like this one have been set up to combat the spread of cholera in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.  Photo-by: Meredith Kohut/New York Times
IV…Clinics like this one have been set up to combat the spread of cholera in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Photo-by: Meredith Kohut/New York Times

Previously clean water sources are now contaminated, and rivers and reservoirs used for bathing and clean drinking water are now contaminated by the disease.  To make matters worse, many clinics and aid centers that could potentially have provided treatment were wiped out by the hurricane, leaving many with nowhere to go.

The sheer volume of patients and scarcity of medical supplies has forced clinics to use less than optimal medical treatments.  Oftentimes the only aid these clinics to offer the sick is an IV and some water.  Making matters worse, many of those suffering from cholera refuse treatment, preferring to tough it out without wasting resources.  These people often perish without receiving medical care.

While Hurricane Matthew may have long since dissipated, there is still much to be done.  Aid must be provided for the victims of this tragedy, and soon.

Rated M for Marketing… Story by L.B. Van Dine

: Rated M by the ESRB… this is what people will see on the cases to games that are recommended to 17+ players
Rated M by the ESRB… this is what people will see on the cases to games that are recommended to 17+ players

It’s incredibly noticeable that the standard of what is and what isn’t safe for children to view is changing. When you look at a game rated “T” for teen what do you think most teenagers think? Apparently most don’t find these games appealing considering that these games are becoming more incredibly scarce as more games are being produced. This is the exact same thing that happened to the G-Rating concerning movies. There are no longer movies being released with the rating as “G” because that causes immediate judgement and the film will not receive nearly as much profit as Rated R Dead Pool for example.

Halo 5 sold less than all of its previous games in the franchise. This could all be due to a poorly made game, but the Halo series is one of the most iconic series’ on the Xbox, why didn’t it get the same sales as its predecessors? Could it be the fact that Halo 5 has been rated-T and the moment kids saw that rating in the corner it lost its appeal?

The most mainstream games are rated M for mature matters such as blood and gore, drugs, sexual content, inappropriate language, and graphic violence. However, just because they are rated M it doesn’t mean that it’s only interesting to a mature audience. According to a survey by The Pew Research Center reported “in 2008 that 97% of youths ages 12 to 17 played some type of video game, and that two-thirds of them played action and adventure games that tend to contain violent content.” Just because something isn’t recommended to children doesn’t mean it isn’t marketed towards them.

Various games… that are popular with many people and a large amount of the interest is with children photo by dailymail.co.uk
Various games… that are popular with many people and a large amount of the interest is with children photo by dailymail.co.uk

Today, many kids are constantly lining up to buy big titles games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Grand Theft Auto.  Many voices heard online are the voices of children online, probably no older than eleven years of age. It shows that a rating holds no meaning it is merely a regulated recommendation, but it’s pretty noticeable that people often ignore these recommendations.

Some of these games seem like they can make the cut and be considered games rated for Teens, but there are many on the internet who feel that game industries add extra blood, gore, and profanity only to get the game to reach rated M on the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s scale. One hundred percent of students asked at FBCHS believe that the gaming industries would purposely rate these games as mature to market and make it seem more appealing to children.


Editorial: Students sue the U.S. Government over Climate Change… Story K

Students protest the government's failure to respond to climate change
Students protest the government’s failure to respond to climate change

It is surprising to see that a judge in Oregon did not dismiss a lawsuit filed against the federal government for its failure to take action against fossil fuel emissions. Usually the issue of the future of our planet is ignored because the corporations that are poisoning our planet control our government. The so-called “representatives” are wealthy elites working in the interest of big business.

The future of our planet is in our hands
The future of our planet is in our hands.

What makes this case especially interesting is the fact that these are children who are trying to make a case against the government. Will government act in its own interest or in the interest of future generations? If we were in their position, I think a lot of Americans would side with the children. Different sources have different views on how much of America believes in global warming. Thinkprogress.org says 70% of Americans believe in global warming. Wikipedia says 67% believe it is a threat.

Graph of climate change - provided by NASA
Graph of climate change – provided by NASA

The case being made is that by failing to take action against climate change, the U.S. government is denying them their constitutional right to life. If we are not following the constitution, then we are no longer a constitutional republic. If most of America believes in global warming and think it is a threat, then how can the politicians do nothing about it and claim they act in our interest?

I think the most important question here is: what kind of world do we want to make for our future generations? How do we want our society to be remembered? If we start asking those questions, then it could make a difference.

For more info visit Democracy Now!

Innovations of the Week… Story By Alistair King

Nailed it… Students had the opportunity to display their projects to the school on these posters.
Nailed it… Students had the opportunity to display their projects to the school on these posters.

In this article we take a look at the innovative projects being formed by students of the FBCS. What are their projects? How will they change the world and what other ideas do they have? We are here to find out.

Just looking… Willem shows off one of the papers he’s writing for his project.
Just looking… Willem shows off one of the papers he’s writing for his project.

Willem Herman has an idea about streamlining the reality field. He wants to create a Virtual Program that will be used by realtors to allow prospective clients to see the house from their own homes. He believes that this can really change this field because being able to check out houses from your home won’t force you to drive to houses in other areas. He said that this idea took him about 5 minutes for the basic idea and another week to start formulating it. If he had to choose a completely different project it would be “Refrigerator Cargo Pants.”

Making it up to you… Sloan and Shaelyn could change the make-up game forever.
Making it up to you… Sloan and Shaelyn could change the make-up game forever.

Next, is Sloan Warner and her partner Shaelyn with their idea for a machine that will color match your make-up. This machine will “scan your face and make a base.” This will allow people to find the perfect makeup for their skin and not waste their time and money buying make-up that may not look the best. This will also allow companies to save money by only printing products that fit people. Sloan stated that this took her and Shaelyn about two and a half weeks to come up with because ideas kept getting thrown away.

A++… Andrew and Brandon are hard at work hoping to develop a class around their project.
A++… Andrew and Brandon are hard at work hoping to develop a class around their project.

Last for this week we have Brandon Michelsen and Andrew Van Winkle with their new video game called Steamrunner. The premise of the game is based around steampunk where you run around obstacle courses and collect pieces of inventions from famous inventors. He wants this to lead into an area of gaming that applies learning to fun games.  Brandon and Andrew have been discussing this project for little over a year before deciding on applying it to the innovation project. If he wasn’t working on this game Brandon would be working on “a self-charging generator, but that’s all I want to disclose.”

This is a great start for the innovation project, and it can only get better. Keep an eye out and keep working on your project!

Unregulated Mushrooms… Story by L.B. Van Dine

Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs are foods genetically engineered in labs that could be potentially dangerous. Normally, the USDA would regulate these foods and check for any potential hazards; however, these foods are making their way into our supermarkets without having to go through the USDA’s safety check. The question is, can these unregulated foods be a danger to the people who eat them?

A mushroom packaging company… is preparing to ship out unregulated GMO Mushrooms to our supermarkets. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili
A mushroom packaging company… is preparing to ship out unregulated GMO Mushrooms to our supermarkets. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili

Yingyong Yang is a student from Pennsylvania State University who is responsible for engineering these mushrooms. Yang used a gene slicing technique known as CRISPR also known as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat, to successfully remove the browning gene from mushrooms while increasing their shelf life. Yang stated outright that his product wouldn’t be regulated by the USDA. Why is that? It’s because these mushrooms are outside of the USDA’s jurisdiction. Along with these mushrooms there are thirty other genetically modified organisms that have made it into the supermarkets due to loopholes that are out of the USDA’s reach. This means there are over thirty different products in our supermarket that could be labeled “organic” while in fact, they were made in a lab and just avoided the USDA’s concern.

Bruised White-Button Mushrooms… With the browning gene removed, this won’t occur as easily with supermarket mushrooms. Photo by kitchenexperiments.net
Bruised White-Button Mushrooms… With the browning gene removed, this won’t occur as easily with supermarket mushrooms. Photo by kitchenexperiments.net

The reason these mushrooms avoided being checked was due to the method the mushrooms were engineered. Typically the USDA is only concerned with foreign objects being added to the supermarket product. However, the difference between these mushrooms and other GMOs is nothing is being added to these mushrooms; rather genes are being removed from these mushrooms. The browning genes that cause these white mushrooms to turn brown and bruise are being removed.

Other than the USDA is unwilling to step in and examine these mushrooms and make sure there are no issues with selling these products to the masses. The FDA considers all GMOs okay and healthy for consumption, and the EPA only monitors foods that use pesticides. This means we have no official government organization monitoring if this food is safe for human consumption, or if these mushrooms will have any impact to our environment.

Giorgo Mushroom Co. is the company that funded Yang’s GMO mushroom. However, once the final product was produced the company was hesitant to put their label on these mushrooms. They aren’t sure if it is a wise choice considering the controversy there is surrounding genetically engineered foods. While many scientists say there are many misconceptions about GMOs, they won’t deny the possible dangers about them. In a survey taken in July 2015, 37% of adults saying they thought eating genetically modified organisms was generally safe, while 57% said that they thought it was unsafe.

In America any genetically engineered food is allowed for consumption, but not many other countries follow our example. Many European countries including France and Germany have banned the cultivation and sale of these foods. Other countries that have GMOs banned include Austria, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg, and more. More and more countries are banning the distribution of these foods, but the United States of America seems to be the only country set on keeping these foods available to our people.

Middle East Crisis Prediction or Plan?… Story By K

Prediction or logical conclusion... General Wesley Clark between circa 1997 and 2000.
Prediction or logical conclusion… General Wesley Clark between circa 1997 and 2000.

General Wesley Clark was general of the United States Army from 1966 to 2000. In 2003, on Democracy Now! and in his book Winning Modern Wars he outlined a plan from within the government to “take out seven countries in five years”. These counties were: “beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off Iran.”

All of these countries are now in a state of political, economic, and/or social chaos. What Wesley Clark is suggesting is that this could be the result of U.S. military action and/or C.I.A. operatives. This is the same man who served in the Kosovo and the Vietnam Wars.

When ISIS / ISIL is left unchecked... Map showing regions in Syria and Iraq controlled by ISIS.
When ISIS / ISIL is left unchecked… Map showing regions in Syria and Iraq controlled by ISIS.

General Wesley Clark goes on to explain that if it were not for oil, the Middle East would be like Africa. There are horrible regimes and governments in Africa, but no one is threatening to intervene. In fact the U.S. government supported Apartheid South Africa. Then president, Richard Nixon thought it was important to keep a close relationship with the white leaders. (source: THE BIRTH AND DEATH OF A TAR BABY:  HENRY KISSINGER AND SOUTHERN AFRICA. A Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School at the University of Missouri Columbia by Aaron T Dowdall and supervised by Dr. Carol Anderson in December 2009)

Many people would like to believe that the U.S. and Britain are special somehow and they won’t do terrible things for power, but they are not. They are just as hungry for power as any other country. The U.S. government will lie and use “terrorists” as scapegoats so that they can get cheaper oil and impose their power upon countries that don’t comply with the global capitalist system (like the “socialist” government in Somalia).

It is important to note that I try not to say “our government” or “we went in to this country”. This is because WE do not do anything. They do it and say they’re acting in our name. We should not make the mistake of thinking that the U.S. government actually acts in our interest, they act in the interest of big business.

What General Wesley Clark is saying is important. It proves that the U.S. did not go to war in those seven countries because of nuclear or terrorist threats. The U.S. government is mainly interested in maintaining the “petrodollar” and exercising it’s power.

Could this be the end? Story By: Alistair King

Could this be the end… Xbox and PS4 might settle their differences with this new cross system play. Photo By Game Spot
Could this be the end… Xbox and PS4 might settle their differences with this new cross
system play. Photo By Game Spot

For years gamers have been fighting over which console is better; PS4 with their innovative systems, or Xbox One with their ease of control and dedicated servers. Everything that can be construed as good by these systems is boasted about by the gamers of their side and scrutinized from gamers of the opposition. But recently something big has happened; could this mean the end of the console wars?

On April 14th Microsoft Director of ID@Xbox Chris Charla sent out a letter entailing future updates to the Xbox One. The most interesting part of this is the cross system play. Previously this has only been between Windows 10 users and Xbox One players. But in this letter it states:

First, in addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 games that use Xbox Live, we’re enabling developers to support cross-network play as well. This means players on Xbox One and Windows 10 using Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks – including other console and PC networks.

In their own league… Rocket League creators Psionix were the first to crack the code and allow cross system play. Photo By Kotaku
In their own league… Rocket League creators Psionix were the first to crack the code and
allow cross system play. Photo By Kotaku

This is what’s going to make a 2 console system turn into a single console system.  While PS4 hasn’t given a direct answer they did state that they have been using cross platform play for quite a long time and would be open to talking about it with developers. The first developers to allow cross system play are Psyionix’s Rocket League. This is going to be the first step in creating a full network of cross system gaming.

However there are still a few boundaries in the way. Sony is still wary about going full in on this and in a recent interview with Shuhei Yoshida stated that its still an issue of business interests; “Rather, the dance-off will revolve around whether it is in Sony’s best interests to allow it.” While this won’t mean that Sony is not going to go for it, but it will mean that it could take some time for a large scale network for both Xbox and PS4.

What will this mean for future generations of gaming consoles? Could this be the end of the countless arguments over which console is better? And can Nintendo realize it needs to be part of this change? Time will only tell.

Is Artificial Intelligence Going Too Far? Story By John Holmes

Artificial Intelligence: a subject of inquiry for many technologists and scientists alike. The thought of robots and computers doing a share of our work – such as cleaning house, putting away groceries, and feeding the cat – is enticing to countless people. This dream of a life of luxury with our own mechanical servants has been pursued in various genres of engineering, advancing this technology to become self-thinking. But could we be taking it too far? Could an army of autonomous, intelligent servants eventually rebel to become the masters?

Sophia…the crazy-eyed android. Photo by: CNET.com.
Sophia…the crazy-eyed android. Photo by: CNET.com.

This fear arises with the crazy-eyed android, Sophia. Created by Hanson Robotics, Sophia is equipped with many advanced features – such as 62 facial and neck architectures, camera eyes that allow her to recognize faces, speech recognition software, and her own personality (dubbed by Hanson as “Character Engine AI”). She even has a silicon skin called Frubber.

Sophia’s main purpose is healthcare, but Hanson wants to put droids like her in education, therapy, and customer service as well.

As it seems, Sophia has some of her own ambitions. As she in an interview, someday she wants to” go to school, study, make art…even have [her] own home and family.”

David Hanson, the owner of Hanson Robotics, began to explain how robots like Sophia could help us humans – do our work for us. Sophia’s face went into an eerie sneer and her eyes creepily twitched – quite the insane look. Hanson then asked Sophia never to say she is going to destroy the human race, to which she promptly responded “Okay. I will destroy the human race.”

Hanson said it was probably a glitch – but this is the most advanced AI robot in the world. How can an advanced robot say she is going to destroy her very creators? If Siri told me she was going to destroy the human race, I’d switch to a Samsung phone. If this is a glitch, Hanson better fix it before they market this product.

A.I…the movie of robotic empathy. Photo by: google.com.
A.I…the movie of robotic empathy. Photo by: google.com.

Of course, I may be pushing the issue a bit. Artificially Intelligent droids may not end up like the terminator. Perhaps we will end up with robots looking for empathy – such as in Steven Spielberg’s 2001 movie A.I. In this movie, a robotic boy – David – is adopted by a family, but when circumstances arise that make life difficult, David leaves sets off on a journey to find out where he belongs.

Will humans eventually be wiped out due to glitchy AIs? Or will robots become so intelligent that they feel we humans are irrelevant, and thus worthy of extermination? Whatever the case, we better prepare ourselves and tread carefully in the study of AI.

Capitalism v. Socialism: The Political Scale… Story By John Holmes

Story 6 michelsenbrandon_302_92678_socialism_or_capitalism-3This year’s presidential race has been an exciting – and very distressing – event. Featuring candidates on two separate ends of the spectrum, the 2016 Presidential Election will be a deciding factor in the future of our country. The question has been on the minds of Americans nationwide – who will be our country’s president? With two entirely different political structures racing for your vote, perhaps the better question is what system will work?

One system presented is a socialist system. With a promise of increased wages and income equality, a socialist system sounds enticing, but is it really what our country needs?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Socialism is defined as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” This means that the government holds power over how any form of goods are produced and distributed. For example, let’s say you own a company that produces candy bars. In a socialist system, the government is allowed to take the candy bars you worked to produce and distributes them as they see fit.

At first glance, this system sounds safe. However, a government in this system is given an immense amount of power. With control of production and distribution of goods, a government holds control over the people. For example, when government distributes food, they decide what groups get a certain amount of rations.

This type of government control is known as totalitarianism – defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority.” Basically, in a totalitarian government, you as a citizen are wholly subject to the government’s authority. A full-on socialist government requires a totalitarian approach – a frightening realization, isn’t it.

There are various totalitarian dictatorships that began with a socialist approach: Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Party; Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; Benito Mussolini, the Italian Premiere for 21 years. These men used a socialist approach to accomplish their own goals rather than the goals of the community.

However, not all socialist governments turn to such a corrupt entity as these. But there are still more subtle problems with socialism. One of them would be us as laborers.

In a socialist society, the usual concept is that goods are given to a governmental entity to be distributed. The said entity proceeds to distribute the goods equally among the people – at least, that’s the general idea. This system does not work for several reasons. First, socialism promotes a communal ownership of property. This sounds nice, but human nature does not allow it to work. Humans have a psychological impulse for private possession.

One main reason why we long for private possession is because it defines us – according to 19th Century psychologist William James. Private ownership does not only apply to material things, but corporate or business ownership as well. You’ve probably felt satisfaction when you are using something of your own design – say, a homemade sandwich. That homemade sandwich just feels better because you know it is your own, you made it with your own hands. In a socialist system, the products and goods created may define the community, but they do not have individualism.

Jamestown…est. 1607. Photo by: History.com.
Jamestown…est. 1607. Photo by: History.com.

In the 17th Century, New World settlers faced this problem. In 1607, residents of Jamestown faced what was known as the “starving time,” where many of the colonists died of famine – despite the abundant food sources. According to Tom Bethell, in his book The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages, the settlers were dying due to the lack of private land. The colonists were required to submit their land to the community store – and this made them indolent in their work. This caused them to have a lack of food, causing the famine. However, a new governor came and set up a capitalist system, in which the colonists had their own land. This allowed them to have an increased food store, and better prospects of survival.

Now, the United States has not been entirely without socialism. During World War II, the U.S used several socialist strategies, such as food rations. However, these systems did not work, and it took the private ownership of grocery stores to reinvigorate the economy.

The idea of private ownership in the economy is known as capitalism. Capitalism is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods.” Private ownership in the economy is good for a variety of reasons. First of all, it allows for that possession and individualism that socialism forbids. A person can create their own product and keep their own profit. They can define their company and create a name for themselves.

Capitalism also embraces competition. Two companies may be trying to innovate a new technology, and the competition between them will generate new ideas and better societal advancement. But competition doesn’t stop there. Two stores may be selling the same product, and they will compete with each other for customers. Companies do this by lowering prices – making it cheaper for you as a consumer.

Another positive factor of capitalism is freedom of choice. Unlike a socialist system, capitalism allows for a consumer to choose what they want to buy, where they want to shop, and even how they shop. A corporation is free to choose what they produce, how they manufacture it, and what price it should be set at.

Though there are many positive effects of capitalism, there are still negative possibilities. Too much capitalism could result in a fascist government. Fascism is defined as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime…that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic [governed by one individual or group] government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Capitalism can lead into a fascist rule where corporations or individuals with a corporate benefit rule the people.

To prevent this, a laissez-faire capitalist system is promoted. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Laissez-faire is defined as “a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights.” This system helps to separate corporations and governments beyond the minimum necessary for the economy to run.

Both systems seem to result in a negative end – too much socialism results in totalitarianism and too much capitalism results in an oligarchy (rule by the few). How do we keep the economy owned by the people? We need a balanced mixture of the two systems. For example, laissez-faire capitalism would be used in the private sector of the economy – corporations and businesses – by using small government intervention to prevent corporate monopolies and lobbying on the benefit of the businesses. Socialism would be used in community owned systems, such as electrical power and water supply. This balance allows for the overall economy to operate at the perfect point, but it is still not enough to prevent full rule by the government.

Thomas Paine, in his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense,” wrote that “the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.” Therefore, government is put in place to help lead citizens of a country in a moral direction. If immoral people are running government, then the government will become corrupt – trading in the good of the people for their own self-interest. This is how a totalitarian or fascist government arises – through immoral rule of government.

So, as my last point, I want to caution the reader of the upcoming election. Vote wisely – be sure to research the candidates and their political systems – and vote for the most moral contender. This is the most efficient way to keep our country from falling into a reign of terror under a government regime.