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United States

Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US 866

gollum123 notes new U.S. demographic data from the Pew Research Center which show that the percentage of Americans declaring affiliation with a particular religion has declined sharply since 2007. Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Those describing themselves as atheist, agnostic, or simple having no affiliation took up most of the slack, rising from 16.1% to 22.8%. Members of non-Christian faiths collectively rose from 4.7% to 5.9%. Despite the overall decline, the demographics within the Christian group are getting much more racially and ethnically diverse. The willingness of respondents to marry outside their religious affiliation is also on the rise. The median age of unaffiliated adults is dropping, while the median ages of mainline Protestants and Catholics are rising. The study estimates that 85% of adults age 70 and over are Christian, while only 56% of adults ages 18-24 are Christian. They also say that each individual generation has shown a slight decrease in religious affiliation compared to their statistics in 2007.

Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program 141

MarkWhittington writes The War is Boring blog reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been obliged to cancel its nascent space program. This development means that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's dream of being the first astronaut to be launched into space by Iran have been dashed. Ironically, Anousheh Ansari, who was obliged to flee to the United States from Iran to avoid religious oppression, remains the only Iranian-born space traveler. She did it by going to Texas, making her fortune in the electronics business, and paying for her trip to the International Space Station.

Dish Pulls Fox News, Fox Business Network As Talks Break Down 275

An anonymous reader writes Fox News and Fox Business were pulled by Dish Network over the weekend, as both continue to argue over a fee agreement. From the article: "Dish said in a statement early Sunday morning that 21st Century Fox had blocked access to the two networks after Dish balked when rates for other networks owned by the media conglomerate were made a part of the negotiations. Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, countered in a statement that "Dish prematurely ceased distribution of Fox News in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations. It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately."

Hurricane Could Make a Mess of Republican Convention 503

Hugh Pickens writes "ABC News reports that Hurricane Isaac, currently a tropical storm brewing southeast of Puerto Rico, is on track to hit Florida the same day that Mitt Romney and 50,000 Republican delegates, journalists, protestors and guests descend on Tampa for the Republican National Convention but whether it will skim the east coast near Miami or crash head-on into Tampa, is still up in the air. The worst possible scenario is that Hurricane Isaac stays on the western track, skating over the Caribbean Sea south of Haiti, crossing the primarily flat landscape of western Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico then curving east and hitting Tampa dead-on. 'Tampa is just as vulnerable as New Orleans was in the sense that the water will funnel into the bay area and from the storm surge which will flood completely the whole entire city of Tampa,' says meteorologist Max Golembo. 'It would be a disaster in the Tampa area.' If a hurricane or tropical storm is bearing down on Tampa, the priority of law enforcement is to evacuate residents, leaving GOP officials to make the decision of when to evacuate delegates says Hillsborough County Emergency Management spokeswoman Holly Wade. 'We have to look at a lot of factors, like timing and landfall,' says Wade. 'We provide the weather information, then we take that to the host committee, which decides if the event goes on or if the event gets altered.' A Category 2 hurricane could disrupt convention activities because the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the festivities, is within a mandatory evacuation zone for storms of that magnitude."

Ron Paul Effectively Ending Presidential Campaign 745

New submitter Dainsanefh sends this quote from the LA Times: "Ron Paul, Mitt Romney's lone remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, announced Monday that he would stop spending money on the party's 11 remaining primaries, in effect suspending his campaign. ... Apart from President Obama and Romney, Paul has raised more money than any other White House contender this year – more than $36 million. His calls for strict adherence to the Constitution and his no-nonsense manner have spawned a vocal and well organized group of followers, but not enough to give him a realistic shot at the presidency."

Homeland Security Drops Color-Coded Terror Alerts 183

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that the Homeland Security Department is poised to end its five-tiered, color-coded terrorism warning system, a post-Sept. 11 endeavor that has been called too vague to be useful and has been mostly ignored or mocked by the public. The domestic security advisory system was created in 2002 under then-Secretary Tom Ridge and in 2004, the department began assigning color threat levels to general targets such as aviation, financial services and mass transit. However the Department hasn't changed the alert level in four years, even after the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and the alert level has only been elevated to red once, on Aug. 10, 2006, when British police disrupted a plot to detonate liquid explosives on airliners. Although it is unknown what, if anything, will replace the color-coded alerts, a senior Homeland Security official, who did not want to speak on the record about a decision still under review, says that 'the goal is to replace a system that communicates nothing.'" Can't we just re-use the big DefCon displays from Wargames?

Cyber Command Will Miss Friday's Operational Deadline 156

techinsider writes "The U.S. Cyber Command won't be fully operational by Friday's October 1st deadline. A major challenge appears to be staffing the command with qualified personnel, of which it will need over 1,000 skilled employees. General Alexander told Congress his leadership staff was in place but acknowledged there were challenges in bringing in people to the rest of the organization."

Blockbuster Files For Bankruptcy 390

Dallas-based Blockbuster Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday, calling into question the futures of over 5,600 stores worldwide. The company will be evaluating each location on a case-by-case basis, and seeks to cut costs after reporting a $558 million net loss last year. Newsweek credits the company's slow adoption of new media distribution methods as a big reason for the company's decline. "... while Blockbuster discussed creating its own subscription service to rival Netflix, it wasn't until August 2004 that its online DVD rental program actually started in the US. And when, in 2004, Coinstar entered the market with its Redbox DVD kiosks, Blockbuster didn't begin installing similar devices until 2008." CNET suggests that "Leaders of pay TV services might be wise to start doing the business equivalent of digging foxholes and manning the battlements or the same thing could happen to them."
The Internet

Seattle Data Center Outage Disrupts E-Commerce 118

1sockchuck writes "A major power outage at Seattle telecom hub Fisher Plaza has knocked payment processing provider Authorize.net offline for hours, leaving thousands of web sites unable to take credit cards for online sales. The Authorize site is still down, but its Twitter account attributes the outage to a fire, while AdHost calls it a 'significant power event.' Authorize.net is said to be trying to resume processing from a backup data center, but there's no clear ETA on when Fisher Plaza will have power again."

GM's Hummer Brand To Be Sold To a Chinese Company 429

An anonymous reader writes in to note that GM will sell its Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. of China, a little-known industrial firm. For now, the deal will save 3,000 jobs in the US. (The military HumVees are made by a separate company and are not involved in this deal.) "As part of the deal, some GM plants will continue to build the Hummer brand for the new owner, at least for awhile. The company said its Shreveport, La., plant will keep building Hummers for the new owner until at least 2010. ... GM said it sold 5,013 Hummers worldwide in the first quarter, down 62% from the 13,050 that it sold in the same period the prior year." AP coverage has more details on GM's planned divestitures, including the shedding of Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab.
Internet Explorer

IE8 May Be End of the Line For Internet Explorer 380

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy reports on rumors that IE8 may be Internet Explorer's swan song: 'IE8 is the last version of the Internet Explorer Web browser,' Kennedy writes. 'It seems that Microsoft is preparing to throw in the towel on its Internet Explorer engine once and for all.' And what will replace it? Some are still claiming that Microsoft will go with WebKit, which is used by Safari and Chrome. The WebKit story, Kennedy contends, could be a feint and that Microsoft will instead adopt Gazelle, Microsoft Research's brand-new engine that thinks like an OS. 'This new engine will supposedly be more secure than Firefox or even Chrome, making copious use of sandboxing to keep its myriad plug-ins isolated and the overall browser process model protected.'" The sticking point will be what Microsoft does about compatibility for ActiveX apps.
The Courts

Jack Thompson Disbarred 522

Sockatume writes "The Florida Supreme Court has approved Judge Dava Tunis' recommendations for the permanent disbarment of John B. "Jack" Thompson, with no leave to reapply and $43,675.35 in disciplinary costs. The ruling is a step up from the enhanced disbarment that had been suggested by the prosecution, which would have forbidden him from reapplying for ten years. Thompson has 30 days to appeal the ruling before the disbarment is permanent. Thompson responds to the ruling."

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.