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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.

In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages 490

As reported by The Daily Beast, news on the ongoing terror attack (or attacks) in Paris. Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who are accused of slaughtering 12 in an attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, have been cornered by hundreds of security officials close to Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris. Officials say they believe the heavily armed brothers are holding one hostage. Twenty miles south, in the east of the city, at least one gunman is believed to have taken six hostages at a Jewish store. Police suspect that the third gunman is the same man who shot and killed a policewoman on Thursday morning before escaping in a bulletproof vest. Update: 01/09 17:44 GMT by T : And now all three of the gunmen involved in today's hostage taking are dead. Watch this space for updates. Update: 01/09 17:15 GMT by T : CNN's story features a stream of updates (and an autoplaying video ad to beware), as does The Telegraph. Latest news is that brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi have been killed by police, but it's unclear whether the same is true of the third hostage-taker.

Microsoft Dumps 1,500 Apps From Its Windows Store 126

redletterdave writes: Microsoft announced on its Windows blog Wednesday that it's removed more than 1,500 apps from its Windows Store in a bid to clean up the store and restore trust with Windows 8 and Windows Phone users. Microsoft's new certification process, in particular, asks for clear and accurate names that "reflect the functionality of the app," more accurate categories, and differentiated icons to ensure apps aren't confused with one another. Microsoft reached out to developers with apps that violated its policies; some agreed to make changes to their software, while those who were "less receptive" saw their apps removed from the Windows Store. That might be just the beginning.

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board 142

jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I have become very busy," Ballmer explains. "I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time." Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company's success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."
The Almighty Buck

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World 695

mendax was one of many readers to write with news about the apparent shutdown of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, in the wake of massive theft. "The New York Times is reporting that Mt. Gox, the most prominent Bitcoin exchange, 'appeared to be on the verge of collapse late Monday, raising questions about the future of a volatile marketplace.' 'On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin's existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation.' Maybe the U.S. Dollar isn't so bad after all." Forbes goes further, and says flatly that Mt. Gox has shut down; Wired calls it an implosion. Reader electron gunner links to the alleged leaked document which outlines the exchange's crisis strategy. Watch this story for updates, since there are bound to be new developments.

Bitcoin Exchange Value Halves After Chinese Ban 475

An anonymous reader writes with news of the latest major fluctuation in the price people are willing to pay for Bitcoins. From the article: "China's ban on its financial institutions handling bitcoin causes world's largest exchange to cease trading, halving the value of the currency from $1,000 to less than $500 in a matter of days. The country's central bank took a hard line on Bitcoin in early December when it banned financial institutions from handling the decentralized crypto-currency, and as a result BTC China, the world's largest bitcoin exchange, has stopped accepting deposits from its users." Just watch that line trend downward.

China Bans Financial Companies From Bitcoin Transactions 110

quantr writes with this excerpt from Bloomberg: "China's central bank barred financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions, moving to regulate the virtual currency after an 89-fold jump in its value sparked a surge of investor interest in the country. Bitcoin plunged more than 20 percent to below $1,000 on the BitStamp Internet exchange after the People's Bank of China said it isn't a currency with 'real meaning' and doesn't have the same legal status. The public is free to participate in Internet transactions provided they take on the risk themselves, it said. The ban reflects concern about the risk the digital currency may pose to China's capital controls and financial stability after a surge in trading this year made the country the world's biggest trader of Bitcoin, according to exchange operator BTC China. Bitcoin's price jumped more than ninefold in the past two months alone, prompting former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to call it a 'bubble.' 'The concern is that it interferes with normal monetary policy operation,' said Hao Hong, head of China research at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong. 'It represents an unofficial leakage to the current monetary system and trades globally. It is difficult to regulate and could be used for money laundering.'"

Microsoft Closes PC Marketplace 158

SmartAboutThings writes "Microsoft is definitely changing things in its gaming department: it has now announced in a support note on the Xbox site that it will be shutting down the PC Marketplace on August 22nd. This comes shortly after news that Microsoft hired former Steam boss Jason Holtman, whose mission at Redmond is to 'make Windows great for gaming.' The Microsoft Points system will be retired on August 22nd as well. The Games for Windows Live client software will not be affected, at least initially, letting you play previously purchased games."

Thailand Government Declares Bitcoin Illegal 185

hypnosec writes that the government of Thailand "has declared Bitcoin illegal following which all trading activities related to the electronic currently have been suspended indefinitely. Through a message posted on its website, the Bitcoin Co. Ltd. has said officials of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department cited absence of applicable laws, capital controls "and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets" as reasons because of which the virtual currency is illegal. This ruling implies that activities such as buying & selling of Bitcoins, buying or selling any service in exchange of Bitcoins, sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand, and receiving Bitcoins from anyone outside of Thailand are illegal. This has forced the company to indefinitely suspend operations."

World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Players in First Quarter of 2013 523

hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."

BitCoin Value Collapses, Possibly Due To DDoS 605

hydrofix writes "The Bitcoin-to-USD exchange rate had been climbing steadily since January 2013, from around 30 USD to over 250 USD only 24 hours ago. Now, the value bubble seems to have burst, at least partially. The primary trading site MtGox reported a drop in value all the way down to 140 USD today, a loss of almost half in real value. With many sites unreachable or slow, there are also news of a possible DDoS attack on MtGox: 'Attackers wait until the price of Bitcoins reaches a certain value, sell, destabilize the exchange, wait for everybody to panic-sell their Bitcoins, wait for the price to drop to a certain amount, then stop the attack and start buying as much as they can. Repeat this two or three times like we saw over the past few days and they profit.'"
The Almighty Buck

Sequester Grounds Blue Angels 341

SchrodingerZ writes "The Blue Angels squadron, known for their intricate and death-defying aerial demonstrations, has canceled all scheduled air shows for the rest of the year. The United States Navy, which controls the Blue Angels, has reported that the grounding comes from the massive rollbacks in spending, due to the 85 billion dollar sequestration given by the federal government. In a statement from the office of the Commander Naval Air Forces in San Diego, the Navy said, 'Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the governmen.' Currently, the cost of an air show is above $100,000. This story came just a week after the announcement by the Air Force that their Thunderbird shows will also be canceled."

San Diego Drops Red-Light Cameras 330

gannebraemorr writes "U-T San Diego reports that the city has become 'the latest in a cadre of California cities turning their backs on red-light cameras — aloof intersection sentries that have prompted $490 tickets to be mailed to 20,000 motorists per year' there. 'Mayor Bob Filner announced his decision to take down the city's 21 cameras at a news conference set at the most prolific intersection for the tickets, North Harbor Drive and West Grape Street, near San Diego International Airport. A crew went to work immediately taking down "photo enforced" signs throughout the city. "Seems to me that such a program can only be justified if there are demonstrable facts that prove that they raise the safety awareness and decrease accidents in our city," Filner said of the cameras. "The data, in fact, does not really prove it."' I have to say I'm a bit surprised that my city is voluntarily shedding potentially $9.8M in revenue after objectively evaluating a program. I wonder how much a system would cost that could switch my light from green to red if it detected a vehicle approaching from a red-lit direction at dangerous speeds. Can you think of an other alternative uses for these cameras?"

Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space.