Stats of our lives: Plummeting faith
Percent of Americans who identify as atheists, according to a new poll by the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism
Percent of Americans who identified as atheists in the 2005 poll
Percent of people worldwide who identify as atheists
Government revamps social media security after Central Command hack
Remember the embarrassing U.S. Central Command hack on Twitter and YouTube from earlier this month? No classified information got out, but there were a whole lot of pro-ISIS posts.
Agencies should set up "social media stakeholder teams" to quickly respond to incidents like Central Command's, the guidelines say. They should also set up two-step verification for all logins and follow federal recommendations for setting up strong passwords. Oh, and ensure no former employees have access to the accounts.
Check out the full list of guidelines here.
Snowstorm forecasts weren't actually that far off
As New Yorkers woke up to less snow than anticipated, many questioned the validity of weather forecasts predicting a possibly historic blizzard. But forecasters and atmospheric scientists said the models weren't far off.
The storm was extremely powerful, but the intensity hit 50 to 100 miles east of forecasts, and New York City fell just outside the blizzard range.
"In the big picture, this was not a bad forecast," Columbia University atmospheric scientist Adam Sobel told The New York Times. "But if you sit in New York City, this was a bust."
Arguably, some New Yorkers should be thanking the skewed forecasts for getting them a day off work.
Apple smashes revenue expectations behind massive iPhone sales
Apple Inc. on Tuesday reported a record profit for the last fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 27, thanks in part to enormous sales totals of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The tech giant sold 74.5 million iPhones in that three-month span, a 44 percent spike from the same quarter last year. The sales surge helped the company post $74.6 billion in quarterly revenue — a 30 percent increase from last year's $57.6 billion haul, and well above the roughly $67.7 billion analysts expected.
Study: Sleeping aids could increase the risk of Alzheimer's
A new study from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy found that over-the-counter sleeping drugs could increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, found that some sleep aids and anti-allergy pills contain "anticholinergic" blocking effects, which, if taken in large doses, can increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Anticholinergic drugs block acetylcholine, a chemical transmitter in the nervous system that Alzheimer's patients often lack.
The researchers suggested that doctors prescribe lower doses and fewer anticholinergic drugs for older patients, though more research is needed to understand sleep aids' potential risks.
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig lead cast of all-female Ghostbusters reboot
The cast for the long-awaited return of the Ghostbusters franchise has finally been assembled. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are reportedly set to take the lead roles in an all-female reboot of the franchise.
The casting hasn't been formally confirmed, but is widely expected to go through. Melissa McCarthy has already signed on, and The Hollywood Reporter says that "negotiations are ongoing" for the remaining three stars. Most tellingly, director Paul Feig has already tweeted a picture of the quartet:
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) January 27, 2015
The Ghostbusters reboot comes at the end of a long, long road for the franchise, which saw the prospect of a third Ghostbusters movie dangled in front of fans for more than a decade. The 2014 death of original Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis, along with the continued reluctance of Bill Murray to join the project, led to the idea of a reboot instead of a sequel.
Indonesian military's search for crashed AirAsia jet is officially over
Indonesia's military has withdrawn its search for the bodies of AirAsia Flight 8501. Seventy of the 162 passengers' bodies have been recovered.
The plane crashed over the Java Sea in December while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Rescue divers have recovered the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
"The operation has been ongoing for 30 days, so the joint team has been pulled out," Rear Admiral Widodo, head of the navy's western fleet, told Reuters. "We apologize to the families of the victims. We tried our best to look for the missing victims."
The civilian National Search and Rescue agency has said it may continue the search for the bodies, and it will hold a press conference on Wednesday.
Americans projected to spend $703 million on their pets this Valentine's Day
A new report from the National Retail Federation found that Americans will likely spend $18.9 billion on Valentine's Day, and $703 million of that will go toward gifts for their pets.
One in five survey respondents — 21.2 percent, to be exact — said they would include their pets in their Valentine's Day plans, and planned to spend an average of $5.28 on their furry friends. In total, that's $703 million among all U.S. consumers.
The annual poll surveyed 6,375 consumers between Jan. 6 and Jan. 13, 2015.
Marshawn Lynch perfectly trolled the NFL for forcing him to speak with the media
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a noted distaste for speaking with the press. But with the NFL threatening to fine him a reported $500,000 should he skip out on Super Bowl Media Day, Lynch dutifully answered questions for the press on Tuesday with a single response: "I'm just here so I won't get fined."
This year alone, the NFL fined Lynch $100,000 for refusing to sit through two media avails.
Disney reportedly wants Chris Pratt to be the next Indiana Jones
Are Harrison Ford's days of adventuring as Indiana Jones behind him? According to a "dishy informed rumor" from an insider, Deadline reports that Disney is seeking Chris Pratt — who played a distinctly Indiana Jones-ish character in last summer's megahit Guardians of the Galaxy — to take over Ford's whip and fedora in a reboot of the Indiana Jones franchise.
2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull introduced Shia LaBeouf as Indy's son Mutt Williams, who many expected would eventually take over the franchise. That didn't pan out, but Indiana Jones remains a hot property; last year, it was widely rumored that Bradley Cooper was a favorite to star in a reboot of the franchise, though producer Frank Marshall quickly dismissed those reports as false.
Oxfam urges wealthy countries to support Ebola recovery
International development agency Oxfam warned that without the help of rich countries, Ebola recovery in the three countries hit hardest could lead to a "double disaster."
Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, the West African countries worst hit in the Ebola outbreak, are among the world's poorest countries. Oxfam encouraged donor countries to adopt a multi-million dollar "Marshall Plan" to help these countries access social services, including health, education, and water and sanitation.
"The world cannot walk away now that, thankfully, cases of this deadly disease are dropping," said Oxfam GB Chief Executive Mark Goldring. "Failure to help these countries after surviving Ebola will condemn them to a double-disaster." Oxfam noted that 60 percent of people in Liberia, the country with the most Ebola deaths, haven't had enough food in the past week.
More than 8,600 people have died in the Ebola outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. The World Bank estimates that since the outbreak, almost 180,000 people in Sierra Leone have lost their jobs, and the countries directly affected will lose more than 12 percent of their combined GDPs this year.