Tuesday, July 14, 2009

iPhone App Store sells 50 apps a second!

It’s been a year since the iPhone App Store first opened for business, and we’ve seen it race past landmark after landmark in just 365 days. Now though, Apple’s just announced the figures, and they’re astounding. All you iPhone and iPod touch owners have been stocking up on pocket programs at the rate of 50 a second! Read on for the full breakdown.

Apple’s just announced that over 1.5 billion apps have been downloaded in the space of a year from the iPhone App Store, which now stocks more than 65,000 apps. We already knew that Apple had passed the 9 digit mark, but that’s still astonishing.

To put it in perspective, the iPhone App Store has sold on average 4.1 million apps a day since launch - that’s 171,230 an hour, 2,853 a minute oor 47.6 a second! And since it took a while for the iPhone App Store to become so densely stocked, you can bet the rate is even higher right now.

In fact, Apple’s so chuffed with the iPhone App Store that even Steve Jobs weighed in to comment on it. “The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality,” he said. “With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

Catching up they’re trying though, with everyone from BlackBerry to now even LG having a crack. Do any of them stand a chance against the iPhone App Store juggernaut?

Nas Vs. Kelis Gets Nastier

The divorce proceedings between Nas and pregnant Kelis are getting nastier, with Nas calling Kelis a liar and claiming that he pays her more than she says and makes less than she claims.

Kelis claims Nas raked in $11 million for a record deal, but Nas responded saying, “I did not even receive half that amount.” Nas also claims his income is declining, and that he is ONLY making $147, 165 per month.

Kelis also claims that Nas has not paid any child or spousal support, while Nas claims that he wants to be “fully involved” in the parenting of their child and thinks $5,000 per month is enough for a newborn - not bad, that’s more than most grown-ups make per month!

Elizabeth Taylor Hospitalized

Elizabeth Taylor has been left so exhausted following the sudden — and unexpected — death of her close pal Michael Jackson, she has checked into hospital.

The Hollywood legend was admitted to an LA hospital from her Beverly Hills home Monday.

The New York Post’s Cindy Adams reports:

ELIZABETH Taylor is in an LA hospital. Brought there yesterday from her Beverly Hills home. Not to add aggravation onto the Jacksons, but the source of her condition is simply: The heart’s gone out of her. As I’ve reported repeatedly, in a wheelchair, nurses in attendance, she was on the way to his London opening. Then he died, and she began screaming. Then the Jackson family denied her access to their funeral pews and barred her from the events because she was Michael’s friend, not theirs. She’s suffering weakness, tiredness, exhaustion, emotional draining. She hasn’t stopped crying. She and Michael were devoted to one another.

Taylor, 77, missed Jacko’s memorial last Tuesday, insisting she wanted to grieve in private.

“I’ve been asked to speak at the Staples Center,” she wrote on her Twitter page. “I cannot be part of the public whoopla. And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word.”

“I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us,” she added. “Not a public event.”

Could the Yankees Really Trade for Roy Halladay?

Last weekend on YES’s Joe Girardi Show, the Yankees manager was asked by a viewer whether his team would go after Roy Halladay now that Chien-Ming Wang is hurt. At the time, we laughed at the mere thought of this; it’s the type of question only a Yankees fan could ask. We need someone for the fifth slot in the rotation! Are we going to get the best pitcher in the American League to take the spot? But today, Halladay’s found his way onto the back page of both Newsday and the Post. So could this really happen? Why it might, and also why it probably won’t, after the jump.

Why the Yankees Could Land Halladay• The Blue Jays might insist that a team trading for Halladay also take Vernon Wells (and the $107 million remaining on his contract). If Halladay seeks a contract extension in order to waive his no-trade clause, and gets approximately as much as CC Sabathia did last winter, some lucky team will be increasing their payroll by $41 million overnight. The Yankees are one of the few teams — if not the only team — that can make a move this ridiculous.

• Halladay has said that he’d be willing to sign with the Yankees. Of course, he’d be crazy to say otherwise, and not a lot of players would turn down their piles of money, but considering the bandbox the new Yankee Stadium has proven to be, it's nice to have this on the record.

• Newsday’s Anthony Rieber suggests that the Jays might be so desperate to dump Wells’s salary that they would accept a deal for Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner, plus Ramiro Pena and some lower-level prospects, from the Yankees. This seems more than a little optimistic to us, but it’s a trade the Yankees would make in a heartbeat.

Why the Yankees Probably Won’t Land Halladay

• In theory, any moves Toronto makes will be geared toward improving their chances of winning at some point down the line, whether it’s freeing up money or getting something of value in return for a player who’s assuredly going to leave anyway. They don’t need to be reminded that the Yankees are in their division, and making them stronger would defeat this purpose. Just because the Jays are willing to trade Halladay and Halladay is willing to go to the Yankees doesn’t mean the Jays are willing to trade Halladay to the Yankees. Any eighth-grader could tell you that.

• The opinions of Newsday columnists aside, the Blue Jays would almost definitely insist that either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes be a part of any trade. If they were off-limits for Johan Santana, we’re not sure they wouldn’t be off-limits for Halladay, who is two years older. Not only would it be the last straw for that commitment to youth we heard so much about last year, they’d be essentially admitting they were wrong about the Santana trade, which isn’t something they’re going to be eager to do.

• Despite all the press that Halladay is getting around these parts, there’s one thing to keep in mind: This is one of the slower sports-news weeks of the year, at least in terms of actual competition. Someone’s gotta go on the back page — the News opted for a “random, unscientific survey” that proves A-Rod isn’t the best player in baseball anymore — and speculating about Halladay can at least get people (us included) talking. But as for Halladay actually donning pinstripes this month, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Breaking news: "Jane Roe" Norma McCorvey arrested at Sotomayor hearing

From the Washington Post, within the hour:

The woman at the center of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights ruling was arrested today at the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor among a wave of anti-abortion protesters who lined the sidewalks outside the Senate office buildings and several of whom made it into the hearing room and disrupted in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings....

Norma McCorvey, 61, of TX, better known as "Jane Roe" in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started yelling during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).... McCorvey... eventually become a leading opponent of the procedure....

McCorvey and Francis Mahoney, 68, of FL were charged with unlawful conduct for disrupting Congress, the 3rd and 4th such arrests the police made during the more than 5-hour proceedings. McCorvey was part of the group of protesters outside the Hart Senate Office Building throughout the day, a gathering led by Randall Terry, the former head of Operation Rescue.

The last 2 rows of the hearing room were reserved for about 50 members of the public, who rotate into the hearings for short intervals and then must be escorted out to allow other citizens to view the historic proceedings. McCorvey and Mahoney were part of a group being escorted out as Franken was praising the service of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MS), a staunch supporter of the Roe decision....

When McCorvey and Mahoney started shouting, they were quickly removed from the room. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Judiciary Committee chairman, banged the gavel on the crowd for the 3rd time today.

"Officers, please remove whoever is causing the disturbance," Leahy said. "Again, as Senator Sessions and I have said, this is a meeting of the United States Senate. We'll show respect to everybody who is here, we will show respect to everybody, including to Judge Sotomayor, to the Senators on both sides of the aisle, and we will have order in this room."

From the Journal Sentinal blog:

Norma McCorvey... began to scream at Sotomayor that she was "wrong " for her perceived abortion rights views.

"You're wrong Sotomayor," she said. "You're wrong."...

Earlier, she was among a small group of anti-abortion activists who protested Sotomayor's confirmation outside the Hart Senate Office building. The group lingered on a sidewalk nearby holding up signs saying "Stop All Abortions." Other signs depicted graphic images of what appeared to be aborted fetuses. One woman wore a black judicial robe and held a sickle in protest of what demonstrators perceived as Sotomayor's abortion rights views.

"I'm here to overturn Roe and defeat Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court," McCorvey said earlier in the day. "She's unworthy of the position. She's Catholic. She's even unworthy of taking communion because of her pro-abortion stance."

Palin, Washington Post, and the End of Newspapers

I’m not going to link to Sarah Palin’s Washington Post op-ed on why unrestricted pollution should be allowed to destroy the planet. Let’s just observe that the Post’s habit of publishing this kind of material is part of the reason why, adverse consequences for a number of writers I like, I wouldn’t shed a tear if the Washington Post Company were to choose to shutter it’s money-losing newspaper and focus on its core competency in the field of standardized test preparation. After all, why does Sarah Palin have an op-ed on climate legislation in the Washington Post? Does she have scientific expertise? Economic expertise? Knowledge of the state of international climate negotiations?

Perhaps during her brief time in the public spotlight she developed a reputation for an unusually solid grasp of complicated policy details? Or is the idea that she’s known for being honest? A good-faith participant in public policy debates?

Well, no. And the fact of the matter is that the Palin op-ed actually fits very comfortably alongside the established norms of Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Robert Samuelson—words on paper that are neither paid advertisements nor serious efforts to improve people’s understanding of the world.

Why would Cheney hide proposed Al Qaeda hit squads from congress?

The New York Times is reporting that the super-secret program Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to conceal from Congress involved a plan to send teams of hit men to hunt down suspected al Qaeda operatives.

We're told that job was ultimately left to killer drones because death squads proved impractical.

But if that was it, why would Dick Cheney order the CIA deny the program? The U.S. declared war on AQ after 9/11. The CIA has been operating against AQ ever since. You don't have to be a high-ranking intel committee member to know about the drone strikes, you just have to read a newspaper once in a while. Of course, Cheney is notoriously paranoid and secretive. But the administration even sends out press releases about its shiny killer drones.

A former CIA counterterrorism official told TPM Muckraker that there's no legal difference between killing with a drone and shooting or stabbing the victim.

So, it seems safe to assume that the program involved something more than a vague plan to send CIA agents to hunt down suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, or even Pakistan.

STRANGER THAN FICTION: Jane Roe — Of Roe V. Wade Fame — Arrested At Sotomayor Hearing

WASHINGTON POST: The woman at the center of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 abortion rights ruling was arrested today at the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor, among a wave of anti-abortion protestors who lined the sidewalks outside the Senate office buildings and several of whom made it into the hearing room in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings. Norma McCorvey, 61, of Texas, better known as “Jane Roe” in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started began during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), according to Capitol Police. McCorvey, whose pursuit of the right to access to abortion in the early 1970s led to a ruling that has been a pivotal part of every Supreme Court nomination fight since, has since become a leading opponent of the procedure

Obama says unemployment will keep ticking up

President Barack Obama conceded Tuesday that the unemployment rate will keep growing for "several months" as he prepared to head to battered Michigan to unveil a plan to help train people for the next generation of jobs.

Obama is proposing a multibillion-dollar investment in the nation's community colleges, a $12 billion effort to help the two-year institutions reach, teach and train more people for "the jobs of the future." He was to outline his program in a speech Tuesday afternoon at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.

Before leaving town, Obama was pressed on how high the unemployment rate might climb. In Michigan, the jobless rate is 14.1 percent, worst in the nation.

"How employment numbers are going to respond is not yet clear," Obama said after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

"My expectation is, is that we will probably continue to see unemployment tick up for several months," Obama said. "And the challenge for this administration is to make sure that even as we are stabilizing the financial system ... are people able to find good jobs that pay good wages?"

More than 2 million jobs have been lost since Congress passed Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package. Without that government intervention, Obama said, states like Michigan would be in even worse shape because they would have had to lay off more teachers, firefighters and other workers.

Obama said renewed hiring tends to lag behind other signs of economic recovery. The White House has been criticized for being overly rosy in its projections of the economic rebound, particularly in terms of employment.

Obama defended his multi-pronged agenda of investing in health care, energy, science innovation and infrastructure as keys to lasting economic growth.

Under Obama's college initiative, schools could qualify for "challenge grants" so they'll have money to try new programs, or expand training and counseling. Dropout rates would be addressed by designing programs to help students who want to earn an associate's degree or transfer to a four-year institution do so.

Money would be spent to renovate outdated facilities or build new ones, and to develop online courses and make them freely available to students and others who want to use them.

The total federal cost is $12 billion over a decade. Of that, $9 billion would go toward challenge grants and addressing dropout rates. Half a billion, or $500 million, would go toward online education. The remaining $2.5 billion would be used to spark $10 billion in renovation and construction nationwide, said James Kvaal, an Obama economic policy adviser.

The plan would be paid for as part of a package that cuts waste from the student loan program, administration officials said. Some of the money could be available by the 2010 budget year that begins Oct. 1.

Obama speaks of expanded education and job training as a way to help workers compete for jobs such as those expected in the clean energy industry, when the economy turns around and begins to create jobs again instead of shedding them.

"In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it's never been more essential to continue education and training after high school," Obama said Sunday in a Washington Post op-ed piece.

Community colleges have been feeling pinched lately. Enrollments have been increasing for several reasons, including rising college costs at public and private institutions, and because of the economy, as people who've lost jobs enroll to learn new skills.

About 6 million students currently attend community college, administration officials said. Obama is setting a new goal of 5 million additional college graduates by 2020, Kvaal said.

In his speech to a joint session of Congress earlier this year, the president urged every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training.

Obama's stop in Michigan will be his first visit to the state since he defeated Republican Sen. John McCain there in the presidential election.

The trip wasn't all about policy, however.

Before returning to the White House, Obama, an athlete who is more into basketball and, lately, golf, was dropping into Busch Stadium in St. Louis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Major League Baseball's annual All-Star game.

It will be his first pitch as president. Obama skipped traditional opening day invites.