Posts Tagged With: political discourse

The Clock Is Ticking On Fracking

 

The Economist Special Report:

    In this comprehensive report on Natural Gas and Fracking,             an international outlook on natural gas is discussed from several points of view.

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Introduction:  An Unconventional Bonanza

New sources of gas could transform the world’s energy markets, says Simon Wright—but it won’t be quick or easy

Jul 14th 2012 | from the print edition

COLOURLESS, ODOURLESS, LIGHTER than air. Natural gas may not have much impact on the senses, but as a source of heat and power it is transforming energy markets. Around 100AD Plutarch, a Graeco-Roman poet, noted the “eternal fires” in what is now Iraq. They were probably methane gas seeping out of the ground, ignited by lightning. Those eternal fires are now proliferating. An unexpected boom in shale gas that has taken off in America may well spread elsewhere and will add massively to global gas supplies.

Shale gas—an “unconventional” source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations)—has rapidly transformed America’s energy outlook. At the same time discoveries of vast reserves of conventional gas from traditional wells have pushed up known reserves around the world. Gas is the only fossil fuel set to increase its share of energy demand in the years to come.

For a long time it was regarded as oil’s poor relation. In the late 18th century William Murdoch, a Scottish engineer, used it to light his house, but it did not catch on until some decades later when it became popular for illuminating homes and streets, replacing flickering candles. Commercial exploitation of gas and oil began around the same time, yet gas remained a niche product for lighting. And despite its rapid rise in recent years, it will still lag oil as a source of energy by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a rich-world energy club—and overtake coal by then only if the new gas reserves are fully exploited.

The trouble with gas is that it is difficult and expensive to transport. That used to be true of oil too, but since the development of supertankers in the 1960s it can be shifted relatively cheaply to find a customer in the world market. Gas needs a ready buyer and a way of delivering it.

A priceless commodity

Because of those hefty transport costs, gas does not behave like a commodity. Only one-third of all gas is traded across borders, compared with two-thirds of oil. Other commodities fetch roughly the same price the world over, but gas has no global price. In America, as well as in Britain and Australia, it is traded freely and prices are set through competition. In continental Europe traded gas markets are gaining a foothold, but most gas is delivered through pipelines and sold on long-term contracts linked to the price of oil, for which it used to be seen as a substitute. Gas-poor Asia relies heavily on imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). “Stranded gas”, too far from its markets to go down a pipe, can be turned into a liquid by cooling it to -162°C, shipped in specialist tankers and turned back into gas at its destination. But the huge plants needed to do the job at both ends are very costly.

Since gas prices in different parts of the world are set by quite different mechanisms, they vary wildly across the globe. In America, where shale gas is whooshing out of the ground, they recently fell to a ten-year low. In Asia they can be ten times the American level.

Gas all over

Global reserves have been steadily increasing for at least 30 years. According to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published last year, world production has grown significantly too, rising by two-fifths between 1990 and 2009, twice as fast as that of oil. Only half a decade ago it looked as though the world might have only 50 or 60 years-worth of gas. Now shale and other unconventional as well as new conventional gas finds have increased that period to 200 years or more, by some estimates.

The unconventional-gas bonanza has roughly doubled the gas resource base, a measure of the total gas in the ground rather than what might be economically recoverable. In 2009 the IEA estimated the “long-term global recoverable gas resource base” at 850 trillion cubic metres (tcm), against 400tcm only a year earlier. The main reason for the rethink was shale gas and other unconventionals. Not just America but parts of Europe, China, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and several African countries, among others, sit atop as yet unknown quantities of gas that could transform their energy outlook.

Better technology has helped, and so has the high oil price. The spiralling price of crude has caused oil companies to search even harder for it. But before a test well has been drilled, it is near-impossible to be sure whether the geological idiosyncrasies that excite oilmen will yield either oil or gas (or sometimes both, and often nothing). Of late, big oil companies have found plenty of gas.

Not only have breakthroughs in technology opened up America’s shale beds, but advances in drilling in very deep water have dramatically changed exploration in the sea. Australia will emerge as a gas superpower as it begins to deliver large quantities of LNG from offshore fields. And better technology and global warming is unlocking the Arctic’s natural bounty.

But there are reservations. Last year the IEA published a report entitled, “Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?” The question mark reflects the constraints that public disquiet about shale gas might put on its development. That is one reason why Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, is far from certain that America’s shale boom can be replicated elsewhere.

In the most promising scenario, if shale development goes full steam ahead, the IEA reckons that the share of gas in the global energy mix will rise from 21% today to 25% in 2035. That may not sound much of an increase, but over that period total global consumption will grow spectacularly. If the obstacles can be overcome, more gas and lower prices will mean a rise of 50% in global demand for gas between 2010 and 2035, according to the IEA.

What has made gas so exciting is not just the steep rise in supply but also the wide range of uses for it. It is a flexible fuel, capable of heating homes, fuelling industrial boilers and providing feedstock for the petrochemicals industry, where it is turned into plastics, fertiliser and other useful stuff. It is also making small but significant progress as a fuel for lorries and buses.

Not just America but parts of Europe, China, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and several African countries sit atop as yet unknown quantities of gas

But the biggest advances have been in power generation. A technological breakthrough, the combined-cycle gas turbine, a spin-off from the aviation industry, has transformed the economics of the industry. Not only has it made it cheaper to generate electricity from gas, but the process releases up to 50% less carbon dioxide than does coal. As governments strive to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, replacing coal with gas will bring fairly swift results. Already the share of gas in the overall energy mix, which had remained at 16% from the late 1960s to the 1990s, has risen to 21%.

Gas power stations are a “low-regret” option, according to Michael Stoppard of IHS CERA, a research firm. They are relatively cheap to build, beating nuclear power hands down in terms of capital costs, and in most cases they are also less expensive than renewables. The EU hopes that by 2050 some 97% of power generation will come from renewables, but gas power stations are likely to be needed for decades yet to provide flexibility and security. And if gas is cheap enough and techniques such as carbon capture and storage can be developed to make commercial sense, gas could thrive for much longer even in a world that had radically cut carbon emissions.

Except in America, though, gas is currently expensive, and shifting it is likely to remain costly. Gas markets are regional. The stuff is mainly delivered down pipelines that stretch across countries and even continents, but not between them. Pipelines cost million of dollars a kilometre to build. The business model of developing a gasfield has been to find buyers and lock them into long-term contracts to ensure that the costs of developing and delivering the gas will be paid back. The alternative is to ship the gas in liquid form, as LNG. But projects to liquefy gas also require huge investments, and often finding long-term buyers too.

Well oiled

Historical factors have led to another anomaly: much of the gas traded across borders is sold at prices linked to those of crude oil. When gas was first brought to market as a commercial fuel in the 1960s, as an alternative to home heating oil, it made sense to price it against a substitute. But there was also a more subtle reason. Oil was used as an independent price arbiter for Dutch gas in the 1960s and then for Algerian and Norwegian gas in the 1970s because neither side could influence the supply and demand for it. The system persisted as Russian gas came to Europe in the late 1970s. But the economics have changed, and valuing one commodity in terms of another now seems bizarre.

Britain has had competition based on supply and demand since the deregulation of the energy industry in the 1990s. The fuel is traded at the National Balancing Point, a virtual hub. Similar arrangements are now spreading across north-western Europe as the European Union is switching to hub-based gas trading at the virtual Title Transfer Facility (TTF), as well as at Zeebrugge in Belgium and NetConnect Germany (NCG) and Gaspool in Germany. The model is America’s Henry Hub in Louisiana, where nine interstate gas pipelines meet and from where the gas is distributed to buyers, setting a benchmark for prices across America.

A more competitive market the world over would doubtless make gas cheaper by breaking the link with oil, but that will be difficult to bring about. Gazprom, Russia’s huge state-run gas producer and supplier of 25% of Europe’s gas, is strongly opposed to dropping oil indexation. A tussle is under way between it and the continent’s big buyers. Some pundits say that gas must eventually become a global fungible product like oil, with regional price differences closing as more gas is shifted in the form of LNG, draining gluts and making up shortfalls in regional production in North America, Europe and Asia. But others reckon it will never happen.

Gas producers are naturally happy with the high prices resulting from oil indexation, arguing that without them the economics of big gas projects would never work. But Rick Smead of Navigant, a consultancy, thinks there are good reasons for all concerned to want competitive gas prices. He points out that they would reduce regional price volatility and provide gas producers with a broad and flexible market instead of having to rely on a single consumer at the end of a pipeline. That should offer an incentive to make the huge investments required.

If the “shale gale” blowing through America can be replicated worldwide, the huge surpluses it would bring could hasten the advent of a global market. Just as the 20th century was the age of oil, the 21st could prove to be the century of gas.

International Attitudes Differ On Fracking:  What’s Yours?

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Supporting Conservative Solutions

From Wikipedia

Crowd Funding

Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.[citation needed] Crowd funding occurs for any variety of purposes,[1] from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns, to funding a startup company, movie [2] or small business[3] or creating free software.

Another aspect of crowd funding is tied into the United States of America JOBS Act which allows for a wider pool of smaller investors with fewer restrictions. The Act was signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is going to have approximately 270 days from the enactment date to set forth specific rules and methods to ensure that funding will actually take place.[citation needed]

History

In 1997, fans underwrote an entire U.S. tour for the British rock group Marillion,[4] raising $60,000 in donations by means of a fan-based internet campaign.[citation needed] The idea was conceived and managed by fans without any involvement by the band, although Marillion has since used this method with great success as a way to fund the recording and marketing of its albums[citation needed] Anoraknophobia,[5] Marbles,[6] and Happiness Is the Road.[7]

The United States based company ArtistShare (2000/2001) is documented as being the first crowdfunding website for music followed later by sites such as Sellaband (2006), IndieGoGo (2008), Pledge Music (2009), Kickstarter (2009), RocketHub (2009), GoFundMe (2010), Rock The Post (2011) and in the UK Sponsume (2010) and PleaseFund.Us (2011)and Peerbackers (2008).

Electric Eel Shock (EES) the Japanese rock band who have toured the world became one of the first bands without previous significant record sales to fully embrace Crowd Funding. In 2004 as an unsigned band they raised £10,000 from 100 fans (the Samurai 100) by offering them guestlist for life [8]. Two years later they became the fastest band to raise a 50,000 budget through SellaBand [9]. They licensed the album internationally including to Universal in their native Japan.

Franny Armstrong was a pioneer of crowdfunding in the production of the eco-movie The Age of Stupid starring Pete Postlethwaite. The film was crowd-funded by a £450,000 budget being raised by selling “shares” to 223 individuals and groups who donated between £500 and £35,000.[10]

Morton Valence are an early example of a relatively obscure band to independently enter into crowd funding without using a third party website such as sellaband.[11] In 2007 Franny Armstrong discussed her project with bandleader Robert “Hacker” Jessett[12] who adapted it to work for the independent music business raising £20 000 to record and promote the concept album Bob & Veronica Ride Again. [13] [14]

The Professional Contractors Group, a trade association for freelancer workers in the UK, was founded on the internet in 1999 when Andy White put out a call for 2,000 contractors to pledge £50 to raise £100,000 so he could start the organisation. 5 days later 2002 people had pledged the money and so the organisation was born. Today it has over 14,000 members and is a thriving trade association.[citation needed]

Crowd funding’s earliest known citation[15] was by Michael Sullivan in fundavlog on August 12, 2006.

Related definitions

There are questions about the legality of taking money from “investors” without offering any of the security demanded by legitimate investment schemes. Sites such as ArtistShare, Pledgemusic, PleaseFund.Us and Funding4Learning have a failsafe. They hold funds in an escrow account.[citation needed] If the nominated target isn’t reached, all funds are returned to contributors. While sites such as IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, RocketHub, Fondomat, Rock The Post, Peerbackers and Sponsume allow projects to keep all the funds raised.[citation needed]

Investors are given something for their money – so in a legal sense, they have paid for and received something.[citation needed] The Tunnel is selling frames of film for one dollar each. Pioneer One gives you the theme music or a special edition download.[citation needed]

Micropatronage is a system in which the public directly supports the work of others by making donations through the Internet. In use as early as 2001,[citation needed] the term was popularized in 2005[citation needed] by blogger Jason Kottke when he quit his day job as a web designer and spent a year blogging full time, living off the voluntary donations of his readership. Micropatronage differs from traditional patronage systems by allowing many “patrons” to donate small amounts, rather than a small number of patrons making larger contributions.

Contemporary applications

Crowd funding is being experimented with as a funding mechanism for creative work such as blogging and journalism,[16] music, and independent film,[17][18] for funding a startup company[19][20][21] and even for funding public projects.[22] Community music labels are usually for-profit organizations where “fans assume the traditional financier role of a record label for artists they believe in by funding the recording process”.[23]

Since pioneering crowd funding in the film industry Spanner films have published a useful ‘how to’ guide.[24] Innovative new platforms, such as RocketHub, have emerged that combine traditional funding for creative work with branded crowdsourcing – helping artists and entrepreneurs unite with brands “without the need for a middle man.” [25]

New peer-to-peer companies such as Prosper Marketplace, Zopa and Lending Club seek to match lenders directly to borrowers. Crowd lending from non-banks is gaining momentum globally as banks have increased interest rates or pulled back from lending to consumers and small businesses; however, as of early 2012, the non-bank sector of crowd lending is yet to be considered a threat to the big consumer lending businesses of the largest global banks.[26]

Crowd funding philanthropy

A variety of crowd funding platforms has emerged to allow ordinary web users to support specific philanthropic projects without the need for large amounts of money. Global Giving allows individuals to browse through a selection of small projects proposed by nonprofit organizations worldwide, donating funds to projects of their choice. Microcredit crowd funding platforms such as Kiva (organization) and Wokai facilitate crowd funding of loans managed by microcredit organizations in developing countries. The US-based nonprofit Zidisha offers a new twist on these themes, applying a direct person-to-person lending model to microcredit lending for low-income small business owners in developing countries. Zidisha borrowers who pass a background check may post microloan applications directly on the Zidisha website, specifying proposed credit terms and interest rates. Individual web users in the US and Europe can lend as little as one US dollar, and Zidisha’s crowd funding platform allows lenders and borrowers to engage in direct dialogue. Repaid principal and interest is returned to the lenders, who may withdraw the cash or use it to fund new loans.[27]

Intellectual property exposure

One of the challenges of posting new ideas on crowd funding sites is there may be little or no intellectual property (IP) protection provided by the sites themselves. Once an idea is posted, it can be copied. As Slava Rubin, founder of IndieGoGo said: “We get asked that all the time, ‘How do you protect me from someone stealing my idea?’ We’re not liable for any of that stuff.” [28] Inventor advocates, such as Simon Brown, founder to the UK based United Innovation Association, counsel that ideas can be protected on crowd funding sites through early filing of patent applications, use of copyright and trademark protection as well as a new form of idea protection supported by the World Intellectual Property Organization called Creative Barcode.[29]

Patent disputes

On September 30, 2011, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter filed a request for declaratory judgment against Fan Funded who owns U.S. patent US 7885887, “Methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work”. Brian Camelio, founder of ArtistShare, is the inventor on the patent. KickStarter says it believes it is under threat of a patent infringement lawsuit. KickStarter has asked that the patent be invalidated, or, at the very least, that the court find that Kickstarter is not liable of infringement.[30][31]

In February 2012, Fan Funded responded to Kickstarter’s complaint notably claiming that patent infringement litigation was never threatened, that “ArtistShare merely approached KickStarter about licensing their platform, including patent rights”, and that “rather than responding to ArtistShare’s request for a counter-proposal, Kickstarter filed this lawsuit.”[32]

Pros and cons

Proponents of the crowd funding approach argue that it allows good ideas which do not fit the pattern required by conventional financiers to break through and attract cash through the wisdom of the crowd. If it does achieve “traction” in this way, not only can the enterprise secure seed funding to begin its project, but it may also secure evidence of backing from potential customers and benefit from word of mouth promotion.[citation needed]

Against these advantages is the requirement to disclose the idea for which funding is sought in public when it is at a very early stage. This exposes the promoter of the idea to the risk of the idea being copied and developed ahead of them by better-financed competitors.[citation needed]. In addition, there is substantial research in social psychology that demonstrates that the crowd is not always so wise. [33]

Legal restrictions

Another significant disadvantage to crowd funding is the possibility of getting ensnared in various securities laws, since soliciting investments from the general public is most often illegal unless the opportunity has been filed with an appropriate securities regulatory authority, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., the Ontario Securities Commission in Ontario, Canada, the Autorité des marchés financiers in France and Quebec, Canada, or the Financial Services Authority in the U.K. These regulators can have different ways of determining what is and what is not a security but a general rule one can rely on (at least in the U.S.) is the Howey Test. The Howey Test says that a transaction constitutes an investment contract (therefore a security) if there is (1) an exchange of money (2) with an expectation of profits arising (3) from a common enterprise (4) which depends solely on the efforts of a promoter or third party. Clearly, under this standard, any crowd sourcing arrangement in which people are asked to contribute money in exchange for potential profits based on the work of others would be considered a security. As such, the applicable investment contract would have to be registered with a regulatory agency (such as the S.E.C.) unless it qualified for one of several rule-laden exemptions (e.g., Regulation A or Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933, or the California Limited Offering Exemption – Rule 1001 (also known as S.E.C. Rule 1001)). The penalties for a securities violation can vary greatly and depend in large part on the amount of profit obtained by the “promoter,” the damage done to the investors, and whether a violation is a first time offense. However, a violation may result in both civil and criminal penalties, a return of any profit made and sometimes a lifetime ban from work in the securities industry. According to Section 5 of the Securities Act, it is illegal to sell any security unless such a sale is accompanied or preceded by a prospectus that meets the requirements of the Securities Act.[34][citation needed]

Equity

In February 2011, a group of entrepreneurs banded together and formed ‘The Startup Exemption’ with the goal to lobby Washington, D.C. to update the U.S. Federal Security Laws and make it legal for entrepreneurs to use crowdfunding to raise a limited amount of early-stage equity-based financing. With the assistance of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) they partook in two hearings on Capitol Hill. Their framework was the basis for the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (H.R. 2930) introduced by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) on September 14, 2011. It proposed to greatly reduce restrictions on equity crowdfunding of for-profit businesses then present in state and federal securities laws. On November 3, 2011 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R 2930 with a vote 407-17. H.R.2930 was subsequently introduced on the Senate Floor and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (the “Banking Committee”) for further consideration.[citation needed]

Meanwhile, members of the Senate had also been drafting similar legislation with an eye towards adding further investor protections in their proposed equity crowdfunding legislation, as evidenced in the language of the bills that Senators proposed. To that end, the Democratizing Access to Capital Act (S.1791) was sponsored by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and introduced in the US Senate on November 2, 2011. S.1791 was substantially the same as H.R.2930, though it lowered caps on the both amount of capital a small business could raise and how much an investor could invest, as compared to the House bill. Shortly thereafter, the Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure of 2011, or the CROWDFUND Act (S. 1790) was sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and introduced in the U.S. Senate on December 8, 2011. Both bills were referred to the Banking Committee.

This committee held hearings on December 1 and 14 [35] to gather information and testimony on the matter of capital formation for small and mid-size businesses. The hearings related to many bills on the issue that had been raised in the House and Senate that fall. Both hearings, through primarily the December 1st hearing, addressed the matter of equity crowdfunding in detail. Concerns at the time focused primarily on providing the right level of investor protections in the bills to discourage fraud and bad actors. Another concern was the role of state securities regulators in the proposed equity crowdfunding market. On the fraud point advocates for crowdfunding highlighted the transparent nature of the Internet and the regulatory affect of the platforms that would be hosting the stock offerings. Further, they noted the importance of a national standard to govern the industry, as opposed to a patchwork of state by state standards.

Debate continued in the Senate and within the Senate Banking Committee for a few months. Congress’ Christmas recess and then other issues arising in the Senate pushed Crowdfunding and small capital formation bills down in the priority list. In February 2012 equity crowdfunding advocates mobilized again to re-energize the movement and push the Senate to act. This got the Senate’s attention and a further hearing was held on March 6, 2012[35] by the Senate Banking Committee to review crowdfunding and other capital formation measures. Around the same time the House packaged 7 of its earlier small business capital formation bills into a single bill (H.R.3606 or the JOBS Act). This package contained the original language from H.R.2930 regarding equity crowdfunding. H.R.3606 passed the House on March 8, 2012. As H.R.3606 primarily just reiterated bills already passed in the House and under consideration in the Senate, its purpose was to reiterate to the Senate that these bills were important and to force them all the be passed or voted down as one.

In mid-March Senator Merkley’s office released a heavily revised version[36] of its earlier CROWDFUND Act that took parts from S.1791 and S.1970 and issued the bill as S.2190. This bill had been negotiated with Senator Scott Brown’s office and was sponsored with bipartisan support by Senators Merkley, S. Brown, Bennet, and Landrieu.[36] This bill was later added as an amendment to the JOBS Act on March 22, 2012[37] and the full JOBS Act passed the Senate the same day.[37] The JOBS Act went back to the House for a final vote. President Barack Obama stated in early March that he would sign the JOBS Act as soon as he received it from Congress. On April 5, 2012 he signed the JOBS Act into law.[38]

It may be some time, given the 270 days the SEC has to begin interpreting and administering the new law, before we begin to see the CROWDFUND Act implemented via the Internet. There are several groups competing to become the regulatory authority under the SEC, all doing heavy lobbying in Washington DC.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ Ordanini, A.; Miceli, L.; Pizzetti, M.; Parasuraman, A. (2011). “Crowd-funding: Transforming customers into investors through innovative service platforms”. Journal of Service Management 22 (4): 443. DOI:10.1108/09564231111155079. (also available as Scribd document)
  2. ^ “url=http://www.indiatimes.com/bollywood/crowd-funding-an-emerging-trend-in-bollywood-15652.html“.
  3. ^ “1st paragraph — Crowd funding Pbworks”. Michael Sullivan and pbworks consensus group. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  4. ^ “BBC article, May 11, 2001″.
  5. ^ “guitartabsexplorer.com”.
  6. ^ “OHM Review”.
  7. ^ “Calling the faithful for Album 15″.
  8. ^ “Drownedinsound.com “Wanna Go VIP? Electric Eel Shock’ll show you the way…”, Dec 2nd, 2004″.
  9. ^ “itsallhappening, June 24th, 2008″.
  10. ^ Dell, Kristina (4 September 2008). “Time Magazine article on Crowd Funding the ‘Age of Stupid'”. Time.com. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  11. ^ “blog entry by Morton Valence “Nothing Like Sellaband”, May 22, 2008″.
  12. ^ Age of Stupid music page”.
  13. ^ “BBC review, cites MV crowd funding, May 22, 2009″.
  14. ^ “Aesthetica Magazine interview”.
  15. ^ “Crowdfundings earliest citation”.
  16. ^ funding-journalism/ “Crowdfunding journalism”. idio. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  17. ^ Teenagers’ credit note approach to fund £1m film of Clovis Dardentor
  18. ^ TIME article on Crowd Funding the ‘Age of Stupid’
  19. ^ TechCrunch“Sponsume lets projects get off the ground with Groupon-style group funding model”
  20. ^ TechCrunch ‘Grow VC launches, aiming to become the Kiva for tech startups’
  21. ^ BBC News ‘Cash-strapped entrepreneurs get creative’
  22. ^ CivicSponsor helps citizens crowdfund their public spaces
  23. ^ Kappel, Tim, “Ex Ante Crowdfunding and the Recording Industry: A Model for the U.S.?” in Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review, Vol.29, Issue 3, p.376
  24. ^ Spanner Films : How to crowd fund your film
  25. ^ Bell, Melissa. “Crowd-sourcing a brand”, The Washington Post, March 12, 2011, accessed September 3, 2011.
  26. ^ “Crowdfunding: John Mack backs non-bank with board role “, Euromoney, April 12, 2012.
  27. ^ “Is Microfinance for You?”, SecondAct, April 17, 2012.
  28. ^ Mike Drummond, “Making it Rain: Seeking Seed Money from the Crowd”, Inventors Digest, August 2011
  29. ^ Simon Brown, “Follow the Crowd”, Intellectual Property Magazine, July 2011
  30. ^ Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, Kickstarter Faces Patent Suit Over Funding Idea, PCWorld, October 5, 2011. Consulted on October 6, 2011.
  31. ^ Eriq Gardner, KickStarter Seeks To Protect Fan-Funding Model From Patent Threat, The Hollywood Reporter, October 4, 2011. Consulted on October 15, 2011.
  32. ^ Eriq Gardner (February 16, 2012). “Hollywood Docket: Comedy Club Documentary Lawsuit; Michael Jordan vs. 1st Amendment”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  33. ^ http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/04/the_road_to_crowdfunding_hell.html
  34. ^ “Section 5 — Prohibitions Relating to Interstate Commerce and the Mails”. University of Cincinnati College of Law. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  35. ^ a b http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Home
  36. ^ a b http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s2190
  37. ^ a b http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3606
  38. ^ Landler, Mark (5 April 2012). “Obama Signs Bill to Promote Start-Up Investments”. New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2012.

Further reading

Categories: -- Circuses, Enquiries & Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t End Entitlements; Modify Them – Rep’s Say

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“Programs Need Complete Rebuilt or Undergo Major Changes”

Released: July 7, 2011

Public Wants Changes in Entitlements, Not Changes in Benefits

GOP Divided Over Benefit Reductions

Overview

As policymakers at the state and national level struggle with rising entitlement costs, overwhelming numbers of Americans agree that, over the years, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have been good for the country.

  • But these cherished programs receive negative marks for current performance, and their finances are widely viewed as troubled. Reflecting these concerns, most Americans say all three programs either need to be completely rebuilt or undergo major changes. However, smaller majorities express this view than did so five years ago.

The public’s desire for fundamental change does not mean it supports reductions in the benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Relatively few are willing to see benefit cuts as part of the solution, regardless of whether the problem being addressed is the federal budget deficit, state budget shortfalls or the financial viability of the entitlement programs.

  • The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 15-19 among 1,502 adults, finds that Republicans face far more serious internal divisions over entitlement reforms than do Democrats. Lower income Republicans are consistently more likely to oppose reductions in benefits – from Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid – than are more affluent Republicans.

On the broad question of whether it is more important to reduce the budget deficit or to maintain current Medicare and Social Security benefits, the public decisively supports maintaining the status quo. Six-in-ten (60%) say it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are; only about half as many (32%) say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit.

Half (50%) of Republicans say that maintaining benefits is more important than deficit reduction; about as many (42%) say it is more important to reduce the budget deficit. More independents prioritize maintaining benefits over reducing the deficit (by 53% to 38%). Democrats overwhelmingly view preserving current Social Security and Medicare benefits as more important (by 72% to 21%).

The public also opposes making Medicare recipients more responsible for their health care costs and allowing states to limit Medicaid eligibility. About six-in-ten (61%) say people on Medicare already pay enough of their own health care costs, while only 31% think recipients need to be responsible for more of the costs of their health care in order to make the system financially secure.

When it comes to Medicaid, just 37% want to allow states to cut back on who is eligible for Medicaid in order to deal with budget problems, while 58% say low-income people should not have their Medicaid benefits taken away. And most say it is more important to avoid future cuts in Social Security benefits than future increases in Social Security taxes (56% vs. 33%).

On Social Security and Medicare, there are substantial differences of opinion by age. People age 65 and older are the only age group in which majorities say these programs work well; seniors also overwhelmingly say it is more important to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits than to reduce the budget deficit. Those 50 to 64 also broadly favor keeping benefits as they are. Younger Americans support maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits, but by smaller margins than older age groups.

Lower income people are more committed to maintaining benefits across all three major entitlement programs. This income gap is particularly wide when it comes to allowing states to cut back on Medicaid eligibility: 72% of those with family incomes of less than $30,000 oppose allowing states to limit Medicaid eligibility to deal with budget problems, compared with 53% of those with higher incomes.

GOP Base Divided over Entitlement Changes

The GOP’s internal divisions over entitlement changes are seen particularly in views of whether it is more important to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits or to take steps to bring down the deficit.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 63% of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit; a nearly identical percentage (62%) of Republicans with incomes of $30,000 or less say it is more important to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

The income gap among Republicans and Republican leaners is about as large as the difference between GOP supporters of the Tea Party and non-supporters. Among Republicans and Republican leaners who agree with the Tea Party, 57% view deficit reduction as more important than preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are. Among Republicans and leaners who do not agree with the Tea Party, just 36% say that reducing the deficit is more important than maintaining benefits.

Democrats face no such internal divisions, as both high- and low-income Democrats prioritize maintaining benefits over deficit reduction; there also are no ideological differences among Democrats over this issue. Notably, the balance of opinion among low-income Republicans is similar to how Democrats view the issue.

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Cartoon I Need A Sign

Bakken Communities Try to Overcome Myths

By Gillette Vaira

Story Published: Feb 17, 2012 at 10:56 PM MST

Story Updated: Feb 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM MST

BILLINGS – A group of Billings business leaders spent Wednesday and Thursday in oil country. They were looking for opportunities to connect the Magic City with the Bakken Oil Formation.

  • Small town America in eastern Montana and western North Dakota has changed in recent years due to the development of the Bakken. Thousands of people are flooding towns to work in the oil fields. Williston had about 12,000 residents in 2002. Now, officials estimate the town is servicing 25,000 people.

Assistant Director of Williston Economic Development Shawn Wenko said the boom helps business, but the headlines it generates hurt the community.

“That we’re overrun with crime, that there’s zero quality of life in Williston, that there’s absolutely no place to shop or get goods or services,” said Wenko. “And that couldn’t be further from the truth right now.”

Wenko said he hopes meeting with Billings business leaders debunks exaggerations about his town.

“Williston is a safe, it’s a good place to live,” Wenko said. “There’s a lot of economic opportunity out here right now.”

Footage of the Williston Wal-Mart has aired across the U.S., cramped with campers calling it home due to a lack of housing. Wenko said they’ve addressed the issue. The tents have cleared and the store is thriving.

“As far as empty shelves or crates in the isles, that’s a false statement that unfortunately got out there. You can still find the things you need at Wal-Mart,” Wenko said. “The Wal-Mart parking lot is still a safe place to walk to your car.”

Wenko said safety concerns their community, as the rising population has lead to more disturbances. But he said authorities are staying on top of it to ensure quality business growth and the health of the people who have called Williston home for decades.

“It’s basically forced people to be a little more diligent and aware of their surroundings,” Wenko said.

Similar scenes exist across the border in Sidney. The executive director of the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Wade VanEvery, said the biggest obstacle is becoming accustomed to a new way of life and a more diverse population.

“We knew everybody before, we watched them be born, and we watched them graduate, and we just knew who they were and who their family was and we made decisions on people accordingly,” said VanEvery.

  • He said local employers realize they must conduct background checks and drug tests before hiring applicants. Both VanEvery and Wenko said they’re striving to make the best of the boom for the future of Montana and North Dakota.

The Bakken Oil Formation was discovered in the 1950s, but new technology and the advancement of hydraulic fracturing have led oil companies back to the area during the past few years.

Stay tuned to KULR-8 for more details of the Billings business leaders’ trip to the Bakken.

Categories: -- Bread, Cartoons | Tags: | 4 Comments

Israeli Attack On Iran: Likely? Necessary? Inevitable?

Israeli attack on Iran would be destabilizing Joint-Chiefs say: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-18/israeli-attack-on-iran-would-be-destabilizing-joint-chiefs-dempsey-says.html

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AFCEA International (AFCEA), established in1946, is a non-profit membership association serving the military, government, industry, and academia as an ethical forum for advancing professional knowledge and relationships in the fields of communications, IT, intelligence, and global security

http://www.afcea.org/signal/articles/templates/intel_blog_template.asp?articleid=2888&zoneid=21        —         The MAZZ-INT Blog

“Convincing Iran and Restraining Israel: Nice Trick If You Can Do It!”

The new-year began with Iran threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz if the US persisted with economic sanctions against its nuclear weapons programs. This was followed in rapid succession with

  • new strategic defense guidance pivoting a learner military towards the Asia/Pacific theater,
  • the President’s State of the Union Address, the Pentagon outlining budget winners and losers for FY 13,
  •  Assad ramping up violence to subdue the breezes of the Arab Spring in Syria,
  • sectarian based violence emerging in Iraq,
  • Secretary Panetta announcing plans to end combat operations in Afghanistan during 2013 – a year earlier than scheduled —
  • and with almost perfect symmetry as January closed Israel publicly saying it was ready to act alone to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Geez, did I miss something in Pakistan?! And apparently Kim Jung Un is settling in as expected in Pyongyang!

Containing Chinese military power, ensuring allied access to underwater resources in accordance with accepted international principles, and keeping sea lanes open in support of free trade along with the region’s economics and demographics explains both the strategic drivers for America’s “Asia Pivot” and why it is not surprising [...] I am not sure the Navy has yet come to grips with the logistics of Asian/Pacific operations.

  • China and Russia vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to end the use of military force to subdue anti-government protesters and seek a peaceful resolution to popular demands for more freedoms. As Assad escalated the use of military force in the wake of the Sino-Russian UN veto, the US and its allies must consider mounting a Libyan like operation without UN backing to force Assad to change or leave.
  • Iran’s influence with Syrian based Hezbollah elements certainly makes regime change a dicey course of action in terms of strategic outcomes the US would want to achieve in Syria. Then there is the question of can/should the US insert itself to right the wrongs in an Arab autocratic state?

The looming issue though right now for the United States is, can diplomatic pressure in combination with economic sanctions cause Iran to terminate its development of nuclear weapons with sufficient transparency to cause Israel not to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear weapons’ infrastructure?

Presumably the answer is yes, but as evidence by the 1956 strike on the Suez Canal, the 1981 attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor, various incursions into Lebanon, and the building of settlements in the West Bank Israel will act without US support, or even in the face of US opposition, when it believes its national security is threatened.

Ideally Iran’s leadership will be convinced by the obvious impacts of the sanctions on their economy and the increasingly limited ability of Washington to restrain Jerusalem from launching a military attack to accept international verification that its nuclear program is for legitimate civilian uses as it claims. The alternative for persuading the Israelis not to attack unilaterally is for the US to offer to conduct joint or coordinated covert operations with Israel to degrade Iran’s ability produce a nuclear weapon. Attractive as US covert operations against Iran might be given the current circumstances, it would be the President again committing the United States to armed conflict if not war. The difference this time, however, would be the action would be aimed at the strategic military capability of a nation state vice targeting terrorists without national affiliation but with the nominal approval of the host nation.

Ironically, what could unknot this political and constitutional concern about the war powers of the President in an election year as well as give Israel reason not to strike on its own is if Iran actually committed an act of war in the Strait of Hormuz (attacking USN ships, laying sea mines, deny innocent passage, etc.).

Then the President could go to the Congress to “request” a declaration of war against Iran that would open a myriad of options for the US that could force Iran to negotiate or risk the destruction of the center of Shia power and influence in the Muslim world.

That’s what I think; what do you think?

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What Do I think? What Do I think!!
Whole world is aflame and he says what do I !!

W. W. O. D.?

Categories: -- Circuses, Cartoons, Circuses | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Obama and 1st Amendment

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Charles Krauthammer: The Obama creed of contradictory theologies

  Feb 10, 2012 – 9:15 AM ET | Last Updated: Feb 10, 2012 1:56 PM ET

At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, seeking theological underpinning for his drive to raise taxes on the rich, President Obama invoked the highest possible authority. His policy, he testified “as a Christian,” “coincides with Jesus’ teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’

Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m fairly certain that neither Jesus nor his rabbinic forebears, when speaking of giving, meant some obligation to the state. You tithe the priest, not the tax man. The Judeo-Christian tradition commands personal generosity.

But no matter. Let’s assume that Obama has biblical authority for hiking the marginal tax rate exactly 4.6 points for couples making more than $250,000 (depending, of course, on the prevailing shekel-to-dollar exchange rate). Let’s stipulate that Obama’s prayer-breakfast invocation of religion as vindicating his politics was not, God forbid, crass, hypocritical, self-serving electioneering, but a sincere expression of a social-gospel Christianity that sees good works as central to the very concept of religiosity.

Fine. But this Gospel according to Obama has a rival — the newly revealed Gospel according to Sebelius, over which has erupted quite a contretemps. By some peculiar logic, it falls to the health and human services secretary to promulgate the definition of “religious” — for the purposes, for example, of exempting religious institutions from certain regulatory dictates.

Such exemptions are granted in grudging recognition that, whereas the rest of civil society may be broken to the will of the state’s regulators, our quaint Constitution grants special autonomy to religious institutions.

Accordingly, it would be a mockery of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if, for example, the Catholic Church were required by law to freely provide such “health care services” (in secularist parlance) as contraception, sterilization and pharmacological abortion — to which Catholicism is doctrinally opposed as a grave contravention of its teachings about the sanctity of life.

Ah. But there would be no such Free Exercise violation if the institutions so mandated are deemed, by regulatory fiat, not religious.

And thus, the word came forth from Sebelius decreeing the exact criteria required (a) to meet her definition of “religious” and thus (b) to qualify for a modicum of independence from newly enacted state control of American health care, under which the aforementioned Sebelius and her phalanx of experts determine everything — from who is to be covered, to which treatments are to be guaranteed free-of-charge.

Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.

Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals — even Catholic schools — do not turn away Hindu or Jew.

Their vocation is universal, precisely the kind of universal love-thy-neighbor vocation that is the very definition of religiosity as celebrated by the Gospel of Obama. Yet according to the Gospel of Sebelius, these very same Catholic institutions are not religious at all — under the secularist assumption that religion is what happens on Sunday under some Gothic spire, while good works are “social services” that are properly rendered up unto Caesar.

This all would be merely the story of contradictory theologies, except for this: Sebelius is Obama’s appointee. She works for him. These regulations were his call. Obama authored both gospels.

Therefore: To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

The contradiction is glaring, the hypocrisy breathtaking. But that’s not why Obama offered a hasty compromise on Friday. It’s because the firestorm of protest was becoming a threat to his re-election. Sure, health care, good works and religion are important. But re-election is divine.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

The Washington Post Writers Group

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Pyramid Scheme

Pyramid Scheme

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Healthcare: Forceps! Clamps!! Funds!!!

Forceps! Clamps! Funds!

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Meet the woman who got Komen to defund Planned Parenthood

Posted by at 10:55 AM ET, 02/02/2012
But there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. It’s her group that issued a report last fall, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” that led to a probe by the Energy and Commerce Committee. And it’s that investigation that puts Planned Parenthood in violation of Komen’s new policy that bars funding of groups under investigation.Yoest has run Americans United for Life for three years. She came to the group from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, and before that, served as the Family Research Council’s vice president for communications. She moved to Washington in the 1980s to work in the Reagan administration. But she counts this as perhaps her biggest victory.“I have to say, it was some of the best news of my entire life,” Yoest told me in an interview this morning about the Komen decision. She saw the news yesterday afternoon, sitting in her driveway and checking Twitter.

“We’re so used to seeing Planned Parenthood succeed at defining themselves as the trendy place to be, and for Komen to make such a smart decision in recognizing the reality behind Planned Parenthood spin,” she adds. “As a breast cancer survivor, I was always troubled with this whole idea that the nation’s largest abortion provider was enmeshed in the breast cancer fight when they weren’t actually doing mammograms. I look at this as smart stewardship.”

Americans United for Life has, for the past year, aggressively pushed Congress to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. It has also drafted model legislation that states can use to bar abortion providers from receiving federal funds. Nine states have passed such laws, although the Obama administration has blocked their implementation.

Yoest hopes that the Komen decision is the beginning of a similar push, on the private side, to curtail Planned Parenthood’s funding, although she does not expect other funders to get on board overnight.

“We’ll be looking at their other supporters,” she said. “Let’s be honest, they’ve been very fashionable amongst a certain philanthropic set. I hope that this is a beginning of people re-looking at associations with the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

As those critical of the decision have shown their support of Planned Parenthood — it raised $400,000 in the 24 hours after the Komen decision — Yoest says the anti-abortion community is exploring ways to support the group. Her group will, for the first time, have a team in the District of Columbia Race for the Cure, called “Team Life.” Yoest, a marathoner, ran the race about a decade ago, but stopped after learning of Komen’s affiliation with Planned Parenthood.

“Yesterday we were looking at Komen’s Web site and how we can interact with them,” she says. “I want them to get as much of the benefit as possible. We’ll have T-shirts and a pasta dinner. I’ve run in a couple of marathons. That’s why I always wanted to be a part of their great work.”

Categories: Cartoons, Circuses | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

A Toxic Waist

A Toxic Waist

E-Waste and the underbelly of the tech industry  —  http://memeburn.com/2012/02/e-waste-and-the-underbelly-of-the-tech-industry/comment-page-1/

Millions of tons of potentially toxic refuse created by recyclers of cars and heavy home appliances in the Bay Area have been buried in municipal landfills, instead of being transported in specially designated trucks  —  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/science/earth/california-auto-recyclers-brace-for-tightened-regulations.html

The Environment Agency is to probe how a reported 113 shipping containers of toxic waste from the UK and the Netherlands ended up in Indonesian waters.  —  http://www.mrw.co.uk/news/watchdog-probes-toxic-waste-export/8626234.article

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