Wounded Warriors Project Super Bowl Ad

One of the more important Super Bowl commercials came from the Wounded Warriors Project, in which the narrator of the ad delivered an important message to viewers.

“Without the sacrifice of our military and their families, they’d be no Super Bowl.”

CLICK HERE to see the rest of the 2013 Super Bowl commercials as well as all of the best, worst and most unforgettable from the past.

As the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens battled for the right to lift the Lombardi Trophy, Super Bowl advertisers competed for another prize: your attention. Each time that CBS cut away from Super Bowl XLVII to pay the bills (or because the lights went out), another group of blockbuster commercials and movie trailers were unveiled (although many had been teased). At your Super Bowl party, were people paying closer attention during the game or the commercial breaks?

While memorable Super Bowl commercials like Apple’s ‘1984’ and Snickers’ spot that featured Betty White will be remembered so many more are soon forgotten or, even worse, ridiculed as super fails. Will this ad make this year’s best list? Is it controversial? Or, even worse, destined to be forgotten?

Outgoing EPA Chief Convinced Obama Serious On Climate Change

(Corrects paragraph 27 to show Jackson drove her mother’s sister, not her own sister, out of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina)

By John Shiffman, Valerie Volcovici and Patrick Rucker

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The departing chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, says she cringes whenever she is asked if President Barack Obama is truly serious about confronting climate change.

Of course he is, she tells them. “I don’t think you need clues. The president has been really clear … I’m not sure how much clearer he could be.”

And yet even Jackson herself was caught off guard last month, when sitting just steps from Obama during his second-term swearing-in, the president cited the threats posed by climate change so prominently in his inaugural address.

“Surprised? Of course. Because I did not know what he was going to say. But pleased? Absolutely,” the EPA administrator told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview before she leaves office later this month.

For Jackson, 50, a former New Jersey state official with no national profile until Obama chose her to lead the EPA during his first term, the lengthy inaugural nod to climate change served as a satisfying coda to a tumultuous tenure marked by clashes with Republican lawmakers and agricultural communities.

Jackson’s deepest regret, she said, is that she failed to reach out to rural, often conservative regions of the United States. As a result, she said, opponents were able to generate politically damaging rumors of looming regulatory crackdowns, such as a fictitious EPA plan to treat bovine excretions as dangerous pollutants.

“If I were starting again, I would from day one make a much stronger effort to do personal outreach in rural America,” Jackson said. “Had I known that these myths about everything from cow flatulence to spilled milk could be seen as ‘The EPA is coming to get you,’ I would have spent more time trying to inoculate against that.”

CHANGES BY RULE-MAKING, NOT LAWS

Jackson plans to leave office on Feb. 14. She cites among her achievements rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants for the first time, and having struck a deal to make U.S. cars more fuel efficient. Her signature achievement, she said, was the so-called endangerment finding that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health, a formal declaration that paved the way for the agency to write the carbon-cutting rules.

“I always said we would make common sense steps forward,” she said. “We wouldn’t try to turn the world on its ear.”

Jackson’s tenure, though, was marked by repeated conflicts with some conservatives and Republicans who decried the new, more stringent, air and water regulations. The critics argued that these were not based on sound science, were onerous for business and detrimental to the economy.

With Congress polarized and otherwise focused on budgetary issues, lawmakers appear unlikely to consider comprehensive climate change legislation during Obama’s second term.

For that reason, the next EPA administrator is likely to continue Jackson’s approach, using the endangerment finding and other administrative avenues to further target greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from the country’s coal-fired power plants.

Reuters reported on Friday that the White House is leaning toward Gina McCarthy, the current EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, as Jackson’s replacement.

Jackson declined to comment on possible successors, but said that whoever replaces her would at least enjoy a four-year head start on the Democratic regulatory agenda.

“The next administrator will have a bit more luxury, because we are not entirely done with those things, but in terms of working with the administration on climate and clean energy, on other things like clean water and toxins, there will be a little more discretion in terms of how the next administrator sets those priorities,” Jackson said.

Jackson declined to discuss her private conversations with Obama on climate change or other pending environmental issues, including the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, which awaits State Department approval.

She also declined to say which of the EPA proposals now awaiting final White House approval – including curbs on smog-causing ozone and rules to lower the sulphuric content of gasoline – might be finalized first.

Jackson, a New Orleans native with degrees in chemical engineering from Tulane and Princeton, was the first African-American to hold the top EPA post and made environmental justice a priority.

She said that after she leaves office, she will spend time with her family in the Washington area, but did not rule seeking political office in either New Jersey, where she is a former commissioner of environmental protection, or Louisiana.

CAUTIOUS SUPPORT FOR FRACKING

One of the largest emerging issues in rural America is the controversial practice of producing natural gas through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Booming gas production has lifted the economy in several regions and lowered overall carbon emissions by displacing dirtier burning coal, but environmentalists fear that fracking can pollute groundwater and release methane into the air.

Each state is generally responsible for inspecting drilling operations, but EPA waded into the issue in 2011 by issuing a controversial draft report that fracking had contaminated groundwater at a site in Pavillion, Wyoming.

A major EPA research project into fracking’s effects on water supplies is due in 2014, as well as final rules on issues including the disposal of waste water and the use of diesel chemicals in the process.

Jackson has cautiously supported fracking, so long as states and the industry follow a sound and safe approach.

“In between all the heat and noise around who should regulate it and how safe it is has come a renewed focus on the part of the industry to recognize that if they don’t do this properly they will lose the trust of the American people in the communities where it is happening,” she said.

“I don’t think the insurance policy has to rest mostly, or entirely, with the federal government… It is not self-regulation. They need to be regulated, because it is an invasive practice. Fighting regulation and saying ‘We can take care of ourself here’ is…ultimately not a good path forward.”

For Jackson, the effects of climate change have hit close to home. Her native New Orleans was shattered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – Jackson drove her mother, her mother’s sister and her stepfather out of the city as the storm hit – and her long-time home state of New Jersey was at the center of Superstorm Sandy’s destructive path in late October.

These and other recent events have made it clear that not addressing climate change may be more costly than ignoring the problem, Jackson said.

“It brings home that if you had to deal with this on a more frequent basis, the more cost to our country in dollars and cents, in lives lost, in lost opportunity to move forward because we have to go back and rebuild all the time,” she said. “It is horribly familiar for me. I have watched it happen in my hometown.” (Editing by Ros Krasny and David Brunnstrom)

Nokia “looking closely” at tablets, with “first focus” on Microsoft’s platform

A Nokia-built, Windows-powered tablet has been rumored before, and it’s being rumored again. Speaking in Sydney, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the company planned to “broaden its portfolio,” and tablets were something Nokia was “clearly looking at very closely,” reports the Australian Financial Review.

Elop talked up the promise of a Windows ecosystem, with Lumia buyers using Windows Phone with Windows tablets, PCs, and consoles to achieve a “pretty integrated experience.” As a result, he said, “Our first focus on what we look at is clearly in the Microsoft side.”

After prompting from a PR handler, he followed with “But we have made no decision or announced nothing [sic].”

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Outgoing EPA chief convinced Obama serious on climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The departing chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, says she cringes whenever she is asked if President Barack Obama is truly serious about confronting climate change.

Energy board grants export licence to proposed Shell-led LNG project in B.C.

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has granted an export licence to LNG Canada Development Inc., a liquefied natural gas terminal proposed by Shell Canada Ltd. and three Asian partners in Kitimat, B.C.

Over a 25-year period, LNG Canada is allowed to export 670 million tonnes of natural gas, which will have been chilled into a liquid state, enabling it to be transported around the world via tanker.

Annually, LNG Canada will be able to export 24 million tonnes of gas.

The federal energy regulator says it’s satisfied that the amount of gas to be exported doesn’t exceed what will be needed within Canada.

The LNG Canada partnership includes Shell, South Korea’s Kogas, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and China’s PetroChina Company Ltd.

They have picked Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) to build a 700-kilometre pipeline connecting prolific shale gas fields in northeastern B.C. to the port of Kitimat.

There are several projects in the works planned for both Kitimat and Prince Rupert, B.C., to export natural gas to lucrative Asian markets.

The North American price of natural gas has been depressed in recent years, as advances in drilling techniques unlock huge supplies from shale formations across the continent, leading to a supply glut.

Companies hope by connecting that fuel to higher-demand Asian markets, their product will fetch a much better price.

Last week, pipeline firm AltaGas Ltd. (TSX:ALA) and a Japanese company formed a partnership to explore shipping liquefied gas to Asia.

Malaysia’s Petronas, which recently acquired Progress Energy Corp. for $6 billion, is planning to build an LNG facility near Prince Rupert capable of processing 12 million tonnes of gas per year.

U.S. energy giants Chevron Corp. and Apache Corp. are jointly developing another LNG terminal in Kitimat B.C. Chevron got involved in that project only recently after it bought out the stakes of Encana Corp. and EOG Resources. That plan envisions processing 10 million tonnes of gas per year.

Another proposal called BC LNG, owned by the Haisla First Nation and Houston-based LNG Partners, expects its first shipment in 2014.

‘Steer The Script’ Super Bowl Ad

Jimmy Fallon has quite a bit of influence.

The late night talk show host teamed up with Lincoln for the car company’s “Steer The Script” campaign. Fallon promoted the campaign and fans tweeted their favorite road trip stories to Lincoln, according to thefw.com.

The best five were meshed into one commercial, which resulted in a woman bonding with a German hitchhiker as the two enjoy their own road trip.

Did it work? Or do too many script writers spoil the story line?

CLICK HERE to see the rest of the 2013 Super Bowl commercials as well as all of the best, worst and most unforgettable from the past.

As the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens battled for the right to lift the Lombardi Trophy, Super Bowl advertisers competed for another prize: your attention. Each time that CBS cut away from Super Bowl XLVII to pay the bills (or because the lights went out), another group of blockbuster commercials and movie trailers were unveiled (although many had been teased). At your Super Bowl party, were people paying closer attention during the game or the commercial breaks?

While memorable Super Bowl commercials like Apple’s ‘1984’ and Snickers’ spot that featured Betty White will be remembered so many more are soon forgotten or, even worse, ridiculed as super fails. Will this ad make this year’s best list? Is it controversial? Or, even worse, destined to be forgotten?

Patrice Peyret: Prepaid Is the New Checking (With Help From Your Cellphone)

Did you notice? After years of being two separate product lines, prepaid card accounts and checking accounts are merging into a single new offering:

  • American Express calls Bluebird “The Checking & Debit Alternative by American Express
  • Simple‘s tag line is “Worry-Free Alternative to Traditional Banking
  • GoBank‘s pitches itself as “A New Kind of Checking Account
  • … and of course, at Plastyc, we have had UPside and iBankUP providing “The Power of a Bank Account in a Phone” for a few years now

All the above products are built from a prepaid card foundation, with multiple add-ons to expand their usefulness, not the least of which is a mobile application that turns customers’ smartphones into mobile checkbooks.

The convergence comes after a number of changes in best practices, regulations and innovations for prepaid cards:

  • FDIC “pass-through” insurance applies to individual prepaid card accounts
  • Prepaid cards are routable via ACH allows direct deposits and bank transfers
  • Cards able to receive federal funds have Reg E consumer protection
  • On-demand paper checks enable payments to anyone
  • New services like Walmart’s Rapid Reload™ allow cashing checks directly into cards at low costs
  • Mobile Remote Deposit Capture allows depositing of paper checks 24×7

This results in an all-around equivalence between checking accounts and prepaid card accounts, from a consumer stand-point.

Phone + card = 21st Century checking

Even major market players like H&R Block are deploying prepaid-based financial services that provide a full-blown replacement for a checking account: look at the Emerald Card, which is now available with optional access to a line of credit product called Emerald Advance and a Savings accounts.

How should banks react to this new market reality? I believe they should think hard about introducing “prepaid as the new checking” if they want to serve more customers at a lower cost.

For consumers, the upside is more access to premium services even if you keep a low balance.

US appeals court to Apple: No cutting in line

Apple won’t get to leapfrog the three-judge panel in its renewed request for a permanent injunction against Samsung’s products. An appeals court ruled on Monday that Apple would still have to face a three-judge panel required as part of the appeals process—a process Apple hoped to skip in order to go straight to a full-court appeal. Meanwhile, Samsung gets to continue selling its devices in the US, despite the $1 billion verdict from 2012 saying the company violated Apple’s patents.

Following last year’s patent verdict, Apple asked the court for a permanent ban on the sale of Samsung’s devices that were found to violate Apple’s intellectual property. As we pointed out last August, the devices in question are mostly out-of-date smartphones that customers aren’t likely to be buying anyway. Although some can still be purchased for cheap or free through US carriers, most aren’t even available on the market in the US simply because of the normal product refresh cycle.

Apple wanted to ensure they couldn’t be sold in the US at all, but the company was denied that request because the court felt Apple hadn’t proven Samsung’s infringement caused “irreparable harm.” Apple naturally appealed that decision, but it requested to have the appeal expedited so the devices could be (potentially) banned sooner rather than later.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments