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American Airlines, US Airways Merger Announced

American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge in an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s biggest airline – the seventh merger sine 2005 in an industry that faces rising gas prices and stiffer competition.The new airline will take the American Airlines name, helping to buoy a company that has been in bankruptcy for more than a year, struggling to compete in recent years as its rivals have grown. But US Airways CEO Doug Parker will run it, with AMR CEO Tom Horton serving as chairman until its first shareholder meeting, likely in mid-2014. The boards of both companies approved the deal Wednesday. The companies announced it early Thursday and expect it to close in the third quarter of this year.If the deal is approved by American’s bankruptcy judge and antitrust regulators, the new American will have more than 900 planes, 3,200 daily flights, and about 95,000 employees, not counting regional affiliates. It will expand American’s current reach on the East Coast and overseas.

Obama Passes Cybersecurity Effort

The Obama administration pressed ahead Wednesday with its campaign to bolster cybersecurity measures through an executive order while setting the stage for a new battle in Congress over how to ensure computer safeguards at companies that run the electric grid and other key infrastructure. The executive order directs agencies to develop and implement a program of voluntary cybersecurity standards for companies running key infrastructure. It also instructs regulatory agencies to determine whether they can make some of those standards mandatory under their current authority. Cybersecurity specialists said examples of standards that could be considered include making sure that antivirus programs are up-to-date, knowing all the points where a company’s network connects to the Internet, or limiting who has widespread access to company networks. The order takes additional measures to expand private-sector access to government intelligence about cyberthreats and instructs agencies to assess whether additional action should be taken to shore up computer security for critical infrastructure, which analysts said could open the door to future regulation.

Madoff Trustee Seeks Approval To Return $505 Million To Victims

The court-appointed trustee handling the Bernard Madoff bankruptcy is seeking approval to return another $505 million to victims of the massive Ponzi scheme. If the request is approved by a federal judge, more than 2,000 people who lost money investing with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities would start receiving checks shortly after a court hearing scheduled in March. If the amount is approved, the total amount returned to victims so far would amount to $5.438 billion. The average payment to each customer will be $458,000, Irving Picard said, adding that 2,178 accounts are eligible for a payment under the proposed distribution. Of that figure, more than 1,100 will receive all the money back that they claimed to have lost in the fraud, he said. An estimated $17.3 billion in principal was lost in the Madoff Ponzi scheme, which came to light four years ago. So far, Mr. Picard has recovered roughly $9.3 billion for customers through lawsuits and agreements.

NJ To Argue Sports Betting Law Before A Judge 

New Jersey’s efforts to offer legal sports gambling are being put to the test in federal court. Attorneys for the state and the U.S. Department of Justice are scheduled to argue Thursday in Trenton over whether a federal law restricting sports betting to four states is unconstitutional. The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA sued last year after Gov. Chris Christie signed a sports wagering law and announced his intentions of awarding gambling licenses this year. The law would allow sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos and the state’s horse racing tracks. It would exempt games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state. The federal law allows sports gambling in Nevada and in three other states that already offer limited forms of betting.

Bloomberg Pushes For Styrofoam Ban In NYC 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has fought against smoking, big sugary drinks and salty food during his tenure, is setting his sights on a new foe: Styrofoam. Bloomberg plans to use part of his Thursday State of the City address to push for a ban on Styrofoam food packaging. He also will call for initiatives that would increase the number of parking spaces for electric cars and begin recycling more plastics and food waste. He said his administration would work with the City Council to ban Styrofoam food packaging from stores and restaurants. Other cities, mostly on the west coast of the United States have banned styrofoam-food packaging. The New York Times reports officials at City Hall said a plastic-foam ban could save millions of dollars a year. Plastic foam, which is not biodegradable, can add up to $20 per ton in recycling costs when the city processes recyclable materials. The city handles about 1.2 million tons of food waste each year; the mayor’s office estimated that the city’s annual waste stream included about 20,000 tons of plastic foam.

 

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