Airlines to fight US suit against merger

US Airways and American Airlines say they will fight the US Justice Department’s move to block their merger, which would create the world’s largest carrier.


US Airways and American parent AMR Corp on Tuesday rejected Justice Department arguments that the merger would limit choices for passengers, push up fare prices and reduce service.

They said in a statement they “intend to mount a vigorous and strong defence” of the $US11 billion ($A12.10 billion) merger, after it already gained the support of shareholders, creditors and European anti-trust regulators.

“We will mount a vigorous defence and pursue all legal options in order to achieve this merger and deliver the benefits of the new American to our customers and communities as soon as possible,” they said.

“We believe that the DOJ is wrong in its assessment of our merger, they said, referring to the Justice Department.

“Integrating the complementary networks of American and US Airways to benefit passengers is the motivation for bringing these airlines together. Blocking this pro-competitive merger will deny customers access to a broader airline network that gives them more choices.”

They also rejected the department’s allegation that the merger was not critical to completing AMR’s bankruptcy restructuring program.

“The widespread support from the employees and financial stakeholders of both airlines underscores the fact that this is the best path forward for both airlines and the customers and communities we serve.”

In a letter to staff released to the media, US Airways chief executive Doug Parker stressed management’s commitment to the merger, while delaying the original target closing date of the third quarter of this year.

“Other companies have found themselves in similar circumstances and gone on to successfully close their merger,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the litigation will be successfully concluded and we will close the merger before year end.”

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Comment: Hibernating bears run hotter and cleaner while pregnant

By Anne-Marie Hodge, University of Wyoming

When it comes to feats of physiology, bears are among the superstars of the mammalian world.


Their endurance is unmatched. During hibernation, bears regularly survive up to six full months without consuming any food at all. Hibernating bears reduce their heart rates by more than 80% and decrease their metabolic rates by 50% to 75%.

Perhaps the most amazing fact about bear hibernation is that female bears gestate, give birth and nurse their cubs, all within this period of suspended animation, with the female consuming no food during the entire process. Mother bears are tough, despite being professional loungers. Now a team of researchers from Hokkaido University have, for the first time, investigated what influence pregnancy has on these bears Journal of Mammalogy.

Sleeping bears

The researchers, led by Michito Shimozuru, wanted to know what metabolic adjustments are needed for a female to preserve her own body and essentially manufacture to several other bears while she is in a state of hibernation. They investigated the physiology of pregnant and, as a control, non-pregnant hibernating Japanese female black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus).

The researchers also included a third category of pseudopregnant – or “falsely pregnant” – bears. These showed signs of pregnancy but technically were not pregnant (had no placenta). This allowed researchers to tease apart the effects of hormones controlled by the pituitary gland and ovaries from the metabolic interactions with a placenta.

It is known that many mammals have elevated body temperatures during pregnancy, and the researchers indeed found that pregnant bears maintain higher and more stable body temperatures than non-pregnant ones, in order to support foetal growth. They run at 37-38° C, compared to the non-pregnant who measured 34-36° C.

Interestingly, pseudopregnant bears, whose bodies “think” they are pregnant, have similar body temperatures to pregnant bears in the months corresponding to early pregnancy. These results indicate that changes in pituitary or ovarian-derived hormone levels during pregnancy are likely behind elevated body temperatures, because pseudopregnant bears have no placenta or foetuses to support.

Sweet love

Hibernating bears primarily use stored body fat for energy. Pregnant bears, however, must rely on glucose to support foetal development. This is due to the difficulty of transferring lipids, or fats, through the placenta. Therefore, the researchers predicted that pregnant bears should have higher blood glucose levels than non-pregnant ones.

Pregnant bears did prove to have higher blood glucose levels than their pseudopregnant counterparts. The results strengthen the hypothesis that the signals from the placenta help – although may not entirely control – regulation of glucose metabolism).

Tired? Sleep is super efficient when pregnant. timefortea

By January — just before the pregnant bears gave birth – a stratification emerged: pregnant bears had higher blood glucose levels than pseudopregnant ones, and non-pregnant bears had the lowest glucose levels of all. This supports the hypothesis that glucose is necessary to support foetal development, and further bolsters the idea that the signals from the placenta help—although may not entirely control—regulation of glucose metabolism..

Mother Bear’s recycling

Previous work has shown that bears are better than most other hibernating mammals at recycling urea and other nitrogenous wastes to prevent muscle deterioration. This is likely why they are able to avoid catastrophic muscle loss despite being sedentary for half of the year.

The results of this study add an interesting twist to our knowledge of bears’ ability to prevent muscle atrophy. By January, pregnant and pseudopregnant bears had significantly lower plasma urea, creatinine, and triglyceride concentrations than non-pregnant bears. It seems that pregnancy enhances that adaptation even further, allowing bears to become even more efficient at recycling waste to preserve protein and prevent accumulation of metabolic “trash.”

Pregnant bears produce and support cubs from their own tissues during hibernation. Shimozuru and colleagues suggest that the need to make extra amino acids and proteins drives the hyper-efficient use of metabolic waste observed in pregnant animals.

This study may provide a springboard for further research into these metabolic adjustments that mammals make during sedentary life. Human lifestyles are inexorably becoming more and more sedentary, so any insights into metabolic mechanisms to preserve health without much movement will also be valuable. Also, figuring out how to induce more efficient recycling of metabolic waste is a crucial hurdle for endeavours such as preventing muscle atrophy in astronauts or in earthbound patients that are immobilised by injury or disease.

This is a modified version of a post that first appeared on Anne-Marie Hodge’s blog.

Anne-Marie Hodge does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Alves own goal hands tetchy Brazil Swiss loss

Alves put through his own net at the start of the second half to give the feisty Swiss just reward for taking the match to the irritable 2014 World Cup hosts.


Far from being overawed by facing a Brazil side who demolished Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final in June, unsung Switzerland’s hard tackling and cheeky skills clearly unnerved the South Americans.

Xherdan Shaqiri produced an inspired performance as he upstaged Brazil forward Neymar, who was jeered several times by the crowd after falling over and failing to win a free kick.

Brazil won all five matches at the Confederations Cup and beat France 3-0 in a friendly before that tournament.

However, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was unruffled by the shock defeat.

Switzerland quickly got under the visitors’ skin as Stephan Lichtensteiner tangled with Neymar and the impish Shaqiri repeatedly jinked around Brazilian defenders, who clearly did not enjoy being on the receiving end of some trickery.

“The result was not a surprise because we weren’t match fit and we were facing a team whose players have completed their pre-season and are in much better shape than ours,” ‘Big Phil’ told reporters.

“This (August date) is an impossible date to play and it appears to me that from next year, FIFA will remove it.

“We wanted more, we wanted to win, we had chances, we had more chances to score. But it’s within our expectations and what I told you before the game and, as I told you, we have a long way to go before the World Cup.”

His opposite number Ottmar Hitzfeld refused to get carried away and said next month’s World Cup qualifier at home to Iceland would be a stiffer test.

“Every win is good for the self-confidence but the most important now are three points against Iceland when there will be more pressure,” said the German.


Tempers frayed midway through the first half when a rash challenge by Neymar led to a scuffle on the touchline and yellow cards for the Brazilian and Valon Behrami.

Marcelo was then lucky to escape a booking for a rough tackle on Shaqiri.

Having threatened several times in the first half, Switzerland went ahead in the 47th minute when Hans Seferovic crossed from the right and Alves, under no real pressure, headed into his own goal at the far post.

Brazil nearly gave another goal away when goalkeeper Jefferson slipped as he attempted to clear an awkward Dante back pass, but he recovered just in time to scramble the ball away from the lurking Seferovic.

Shaqiri was a show apart as he twice tested Jefferson with lone-range shots in the first-half and nearly scored a second with a rasping drive midway through the second.

There were some flashes from Neymar early on while Paulinho headed against the crossbar and Oscar should have opened the scoring when he went clear just before the break.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)

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Nadal adopts wait and see approach in Montreal

The 12-times grand slam champion, who took a break after his shock defeat at Wimbledon, ended his seven week hiatus from singles competition with an impressive two-set win over Canadian wildcard Jesse Levine in the second round of the Rogers Cup.


But the ongoing battle with the debilitating tendonitis in his knees is an ever present in Nadal’s life and a constant subject of inquisition for the Spaniard.

As he began a physically demanding north American hard court stretch – taking in Masters series events in Montreal and Cincinnati and culminating at the year’s final grand slam at Flushing Meadows – Nadal was choosing to adopt a wait and see approach.

“I am fine. The knee is not bothering me much,” Nadal told reporters.

“The last couple of days, I was able to practise with no limitation. That is the most important thing.

“After seven weeks without playing tennis, you start a tournament on hard court, that is tougher for the body. You always feel a few things at the beginning.

“But hopefully that things will not limit my chances to play well.”

Nadal’s 6-2 6-1 win over Levine was his first singles match since being upset by Belgian Steve Darcis in the opening round at the All England Club in late June.

The subsequent break from competition after Wimbledon arrived at the end of an incredible run of results for the 27-year-old.

Nadal had won seven tournaments in just four months, including an eighth French Open crown, since he returned in February from a lengthy injury absence that had kept him out of the sport since the middle of 2012.

Following his defeat on the grass courts of southwest London, Nadal returned home to take advantage of the rare opportunity to relax away from the spotlight while his chief rivals slugged it out for the Wimbledon crown.

“I cannot say I was very anxious during this period of time,” a smirking Nadal said.

“I enjoyed being with the family, with the friends. It’s the summer there too … Mallorca is a good place to be in the summer.”

Nadal faces Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in the third round of the Rogers Cup on Thursday.

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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Come clean on Greens, coalition tells Rudd

The federal coalition is demanding Labor match its promise not do any “squalid deals” with the Greens in the event of a hung parliament.


Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey have seized on differences between Treasurer Chris Bowen’s comments about minority government on Monday and what he wrote in a book about Labor’s future published in July.

“We have Mr Rudd and Mr Bowen talking about doing yet another squalid deal with the Greens in order to hold on to government,” Mr Abbott told reporters on the Central Coast on Tuesday.

“We all know what deals with the Greens mean: it means betrayals, broken promises … indecisive government that doesn’t provide us with the economic certainty and the economic security that the people of our country need.”

Mr Hockey called for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to “come clean” about his plans.

“Is he prepared to rule that out and say, ‘No, no more shonky deals with minority parties, we either win or we lose’?” he said on ABC radio.

In his book, Mr Bowen argued Labor should govern alone or not at all, saying the party shouldn’t enter into “formal agreements” with minor parties and independents like Julia Gillard did after the 2010 election.

But repeatedly asked about this on ABC television on Monday night he would only say that Labor would be campaigning to form a majority government.

When Mr Rudd was asked if he’d negotiate, he also said Labor was looking to win a majority.

Mr Abbott has ruled out negotiating with crossbenchers to form a minority coalition government.

Greens leader Christine Milne says she’s encouraging voters to make their own decision on preferences.

“We’re saying vote Greens first, then make your own decision about where you put your preferences,” Senator Milne told reporters in Melbourne.

“You don’t have to be locked into whatever negotiations the parties might do.

“What we’re seeing at the moment from Liberal and Labor is some kind of jockeying for power.”

Senator Milne said the Greens were focused on maximising their primary vote in the election but she did not rule out the possibility of a split ticket.

“The Greens, like all other parties, will be talking about preferences,” she said.

“Those negotiations will be ongoing. I’m not part of those.

“What I’m saying to people is `you choose’.”

Senator Milne said the Greens have said they won’t support an Abbott government.

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