Researcher of the month Miriam Richards

Miriam Richards leads a group down a Glenridge Quarry trail.Miriam Richards used to think insects were boring.The associate professor of Biological Sciences changed her mind greatly during her formative university years, so much so that she now spends a good portion of every day thinking about and researching them.In particular, she researches and talks about the social and ecological attributes of bees. Her research team’s work came into the spotlight recently with the release of the Niagara Community Observatory’s fourth policy brief, “Niagara’s Natural Park: The Restoration of the Glenridge Quarry into a Naturalization Site,” which outlines the restoration of a former landfill site near Brock’s St. Catharines campus.Richards outlined the return of flora and fauna after the naturalization by discussing the inventory of bee species found at the site since 2003. While not quite up to the usual standards of other similar parks with 150-160 species, her research team found 125 different species of bee at this site, demonstrating its ability to exist as a natural oasis in an urban environment. The bees will assist in pollination of fruit and flower plants, providing a vital service to the environment at a time when bee populations in different parts of the country and the world seem to be declining.Richards noted during her talk at the naturalization site that there are places in China where human workers need to literally paint the pollen on the fruit trees by hand, since the pollution has driven away the pollinating bees.To keep up with similar work being done across the country, Richards is part of the CANPOLIN initiative (Canadian Pollination Initiative), a five-year Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network that will address the growing problem of pollinator decline in agricultural and natural ecosystems in Canada.Researchers at 26 universities across the country are working with government agencies, NGO’s and industry to deliver critical insights and sustainable solutions to the pollination problem. To make sure the researchers are all approaching their work the same way, CANPOLIN is working on a standardized way of identifying and counting the various species. Canada has some 900 documented species to date, while there are approximately 19,000 bee species worldwide.For those feeling the need to reach for an epipen, Richards is quick to note that bees only sting if provoked, and there are many, many species without the ability to sting.To see the policy brief, visit the Niagara Community Observatory.Links:• Miriam Richards faculty page• Past research profiles read more

Tim Hortons Field still a possibility for Labour Day Classic

Pan Am stadium builders Ontario Sports Solutions have applied for a temporary occupancy permit so the Hamilton Tiger-Cats can host the Labour Day Classic in their new home.It’s far from a done deal. City spokesperson Mike Kirkopolous told CHCH News OSS only applied for the use of certain parts of the stadium, the parts it feels certain will be approved for occupancy. they are the east side of the stadium and the lower bowl on the west side.However if builders manage to get further ahead on the construction of other parts of the stadium, they can add levels and modify their application. Kirkopolous says we should know more about the status of the application at the beginning of next week.The city needs about five days to inspect the construction to decide whether to grant the permit. Kirkopolous says public safety will be the most important factor in the process. read more

Couriers bracing for Christmas shipstorm

(Updated) As couriers scramble to deliver a flood of parcels before Christmas, Purolator says today will be its busiest shipping day of the holiday season. The company expects it will ship approximately 1.3 million pieces today. It says December 23rd is the latest date to ship a parcel for next-day delivery in Canada. December 22nd is the deadline to send parcels for next-day delivery to the United States. If you are shipping something to Europe, it must be sent by tomorrow. As online shopping becomes more popular and convenient, couriers are reporting growing volumes of shipments at this time of year. Here’s what some people had to say to CHCH News about the growing trend of shopping online. “I do a lot of on-line shopping. That’s where i got a lot of my gifts. It is really, really easy and it saves me time.”“I think it is awesome. I think it is really good. They are doing well.”“It is either at 7:00 when they open or I am shopping on-line. I love it.”“It is convenient, but shipping can cost a lot.”The courier crush is compounded as major retailers compete for online shoppers by offering free shipping. read more

Update on the latest in business

^FINANCIAL MARKETSAsian markets mixed, pausing ahead of Fed chief testimonyTOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mixed today in cautious trading ahead of closely watched congressional testimony by the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished nearly 0.2% lower. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5%.Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 3.68 points, or 0.1%, to 2,979.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.65 points, or 0.1%, to 26,783.49. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, gained 43.35 points, or 0.5%, to 8,141.73. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 1.20 points, or 0.1%, to 1,562.59.^FEDERAL RESERVE-POWELLPowell testimony to be studied for signs of coming rate cutWASHINGTON (AP) — Every sentence Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to Congress this week is sure to be parsed by investors who expect — and hope — the Fed will cut interest rates later this month for the first time in a decade.Powell will testify for two days starting today, at a time when the economic landscape is a mixed one: The U.S. job market appears resilient. Consumer spending and home sales look solid. But the economy is likely slowing. President Donald Trump’s trade wars have magnified uncertainties. And inflation remains chronically below the Fed’s target level.Powell and the Fed have recently made clear they will do whatever they deem “appropriate” to sustain the economic expansion — a message that traders have interpreted to mean a coming rate cut.^HEALTH OVERHAUL-LAWSUITValidity of Obama health care law at issue in appeal hearingNEW ORLEANS (AP) — With health insurance availability, cost and coverage on the line for millions of Americans, a federal appeals court seemed inclined Tuesday to rule that the core provision of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is unconstitutional.Two Republican-appointed judges on a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals peppered lawyers defending the law with skeptical questions, appearing to suggest they might hold that when Congress zeroed out a tax imposed by the law in 2017 it rendered unconstitutional the mandate to purchase health insurance.The hearing marked the latest development in a 2018 lawsuit by 18 Republican-leaning states claiming that the absence of a tax converts the law into an unconstitutional directive to U.S. citizens to buy a product.It was unclear when the panel would rule. The case is likely headed to the Supreme Court, where the same five-justice majority that has twice voted to uphold the law — in 2012 and 2015.^JAPAN-SKOREA TRADESKorean leader denounces Japanese comments over sanctionsSEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in has criticized comments by Japanese officials who questioned the credibility of Seoul’s sanctions against North Korea while justifying Tokyo’s stricter controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.The issue has become a full-blown diplomatic dispute between the neighbouring U.S. allies.In a meeting with business leaders today, Moon said Seoul was committed to finding a diplomatic solution and urged Japan to refrain from pushing the situation to a “dead-end street.”He spoke hours after South Korean officials told a WTO meeting in Geneva that the Japanese measures would have repercussions for electronics products worldwide and called for their withdrawal. Japanese officials countered that the measures didn’t amount to a trade embargo, but rather a review of export controls based on security concerns.^MARRIOTT-RESORT FEESDC sues Marriott, claims resort fees are deceptiveWASHINGTON (AP) — The attorney general for the District of Columbia is suing Marriott, saying it’s misleading customers by advertising room rates without including mandatory resort fees.The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court after an investigation conducted by all 50 state attorneys general.According to the lawsuit, Marriott doesn’t include mandatory resort fees in the room rates it displays online. Consumers only discover the fees after they begin to book a room. They may also be called “amenity fees” or “destination fees.”The lawsuit says at least 189 Marriott hotels worldwide charge the fees, which range from $9 to $95 per day. It’s seeking a court order to require Marriott to advertise the fees up front.Marriott says it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but is continuing its discussions with other state attorneys general.^AMAZON-PRODUCT LIABILITYFederal court says Amazon can be sued over defective productPHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be sued over a defective product sold by one of its third-party vendors.A Pennsylvania woman sued after a retractable dog leash she bought online snapped and hit her four years ago, leaving her permanently blind in one eye.In a 2-1 decision released last week, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Amazon can be classified as a seller in part because it doesn’t allow customers to communicate directly with third-party vendors.The court also said a 1990s federal law governing the publishing of third-party content doesn’t shield Amazon from liability.The dissenting judge called it an “uncharted area of law” and noted that numerous rulings in other states have barred consumers from suing Amazon for liability.^FRIENDS-NETFLIX AT&T SERVICEAT&T pulls ‘Friends’ from Netflix for its streaming serviceNEW YORK (AP) — AT&T is pulling “Friends” from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. With new services launching, popular shows are splintering onto several different platforms.The wireless company, which owns the WarnerMedia entertainment business, also says its service will be called HBO Max.It will launch in spring of 2020. As the name suggests, it will contain HBO content, other video from the Warner Bros. studio and new series and movies that are exclusive to the service. AT&T has not announced a price.^EUROPE-HELLO KITTY-ANTITRUSTEU fines Hello Kitty owner $7 million in antitrust rulingBRUSSELS (AP) — European Union authorities have fined the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty for restricting cross-border online sales of toys, mugs, bags and other products featuring the cartoon cat girl.The EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, says that Sanrio Co. was fined 6.2 million euros ($7 million) on Tuesday because the company violated the bloc’s competition rules with licensing agreements that banned traders from selling merchandise in different countries in the bloc.The commission found Sanrio’s illegal practices were in force for 11 years until December.Sanrio says the fine will be recorded as an extraordinary loss in its fiscal first quarter financial statement. The company says it has co-operated with the investigation.The Associated Press read more

Report Great Lakes cleanups boost economic development

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A new report says cleaning up some of the Great Lakes region’s most heavily polluted areas has led to billions of dollars’ worth of economic development and brought communities closer together.The study released Tuesday was conducted by the International Association for Great Lakes Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.It reviews efforts to restore harbours, river mouths and other spots that were contaminated with toxic wastes during the industrial boom era.The U.S. and Canada identified 43 such “areas of concern” in the 1980s. Work remains to be done on most of them.The report highlights 10 places where cleanups have spurred development.Among them are the Buffalo River in New York, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the Detroit River in Michigan and Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront area.The Associated Press read more

Michael Avenatti blames arrest on vindictive prosecutors

NEW YORK — Lawyer Michael Avenatti wants a judge to dismiss criminal charges alleging he extorted Nike, and he’s blaming his arrest on what he calls “vindictive” prosecutors.Avenatti’s attorneys filed papers Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to publicize claims the sportswear company enabled payouts to promising young athletes and their families. A trial is set for November.Avenatti is also charged separately with defrauding former client and porn star Stormy Daniels in a book deal, and he faces federal fraud charges in California related to clients. He has denied all wrongdoing.Avenatti says prosecutors went after him partly because of his aggressive public persona and feuding with President Donald Trump.Prosecutors decline comment.The Associated Press read more

Valeant Pharmaceuticals is changing its name to Bausch Health Companies

MONTREAL — Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. says it’s changing its name to Bausch Health Companies Inc.The company, which has been working to turn itself around in recent years, says the switch will come in July and also involves changing its stock market ticker symbol to BHC.In the past two years, the company says it has completed more than a dozen divestitures and reduced its debt by more than 20 per cent.The announcement came as Valeant reported a loss in its latest quarter as it took a $2.2-billion goodwill impairment charge related to its Salix and Ortho Dermatologics businesses.Valeant says it lost $2.69 billion or $7.68 per diluted share in the quarter compared with a profit of $628 million or $1.79 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Revenue totalled nearly $2 billion, down from nearly $2.11 billion a year ago.On an adjusted basis, Valeant says it earned $312 million in the quarter, up from $273 million in the same quarter last year.Valeant also raised its outlook for the year.It now expects full-year revenues in the range of $8.15 billion to $8.35 billion, up from earlier expectations for $8.10 billion to $8.30 billion.Full-year adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciatation and amoritzation are expected to be in the range of $3.15 billion to $3.30 billion, up from $3.05 billion to $3.20 billion read more