8 Unique Gift Ideas for People With Anxiety


 

Do you want to find something meaningful, fun, or personal for someone you know that has a hard time with an anxiety disorder or that gets very stressed? The following gift ideas for people with anxiety are interesting and different than the norm. As someone who has experienced anxiety on a high level for most of my life, I wanted to put together the ultimate list of things that I would like to receive myself, when I’m feeling highly anxious or stressed. Most of these gift ideas for people with anxiety are found on Amazon at great prices too!

So, Christmas, birthdays or any other occasion, these items make great gifts!

1. The Rustic Good News Mindfulness Jar

This Jar is something very unique. The ‘mindfulness Jar is packed with a month’s worth of heart warning feel good news stories. The angle of the jar is to pick you up. With so many bad and negative news stories (the stuff that gets air time) it’s easy for us to constantly feel like we need to live in fear and go into ourselves.

This jar mindfully gives us one positive news story everyday for 30 days. This gift idea for someone with anxiety makes a great present because there’s not too much else like it. It could also help you get out of a rut of negativity when you’re pulling out a good news story each day.

This jar would work magic if you stopped watching the news for a month and just read each and every story from the jar instead.

2. The Mindfulness Jar

Here’s another jar… I don’t know what it is about these rustic mindfulness jars but I just love the way they look! This jar is similar to the jar we mentioned above but it’s main function is to teach you mindful practises over 31 days.

The idea is to use each mindfulness practise one day at a time so that you can build up the habit of mindfulness in a no pressure way that will help to develop this way of thinking and behaving. This jar is a great idea because not only does it look great but it uses the idea that forming new habits takes about 30 days.

The mindfulness exercises are folded up in with unique designs that open your mind up to a new way of thinking everyday for a month. If you want to give a loved one the gift of learning mindfulness in an easy to manage way, this jar is perfect. Did I mention it also looks awesome?!

3. Stress Less Cards

Another neat thing I found is stress less cards. These cards are already recommended by health care professionals for people who deal with anxiety and stress on an everyday basis. They look great and they also work well.

There are 50 cards in this pack. Each card has a different exercise to follow containing mindfulness, meditations and stress relieving techniques.

I like these cards because you can carry them with you anywhere. When you’re feeling stressed of anxious you can shuffle your deck and pull out a card to follow the exercise.

A simple idea yet an effective one.

4. Smiles In A Jar

Smiles in a jar is exactly that. Smiles. This jar is packed full of brightly coloring cards which have moving, motivational, humorous, and loving messages on them. This gift idea is great for those who are anxious or stressed because it provides a little pick me up.

This jar is also a cool idea if you’re struggling to find a cost-effective but meaningful gift for someone’s birthday of secret Santa present.

It works wll for dad, mum, a brother, sister or a grandparent or anyone really..

Although it’s not marketed at the anxious or stressed, you can’t help but feel calmer when you have a loving message every day of the month.

5. I Am Here Now

I Am Here Now is a super unique idea. It’s basically a book of mindfulness exercises that’s useful for beginners and also mindfulness veterans. What makes it so different from anything else on the market is it’s creative approach.

Instead of just learning about Mindfulness, the guide book gets you stuck in with proactive activities. Like all good mindfulness guides, the book is designed to open your mind creatively, bring awareness to you sense and understand your thoughts and emotions with it’s thought provoking words.

It’s created by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. The guide gets you to do lots of activities to start thinking mindfully like drawing around your hand, and placing both hands on the book to connect with the rhythm of your pulse.

The interesting and unique illustrations of emotions and situations in your life make this a very special present. You can also use the journal pages in between activities to jot down you thoughts.

With some very positive reviews on Amazon, this one’s probably my personal favorite on the list of gift ideas for people with anxiety.

6. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living

Another book that makes a great gift for someone with anxiety is Dale Carnegie’s How To Stop Worrying And Start Living. It’s probably the most talked about book when it comes to how to stop worrying. And for good reason – Dale’s book is straightforward and easy to read. It provides practical techniques that you can use to break the habit of worrying, before it breaks you.

The book is a full of real life examples about people, some famous, some not, who have learnt how to handle worrying and fear. The stories flows into each other beautifully and are highly relatable. The book covers all aspects of what the modern person worries about, money, relationships, work, etc and provides actionable exercises to stop worrying. If there is an ultimate book on learning how to stop worrying, it’s this one, which makes it a highly useful gift if the recipient is experiencing anxiety.

7. The Worry Plaque

The next item on the list is something very unique and interesting. This is the worry plaque, which can be mounted on your wall. This gift for someone with anxiety is just a bit of fun, but it’s sure to bring a smile to someone’s face. The idea is to place your hand in the print. By doing so, the green light turns red, which means you have successfully passed your worry into the ‘worry fairies’. Everytime you’re feeling very worried about something, place your hand in the print and imagine your worry being passed into the plaque, freeing you from it.

If you want to give something truly unique as a gift, this is the one for you! There is also access to video content where you can stream positive affirmation on the companies website.

8. Weighted Blankets

There’s something incredibly relaxing about weighted blankets. They make great gift for guys with anxiety or girls experiencing anxiety. Until I tried one myself, I thought they sounded a bit suffocating, however, I was completely wrong. Instead, there is something calming about having the lightly weighted blanket over you. It feels as if you are being cradled in your bed, being put into a deeply calm state. This is slightly more expensive than the other gift ideas for people with anxiety, but it’s a great investment and a highly practical gift idea.

This post was previously published on Projectenergise.com.

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The unique connection a potential top 10 draftee has to coaching great


Prospective top 10 draftee Will Phillips has revealed his unique connection to legendary Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.

The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder, who is regarded as a future leader, is widely tipped to be taken early in the first round of the upcoming National Draft.

Speaking on SEN’s The Captain’s Run, the 179cm on-baller said he and Clarkson’s daughter Georgia both go to the same school at Caulfield Grammar.

Phillips said it would be an “absolute pleasure” to land at Hawthorn and be coached by the father of one of his classmates.

“When I’ve been with (Georgia Clarkson) she seems really nice and so does Alastair when I’ve been with him,” he said.

“It would be an absolute pleasure to go with the Hawks, obviously Clarko is one of the best in the industry and I have no doubt that he’ll take Hawthorn back up to the top.

“I’m trying not to think too far into the future because I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get my hopes up, if this year has taught us anything it’s that it’s not to look too far into the future.

“It would be an absolute joy, but I’m not getting too far into the future.”

Phillips said he had spoken to the majority of clubs ahead of next month’s draft, with Port Adelaide the only side he didn’t have a conversation with.

“I’ve spoken to 17 clubs (before the draft),” he said.

“Port Adelaide were the only club I didn’t speak to which is probably fair considering they have a few Next-Generation Academy (players).”

The 2020 National Draft will take place on December 9.







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Google and Facebook give unique insight into how US election is being fought online


The US presidential election – more than any other before it – has established a battleground online.

The role of social media companies in monitoring content has drawn controversy from both Republicans and Democrats, especially given the alleged foreign interference in the 2016 election.

But data from global tech companies, such as Google or Facebook, has also provided a unique perspective on what subjects are most interesting to US citizens, and how candidates have invested in their online campaigns.

What have voters been searching for on Google?

In the United States, there was a 362% increase in users searching for the term “postal voting” compared to other election years, according to Google Trends.

Meanwhile, there was a 366% increase in searches for “electoral fraud” and the phrase “fact check” had peaked in search interest long before November.

The US President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned mail-in ballots, tweeting in May they would lead to a “fraudulent” election.

In a first, Twitter labelled the tweet and directed social media users to fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

The tech giant said the tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labelled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots”.

Google Trends also showed that users have searched for “how to vote” and “early voting” more now than any other time on record.

Meanwhile, other political search terms with especially high interest in the US in 2020 included “unemployment”, “vaccine” and “racism”.

The US economy and growth experienced a historic drop in the second quarter of the year during the COVID-19 pandemic, while demonstrations against social injustice have raged across the country following the death of George Floyd on May 25.

Who spent the most on online ads?

Discussion about the availability of political ads presented a different headache for tech companies in the lead up to the election.

Unlike rivals Twitter, Facebook decided to allow political ads on its platform and Instagram in the lead up to election day.

However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the social network would ban new political adverts in the week before November 3.

Rob Leathern, director of product management at Facebook, added the company would also ban adverts that tried to delegitimise the outcome of the election, such as calling a method of voting fraudulent or corrupt.

But aside from these exceptions, both Trump and Joe Biden have heavily invested in Facebook advertising, more than doubling ad spending on the social network compared with the presidential candidates in the 2016 race.

Since January 1, Biden has narrowly outspent his Republican rival, investing $101 million (€86 million) on Facebook advertising on his dedicated campaign pages, compared to Trump’s $93.5 million (€80 million).

In the last week of October, the difference was even more dramatic, with the Democrat candidate more than doubling the investment of Trump.

From October 25 to October 31, Biden’s pages spent $9.01 million (€7,68 million) to Trump’s $4.50 million (€3.84 million).

Meanwhile, campaign pages for Democrat vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris have also outspent incumbent Vice-President Mike Pence on Facebook advertising in 2020.

Google decided to limit the reach of political adverts on the search engine in November 2019, preventing campaigns from targeting ads based on users’ internet search preferences and viewing history on YouTube.

On Google, it is Trump who has invested more in ads, while the two campaigns have spent a combined $215.5 million (€183.7 million) since May 2018.

Where were these ads targeted?

In the last month, both parties have heavily invested their campaign funds into online ads for specific US states, many of which are seen as crucial swing states.

Trump and Biden have each spent more than $1.50 million (€1.28 million) on Facebook ads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Arizona since October 1.

Unsurprisingly the most lucrative US state is Florida, where many critics are hinging the election result on, with just a few points predicted to separate the two candidates.

In the last month, political ads on Facebook in Florida have cost Biden $6.0 million (€5.1 million) and Trump $4.8 million (€4.1 million) respectively.

Euronews has found that many of these adverts are also individually focused on political issues that had been searched for on Google.

Trump’s most interacted advert on Facebook – 15% of which was released in Florida – issued a clear message to encourage unity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ad featured the US president speaking after he had left Walter Reed Hospital following his own treatment for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign has run ads with pledges to tackle social injustice and unemployment, alongside a straightforward message that the Democrats “have to get this guy out of [the White House”.

While these figures provide only an indication of the campaigns, experts agreed that Trump outperformed Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton online in 2016, and the online campaign has been a central focus for both parties in the race for the White House.





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Yolngu band heads out bush in unique Territory tour of Arnhem Land communities


When their interstate festival gigs were cancelled because of coronavirus, Garrangali Band took off on a different kind of tour — stopping at remote communities and homelands across north-east Arnhem Land and skipping the big cities altogether.

The tour has launched the 12-member group’s second album, One Voice, which mixes modern production with Yolngu Matha lyricism in a style that’s been described as “saltwater ska”.

Keyboardist Yimila Brendan Marika said the decision to tour exclusively across Arnhem Land mirrored the album’s message about the importance of Aboriginal homelands.

“We wanted to do something new, with more focus on homelands or how important homeland is,” Marika said.

“[It’s] a reminder to people that homelands still have that connection — sometimes you don’t realise how much.”

Sharing songlines, hometown crowds

The band has clocked more than 2748 kilometres on the tour so far, with the return leg yet to come.

They’ve played the tiny Baniyala and Gan Gan homelands, with populations of around 100 people, as well as the communities of Maningrida and Ramingining.

The venues have ranged from beaches and football fields to the back of a truck at an arts centre, and they’ve camped at youth centres, ranger stations and recreation halls along the way.

Marika said the band members, who are from the tiny community of Baniyala on the eastern edge of Arnhem Land, had been rediscovering family roots in the west.

The band says the rejigged tour has helped them connect with their culture.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“We’ve been making connections to family, it’s all about how we relate to each other through land and songlines,” he said.

“This is something new for Garrangali Band, coming all the way out to Western Arnhem Land, because we still have family and kinship.

Touring remotely hasn’t come without challenges.

“We’ve already had problems with the tyres coming in from Baniyala to Ramingining,” Marika said.

“We have three cars to travel but we’ve managed.”

Bringing back connections to culture and country

Lead singer Mudiny Nicholas Guyula said the touring process had been bittersweet.

“It’s fun and it’s sad, because we are also leaving family behind,” he said.

“But the album has lots of meanings to us, because of our stories that have been laid down by our old people.

“That’s why the message with One Voice — we are coming out to the people in our mob, to acknowledge them and go back to their identity, to connect back to the land, the land where stories and cultures have been laid by our ancestors.

The lead singer of the Garrangali Band performing.
The new album is a celebration of Yolngu culture and it’s being heard in some of the most remote parts of the NT.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“The good thing that we are doing is passing it on to generation, generation and generation to come.”

Band manager Ahva Paul Hayes said things didn’t always go according to plan when touring out bush, with three out of five dates having to be changed.

“There’s been lots of negotiations and talking; we’ve got to be flexible.

Garrangali Band dancers onstage in traditional dress and body paint.
The band members have travelled thousands of kilometres across the remote NT during their album tour.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“We’re not attached to any organisation so that has made it possible.

“[The band members] are doing it themselves, so it is up to them about what they want to do. Nobody else is controlling it or the outcome.”

Hayes said the touring process had also been a learning process for him.

“It’s all been a windy path, not straightforward,” he said.

“Because it is a cultural band, there are lots of things that I am learning along the way about how different areas and different people are connected and important cultural protocols for the places we are touring to.”

The group wrapped up their Arnhem Land tour last night with a concert in Yirrkala in east Arnhem Land.



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Birchall excited for unique October


Grant Birchall says he’s excited to lead the “tough and resilient” Brisbane Lions into the finals as he looks for his fifth AFL premiership.

The Lions defeated Carlton by 17-points at the Gabba on Saturday night to bring their home and away season to a close.

They sit on top of the ladder and could claim the minor premiership depending on the result of Monday night’s clash between Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

Birchall told AFL Nation post-match that he’s proud of the playing group’s efforts so far and can’t wait for the finals to begin.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I’m happy that my body’s back in good knick now and I can have another crack at a finals series which is really exciting,” he said.

“I’ll be there as someone to lean on I suppose. We want to create our own history.

“We feel like we’ve taken some real steps forward this year and hopefully we can keep building and going with the momentum at the moment.”

Birchall said tonight’s win was a great example of the determination and fight of the Lions so far in 2020.

“It was a nice gritty win tonight,” he said.

“We’ve shown a lot of maturity throughout the season.

“There’s been times where the opposition has challenged us, and we’ve been able to bounce back and hurt them on the scoreboard.

“I’m really proud of the boys’ mental strength, particularly throughout those shortened weeks, we came out of that really well.”

Brisbane will play a home qualifying final for the second year running and with the Gabba hosting the AFL Grand Final, Birchall hopes the Lions can capitalise on the home field advantage.

“It’s great, the crowds up here are fantastic, they get behind us,” he said.

“It’s really exciting, there’s a great opportunity for us, we haven’t lost at the Gabba this year, so we want to maintain that and do some damage.”

The 32-year old joined the club at the end of last season from Hawthorn after 248 games and four premierships and looks set to play on in 2021 for what would be his 16th season.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time up here so far, it’s been good fun,” Birchall said.

“I’ll sit down with Chris Fagan and the guys at the end of the year but I’ve reached my trigger to go around again so we’ll see how we go.”






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Silicon Valley SynBio Firms In Race To Save Mauritius Unique Biodiversity From Oil Spill


As the true enormity dawns of the large oil spill in Mauritius caused by Japanese bulk carrier, The Wakashio, Silicon Valley synthetic biology companies have been racing to offer support to the Indian Ocean island famous for its rare biodiversity.

In the 44 days since the incident, around 50 whales and dolphins have washed up dead on the Mauritian coastline, a mysterious brown substance has appeared within the protected Blue Bay Marine Park and over 32 kilometers of the Mauritian coastline has been declared a restricted area, keeping citizens away.

As the Wakashio’s toxic engine fuel swirls through the fragile reefs as an invisible poison, Mauritius and the world are at risk of losing some of the rarest biodiversity found anywhere on the planet. The uncertainty surrounding the cleanup techniques being deployed is raising concerns that this is making the oil more bioavailable, and that the harmful PAH and MAH compounds found in the ship engine oil would now be absorbed by more organisms, which could in turn lead to even more serious long term health outcomes for the coastal ecosystem. This part of Mauritius’ coastline contained several internationally protected biodiversity sites.

The vessel hit Mauritius in the center of its network of highly protected nature reserves – the Ramsar protected Blue Bay Marine Park, Pointe D’Esny Mangrove Forest Wetlands as well as a network of coral atoll nature reserves that contained Mauritius’ last remaining endemic low lying ebony forests, and where some of the rarest species in the country were being bred for restoration, such as the rare Pink Pigeon of Mauritius that only had nine individuals remaining in 1991. In addition, seven of the surrounding highly protected coral atolls were part of Mauritius’ outer island protected reserves, (Ile aux Aigrettes, Ile de la Passe, Ilot Vacoas, Ile aux Fouquets, Ile Marianne, Ile aux Fous and Rocher des Oiseaux) were home to the last remaining species of some of Mauritius most famous skinks and geckos, both are types of lizards, that were only found on the island.

Additional biodiversity risk due to poorly handled Wakashio salvage operation

The rear of the vessel continues to lie on the 100,000 year old Eastern Barrier Reef of Mauritius, grinding away at the coral, and reducing water visibility by 75% several kilometers away from the crash site. Those who have visited the site have already expressed their concern about the impact of this grinding of the ancient coral that protects the entire East Coast of Mauritius.

The front of the vessel was controversially and deliberately sunk by an international salvage team. However, this location has still not been publicly revealed (despite media pressure for two weeks). Within days of the sinking, almost 50 whales and dolphins showed up dead on the shores of Mauritius. 

In addition, it was unclear whether a survey had been done of seabed organisms where the Wakashio was sunk. Scientists are only just recognizing the importance of seabed organisms, and over 40 have now been found to have the potential for coronavirus treatments. Without knowing the complex seabed biology and the important microorganisms on the seabed, many other risks may now have been created by sinking such a large vessel without proper planning. The Wakashio was one of the largest ships in the ocean, larger than the Titanic, and photos show that the sinking happened in calm weather conditions, raising questions about why such a sinking was authorized.

Land of The Dodo

Mauritius was once known for the extinction of the Dodo by Dutch settlers, and now faces the prospect of another mass extinction event of rare biodiversity as the long-term consequences of this toxic ship engine fuel on the genetics of these rare species starts to be felt. The impacts may not be seen immediately with high death rates of species, but it is the sub-lethal doses that do not instantly kill these species but will slowly impact a range of critical life systems and undermine their ability to survive.  For example, exposure to this toxic oil will impact important breeding grounds of fish around the roots of the mangrove forests, longer term impacts on reproductive organs, disintegrating and dissolving coral structures in the acidic engine fuel oil will destroy habitats for countless of species – both visible and microscopic, that would be lost forever.

Volcanic and coral island habitats are renown biodiversity hotspots around the world, as they contain species that evolved in diverse ways over millions of years without human interference. For example, a lizard-like creature found only where the vessel struck, the Mauritius Bojer Skink, diverged from its closest relatives 30 million years ago. By comparison, humans only diverged 7 million years ago from their closest relatives. These species are dependent on food from the tidal splash pools, that are now saturated in oil as well as the species who live in such tidal splash pools. It is unclear whether the PAH absorbed by species in the tidal splash pools are being taken up by the larger, endangered skinks. Similarly, the results of autopsies from the dead whales and dolphins – heavily protected species in Mauritius – have not yet revealed the extent of PAH chemicals they had absorbed due to the oil spill from the Wakashio.

This biodiversity is not just interesting for scientific reasons alone, it is also very commercially sensitive. Marine environments, particularly around coastlines where there is the greatest gradient of conditions (e.g., salinity, pressure, temperature), host some of the most commercially promising biological resources whose genetic code are being used for modern medicine and new bio-manufactured goods. The world had just been learning about the potential of these sectors, called the BioEconomy. Crashing a large oil-carrying vessel into the heart of this means there is now a rush to safeguard Mauritius’ emerging ocean biotech sector, before this changes forever.

Massive Global BioTech Mobilization effort

Synthetic biology companies – those that know how to read, write and edit DNA – were at the forefront of a rapidly growing sector that was advancing even more quickly than Moore’s Law which drove the digital revolution. This was called the Carlson Curve and shows the rapid advances that had been made in this field.

Many of these companies are now some of the largest and fastest growing unicorns in Silicon Valley and other biotech hubs around the world. They had initially stepped up to support coronavirus efforts, and now many are turning their attention to see how they can support Mauritius safeguard some of the biodiversity that is at risk.

San Francisco based biotechnology accelerator, IndieBio, has been investing in climate and biodiversity for years, and is looking to expand these efforts to fund more solutions to the major environmental challenges being faced by the planet.

Program Director and Partner at IndieBio, Alex Kopelyan, said, “it is critical we identify unique biological and chemical compounds from many of the world’s most fragile places so they can be properly captured before being lost. These unique compounds, and surrounding microorganisms and sea life, provide enormous value to humanity. Alongside their ecosystem services, we know they have incredible potential to be the source of life saving drugs, green materials, and biomanufacturing platforms.

We were shocked by the events in Mauritius, and have been mobilizing our international cohort of leading synthetic biology companies, to support Mauritius’ efforts to rapidly sequence and identify biological matter that show strong commercial promise, before they are permanently lost to the oil pollution and subsequent consequences on biodiversity.

European biotech partnerships

Elsewhere in Europe, similar efforts are underway. Dutch-based genetics leader, Fina Kurreeman PhD, who is also of Mauritian origin, has been mobilizing European synthetic biology companies to support Mauritius. She has extensive experience in genetics, genomics, molecular biology, immunology and bioinformatics, her 52 published scientific papers have been cited over 6000 times. She recognizes the importance of such genetic diversity in the region where the crash site and oil spill occurred.

Having worked in the labs of the inventor of CRISPR and genomic sequencing technologies, George Church, several years ago at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT, I recognize the power and importance of this rapidly emerging sector of the economy and health. There are so many developments taking place in this field, that it could be the silicon valley of tomorrow, but built with biology. ”

She referenced several recently published scientific papers that highlighted the range of medicines that are being developed from ocean-related biology, and that could be at risk from the subsequent oil spill and clean up operation.

Many of the sort of base materials needed for this industry are found in places of high biodiversity, just like the region that has now been impacted by the oil spill. It is critical that the Mauritian authorities and private sector sample and sequence as much material of this natural material as possible in the shortest period possible, to try safeguard material that could both be commercially valuable, but also be used to naturally restore some of this habitat as part of the rehabilitation efforts.

With an expanding algal bloom seen in Blue Bay Marine Park over the weekend, this could indicate major biological changes are occurring in the coral lagoon.

Silicon Valley prepared to help Mauritius

Across the pond in Silicon Valley is the leading Synthetic Biology Innovation Network, SynBioBeta, that attracts the sector’s leading biological engineers, investors, innovators and entrepreneurs who are working on using biology to build a better, more sustainable economy. The Founder and President of SynBioBeta, John Cumbers, also expressed his shock at the oil spill incident in Mauritius.

“Here in California, we were shocked to see the impact of a large oil spill in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. We work with some of the leading unicorns in the synthetic biology space.

These companies are highly dependent on the discovery of unique biological and chemical matter from highly biodiverse regions, such as coral reef atolls.

The technologies of reading, writing and editing DNA, has moved on significantly in the last ten years and we now have many new approaches to rapidly identify biological and chemical compounds of significant commercial value, through a range of new techniques. We hope that these could be used one day to bring greater value to many of the most biodiverse countries in the world, which are often some of the world’s poorest.”

He gave four examples where products of high value have been commercialized from nature.

The Billion Dollar Molecules from Nature

Here are four examples of the sort of value of enzymes from nature that could be at risk of being lost.

1. PCR and a Nobel Prize

The Taq polymerase (Taq) enzyme came from Thermus aquaticus microbes that was found in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Taq was one of the most important enzymes ever discovered. It was discovered by biochemist, Kary Mullis in the 1980s, having earlier been collected in a sample by Thomas Brock in 1964. This rare organisms was found to polymerase DNA – this is to add together letters of DNA at a higher temperature than other cells were able to do – and this has been used in the Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCRs) trillions of times over in the last few decades by academics, scientists and industry. It is one of the most valuable and important enzymes known n the industry. Like many other enzymes, it came from nature and important work from sequencing the environment. Kary Mullis later won the 1993 Nobel Prize for this work on the invention of PCR.

2. CRISPR and numerous biotech billion dollar unicorns

Another enzyme – the CRISPR Cas-9 enzyme and the CRISPR system – was found in natural bacteria now forms the basis of the most amazing tool to cure some of the most detrimental genetic diseases that we have found and the solution comes from nature.

CRISPR-based technologies, which were only commercialized since 2014, have been responsible for a number of public companies valued at more than a $1bn dollars, such as Caribou Bio, Intellia Therapeutics, CRISPR Therapeutics.

3. The restriction enzyme, or ‘molecular scissors’

A third example is the restriction enzyme, which is an enzyme used for cutting DNA in particular places. It was discovered by Swiss and American microbiologists, who found it by sequencing sewage water. They found that it chopped DNA. These were effectively ‘molecular scissors’ as the restriction enzyme class can cut DNA in specific places, which is particularly valuable and had not been shown before. It shows the power of natural products that can be found in nature and in water.

The global Restriction Endonucleases market size is projected to reach $360 million by 2026, from $250 million in 2020. To date, more than 10,000 bacteria were screened for the presence of restriction enzymes and currently there are more than 2,500 restriction enzymes that were discovered along with over 250 distinct specificities in sequences. These enzymes are used in conventional cloning, deciphering epigenetic modifications, construction of DNA libraries and in vivo gene editing. The end users are major Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies, as well as some scientific and academic laboratories.

4. Natural enzymes in billion dollar washing up liquids

Global multinational companies like Procter and Gamble are using special enzymes in their Tide washing liquid that allows customers to wash clothes at lower temperatures which has saved huge amounts of carbon dioxide from water heating bills worldwide, thus helping address climate change.  These enzymes discovered in nature and in harmony with the planet, are being made by a company called Novozymes. Tide washing up liquid is the US leading washing liquid, accounting for one fifth of all laundry detergent sales and generating over $1 billion dollars.

Who knows what valuable biodiversity has just been lost or is about to be lost in Mauritius as the chemicals from the oil spill work their way through this highly sensitive environment.

A race against time

John Cumbers goes on to describe the ‘race against time’ that will now need to be launched in Mauritius to avoid losing these unique compounds forever.

“As those of us in the Synthetic Biology community know, what is critical is to rapidly catch and sample this rare biodiversity from a range of locations, before the full extent of the harmful chemical pollution begins to irreversibly impact these fragile and delicate ecosystems.

To support efforts in Mauritius, we have mobilized the entire SynBioBeta network that contains companies specializing in identifying valuable commercial biological material from different sources such as corals, sponges, sea cucumbers, amid the coastal mangrove roots. These companies can offer advice to local efforts on which species to identify and sequence first, keeping all samples locally to comply with Nagoya Protocols and putting in place a robust legal framework to ensure the provenance of any digital data placed in a digital library.”

A joint Mauritian-Silicon Valley partnership to rapidly identify promising biological products

The prospect of a Silicon Valley-European BioTech-Mauritian partnership could be a very powerful approach to capture and understand the complex biological functioning within this unique environment.

Krishnee Appadoo is a lecturer at the University of Mauritius. She is a specialist in environmental law and policy with a focus on the law of the sea, oceans, biodiversity and climate change. She had previously seen the power of Silicon Valley innovation from the time she had spent at the University of California in Berkeley, just outside San Francisco, on a research fellowship.

In looking at the potential of biotechnology and synthetic biology to address the biodiversity loss challenge now facing Mauritius, she said, “Silicon Valley has some of the most exciting companies focused on synthetic biology. Such a partnership with Mauritius and offers of support could really help Mauritius recognize the value of the rich ocean biodiversity that we have around the coastline. It would be a way to create the jobs of the future, focusing on the power of biotechnology and built on our natural and unique biodiversity.

We likely have to rush this now, given the scale of the oil spill, as we want to ensure we do not lose any species, even the microscopic ones that we cannot see with our eyes. There are many well understood protocols to comply with the Nagoya Protocol to prevent any theft or biopiracy. If we develop the right partnerships, this could be an exciting way to get better insights into the power of our rich biodiversity.

So far, less than 0.01% of all marine organisms have been sequenced, so this opens up a huge new potential for a place with rich biodiversity such as in the South East of Mauritius.”

Mauritius has the opportunity to proactively address this crisis – the largest ecological crisis ever faced by the Indian Ocean island – and emerge stronger with international partnerships, and access to the best science and technology in the world, to create vibrant new economic sectors of the future.

The international offers of support have been made, and the question now is whether there is an equal will to take the bold steps needed to achieve this powerful new vision.



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Regional authorities seek unique edge


Shire of Pingelly president William Mulroney has a vision to develop the Wheatbelt community of about 1,200.

“We’re trying to attract new businesses, we look for the type of businesses with manufacturing focus,” Mr Mulroney told Business News

“We also want … a good hub for the community.”

Mr Mulroney has been involved in local government for more than three decades, initially in operational roles and then as a councillor.

Pingelly is predominantly a sheep and grain farming region, with economic activity in the township underpinned by farmers’ spending.

The town is also ageing, with nearly half the population close to (or above) retirement age.

Mr Mulroney’s plan focuses on tourism, manufacturing, and appropriate aged care.

“We’re in the process of developing a new industrial area,” he said.

That would need state government support, Mr Mulroney said, and the shire was negotiating for a hay ‘manufacturing’ plant to be built in the area.

Pingelly township is just less than two hours’ drive south-east of Perth, and Mr Mulroney is an advocate for the potential of tourism.

“I have got a dream; I don’t know if it’ll come to fruition, but we’re working on it,” he said.

The main element is to build a museum focused on the area’s social and farming history, which could be an attraction for travellers.

Mr Mulroney also hoped to secure government support for short-stay accommodation in the town to enable it to host conferences.

It would follow what he said was the shire’s biggest-ever development: a $9 million recreation and cultural centre opened in late 2018.

The largest timber construction in Western Australia in decades, the centre forms part of a sports and entertainment precinct.

The shire chipped in about $3 million, with $4 million from the federal government and $1 million from Lotterywest.

“It’s a marvellous building,” Mr Mulroney said.

“The precinct supports tennis, basketball, hockey, football, cricket and bowls.”

The shire’s plans include construction of a lifestyle village and potential caravan park across from the cultural centre.

There are hopes for the recreation centre to attract Australian Campervan and Motorhome Club rallies, state-level tennis tournaments, and West Australian Football League games.

Up in the state’s northernmost reaches, Shire of Derby-West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said spending discipline was essential in a jurisdiction such as his, with a small rates base spead across a wide geographical area.

“When it comes to us, we carefully watch every dollar that comes in,” Mr Haerewa told Business News.

While some councils in the state’s north collected a lot of revenue from major projects, Derby-West Kimberley had a tighter grip on funds.

About five years ago, the shire went through a difficult period during which about half the people in the major centre, Derby, moved away after a number of mine closures.

But Mr Haerewa is passionate about creating jobs in the region, where unemployment has recently reached as high as 32 per cent.

The former businessman stepped out of retirement in 2017 to take on the job of shire president.

Mr Haerewa said he was working to attract investment into West Kimberley and support job creation, which was a competitive exercise given the needs of other regional centres.

“We have a big glowing light next to us called Broome,” he said.

Mr Haerewa said the shire was seeking to collaborate with local Aboriginal corporations and the Shire of Broome to secure private investors for economic development.

“If Derby grows, Broome grows naturally,” he said.

“A lot of the tourist attractions that Broome services are within our shire.”

In addition to tourism, West Kimberley has potential for resources development.

That could include onshore oil and gas in the Canning Basin, and potential mining projects.

“I encourage anything that will create jobs, within reason of course,” Mr Haerewa said.

“I want to generate jobs and close the gap of our unemployment figures.

“It’s a challenge, a challenge I want to take on.

“We don’t have the mega dollars the Pilbara has.”

Sustainable growth

Shire of Chittering chief executive Matthew Gilfellon told Business News the community tried to maintain a balanced approach to growth.

Conservation, protecting nature, and the area’s lifestyle were all important parts of this outlook.

“Being a peri-urban shire, it’s quite an interesting mix,” Mr Gilfellon said.

“The northern half of our shire is still doing broadacre farming.

“We want to keep it that way.”

Chittering has benefitted from some big recent projects, including the Northlink extension to Tonkin Highway, the Infrastructure Australia-supported Great Northern Highway bypass project, and a new industrial park at Muchea.

Mr Gilfellon said industry had developed in an ad hoc way in the area for about 20 years.

“It’s a bit of an environmentally sensitive area, people enjoying their country living lifestyle,” he said.

The industrial park was an effort to bring all the industry into one area, which can be more easily managed.

Consultation with stakeholders was important when deciding how to proceed with economic development, Mr Gilfellon added.

“Ultimately, that comes down to conversation with the community,” he said.

“People really enjoy that country lifestyle.

“Most people have five or 10 acres, it’s quite spread out.

“A lot of the houses, the land is relatively cheap compared to Perth … you can buy your little slice of paradise.

“People here are living their ideal lifestyle … it’s important we try and keep that.”

Mr Mulroney said the $275 million Great Northern Highway Bindoon bypass, which he supported, was an example of the costs and benefits of big projects for smaller communities.

When completed, he said, the bypass would mean road trains from the Pilbara, which currently stopped to decouple trailers 180 kilometres north of Bindoon at Wubin, would be able to travel to Muchea (30km south) without the need to stop.

While the big rigs driving through small towns brought noise and safety issues, their absence would deliver a commercial downside, Mr Gilfellon said.

“The trucks coming through are a safety problem in town in Bindoon … but also bring traffic for our businesses,” he said.

“Potentially that traffic will get lost with the bypass.”

Mr Gilfellon said the shire could solve that by encouraging more development in town, given moving the highway would bring a benefit of relieving spatial restriction on development.

One local government to benefit from a strong mining base is the Shire of East Pilbara.

Chief executive officer Jeremy Edwards said the shire had strong support from BHP, which operated the Mt Whaleback mine near the town of Newman.

Mr Edwards said BHP had recently supported a roll-out of CCTV cameras, an extended youth program, and upgraded the town’s shopping centre (owned by BHP).

There were more than $30 billion of projects under consideration or planning in the shire, Mr Edwards said, led by a renewable energy hub intended to export energy into Asia.

Mr Edwards said the shire was focused on ensuring employment and economic opportunities benefitted the local area rather than flowing elsewhere in the state.

“As mining takes on more technological techniques, that impacts jobs,” he said.

Part of the strategy is creating a new general industrial zone, in addition to existing light industrial areas.

That would service freight and logistics businesses, Mr Edwards said.

The shire was also prioritising red tape reduction, with personnel devoted to help project proponents navigate processes.

In common with the theme across many local governments, tourism had potential for economic diversification, Mr Edwards said.

“You’re not going to come to Newman and stay two weeks, but you might stay a few nights on your way to Karijini or Broome.”  





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Coronavirus: Queen’s official birthday marked with unique ceremony


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It is the first time the Queen has celebrated her official birthday at Windsor Castle

The Queen’s official birthday has been marked with a unique ceremony performed by the Welsh Guard at Windsor Castle.

It comes after the traditional Trooping the Colour parade was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is only the second time in her 68-year reign that the parade in London has not gone ahead.

The Queen, flanked by officials, sat alone on a dais for the ceremony. It was her first official public appearance since lockdown began.

The Queen celebrated her 94th birthday in April, but it is officially – and publicly – celebrated on the second Saturday of June every year.

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Reuters

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Guardsmen kept their distance as they stood in formation in the central quadrangle of Windsor Castle

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PA Media

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All the troops had learnt new marching techniques for the occasion, to conform with social distancing measures

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The ceremonial tribute, dubbed a mini-Trooping, was performed by a small number of Welsh Guardsmen and the band of the Household Division.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell described it as “a birthday parade for changed times”.

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Media captionThe Queen watches a mini-Trooping at Windsor Castle

The Queen received a royal salute. It was followed by a display of precision marching – with the military maintaining strict social distancing measures, in keeping with government guidelines.

With fewer people on parade because of social distancing rules, “there is no hiding place” said Garrison Sgt Maj Warrant Officer Class 1 Andrew Stokes, who created the display.

“But more spacing between individuals means that there is also no room for errors and so the soldier has to really concentrate on their own personal drill, reaction to orders, dressing and social distancing,” he said.

Normally, Guardsmen stand shoulder-to-shoulder during their drills or when formed up on the parade ground, but on Saturday they stood 2.2m apart.

Guardsman Lance Corporal Chusa Siwale, 29, originally from Zambia, had a central role in the ceremony, performing the Drummer’s Call.

“Only four weeks ago I was involved with testing key workers for Covid-19, as part of the Welsh Guards’ contribution to the battle against the virus. Now I am on parade performing in front of Her Majesty.

“This is a very proud day for me.”

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Getty Images

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The Queen appeared to enjoy the more intimate occasion

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PA Media

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No other members of the Royal family attended the ceremony on Saturday

It was the first time the Queen has celebrated her official birthday at Windsor Castle. An event for a sovereign’s birthday has not been staged there since 1895, during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have spent the lockdown in isolation at Windsor Castle, and were photographed there earlier this month to mark Prince Philip’s 99th birthday.

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PA Media

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A new photo of the Queen and Prince Philip was released to mark his 99th birthday

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Reuters

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Last year’s parade: The Queen and other royals gather to witness the Red Arrows perform a flypast

The Trooping the Colour parade in Whitehall is usually watched by thousands of spectators and senior members of the Royal Family.

The last time the event was cancelled was in 1955, three years after the Queen’s coronation, due to a national rail strike.

Maj Gen Christopher Ghika, who commands the Household Division, said the circumstances surrounding the decision to host the tribute in Windsor were “clouded in tragedy”.

“The effects of Covid-19 have been devastating in terms of loss of life and the threatening of livelihoods of so many across the country,” he said.

“People have had to endure separation from loved ones, great uncertainty and the suspension of so much of what is special about our national life.”

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Media captionThe Royal Opera Chorus reunites online for the Queen’s official birthday

Gen Ghika added: “The Welsh Guards and many of those on parade have recently been deployed within the United Kingdom as part of the nation’s response to the virus and so the context of the ceremony is particularly poignant.”

The Welsh Guards, along with the rest of the Household Division, have been among the soldiers helping with the coronavirus response, for example at test centres.



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‘If we all were to say I have got a unique situation so I am going to follow my instinct that is the danger’ – Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin


If the pressure from his own MPs and the public was not enough for the Prime Minister earlier today, Church of England bishops added their voices to the fury about Dominic Cummings.

More than a dozen accused Boris Johnson of undermining public trust by backing his controversial adviser.

One even suggested the Church might refuse to work with the government altogether unless Mr Cummings resigned.

Reverend Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin spent nearly a decade as the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. She has previously said that politicians are human beings first and then political leaders.



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Northern Territory pubs, gyms and cafes come up with unique solutions as COVID-19 restrictions ease


Not every business owner in the Northern Territory is planning to throw open the doors as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Simon Matthews, co-owner of upmarket restaurant Pee Wee’s at the Point, is keeping the doors shut — and his dozens of staff off the job — for another three weeks until early June.

Many other businesses are opening at noon today to take advantage of stage two of the NT Government’s Roadmap to a New Normal.

Mr Matthews said the new rule of restricting gatherings to less than two hours would be difficult to manage and feared bad press if they were not successful.

“It’s very difficult for a business like Pee Wee’s to do a normal trade in two hours — it’s very difficult for us to police,” he said.

“It puts us and our clients in a very difficult situation.”

He said parties arriving in dribs and drabs would make it hard to get everyone served and fed before they must be politely shown the door.

“We’re not a fast food joint,” Mr Matthews said.

“Small tables could be in and out in two hours, but it’s not the Pee Wee’s experience.

“We don’t want to overstep the limit and be highlighted as the business that ruined it for everyone else.

Pee Wees at the Point co-owner Simon Matthews will keep the doors shut until early June.(ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne)

Show me the way

Bhairab Yogi, owner of Stuart Park Nepalese restaurant Yogi’s Way, was eager to get the doors open at the first opportunity.

The sharply-dressed professional has been doing deliveries.

“It’s been really tough and scary and I’ve been nervous about what’s going on,” he said.

“We went through really, really quiet times and everyone was panicking and didn’t want to come out.”

But local residents and students have been volunteering to help with deliveries and keep the restaurant afloat, in return for some tucker.

While Mr Yogi used to be able to feed about 110 people in a night, that would probably be halved under new physical distancing measures.

“It is a very exciting and big day for us,” he said.

Bhairab leaning against a red pillar on a black wall looking at the camera inside a restaurant
Yogi’s Way owner Bhairab Yogi with staff member Sapna Shah.(ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne)

Roma wasn’t built in a day

Roma bar owner, Phoebe Breyer-Menke, has found the positives in being forced to become a takeaway-only business.

She has met all her customers by delivering to their doorsteps, and she will continue to offer the takeaway service.

“We adapted quickly and started to do the freezer packs where you get 10 meals frozen,” Ms Breyer-Menke said.

“So they’re for people who haven’t been able to get in, or [who were] in quarantine, or doctors and nurses working really hard, not having time to make their own food.

“That really helped us to try stay afloat.”

She also applied for a grant to buy a vacuum-pack machine and heat sealers to continue the takeaway service.

Customers walking in the door will notice a few new arrows and traffic diversions, but everything else will remain the same.

But a big concern is the looming dry season, when the town is usually flooded with visitors for six months, but this year nobody is coming.

Phoebe sitting outside under red cafe umbrellas outside the Roma Bar on Cavenagh St in Darwin NT
Darwin’s Roma Bar cafe restaurant owner Phoebe Breyer-Menke will keep doing takeaway.(ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne)

Smith Street Social distancing

All eyes on the first weekend of freedom will be on some of Darwin’s busiest watering holes: Shenannigans and Monsoons, both owned by the Australian Venue Company.

At the company’s newest NT bar, the Smith St Social, groups up to 10 people must stay in their ‘bubble’ and will be given wristbands stating their entry time into the bars.

They must leave after two hours and cannot socialise with people from other bubbles.

“Obviously bubbles can’t mingle with other bubbles,” marketing manager Carly Balding said.

In a town known for its friendly atmosphere, that will be hard to police.

Carly sitting in a bar lounge booth weraing black top looking out the window. Bar is empty.
Carly Balding says the Smith Street Social bar will use a ‘bubble’ system.(ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne)



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