Rob Idol

About Rob Idol

Rob is an aspiring writer who balances his time between a “real” job and his passion for politics, social justice and all things creative. He has an MBA, an unhealthy obsession with current events, an even unhealthier obsession with pop culture and has been known to offer favourable food reviews in exchange for free meals.

Current Affairs Wrap: Trump’s first week, Australia Day protests and Doomsday Clock’s tick

Approx Reading Time-14Somehow we survived it: last week saw the first of Trump, our contentious national day, and a cabal of scientists claiming we’re a bit closer to annihilation.


Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap.

I’m going to try something a little different this week. For the past year or so, the format of the Current Affairs Wrap has always been International, Domestic and Wacky and Wonderful. Unfortunately, one of the many side effects of the new Trump administration is there is currently so much to cover related to him that the rest of the International section will end up with very few words. So, for the next few weeks at least, let me introduce a new section: “Trump Watch” – a quick weekly snapshot of all things Donald.


Trump Watch

Trump can be accused of a lot of things, but a failure to act is not one of them. So much so that I literally have to present Trump Watch in bullet point form to cover his first week or so in office:

And that’s just the stuff we know about…



A Gambian refugee has tragically drowned in Venice’s Grand Canal this week as onlookers laughed at him, mocked him and filmed his death on their phones.

The 22-year-old man, Pateh Sabally, can be seen struggling and flailing in the middle of the canal whilst members of the crowd watching on can be heard saying, “He is stupid. He wants to die,” and “Go on, go back home.”

Floatation devices were thrown at Sabally to assist him from a passing water bus however he did not reach out for them suggesting that his death may have been suicide. However, the words of the local head of the Italian association of lifeguards sums it up perfectly: “I don’t want to blame anyone but maybe something more could have been done to save him.” Yep…like actually trying to save him.

The 22-year-old man, Pateh Sabally, can be seen struggling and flailing in the middle of the canal whilst members of the crowd watching on can be heard saying, “He is stupid. He wants to die,” and “Go on, go back home.”

The Doomsday Clock ticked a little closer to midnight this week, primarily in response to Trump’s inauguration. The move forward by 30 seconds sees it sitting at the closest time to midnight in 64 years – the start of the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR.

What is the Doomsday Clock you ask? The short version is it’s an indicator devised by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists which indicates how vulnerable the world currently is to a major disaster – midnight being the disaster. If you want to learn more about it and its history, check it out here.

The decision to push the clock closer to midnight this week can be largely blamed on Trump and Putin, according to theoretical physicist Professor Kraus. In addition, lack of progress in combatting climate change as well as the threat of the further damage that could occur under a Trump administration are considered factors in the move.



Australia Day has come and gone and was again marred by violence as Invasion Day protests in Sydney ended with clashes between protesters and police, which saw one officer injured and a man arrested.

The incident was thankfully isolated according to police, and a result of a protester allegedly trying to set fire to an Australian flag which put other members of the public in danger. The protest march continued after the arrest.

Possibly as many as 50,000 people attended the same rally in Melbourne which made its way through the city before filling Federation Square and the surrounding area. Protesters in Adelaide may have been smaller in numbers but still managed to have an impact with around 300 protesters creating a blockade at the final sections of the Australia Day Parade in the CBD.

The debate over the date continues, with those calling for a change appearing to become louder and in much larger numbers. With the exception of the events in Sydney, there were no major incidents, no violent altercations and no arrests, which hopefully means that the message can continue to spread and a real conversation can finally occur.

Also on The Big Smoke

Tragedy struck in Perth however, as a light plane crashed into the Swan River just hours before Perth’s annual fireworks display. Pilot Peter Lynch and his girlfriend Endah Cakrawati were killed in the crash which was witnessed by tens of thousands of people on the foreshore, preparing for the fireworks and watching the airshow.

The City of Perth cancelled the event, however have confirmed that the event will continue next year as planned. Lynch and Cakrawati were flying in a Grumman G-73 Mallard flying boat which was part of the airshow which had been given special approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

According to witnesses, the plane was following another aircraft south along the river before banking, stalling and nose diving into the river. The plane broke into two pieces upon impact.

Thankfully it wasn’t all bad news on Australia Day, with Professor Alan Mackay-Sim being named as the 2017 Australian of the Year.

Professor Mackay-Sim is a biomedical scientist and a pioneer in the world of regenerative science, discovering that olfactory ensheathing cells in the human nose could be used to regenerate cells in a spinal cord – something long thought impossible. In 2002, Mackay-Sim tested the theory and discovered it was safe to inject a human spinal cord with these regenerating cells and that spinal cord repair was indeed possible.

In 2012, a European team used his research on a 40-year-old Polish man who had become paralysed from the chest down. The 100 micro-injections he received below and above the spinal injury, coupled with three years of intensive physiotherapy, have the man walking with the aid of a frame.

The breakthrough achieved by Professor Mackay-Sim was described as the scientific equivalent of the moon landing, and it’s easy to understand why. Aussies might have trouble agreeing on a lot of things on Australia Day but surely we can all get behind this incredible Aussie’s achievements. A worthy pick if there ever was one!


Wacky and Wonderful

Northumbria University in England has been hit with a £400,000 fine this week after an experiment involving two of their students went horribly wrong.

The test was designed to measure the effect of caffeine on exercise. Alex Rossetto and Luke Parkin, both Sports Science students, volunteered to receive a 0.3g dose of caffeine and presumably test their response when exercising.

Unfortunately a small typo saw the lads given 30g instead (the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee) – in one dose. They were immediately rushed to hospital for emergency dialysis and have thankfully made a full recovery.

Also on The Big Smoke

We started with Trump and we’re finishing with Trump…sort of.

George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel, 1984, has suddenly surged to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list…no prizes for guessing where the sudden motivation to revisit the classic came from.

Whilst the comparisons between Team Trump rhetoric and Orwell’s dark prose are many, it was Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” reference when discussing the inauguration crowds that got everyone buzzing; probably due to it’s similarity to this line from the novel:

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command”.

According to Penguin, who publish the novel, they have put through a 75,000 copy reprint this week which is “substantial and larger” than their usual reprints of the novel. It also enjoyed a small 10,000% jump in sales back in 2013 following the leak of classified NSA documents.

On the topic of 1984, star of the Michael Radford film adaption, John Hurt, passed away in his home in Cromer this weekend, a mere three days after his 77th birthday. Hurt’s career spanned over five decades, during which he appeared in historic films such as The Elephant Man and Alien, as well as modern favourites like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the Harry Potter series.

From all at The Big Smoke, our thoughts go out to family and friends mourning his loss, as well as those who will be marathoning their most beloved Hurt films in remembrance, of course.


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