Trump was barely coherent for some of a rambling 77-minute news conference, ostensibly called in order to name his new pick for labour secretary following the withdrawal of the last nominee. He insisted that his chaotic administration was a 'fine-tuned machine' despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, lambasted the media, and semi-articulated a few thoughts about his responsibilities as the man with the nuclear codes: 'And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other'. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who is said to harbour long-term presidential aspirations, published a long-winded (6,500 words) manifesto of extreme vagueness, responding to the many criticisms of his organisation. The document, in so far as any meaning could be discerned from it, seemed to favour a more connected world. A third leader of our farcical times, Tony Blair, announced that he intended to make a speech. (It is not enough now for self-important people to make a speech. They must announce the fact in advance.) Blair said that he would be launching a mission to persuade the people of Britain to 'rise up' against Brexit. Quite how this was to be achieved was not immediately clear.
A suicide bomber attacked a shrine in southern Pakistan, killing at least 72 people, including children. Witnesses said that, as worshippers were performing a sacred dance, a man threw a grenade and then blew himself up. It was the latest in a series of bombings for which the so-called 'Islamic State' has claimed responsibility. The retiring commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said that 'battle-hardened jihadis' who had left Britain to fight with the so-called 'Islamic State' might now be on their way home, posing a heightened threat of terrorist atrocities. Further details emerged of the murder of Kim Jong-nan, brother of the leader of North Korea. He was standing in a small crowd in Kuala Lumpur airport when one of his alleged assailants, a woman, stood in front to distract him while another locked him in a chokehold and administered a deadly, fast-acting poison. It was all over within a few seconds.
Scotland’s finance secretary, Derek Mackay, responded to growing criticism of the rates revaluation, the first for seven years, which is affecting some businesses. He said that the Scottish government was 'fully committed to further engagement with the business community', a phrase worthy of the great Mark Zuckerberg himself. A hotelier in Aberdeen, Stewart Spence, called for a nationwide boycott of the new rates and said that his own hotel was facing an increase from £253,000 to £315,000 a year, which he would refuse to pay. The Herald was sufficiently impressed by Spence’s gesture that it splashed the news across its front page in headlines of a height and boldness suggestive of some global apocalypse. There is to be a heatwave next week. We have the Daily Star’s word for it.