Monday, May 15, 2017

Morning Mail: 18 tonnes of plastic on uninhabited island, electorates that gain most from capital gains tax, and lose most in penalty rate cuts

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Guardian Australia's Morning Mail
Tuesday 16 May 2017
US accuses Syria of mass killings of thousands of prisoners

 A satellite image of what the state department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium. Photograph: AP

Good morning, and welcome to the Morning Mail.

Among the stories leading our website this morning: The US has accused the Syrian regime of building a crematorium to cover up the mass killings of thousands of prisoners in a military prison outside Damascus. The US distributed photos of a large building it said had been adapted for the large-scale burning of bodies at the military prison, where it said that up to 50 detainees are hanged in mass executions on a daily basis.

We reported on Saydnaya prison in February, when ex-detainees, using 'ear-witness' testimony, helped architects build an accurate model of president Bashar al-Assad's hellish torture house. That came after Amnesty International reported that as many as 13,000 opponents of Bashar al-Assad were secretly hanged in the prison in the first five years of the country's civil war, with the bodies dumped in mass graves on the outskirts of Damascus between midnight and dawn most Tuesday mornings.

Keep reading for the rest of the top stories this morning, with more news from around Australia and the world.


38 million pieces of plastic waste found on uninhabited South Pacific island
Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn group, is covered by 18 tonnes of plastic – the highest density of anthropogenic debris recorded anywhere in the world

Labor still well ahead of Coalition in post-budget Guardian Essential poll
Some measures announced by treasurer get thumbs up but there is no instant breakthrough for the Turnbull team

Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, dies aged 79
Brady had been receiving palliative care at Ashworth psychiatric hospital on Merseyside

Liberal electorates gain most from capital gains tax discount – research
Taxpayers in Malcolm Turnbull's seat received an average benefit of $5,387 each in 2014-15, analysis reveals

Seats held by Warren Entsch and George Christensen hit hard by penalty rate cuts
Leichhardt in far north Queensland, held on a margin of 5.7%, stands to lose $21m in disposable income, modelling shows

Australian news and politics

The view of Australia from a detention centre – the Messenger podcast
While fasting for his third Ramadan inside detention, Aziz tells us about what it's like getting a view of Australia through Facebook and online news

Q&A student protest against rising fees interrupts Simon Birmingham
Education minster says cuts and fee increases are about making sure higher education remains sustainable

Royal commission has led to more than 100 child abuse prosecutions, says head
Justice Peter McClellan has referred thousands of incidents to authorities and will say he is confident the commission has made a difference

Manus Island detainees told to 'consider options' as closure of centre begins
Papua New Guinea immigration officials have told refugees that the first compound will be closed by 28 May

Gonski 2.0 plan doesn't offer enough funding, say Greens
Greens leaning towards rejection of Coalition proposal, with Sarah Hanson-Young calling for 'a fairer, more equitable model'

Men accused of trying to join Isis by boat first reported to police by jogger, court told

Witness says he saw large group of men near Flemington racecourse carrying flag and chanting passages from the Qur'an

NT children found stealing aviation fuel, raising fears of petrol sniffing crisis
Call for strategy to handle health emergency after CCTV footage emerges of teenagers siphoning fuel from planes

Around the world

Emmanuel Macron picks centre-right Édouard Philippe as PM
Le Havre mayor from Les Républicains party chosen to lead battle for majority in French parliamentary elections

UN's Syria envoy rejects Assad claim that Geneva peace talks are irrelevant
Staffan de Mistura also denies that talks offer Syrian regime a smokescreen for continuing attacks on rebels

Iran presidential elections: Tehran mayor drops out to back hardliner
Mohammad-Baghar Ghalibaf steps aside to boost campaign of Ebrahim Raisi against reformist incumbent Hassan Rouhani

Alberta museum unveils world's best-preserved armoured dinosaur
Fossil of 18ft nodosaur found in 2011 in Alberta's oilsands can now be unveiled after 7,000 hours of reconstruction work

Ransomware attack 'like having a Tomahawk missile stolen', says Microsoft boss
Brad Smith says 'WannaCry' virus attack that locked up to 200,000 computers in 150 countries is a 'wake-up call' amid fears more will be hit as week begins

One last thing

 The rancher Cliven Bundy, who was the center of a standoff with federal officials in Nevada in 2014. Photograph: John Locher/AP

They hate the US government, and they're multiplying: the terrifying rise of 'sovereign citizens' While US counter-terrorism efforts remain locked on Islamist extremism, the growing threat from homegrown, rightwing extremists is even more pressing Have an excellent day and if you spot something I've missed, let me know on Twitter at @earleyedition.
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