‘Heinous’ gas attack in Syria kills dozens

1. Syria
SuZhou Night Recruitment

Babies and children under the age of eight are some of the scores of victims of the suspected gas attack on civilians in Syria – the worst in the country in years. [Ellen Francis/Reuters] The UN security council meets on Wednesday.

The Syrian military denies using chemical weapons but the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson says it bears all the hallmarks of an attack by the Assad regime and said it is a “war crime.” British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for an investigation. [ITV News]

Just days ago the Trump administration, through its ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, said the focus of the US was no longer going to be on forcing Assad out.

But responding to the gas attack, White House Secretary Sean Spicer described it as “unacceptable” although claimed it was the result of Obama’s failure to make good on his word that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line”.

Spicer said it was in the best interests of the Syrian people that Assad no longer be their leader and said the attack was “heinous.” But he stopped short of saying what the US would do about it – saying he didn’t want to pre-empt the President. [Dan Merica/CNN]

“We’ve seen this movie before,” said Republican elder John McCain, before ripping both Obama and Trump.

McCain wants Trump to arm the Free Syria Army and commit to having Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran, removed. Unlikely. [Eugene Scott/CNN]

As I’ve covered here before, ‘s foreign minister Julie Bishop is at odds with Britain over the question of Assad insisting he has a role to play in the transition. [Catch up]

Will this attack change that view? 2. US politics

Photo: Evan Vucci

The Wall Street Journal has a story with potentially major implications for travellers to the US from allied countries, including . [Laura Meckler] [The n]

The Trump administration could extend its so-called extreme vetting of visitors to citizens from the 38 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program – yes that includes .

This could mean handing over your telephone to border security so they can see your contacts and text messages, your private Facebook and browsing activity. Sounds like a boon in the pre-paid cellphone market in the US for travellers opting to leave their phones at home.

In other news, the Trump administration has withdrawn funding from the UN Population Fund, the largest provider of contraception globally. [Fairfax] 3. Aus politics

Philip Lowe speaking at the Reserve Bank Board Dinner in Melbourne. Photo: Pat Scala

It seems every day there is a new credible voice lending weight to Labor’s calls to wind back negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions. On Tuesday night it was none other than Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe blasting “taxation arrangements” and irresponsible interest-only loans for the skyrocketing price of housing in Melbourne and Sydney. [Peter Martin/The Age]

The budget will contain a plan to recoup $25 billion in the black and cash economy. [Nassim Khadem/The Sydney Morning Herald]

Scott Morrison deployed full “it’s the vibe” mode when asking those pressing for economic modelling on what sort of benefit the tax cut for businesses turning over up to $50 million would add to the economy, when he urged the pub test instead.

Michelle Grattan is particularly excellent on this. [The Conversation]

The Grattan Institute believes the boost could be worth as little as 0.2 per cent growth per year (for $24 billion cost). [James Massola and Eryk Bagshaw/Fairfax]

Not for the first time is Morrison proving to his colleagues that he was promoted out of his depth when Turnbull made him Treasurer.

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis in the Senate at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares

Gratts also has a scoop on the London appointment. Turnbull wants to send Attorney-General George Brandis to Stoke Lodge but is delaying the decision. Uh oh. [The Conversation]

The High Court is due to rule on Family First Bob Day and whether he is an eligible Senator. [ABC]

Preference Whisperer Glenn Druery claims he’s stopped Pauline Hanson from claiming even more seats in numerous elections, including recently in Western . [David Lipson/Lateline] 4. UK politics

Theresa May says like Winston she prefers “jaw-jaw” over “war-war” but the situation involving Gilbraltar became a little more serious on Tuesday when the government of the overseas territory said the Spanish navy made an illegal foray into its waters. Illegal incursion into #British#Gibraltar Territorial Waters by Spanish Navy patrol ship Infanta Cristina this afternoon. #BGTWpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/IkYadi8XNn??? HM Govt of Gibraltar (@GibraltarGov) April 4, 2017 Photo: AP

More is known about the motives behind the St Petersburg metro terror attack.

The perpetrator has been named as a 22-year old male from Kyrgyzstan linked to radical Islamist groups. [Fairfax] 6. Spotify premium

I haven’t used iTunes since I switched to Spotify about four years ago and almost instantly decided premium was worth the ad-free and mobile experience.

Spotify has 100 million users (half subscribers) but is loathed by sections of the music community including popstars Beyonce and Jay-Z who bought rival service Tidal (and then memorably tried to promote it as though it was some kind of social movement, by encouraging their club of mega-rich musician pals to turn their social media profiles blue accompanied by the cringeworthy hashtag #TidalForAll.)

The stars complain their music is streamed for what amounts to be a pittance in royalties, leading to some to boycott Spotify entirely (like Taylor Swift) while others delay the release of their albums on the platform to boost sales and downloads (like Adele.)

Adele performs at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, . Photo: Graham Denholm

Now Spotify, which still operates at a loss, has signed a deal with Universal music to stream new albums for two weeks to its premium customers before all tracks are released to general users.

Spotify hopes to sign deals with Sony and Warner, ahead of a stock market flotation. [BBC]

And that’s it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

By submitting this form and creating your account you agree to the Fairfax Media Privacy Policies and Conditions of Use.

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15