“These are significant accomplishments that we’ve made with the support of our partners and all Nova Scotians,” said Mr. Morash. “Their support is critical to the steady progress we’re continuing to make on other green plan commitments.” The report, called Green Plan: Progress Towards a Sustainable Environment, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/greenweb . Nova Scotia’s environment is better protected since the launch of the provincial green plan, Towards a Sustainable Environment, in 2003. The Department of Environment and Labour released a progress report on green plan initiatives today, Dec. 22. “All government departments are making Nova Scotia a better place to live by meeting commitments for environmental sustainability in our green plan,” said Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash. “Our actions are resulting in cleaner air and water, less waste, and more protected land.” In the past year, government has: adopted new air quality regulations with caps that reduced sulphur dioxide emissions this year and will reduce them more by 2010 launched a green energy framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worked with other provinces on a new national standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants launched a SMART Tourism initiative to focus on the role of sustainable communities in the tourism industry designated more than 10,000 hectares as new wilderness areas and nature reserves passed legislation to make it easier to designate more nature reserves consulted with Nova Scotians on draft regulations to reduce electronic waste completed implementation of the provincial drinking water strategy adopted an environmental management policy.
Rabat – The release of a condemnatory report on the inhumane conditions in the Edhibia prison in the Tindouf camps reflects the growing concern from Sahwaris about the situation in the camps and the failures of the Polisario leadership.On September 3, pro-Polisario news outlet Futuro Sahara published a “special investigation, ” criticizing serious human rights violations in the Edhibia prison.The report, entitled , “has the al-Edhibia prison become one of the worst prisons in North Africa?” narrowed its focus to condemning the situation of Sahrawi detainees in the prison. Currently, 58 Sahrawi detainees are being held in the Edhibia prison. The prison has only seven cells and so the 58 prisoners currently incarcerated far exceed its capacity. The report explained that the overpopulation of the jail is in direct contravention of the international standards that Polisario pledged to respect.“The institution belonging to the ‘Sahrawi state’ for many years has been out of the spotlight,” the report said.The seven cells, according to Futuro Sahara, have become overcrowded as some of them cannot accommodate more than six people.“It is one of the dirtiest and ugliest prisons in the region compared to prisons in Mauritania and Algeria, without comparison with Moroccan prisons,” said the condemnatory report.The publication added that the Polisario leadership has forgotten that Edhibia jail is a “prison institution that is supposed to comply with international standards that respect the freedom of prisoners and provide them with some basic rights.”Read Also: Western Sahara and Alhurra TV’s Affront to the Moroccan PeopleThe investigation also condemns the sudden searches that prisoners are subject to three times a week.Isolation and tortureThe report also drew attention to the use of torture and solitary confinement. “A minor mistake can lead a prisoner to an isolated cell, abuse, physical torture from the gendarmerie. If ever one dies in the prison [ due to torture] there is nothing easier than making it seem like a suicide.”Prisoners are “prevented from going out to the prison recreation space to enjoy the sun. They are also prevented from having sports activities,” reported Futuro Sahara.Prisoners are forbidden from talking to each other, according to the investigative report. They are also kept from contact with the outside world and current affairs.“It is strange to find an educated young man not aware of the word ‘Khashoggi,’” referring to the case of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.“For example, one of them [prisoners] still believes that the Mauritanian president is still Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.”“The isolation of inmates in Edhabia prison contravenes international laws.”The investigation warned that oppression might have negative effects on the mental health of prisoners.“The aim of the world’s prison institutions is to reform rather than increasing the number of mentally disturbed people in society.”Silencing protestersPolisario ‘authorities’ are currently holding three Sahwari activists who have no been in prison for more than 74 days. The activists were arrested for taking part in peaceful protests to condemn inhumane conditions and human rights violations in the Tindouf camps.The families of the activists have been protesting the arbitrary arrest of the three activists and have called on Polisario leader, Ibrahim Ghali, to release the activists and explain the charges against them. This is not the first time that the Polisario Front faces accusations for violations in the camps. Throughout the year, the family of Ahmed El Khalil has been condemning the Polisario Front for its silence on the forced disappearance of their relative who has now been missing for more than 10 years.
FILE – In this March 22, 2013 file photo, the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. As millions of Americans file their income tax returns, their chances of getting audited by the IRS have rarely been so low. The number of people audited by the IRS last year dropped for the sixth straight year, to just over 1 million. The last time so few people were audited was 2004, when the population was significantly smaller. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) WASHINGTON – The IRS strikes back: The tax agency reports that the number of identity theft victims plummeted last year after agents struggled for years to combat what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.The number of victims dropped by 46 per cent, to 376,000, the IRS said. These taxpayers had their identities stolen by criminals who used their Social Security numbers and birthdates to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.The IRS stopped nearly 1 million fraudulent refunds from being issued last year. They totalled almost $6.6 billion, the agency said.“It’s a much more challenging time for the cybercrooks,” said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice-president for retail tax products and services at H&R Block. “All of the easy paths have been closed.”Identity theft exploded from 2010 to 2012, and “for a time overwhelmed law enforcement and the IRS,” said John Dalrymple, deputy IRS commissioner for services and enforcement.At the IRS, it peaked in 2014, when the agency identified more than 766,000 victims. That same year, the IRS blocked 1.8 million in fraudulent refunds from being issued. They totalled $10.8 billion.“We’ve driven a lot of the fraud out of the system,” Dalrymple said.The IRS is a popular target for sophisticated identity thieves because the agency issues more than $300 billion in tax refunds each year.Several years ago, it was as simple as using another person’s Social Security number and birthdate to fill out a fake tax return claiming a big refund. If thieves filed the return early in the tax filing season — before the legitimate taxpayer — they could get refunds before the IRS received verifying financial information from employers, banks and brokers.To make it easier, thieves can get fraudulent refunds on prepaid debit cards that are not linked to bank accounts.“I think everybody got caught by surprise by how inventive the criminals were here,” Dalrymple said. “I don’t think it was just the IRS. I think in general, the whole idea of identity theft caught everybody by surprise.”Criminals can steal victims’ personal information from hospitals, doctor’s offices, universities, prisons — any entity that collects Social Security numbers and birthdates.In 2015, federal authorities broke up a massive identity theft ring in Alabama and Georgia that netted $10 million in fraudulent refunds. Among the victims: Soldiers injured in Afghanistan who were being treated at Fort Benning’s hospital.Last year, authorities broke up a ring in the District of Columbia that tried to obtain more than $20 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Among the victims: people in assisted living facilities, drug addicts and prison inmates.In recent years, the IRS has beefed up its computer filters to identity potential fake tax returns. If there are dramatic differences in a taxpayer’s return from year to year, it might get flagged for additional review.Two years ago, the IRS also teamed up with major tax preparers and state tax agencies to share information and improve security.Identity theft is “the No. 1 issue that the IRS talks to us about,” said Brian Ashcraft, director of tax compliance at Liberty Taxe. “It’s been a huge focus.”Online tax preparers are working to better confirm the identity of their customers through stronger passwords and by using more than one way to verify them, said Julie Miller of Intuit Inc., which owns Turbo Taxe. For example, after online customers enter a password, they might receive a text from the company with an additional code to enter.Congress has also given the IRS more tools to prevent criminals from getting fraudulent tax refunds.This year, employers are required to report wage information to the IRS by Jan. 31. In the past, most employers had until the end of March to report wage information, often long after refunds had been issued.Also, the IRS is now required to hold refunds until Feb. 15 for families claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit. These credits are available in the form of payments to people who don’t make enough money to owe any federal income taxes, which makes them attractive to identity thieves.The provision, however, delays tax refunds for millions of low-income families.Tax preparers and the IRS said identity theft is still a major threat as criminals become more sophisticated. To combat it, they regularly share information about new threats and scams, especially during tax season.“This is not a time to celebrate,” said Ciaramitaro of H&R Block. “It’s not fixed but I think that co-operation has led to measurable improvement.”___Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephenatap by Stephen OhlemacHer, The Associated Press Posted Mar 9, 2017 11:10 am MDT Last Updated Mar 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email IRS strikes back as agents make big dent in identity theft