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Up to 27 million people are living in slavery around the world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton estimated as the US unveiled its annual report into human trafficking.

But the report showed that as governments become more aware of the issue, instigating tough new laws and programs to help victims, progress is being made in wiping out what it called the "scourge of trafficking."

"The end of legal slavery in the United States and in other countries around the world has not, unfortunately, meant the end of slavery," said Clinton.

"Today it is estimated as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, what we sometimes call trafficking in persons," she said at the unveiling of the report at the State Department.

"Those victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys, and their stories remind us of the kind of inhumane treatment we are capable of as human beings," said Clinton.

"Whatever their background, they are the living, breathing reminders that the work to eradicate slavery remains unfinished."

As America prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the emancipation of US slaves, people must reflect on "how much further we have to go to free all these 27 million victims," Clinton added.

Out of the 185 countries included in the 2012 report, only 33 complied fully with laws in place to end human trafficking, putting them at the top of a four-tier ranking system.

But five countries had moved up from the bottom blacklist known as tier 3, including Myanmar and Venezuela, to be included among the 42 countries now on what is known as a tier 2 watchlist.

Myanmar was removed from the blacklist because the government "took a number of unprecedented steps to address forced labor and the conscription of child soldiers; these steps amount to a credible commitment to undertake anti-trafficking reforms over the coming year," the report said.

 

Greeks readied for their second election in six weeks with all the top candidates now calling for renegotiation of a bailout deal despite warnings that Greece must toe the line or leave the euro.

Sunday's election will be watched around the world amid concern over the shockwaves that a Greek euro exit would send through the global economy and will play into talks by European leaders divided on how to resolve the debt crisis.

"To be or not to be in the eurozone? That is the question," said Lucas Papademos, a former prime minister and European Central Bank vice-president, paraphrasing William Shakespeare's Hamlet as Greece's own tragedy unfolds.

The New Democracy conservatives and Syriza radical leftists have been running neck-and-neck in the polls for an election which was triggered by an inconclusive vote on May 6 in which no party could form a governing coalition.

Unofficial recent polls have given a slight advantage to New Democracy -- a rumour that led to a 10.1-percent rally on the Athens stock market on Thursday.

That boost petered out on Friday, however with the market down 1.0 percent.

 

Due to the unfair contracts signed by Yulia Tymoshenko in 2009, Ukraine will be overpaying from 3 to 5 billion USD for the gas annually up to the year 2019.

 

On April 10, 2012, at 11:00, the press conference of the Ukrainian officials will be held at the premise of NCI European Parliament in Brussels with the participation of the European journalists, experts and community leaders. The topic of the press conference is «Why Y. Tymoshenko is still in the jail?»

 

The results of the work of experts from the Provisional Investigatory Commission that worked during the last year under aegis of the Parliament of Ukraine will be presented to the European public.  These results have already been reported to the Ukrainian Parliament's deputies on March 20, 2012.  After hearing the report of the Provisional Investigatory Commission on probing the signing of gas contracts between Naftogaz Ukrainy and Gazprom, 266 people’s deputies out of 450 agreed with the Commission’s arguments and decided to send the report to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and to the Security Service of Ukraine for the further investigation. The results of investigation were approved as by the representatives of the official authorities, so by the opposition (photo by EPP).

 

The Ukrainian Parliament decided to send the text of the report to the heads of the European States and to the EU authorities. These are the results of the work of parliamentary Provisional Investigatory Commission.

The wife of a wealthy Russian banker gunned down outside his executive flat has said that the shooting was an "act of pure unexpected violence".

Lorissa Gorbuntsov urged "any person, in this country or outside the UK" to come forward with information as she spoke of her heartache over her partner German remaining in a coma at a London hospital.

She said "this is a very emotional and complicated time" as Scotland Yard confirmed it was working with Russian police for the first time since the diplomatic fallout over the death of dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

Detectives leading the investigation also revealed that they had found a weapon, said by sources to be a pistol.

Mrs Gorbuntsov said: "This is a very emotional and complicated time for us. I would like to firstly thank everyone who is currently helping and supporting us, especially the Metropolitan Police. Their support has been of the highest standard.

"We as a family would like to appeal for any person, in this country or outside the UK, to come forward and provide the police with any information which will assist in the capture of the person or persons behind the attempted murder of my husband German.

Thousands of jobs are to be created in the UK aerospace industry under a new programme of fighter jet-building.

The components for a 3,000-strong fleet of F-35 jets are to be built by a number of different companies up and down the country before the planes are assembled in the United States and begin to be delivered in 2015.

The design and manufacture of the fifth generation aircraft is expected to create and sustain some 25,000 jobs in the UK over 30 years, according to Lockheed Martin, which is leading the contractorship. Involving around 130 firms across the country, it is projected to increase UK GDP by £28.7 billion over the period between 2009 and 2036.

The Joint Strike Fighter planes, which have been in development since the mid-90s, are expected to be used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to replace Harrier and Tornado jets, with two of three test aircraft to be handed over to the UK in June.

A number of other countries around the world including Australia, Italy, Canada and the Netherlands have also already made orders, with the US buying the largest proportion to provide the bulk of its tactical airpower.

 

Detectives investigating the suspected payment of police for information on Saturday arrested a serving police officer and four staff from Britain's biggest selling daily newspaper, Rupert Murdoch's The Sun.

The investigation is linked to the police probe into phone-hacking at The Sun's former stablemate, the News of the World, which Murdoch shut down in July following revelations that hundreds of public figures had been targeted.

London's Metropolitan Police said it had arrested five people, including a 29-year-old from the force's Territorial Policing command, and had also searched the offices in Wapping, east London, where The Sun is based.

In a separate statement, Murdoch's News Corporation confirmed the other four men arrested either worked or used to work at The Sun, adding that the detentions were prompted by information it had provided to police.

Thirteen people have now been arrested under Operation Elveden, the police investigation into allegations that journalists paid officers for information.

It was sparked by concerns about the working practices of the British press after the News of the World scandal and runs alongside Operation Weeting, the probe into phone hacking under which 17 arrests have so far been made.

The scandal at the News of the World erupted in July when it emerged that journalists had listened to the voicemails not just of celebrities and politicians but also murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

 

Former City minister Lord Myners has suggested that HSBC should move its UK retail arm to Paris to avoid the proposed banking reforms, it was reported.

The Government is considering measures suggested by the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) to force banks to ring-fence their retail banks from their investment banks to help avoid more bail-outs.

The proposals are unpopular among banks, who say the measures would restrict the amount they can lend and may make the UK uncompetitive compared to other financial centres.

Lord Myners, former chairman of fund manager Gartmore and retailer Marks & Spencer, said HSBC could move to France to escape the reforms, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

HSBC is the British bank thought likely to be the most affected should the recommendations published last month by chairman Sir John Vickers become law.

His words will add to fears that the reforms will encourage banks to relocate overseas, causing the UK to lose jobs and tax revenues.

 

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

It came after it emerged that MPs are set to vote on a referendum within the next few months, after a petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted calling for the public to be given the chance to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU.

Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, Mr Cameron said he does not believe the UK should quit the EU - and he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future.

The Government's immediate priority on Europe is to get the crisis in the eurozone sorted out and revive the continent's economy, he said.

The Commons Backbench Business Committee is expected to set a date before Christmas for a one-day debate in the House of Commons on a referendum on EU membership. The vote will not be binding on the Government, but if MPs back a referendum, it will put massive pressure on Mr Cameron to put the issue to the country.

The committee's Labour chairman Natascha Engel told the Mail on Sunday: "Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.

 

 

Energy giant E.ON is to cut 500 jobs in its UK support functions to reflect the "changed nature of the business" following the sale of its distribution arm earlier this year.

The company said it is seeking up to 500 voluntary redundancies, likely to impact mainly at its head office in Coventry and other sites near Nottingham.

The announcement follows the sale of E.ON's distribution arm, Central Networks, in March and the subsequent concentration on the customer-facing business.

Chief executive Paul Golby said: "We had to undertake a deep and rigorous review of how much money we spend in order to ensure we keep costs as low as possible for our customers, become a more agile organisation and build a sustainable business in the UK.

 

Home Secretary Theresa May has hit back at senior police chiefs over political criticism of their initial riot response, insisting it was her job to tell forces "what the public want them to do".

Mrs May refused to accept complaints that politicians were overstepping the line after the head of Scotland Yard attacked "extremely hurtful and untrue" claims that police had been timid.

She defended the Government's determination to press ahead with police budget cuts, saying they could be made "without affecting their ability to do the job the public want them to do".

And she defended the decision to recruit US "Supercop" William Bratton as an adviser on tackling gang culture in the UK.

Friction between the police and the Government mounted today with the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, dismissing Mr Bratton's relevance.

And Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin complained of "inconsistencies" from Parliament over tactics and spoke of his upset at political criticism of the Met's response.