Amber Heard suing man who said her Johnny Depp abuse claims are blackmail

In a defamation suit filed against the comedian and Depp’s close friend Doug Stanhope, Heard also makes more allegations against her estranged husband

Amber Heard suing man who said her Johnny Depp abuse claims are blackmail
Amber Heard was recently granted a restraining order from Johnny Depp. Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP

Johnny Depp’s estranged wife Amber Heard has hit back in a defamation lawsuit against a comedian who accused her of blackmailing her actor husband with false spousal abuse allegations.

In the new suit, filed on Friday against Doug Stanhope in Arizona superior court and his team of 20 unnamed defendants, Heard also makes more allegations against Depp.

A day after Heard granted a restraining order against Depp, whom she filed for divorce from and accused of repeatedly physically assaulting her, the Wrap posted a guest column by Stanhope, a close friend of Depp’s, with the headline: Johnny Depp is Being Blackmailed By Amber Heard – Here’s How I Know.

In the strongly worded article, Stanhope accuses Heard of “threatening to lie about [Depp] publicly in any and every possible duplicitous way if he didn’t agree to her terms” and alleges that his friend “got used, manipulated, set up and made to look like an a–hole”.

Heard is filing claims that Stanhope’s accusation that she fabricated her domestic abuse allegations against Depp to squeeze money out of the actor are “completely false”.

“Heard never undertook any action that could even remotely be described as ‘blackmail’,” reads the suit.

Heard, who met Depp on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary, is seeking the “maximum possibly jury award”, which she plans to donate to a domestic violence charity in Arizona “in an effort to counter the setback made to women by the defendants’ defamatory article and related wrongful acts,” according to her lawyer, Charles J Harder.

“The complaint alleges that Stanhope is a close friend of Johnny Depp and, as part of a coordinated effort, wrote a highly defamatory article about Ms Heard, filled with completely false, highly defamatory and very hurtful statements,” Harder said in a statement.

“Defendants are engaged in a classic case of ‘attacking the victim,’ in an effort to discredit Heard, destroy her good name and reputation, and severely harm her hard-earned entertainment career, on top of the campaign of violence that Depp has inflicted upon her for years,” the suit alleges.

Heard also calls Depp “an alcoholic and drug addict”, (mirroring what she said in her declaration for a restraining order), while adding that his substance abuse has increased over the years. Heard also accuses Depp of hitting and kicking her on “multiple occasions”. The suit states that he had “thrown objects” at her and “suffocated” her such that she “feared for [my] life”.

“During their marriage, Heard gave Depp numerous chances to get and stay sober and change his violent behavior towards her,” the suit reads. “When she finally realized that Depp was not changing his behavior, and to avoid further injury and risk to her life, Heard took the very difficult step of filing for divorce and seeking a protective order.”

According to a statement from Heard filed in support of the restraining order, the actor alleges several incidents of domestic violence by Depp in the past six months, including one incident in April on Heard’s birthday, in which Depp threw a magnum-sized bottle of champagne at the wall and a wine glass at her, then grabbed her by the hair and shoved her to the floor.

In her statement, Heard said that “during the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him.”

Depp’s lawyers have responded by claiming that “Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”


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Peta releases Prince's pro-vegan track, Animal Kingdom

The charity encourage Prince fans to celebrate his birthday by going ‘vegan to see how much better they feel and to honor his kind legacy’

Peta releases Prince's pro-vegan track, Animal Kingdom
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL’s Super Bowl Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Prince would have turned 58 next week. To mark the occasion, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) is releasing a free download of his pro-vegan song Animal Kingdom, which he recorded for the charity nearly two decades ago.

The track– which is available to stream now via the Peta website – is a stripped-back, spacey acoustic number. His voice distorted, Prince sings the lyrics: “No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me / It’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish / Don’t give me no blue cheese / We’re all members of the animal kingdom / Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea.”

The late musician had been a long-time supporter of animal rights, and donated the song to Peta for its 20th anniversary in 1999. Mayte Garcia, Prince’s ex-wife, who is working alongside the charity, has said that they would mark his birthday every year, encouraging Prince fans to make a “veg pledge” and go vegan in support of his legacy.

“Prince didn’t want to celebrate birthdays, but to live life, to elevate and educate to the next level of enlightenment,” said Garcia. “My mission every 7 June is not only to celebrate his birth, but also with Peta to remember this man by making 7 June a day where Prince fans go vegan to see how much better they feel and to honour his kind legacy.

“Prince said ‘compassion is an action word with no boundaries’, and that’s our message with this campaign, which everyone can participate in.”

Earlier this week, an autopsy report showed Prince’s death in April was from an accidental overdose of the prescription painkiller fentanyl. The results are said to have surprised friends and family members, who said Prince avoided alcohol and drugs and maintained a healthy lifestyle.

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Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75

Virtuoso fiddler who found fame as a member of Fairport Convention has died after struggle with emphysema

Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75
Dave Swarbrick playing at the Cropredy festival. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian

Folk musician Dave Swarbrick has died at 75, his family have announced. Best known for his work with the hugely influential folk group Fairport Convention, Swarbrick was a virtuosic violin player and one of the most highly regarded musicians of the 1960s folk revival. He also wrote, arranged and sang, and performed on the viola, mandolin and mandola, and guitar.

Swarbrick – known as “Swarb” – began his musical career as a guitarist in a ceilidh band in the late 1950s, before joining the Birmingham-based Ian Campbell Folk Group as a fiddle player. He first worked with Fairport Convention in 1969 as a session musician, subsequently becoming a member of the group, and was the first fiddler on the UK folk scene to electrify the violin. His writing and playing was a key ingredient in the group’s Liege & Lief album, a record that rewrote the folk landscape with its electrified versions of traditional English folksongs.

During the 1970s, alongside his leading role in Fairport Convention, Swarbrick became a sought-after session musician, working with acts including Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy. Between 1976 and 2010 he released 12 solo albums, and in 2007 joined the 1969 Fairport Convention lineup (with Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny), to perform the Liege & Lief album in full.

Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick dies at 75
Fairport Convention in 1970, l to r Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg (behind), Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks and Richard Thompson. Photograph: Jim McCrary/Redferns

Swarbrick suffered from emphysema, underwent three tracheotomies and was on occasion forced to perform with an oxygen canister on stage to help with his breathing. During one of his spells in hospital in 1999, the Daily Telegraph prematurely announced his death and published his obituary. At his next public appearance, he apparently took delight in signing copies of the obit for fans, saying: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”

In 2004 he received a double lung transplant, and in recent years continued to record and perform live; a 2006 collaboration with Martin Carthy produced the critically acclaimed album Straws in the Wind and won the duo a BBC folk award. “I’ve always loved working hard and playing live,” said Swarbrick in a 2004 interview in the Guardian.

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Ben Affleck's Batman film will be 'original story' independent of comics

The current Dark Knight reveals his own project will ‘borrow certain things from the great comic books’ but will ultimately set its own course

Ben Affleck's Batman film will be 'original story' independent of comics
Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Photograph: Supplied by LMK

Ben Affleck has revealed that his upcoming Batman film will probably tell a completely “original story”, and not be based on an existing comic.

The actor, who starred in Zac Snyder’s critically maligned but commercially successful spring blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, will reprise the role in the character’s new solo outing, as well as write and direct the picture.

He’s also set to play the Dark Knight in two Justice League movies, in which he will team up with Henry Cavill’s Superman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. It’s rumored that Affleck’s Batman will factor somehow into this summer’s Suicide Squad, which will see Jared Leto play the Joker and is based on the successful DC Comics of the same name.

The as-yet untiled Batman film will mark Affleck’s first stab at directing a superhero picture. His last film as director, 2012’s Argo, won the Oscar for best picture.

Asked if he planned on adapting a classic Batman comic arc such as A Death in the Family or Under the Red Hood, Affleck told Cines Argentinos that he seeks to “borrow certain things from the great comic books, but create an original story around it”, much like Snyder did with Batman v Superman, which very loosely used elements from Frank Miller’s acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns comic.

The Hollywood Reporter suggests Affleck’s Batman could arrive in cinemas for either 5 October 2018 or 1 November 2019 (both dates have been set aside by Warner for unspecified comic book movies).

In other Batman news, Warner Bros has debuted the first trailer for the extended cut of Batman v Superman, which runs a full 30 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and boasts an R-rating (the film that played in theaters was rated PG-13).

The preview includes a glimpse of actor Jena Malone, who was nixed from the version that played in cinemas. The Ultimate Edition will be available on 28 June.

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Madonna wins Vogue copyright case in US appeal court

Court sides with singer in copyright lawsuit that alleged a producer had copied horn arrangement used in 1990 hit

Madonna wins Vogue copyright case in US appeal court
A still from the video to Madonna’s 1990 hit. Photograph: Rex Features

Pop star Madonna has prevailed in a copyright lawsuit concerning her song Vogue in which the plaintiff alleged that a producer had copied a fraction of a second of a horn arrangement from an earlier song and used it in the 1990 hit.

A US appeal court ruled yesterday that a general audience would not recognise the 0.23-second snippet in Vogue as originating from the song Love Break by the Salsoul Orchestra. The plaintiff, VMG Salsoul LLC, which owns the copyright to the song, could not immediately be reached for comment.

One of the producers of Vogue, Shep Pettibone, also recorded Love Break in the early 80s, according to the court ruling. VMG Salsoul alleged that Pettibone had sampled the “horn hit” from the earlier work and added it to Vogue.

Three judges of the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled 2-1 in favour of Madonna, Pettibone and other defendants including Warner Bros Records. The dissenting judge, Barry Silverman, said even a small sample of music used without a licence should be ruled a violation.

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Ennio Morricone signs record deal with Decca aged 87

Italian composer follows recent Oscar win with deal for compilation album Morricone 60, to be performed with Czech National Symphony Orchestra

Ennio Morricone signs record deal with Decca aged 87
Not to old for this hit … Ennio Morricone

At 87 years old, most musicians might be thinking of putting their feet up and taking stock of their career … but not Ennio Morricone. The Italian composer, famous for his film scores, has just announced a new deal with Decca Records, celebrating six decades of music making. The deal comes off the back of Morricone’s first ever Oscar win, which he won in February for his soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight.

Morricone will curate a greatest hits album, entitled Morricone 60, later this year. It will span his entire career, from spaghetti westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West to other hits such as The Mission and Cinema Paradiso. The album will feature new recordings with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

In a statement, Morricone said: “After the success of The Hateful Eight score, I’m delighted to be returning to Decca with my own record deal – an extraordinary moment in my 60th professional anniversary year. It’s been a wonderful experience to be able to conduct my scores and to record these with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. The quality of their performance of my work is truly outstanding.”

Morricone is also due to play his first ever UK show outside of London this month, appearing at Blenheim Palace on 23 June as part of Nocturne Live.

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Jake Gyllenhaal to star in adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Division video game

Jake Gyllenhaal will also produce big-screen version of record-breaking third-person shooter, his second gaming tie-in after 2010 flop Prince of Persia

Jake Gyllenhaal to star in adaptation of Tom Clancy's The Division video game
“Little Shop Of Horrors” Opening Night
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 01: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal attends the opening night of the New York City Center Encores! Off-Center production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center on July 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) Photograph: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Jake Gyllenhaal is set to star in a big-screen adaptation of record-breaking video game Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Gyllenhaal will also act as producer on the project, according to Variety. The video game, a third-person shooter, is gaming giant Ubisoft’s fastest-selling product, making $330m (£229m) within five days of its release in March.

The game is set in New York City during the outbreak of a virus, with the player taking on the role of an agent investigating while avoiding increased criminal activity.

The film would be Gyllenhaal’s second video game adaptation, after he took the lead in 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The film was a critical and commercial failure.

The Division will also hope for a better response than Duncan Jones’s video game adaptation Warcraft, which has a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and faces an uphill struggle at the box office. Later this year, Michael Fassbender will take on the title role in Assassin’s Creed.

Gyllenhaal, after appearing in the disappointing dramas Southpaw and Demolition, will next be seen in Tom Ford’s thriller Nocturnal Animals, Boston Marathon tale Stronger and Bong Joon-ho’s monster movie Okja, in which he stars alongside Tilda Swinton.

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Showtime lands Purity miniseries starring Daniel Craig

With a fifth outing as James Bond looking unlikely, the actor has signed on for a new 20-episode series based on a dense novel by Jonathan Franzen

Showtime lands Purity miniseries starring Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is heading to the small screen. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Showtime will screen the new hotly anticipated limited series Purity, which stars Daniel Craig. An adaptation of the acclaimed Jonathan Franzen novel, it received multiple high-profile bids from Netflix, FX and more.

The cable network will screen 20 episodes of the show. According to Variety, the deal is a lucrative one for Craig.

The actor has yet to confirm whether he’ll return to play James Bond. Purity will mark his first major television series since the BBC epic Our Friends in the North in 1996 – and his first stateside show.

Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children) will write and direct all 20 episodes. Oscar winner Scott Rudin (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Social Network, Moneyball) is the producer.

Franzen’s novel received great acclaim upon its publication last year, with the Guardian’s reviewer hailing its “delicious observations about contemporary life [and] the breathtaking scope of its ambition”. Its plot includes the titular character’s search for her father and her connection with the boss of a WikiLeaks-esque site.

Showtime president and CEO David Nevins praised Franzen’s book as “an epic American novel that pulses with the energy of a psychological thriller … Purity promises to be the kind of taut, long-form, serialized storytelling that is the best of premium television, and is precisely what we at Showtime aspire to deliver.”

As for returning to the Bond franchise, Craig said during the press rounds for Spectre that he’d had enough, and would “rather slash my wrists” than play the role for a fifth time. “If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money,” he told Time Out.

Production on Purity begins in 2017. No premiere date has been set for the series, which will air over the course of two-year period.

Franzen’s 2001 novel The Corrections came near to being adapted for the small screen as well, with film-maker Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) tapped to direct a cast that included Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor. HBO, however, reportedly passed on the project in 2012, after part of the pilot had been shot.

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The Avalanches release first new song in 16 years and reveal album details

The Australian electronic act’s Wildflower will be released on 8 July, their first album since their groundbreaking debut in 2000. But will it be worth the wait?

The Avalanches release first new song in 16 years and reveal album details
Tony Di Blasi, Robbie Chater and James Dela Cruz of the Avalanches. Photograph: Steve Gullick

Australian electronic act the Avalanches have premiered their first new song in 16 years and revealed details of their long-awaited second album, Wildflower.

Frankie Sinatra, the lead single of Wildflower, premiered on Australian national broadcaster Triple J on Thursday: a sprawling, sample-heavy calypso that marries Danny Brown, MF Doom and a riff from The Sound of Music in a menacingly playful tapestry.

The film clip was released shortly after the track premiered.

The Avalanches’ pioneering first album, Since I Left You, has achieved legendary status among fans. A new album has been promised since 2000, shrouded in rumours and mystery, but the band frustrated fans by taking their time.

Earlier last month, the Avalanches sparked album rumours by updating all social media accounts with an image of an embroidered butterfly. The same week they confirmed their first live shows in 15 years in Australia, Spain and England.

The Avalanches release first new song in 16 years and reveal album details
Album artwork of Wildflower, the long-awaited follow-up to the Avalanches’ debut album Since I Left You Photograph: EMI

In an interview with Beats 1 Radio host Zane Lowe, two core remaining band members Tony Di Blasi and Robbie Chater revealed there were many moments over the past years where the band, like their fans, thought the album would never happen. “Having new tunes to play – that’s a really special thing.”

Wildflower, which will be released on 8 July, comprises 21 songs or “segments”, and features artists Danny Brown, MF Doom, Camp Lo, Warren Ellis, Biz Markie, Jennifer Herrema, Toro y Moi, Father John Misty and Jonathan Donahue, among others. The track Frankie Sinatra, the band said, was the hardest to finish – a sample-heavy song that took two years to mix, with over 100 reference mixes.

Speaking with Lowe in their first interview in 16 years, the Avalanches revealed they have a “vault” of unreleased music. In fact, they cut some big-name collaborations from the final record, including August Darnell from Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Luke Steele from the Sleepy Jackson and Empire of the Sun, Jens Lekman and Connan Mockasin.

They said they planned to package up and release much of their unreleased work from the past 16 years “and then the slate will be clean to release new music”.

The Avalanches said they hoped to have a full album to follow Wildflower in three years. But if past promises are anything to go by, don’t hold your breath.


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Yusuf Islam to highlight plight of child refugees in rare London show

Yusuf Islam formerly known as Cat Stevens will perform at Central Hall Westminster to launch new single, He Was Alone

Yusuf Islam to highlight plight of child refugees in rare London show
Yusuf Islam said his new song was one of the very few he had written which did not have a message of hope.

Singer Yusuf Islam is to headline a rare live concert just yards from the Houses of Parliament, with a new single released to draw attention to the plight of lone child refugees.

The charity gig will take place on 14 June at Central Hall Westminster to coincide with the release of the single, He Was Alone. The video for the song follows one refugee boy who loses his family and home, before eventually dying on the road. His grave is marked only with the word walad – meaning boy.

Islam said the ballad, his first new music since 2014, was one of the very few he had written which did not have a message of hope. He said: “I am an eternal optimist. Peace Train, Moon Shadow are all optimistic but this might be one of the only songs I have written which has no happy ending.

“Because I don’t see any end at the moment. Happiness is what people want to feel [when they listen to music] but if you look over your shoulder, things are happening that ain’t that happy.”

Islam said the concert was only arranged because he believed in the cause. “I have agencies saying to me: ‘We can get you so many millions [to do a tour],’ but I am not interested in that. I am more interested in the cause and in bridge-building,” he said.

The venue, he said, was symbolic because of its proximity to the Palace of Westminster, “sending a bit of an echo across the road”.

Yusuf Islam to highlight plight of child refugees in rare London show-2
Yusuf Islam: ‘Songs can’t change the world, no, but they can open up hearts to a more personal story.’

The singer-songwriter, formerly known as Cat Stevens, said he had been funding causes to help refugees since last year through charity Small Kindness but felt the need to do something more public. He said: “Songs can’t change the world, no, but they can open up hearts to a more personal story. Artists are people who deal very much with emotions, with the heart. But we need fixers too, because there are a lot of broken hearts out there.”

Islam said he felt solidarity with the refugees beyond their common Islamic faith. “Before I was a Muslim, I was a child. Some of the dangers of walking around the city alone, I know it, I know what goes on,” he said. “Regardless of religion, we can relate to it.”

The name of the campaign, he said, was inspired by the pope’s visit to Lesbos. “He said: ‘You are not alone’ and that just stuck with me and I wanted to spread that philosophy.”

Islam, who recently visited the refugee camps outside Gaziantep in Turkey, said it was clear the country was bearing a huge burden. He said: “There’s a lot of criticism about Turkey and whatever on a political level, but on a humanitarian level, I have got to say it was one of the best camps I’ve ever seen, it would put the NHS to shame to see one of the hospitals there, honestly. So that was encouraging, but obviously people don’t want to stay there forever, they want to go back home. There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.”

Islam said one of the song’s messages was aimed at those who would paint the refugees as would-be Islamist terrorists or economic migrants. “It’s a big misconception, blown out of proportion by certain kinds of politicians who want to make a mark for themselves,” he said. “Of course, there are some economic migrants, there are some people who might want to do us harm, but this is not about those people who might get through the cracks, there are real people suffering, there is no justification for that.”

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46 million people living as slaves, latest global index reveals

Walk Free Foundation, backed by Russell Crowe, names India as having highest number of slaves in the world

46 million people living as slaves, latest global index reveals
Russell Crowe launches the 2016 global slavery index in London. Photograph: Shanshan Chen/Thomson Reuters Foundation

An Australian human rights group, founded by billionaire business magnate Andrew Forrest and backed by Hollywood actor Russell Crowe, has released research estimating that almost 46 million people are living as slaves.

The 2016 global slavery index, funded by Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation, says 45.8 million people are trapped in some form of slavery.

The report ranks incidences of slavery in 167 countries, with India having the highest number of slaves while North Korea has the highest percentage of slaves per capita. This year’s estimates are nearly 30% higher than in the previous report, which estimated 35.8 million people living in slavery in 2014.

Forrest says the rise is partially due to more accurate methodology but he also believes the number of people trapped in slavery is increasing year on year.

“It is time to draw a line and say, no more,” he said. “This isn’t Aids or malaria, it is a man-made problem that can be solved, and it’s time to take real action to free the world from slavery once and for all.”

The index was launched in 2013 after Bill Gates, another billionaire philanthropist, challenged Forrest to quantify the scale of modern slavery. This year’s index was launched in London on Tuesday by Crowe with video messages of support from Tony Blair, Bono, supermodel Karlie Kloss and Richard Branson.

Forrest, who says he found and addressed slavery in his own supply chains, warned businesses that they must step up their efforts to address slavery or face the consequences. He also called on consumers to question their buying habits.

“At one point, it was common to see Australian truck drivers throwing litter out of the windows of their cars because everyone else was doing it. Now, there has been a huge public outcry against this behaviour and it has stopped. The same can be done for slavery,” he said.

“We need to make it unacceptable for people to buy something without asking the company where it was made and who made it and if they can’t answer that question clearly then the next question must be ‘how do you know it wasn’t made with slave labour?’”

Walk Free said slavery is found in all 167 countries in the index, with India home to 18.4 million slaves. This year’s index also claims that over half of the 45.8 million people living in modern slavery are in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

It calculated that more than 4% of North Korea’s population is enslaved, with Uzbekistan and Qatar the other countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery per capita.

The index has faced criticism for its methodology and rankings system since it launched. Despite naming 167 countries, this year’s index was based on interviews conducted by pollster Gallup with more than 42,000 people in 25 countries. In some cases, rankings and prevalence estimates are calculated using data from surveys conducted in other countries deemed to have an equivalent “risk profile”.

Kevin Bales, an anti-slavery campaigner who worked on collecting data for this year’s report, said he is “very confident” the estimations were an accurate reflection.

“Over the last few years we have really honed our methodology and have build a solid framework to build on year on year,” he said. “Measuring the problem is a hugely important factor in beginning to effectively tackle this enormous problem.”

Although modern slavery constitutes a huge illegal industry, deemed the third most profitable criminal industry behind drug and arms trafficking by the UN, data remains patchy.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 21 million people are trapped in forced labour and other forms of modern slavery. The index says it hopes to work with the ILO to provide a single set of global estimates.


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Emily Blunt confirmed as Mary Poppins in sequel to classic film

The British actor will be joined by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in Mary Poppins Returns, which takes place 20 years on from the famous first film

Emily Blunt confirmed as Mary Poppins in sequel to classic film
Emily Blunt: set to administer a spoonful of sugar. Photograph: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Move over, Julie Andrews. There’s a new Mary Poppins in town.

Walt Disney Studios announced on Tuesday that Into the Woods star Emily Blunt would be taking over the part of the famous nanny in a sequel to the 1964 classic film, confirming the British actor’s long-heralded involvement. She was said to be the producers’ first choice.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will also star as a new character, Jack, the street lamplighter.

The film, titled Mary Poppins Returns, will be center on a now-grown Michael Banks and his three children in the aftermath of a tragedy, and the help they get from Poppins and Jack in 1930s London.

Rob Marshall, who worked with Blunt on the film version of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, will direct, while the script will be written by Finding Neverland writer David Magee. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who won a Tony award for Hairspray, have been enlisted to write the songs.

When the remake was first announced last year, Marshall said that the film would not be based on the 1964 musical, which famously starred Julie Andrews. Instead, it will take its story from the seven previously unadapted books Mary Poppins’ creator PL Travers wrote about the magical nanny.

Marshall told Vulture: “This is an extension. I’m a huge fan of the original, and I’m a very good friend of Julie Andrews, and I hold it in such awe. There is all this new material – it was the Harry Potter of its time – and they were never turned into anything further than that adventure.”

Travers disliked the famous film, which took some liberties with her original book, for instance turning the character of Mrs Banks into a suffragette. Nevertheless, it grossed $100m, won five Oscars and became a children’s classic.

It did, however, become notorious for Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent as Bert, the chimney sweep, renowned as one of the worst ever committed to film. Asked about this by the Guardian recently, Van Dyke said: “There was a whole cast of British people and nobody said, ‘Y’know, you’ve got to work on that accent a bit.’ Nobody said a word.”

The new film is scheduled to hit theaters on 25 December 2018.

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Roger Daltrey planning solo record and book – but he may not release them

The Who frontman says ‘musicians are getting robbed every day’ thanks to music streaming and that he won’t give his music away for free

Roger Daltrey planning solo record and book – but he may not release them
‘I’m not going to pay to release music’ … Roger Daltry performing in Bournemouth in 2011. Photograph: Mark Holloway/Redferns

In October the Who’s Roger Daltrey will appear at the star-studded Desert Trip festival in California. Now he’s adding two projects to his calendar: a solo album and an autobiography – both of which, he says, may never see the light of day.

“I’m working on a solo project, but I don’t know whether I’ll ever release it,” Daltrey said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I’m working on a biography … [but] I’ll only release it if it’s a good book. I don’t care how long it takes.

“I won’t sign a publishing deal. People sign a publishing deal and they have to put it out because they’ve taken the money. Well, bollocks to the money, I don’t care about the money. I want [to write] a good book.”

He also expressed concern about the way in which people consume music for free online: “The way the internet has come about has been the biggest robbery in history,” he said, “like musicians should work for nothing.”

When asked about whether the Who would put out any of its unreleased songs, he said he wouldn’t pay-to-play. “There’s no royalties, so I can’t see that ever happening. There’s no record business. How do you get the money to make the records? … I’m certainly not going to pay money to give my music away for free. I can’t afford to do that. I’ve got other things I could waste the money on,” Daltrey said.

“Musicians are getting robbed every day,” he added. “You notice, the internet is a slowly but surely destructive thing. I don’t think it’s improved people’s lives. It’s just made them do more work and feel like they’re wanted a bit more, but it’s all bollocks.”

A new solo record would be Daltrey’s first lone venture since 1992’s Rocks in the Head. The Who frontman has released eight solo studio albums so far, kicking off in 1973 with Daltrey.

He says he has collected “five great tracks” for a proposed solo record, and is “looking for another five”. What musical direction might he take? “I started off as a soul singer. I’ve never done a soul album. I’m playing some stuff like that. I’ve got ranges in my voice that people have never, ever heard.”

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Snoop Dogg lambasts Roots remake: 'I can't watch it'

Snoop Dogg says he is sick of films and TV shows that depict historical racial abuse against African Americans when they are still ‘taking the same abuse’

Snoop Dogg lambasts Roots remake: 'I can't watch it'
Snoop Dogg arrives at the premiere of Coach Snoop. Photograph: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

The remake of Roots has gained widespread critical acclaim – but not from Snoop Dogg, who posted a short video on Instagram on Monday criticising the show, and suggesting that African Americans should not watch it.

In the video, the rapper said that he was fed up with watching films and TV shows that depicted the abuse of black Americans. “12 Years a Slave, Roots, Underground, I can’t watch none of that shit,” Snoop Dogg said, also taking aim at the Steve McQueen-directed Oscar-winning film and the WGN TV series about slaves in Georgia escaping via an underground railroad, which was recently renewed for a second season.

“They just want to keep showing us the abuse that we took hundreds and hundreds of years ago,” said Snoop Dogg. “But guess what – we’re taking the same abuse. Think about that part. Why don’t y’all go and make a muthafuckin’ series about the success that black folks is having?”

The rapper is at least leading by example, with a current web series on AOL called Coach Snoop, which follows the Snoop Youth Football League. Snoop Dogg set up the league with the aim of getting inner-city children aged between five and 13 involved in football, and is its coach and commissioner.

Roots, meanwhile, revisits one of the most successful shows in US television history for the Black Lives Matter era. British actor Malachi Kirby stars as enslaved Gambian warrior Kunta Kinte in the first episode, which aired in America on Sunday. The show is executive produced by LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in the original 70s miniseries, which was based on the book by Malcolm X biographer Alex Haley.

Snoop Dogg concluded that he would not watch Roots, and advised his fans to avoid it. “Let’s create our own shit based on today, how we living and how we inspire people today. Black is what’s real. Fuck that old shit.”

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