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Wikipedia Now Has More Than 6 Million Articles in English



Wikipedia has surpassed a notable milestone this week: The English version of the world’s largest online encyclopedia now has more than six million articles. From a report: The feat, which comes roughly 19 years after the website was founded, is a testament of “what humans can do together,” said Ryan Merkley, chief of staff at Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that operates the omnipresent online encyclopedia. The 6 millionth article is about Maria Elise Turner Lauder, a 19th-century Canadian school teacher, travel writer and fiction writer. The article was written by Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, a longtime editor of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is available in dozens of languages, but its English-language version has the most number of articles. The English edition is also the most visited project on the website. According to publicly disclosed figures, the English version of the website averages about 255 million pageviews a day. According to web analytics firm SimilarWeb, Wikipedia overall is the eighth most visited website.

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Liquidators move, subpoena Watson children to appear before Bosasa insolvency inquiry




An insolvency inquiry, a closed process aimed at investigating the finances and any potential malfeasance by a company and its directors, has been established by the liquidators of Bosasa. It marks a significant milestone in the downfall of a company that has for decades been synonymous with allegations of corruption. 

The children and nephew of late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson – Lindsay, Roth and Jared Watson – have been subpoenaed to appear before a confidential insolvency inquiry where they are set to be interrogated about the corruption accused company’s affairs.

The subpoenas mark the next chapter in the acrimonious battle between the liquidators and Watsons who have been fighting in the courts to keep Bosasa alive since February last year.

The liquidators approached the High Court earlier this year to obtain an order granting the establishment of the inquiry. The court granted the application which also sought to convert the voluntary liquidation to a compulsory one.

Retired Judge Meyer Joffe was appointed by the court as commissioner. He presided over the corruption trial of former police commissioner the late Jackie Selebi.

The young Watsons are the first individuals to be subpoenaed by the inquiry and it is understood the list of individuals, which will include recipients of suspicious payments and other directors, will be lengthy.

Liquidator Cloete Murray would not confirm to News24 whether President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son, Andile Ramaphosa who had a questionable deal with Bosasa through his company, Blue Crane Capital, was one of the individuals who would be subpoenaed.

He said he was precluded from commenting on any specific transaction, persons or institutions that “might have benefitted” from one or more of the [Bosasa] companies until the liquidator’s investigations have been properly concluded.

In March last year, News24 reported Andile Ramaphosa had admitted to being paid R2m by Bosasa in accumulated monthly “retainer” fees for advisory work on a “pipeline” of more than 20 projects in East Africa.

ALSO READ: From China to Krugersdorp – Andile Ramaphosa and the Bosasa “billions”

Bosasa, or African Global Operations (AGO) as it is now known, was placed under voluntary liquidation in February 2019 – which the court has now converted to a compulsory one.

“In pursuance of these investigations, the liquidators have applied for and have been granted a consent order to hold an inquiry in terms of sections 417 and 418 of the Companies Act by the High Court. In these inquiry proceedings several individuals have been identified and subpoenaed to appear,” Murray said.

“The inquiry will, among other matters, focus on impeachable transactions in terms of … the Insolvency Act. The inquiry will also focus on the reasons for the failure of the company and the possible personal liability of the directors of the companies,” he added.

Murray emphasised the proceedings were confidential and only creditors could attend.

Retired Judge Meyer Joffe has been appointed commissioner for the Bosasa insolvency inquiry. (Netwerk24)

Those who appear before an insolvency inquiry must answer questions after taking an oath or affirmation, and the commissioner can recommend criminal proceedings against individuals if he or she deems it necessary.

Latest step

The establishment of an insolvency inquiry marks a significant milestone in the downfall of Bosasa, a company that has been shrouded in allegations of corruption for more than a decade.

It started in February 2019 when Absa and FNB both issued letters to Bosasa notifying the company and its executives they would be closing their accounts – a direct result of nine days of bombshell testimony before the Zondo commission into state capture by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi.

Soon thereafter government departments, including home affairs and justice, announced they would be cancelling long-standing and lucrative tenders Bosasa had held. According to a schedule of payments compiled by National Treasury, Bosasa was paid more than R12bn between 2004 and 2019 by various provincial and national departments.

The company’s directors, accepting legal advice, placed the Bosasa group (11 companies) under voluntary liquidation later the same month.

Since then, the decline of Bosasa has been marked with litigation and the shock death of Gavin Watson, considered a central figure in allegations of corruption, in August last year.

The directors successfully set aside the voluntary liquidation in the high court, only for the liquidators to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and succeeding in overturning the high court’s decision, effectively placing the liquidators back at the helm.

On the eve of a well-publicised auction of Bosasa‘s assets, Jared Watson, then a newly appointed director of Bosasa, filed an application in the High Court to have the companies placed under business rescue instead.

READ: Bosasa liquidators succeed in overturning High Court judgment, corruption cloaked company to be liquidated

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is opposing the application for business rescue.

It said in court papers Bosasa owed the taxman more than R500m. News24 understands this figure may increase.

The R500m figure stemmed from a secret tax inquiry looking into the tax affairs of Bosasa and its executives convened last year. It is understood that SARS, once it has raised an assessment of the taxes due, will become and remain by some margin Bosasa’s largest creditor.  

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Live Updates: Economic Fallout From Coronavirus Grows




Economic fallout from the new coronavirus epidemic continued to spread on Tuesday, with new evidence emerging in manufacturing, financial markets, commodities, banking and other sectors.

HSBC, one of the most important banks in Hong Kong, said it plans to cut 35,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in costs as it faces headwinds that include the coronavirus outbreak and months of political strife in Hong Kong. The bank, based in London, had come to depend increasingly on China for growth.

Jaguar Land Rover warned that the coronavirus could soon begin to create production problems at its assembly plants in Britain. Like many carmakers, Jaguar Land Rover uses parts made in China, where many factories have shut down or slowed production; Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Hyundai have already reported interruptions as a result.

U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday, a day after Apple warned that it would miss its sales forecasts due to disruption in China, as concerns about the impact of the outbreak weighed on the outlook for the global economy.

Stocks tied to the near-term ups and downs of the economy slumped, with energy, financials and industrial shares the leading losers. The S&P 500 index was down 0.5 percent at midafternoon in New York trading.

Bond yields declined, with the 10-year Treasury note yielding 1.55 percent, suggesting investors are lowering their expectations for economic growth and inflation. With much of the Chinese economy stalled, demand for oil has fallen and prices were down on Tuesday, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate selling for roughly $52.

At least 150 million people in China — over 10 percent of the country’s population — are living under government restrictions on how often they can leave their homes, The New York Times has found in examining dozens of local government announcements and reports from state-run news outlets.

More than 760 million Chinese people live in communities that have imposed strictures of some sort on residents’ comings and goings, as officials try to contain the new coronavirus epidemic. That larger figure represents more than half of the country’s population, and roughly one in 10 people on the planet.

China’s restrictions vary widely in their strictness. Neighborhoods in some places require residents only to show ID, sign in and have their temperature checked when they enter. Others prohibit residents from bringing guests.

But in places with more stringent policies, only one person from each household is allowed to leave home at a time, and not necessarily every day. Many neighborhoods have issued paper passes to ensure that residents comply.

In one district in the city of Xi’an, the authorities have stipulated that residents may leave their homes only once every three days to shop for food and other essentials. They also specify that the shopping may not take longer than two hours.

Tens of millions of other people are living in places where local officials have “encouraged” but not ordered neighborhoods to restrict people’s ability to leave their homes.

And with many places deciding their own policies on residents’ movements, it is possible that the total number of affected people is even higher still.

About 500 people will be released on Wednesday from a quarantined cruise ship that has been a hot spot of the outbreak, Japan’s health ministry said on Tuesday, but confusion about the release was widespread.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

The ministry said 2,404 people on the ship had been tested for the virus. It said only those who had tested negative and were asymptomatic would be allowed to leave on Wednesday. The ship, the Diamond Princess, has been moored off Yokohama since Feb. 4.

Earlier in the day, the ministry announced that 88 additional cases of coronavirus were confirmed on the ship, bringing the total to 542.

Australia plans to repatriate about 200 of its citizens aboard the ship on Wednesday, and other countries have similar plans, but Japanese officials did not say whether any of those people were among the 500 who would be allowed to disembark.

The release coincides with the expiration of a two-week quarantine imposed on the ship, but it was not clear if that was the reason for letting people go. More than 300 Americans were released this week before that period was completed.

Some public health experts say that the 14-day isolation period makes sense only if it begins with the most recent infection — in other words, new cases mean a continuing risk of exposure and should restart the quarantine clock.

In addition, many infected people have tested negative initially, only to test positive days later, after becoming sick. The Japanese announcement suggested that Japanese people who are released will not be isolated, a decision officials did not explain.

The American passengers who were released were put into 14-day quarantine in the United States. Australia also plans to quarantine people it repatriates.

The British government is taking steps to evacuate its citizens who have been on the Diamond Princess.

Seventy-four British citizens are on the ship, according to the BBC, which said that they are expected to be flown home in the next two or three days. A statement from the Foreign Office on Tuesday suggested that those who have been infected will remain in Japan for treatment.

“Given the conditions on board, we are working to organize a flight back to the U.K. for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements. We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”

One Briton in particular has been the subject of more attention than most: David Abel, who has been posting updates on Facebook and YouTube while waiting things out in isolation with his wife, Sally.

They both tested positive for the virus and would be taken to the hospital, he has said. But his most recent Facebook post suggested that all was not as it seemed.

“Frankly I think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel,” He wrote. “No phone, no Wi-Fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here!”

An analysis of 44,672 coronavirus patients in China whose diagnoses were confirmed by laboratory testing has found that 1,023 had died by Feb. 11, which suggests a fatality rate of 2.3 percent.

Collection and reporting of patient data in China have been inconsistent, experts have said, and the fatality rate could change as additional cases or deaths are discovered.

But the mortality rate in the new analysis is far higher than that of the seasonal flu, with which the new coronavirus has sometimes been compared. In the United States, seasonal flu fatality rates hover around 0.1 percent.

The analysis was posted online by researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

If many mild cases are not coming to health officials’ attention, the death rate of those infected may be lower than the study indicates. But if deaths have gone uncounted because China’s health system is overwhelmed, the rate could be higher.

Over all, about 81 percent of patients with confirmed diagnoses experienced mild illness, the researchers found. Nearly 14 percent had severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and about 5 percent had critical illnesses.

Thirty percent of those who died were in their 60s, 30 percent were in their 70s and 20 percent were age 80 or older. Though men and women were roughly equally represented among the confirmed cases, men made up nearly 64 percent of the deaths. Patients with underlying medical conditions, like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, died at higher rates.

The fatality rate among patients in Hubei Province, the center of China’s outbreak, was more than seven times higher than that of other provinces.

China on Tuesday announced new figures for the outbreak. The number of cases was put at 72,436 — up 1,888 from the day before — and the death toll now stands at 1,868, up 98, the authorities said.

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, told Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain in a phone call on Tuesday that China was making “visible progress” in containing the epidemic, according to Chinese state media.

The director of a hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic, died on Tuesday after contracting the new coronavirus, the latest in a series of medical professionals to be killed in the epidemic.

Liu Zhiming, 51, a neurosurgeon and the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the Wuhan health commission said.

“From the start of the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, without regard to his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital at the front lines of the fight against the epidemic,” the commission said. Dr. Liu “made significant contributions to our city’s fight to prevent and control the novel coronavirus.”

With just 42 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in Europe, the continent faces a far less serious outbreak than China, where tens of thousands have contracted the virus. But the people and places associated with the illness have faced a stigma as a result, and fear of the virus is, itself, proving contagious.

A British man who tested positive for coronavirus was branded a “super spreader,” his every movement detailed by the local media.

Business plummeted at a French ski resort identified as the scene of several transmissions of the virus.

And after some employees of a German car company were diagnosed with the virus, the children of other workers were turned away from schools, despite negative test results.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, warned last weekend of the dangers of letting fear outpace facts.

“We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma,” Dr. Tedros said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, adding that fear could hamper global efforts to combat the virus. “The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other.”

The Philippines has lifted its travel ban on citizens employed as domestic workers in Hong Kong and Macau, officials said Tuesday.

The nation had enacted a ban on Feb. 2 on travel to and from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, preventing workers from traveling to jobs in those places.

Hong Kong alone is home to about 390,000 migrant domestic workers, many of them from the Philippines. The travel ban had left many anxious about the sudden loss of income, along with the risk of infection.

Also on Tuesday, the authorities in Hong Kong announced that a 32-year-old Filipino woman was the latest person in Hong Kong to have contracted the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases there to 61.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the woman was a domestic worker who was believed to have been infected at home. The government said that she was working in the home of an older person who was among the previously confirmed cases.

Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, said that workers returning to Hong Kong and Macau would have to “make a written declaration that they know the risk.”

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea warned on Tuesday that the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, his country’s biggest trading partner, is creating an “emergency economic situation,” and ordered his government to take actions to limit the fallout.

“The current situation is much worse than we had thought,” Mr. Moon said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “If the Chinese economic situation aggravates, we will be one of the hardest-hit countries.”

Mr. Moon cited difficulties for South Korean companies in getting components from China, as well as sharp drops in exports to China, the destination for about a quarter of all South Korean exports. He also said travel restrictions hurt the South Korean tourism industry, which relies heavily on Chinese visitors.

“The government needs to take all special measures it can,” Mr. Moon said, ordering the allocation of financial aid and tax breaks to help shore up businesses hurt the most by the virus scare.

Also on Tuesday, a South Korean Air Force plane flew to Japan to evacuate four South Korean citizens stranded on the Diamond Princess, the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama.

Passengers from a cruise ship were turned away at an airport as they tried to leave Cambodia on Tuesday, amid fears that the country had been too lax in containing the new coronavirus.

The ship, the Westerdam, was turned away from five other ports over virus fears, but Cambodia allowed it to dock last Thursday. Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials greeted and embraced passengers without wearing protective gear.

More than 1,000 people were allowed to disembark without wearing masks or being tested for the virus. Other countries have been far more cautious; it is not clear how long after infection people develop symptoms, and some people at first test negative for the virus, even after becoming sick.

Hundreds of passengers left Cambodia and others traveled to Phnom Penh, the capital, to wait for flights home.

But on Saturday, an American who left the ship tested positive on arrival in Malaysia. Health experts warned that others could have carried the virus from the ship, and passengers were barred from flights out of Cambodia.

On Monday, Cambodian officials said tests had cleared 406 passengers, and they looked forward to heading home to the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Hun Sen announced that passengers who were waiting in a hotel would be allowed home on flights through Dubai and Japan.

Orlando Ashford, the president of the cruise operator Holland America, who had traveled to Phnom Penh, told anxious passengers to keep their bags packed.

“Fingers crossed,” said Christina Kerby, an American who had boarded the ship in Hong Kong on Feb. 1 and was awaiting approval to depart. “We’ve been cheering as individuals begin to head to the airport.”

But a cohort of passengers who went to the airport later returned to their hotel. It was not clear if any passengers had been able to fly out.

“New fly in the ointment, the countries that the flights have to go through are not allowing us to fly,” Pad Rao, a retired American surgeon, wrote in a message sent from the Westerdam, where about 1,000 crew and passengers remain.

He said he had been tested for the virus on Monday and was awaiting results.

“We need all the help we can get!” he added.

Reporting and research were contributed by Austin Ramzy, Isabella Kwai, Alexandra Stevenson, Hannah Beech, Choe Sang-Hun, Raymond Zhong, Lin Qiqing, Wang Yiwei, Elaine Yu, Roni Caryn Rabin, Richard C. Paddock, Motoko Rich, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Megan Specia, Michael Wolgelenter, Richard Pérez-Peña and Michael Corkery.

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Ring doorbell makes two-factor verification mandatory




Ring cameraImage copyright

Ring, Amazon’s video doorbell system, has introduced additional steps to the way users log in to their accounts.

Users will need to enter a password and unique six-digit code every time they want to view their security footage or access the Neighbors app.

On Tuesday, Ring also said it would pause its data sharing with third-party firms.

The change comes as Ring and Amazon face increasing scrutiny about privacy protection and data sharing.

A BBC report on Amazon – which owns Ring – showed the company’s extensive level of data collection.

In a blog post Ring’s president Leila Rouhi said the company takes “digital security and privacy seriously” and would look at additional ways to improve security.

Ring’s new log-in system will be similar to other two-factor authentication processes. After signing in with a username and password the app will ask to send a text message or email with a one-time six-digit code. Once the code is entered the user will have access to the app and be able to view footage from outdoor and indoor cameras.

Last week, Nest – Google’s home security device – began requiring two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication was an option for Ring users before, but it was not the default setting.

Image copyright

Critics pointed to the fact that even when users logged in from a new device they were not asked for a second verification.

That meant that to get access to someone’s Ring footage all a hacker would need was a login ID and password. Because many people use the same login credentials for multiple accounts experts stress using a password alone is not a very secure system.

The new security steps will apply to access Ring’s web services and its app – including its Neighbors app where Ring users can share video footage.

Ms Rouhi also said Ring was changing the way it shared data with outside analytics firms.

Last month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a study showing Ring was sharing personally identifiable information with third-party analytics firms – something Ring did not disclose to its customers.

Ring said this helped the firm improve its software. Ring said it has paused the data sharing for most third-party partners until it develops a way for users to opt in or out.

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‘Outdated family-court rape views need addressing’




The High Court in LondonImage copyright
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A judge who dismissed a woman’s claim she had been raped, as she had done “nothing physically” to stop the alleged perpetrator, is among a number of family court judges to hold “outdated views”, a joint letter says.

In it, over 130 lawyers and women’s rights groups call for Judge Tolson’s continuing cases to be reviewed.

And they say family court judges should be trained on the “meaning of consent”.

The Judiciary said a commitment to further training had since been made.

‘Serious harm’

The case centred around a man who had asked to be allowed to spend time with his son, who was in the care of his former partner.

She objected because she said the man had been controlling and had raped her.

In his ruling, Judge Tolson told the family court because the woman “was not in any sense pinned down”, she “could easily, physically, have made life harder” for the man – and it “did not constitute rape”.

The woman later argued the judge’s approach had led to her losing the legal battle with the man.

The letter – signed by organisations including Rape Crisis England and Wales, Women’s Aid and the Centre for Women’s Justice – says attitudes such as those expressed by the judge “leave children and women at risk of serious harm”.

Addressed to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and the family courts president, Sir Andrew McFarlane, it says: “Increasingly, the courts are no longer seen as a safe place for women who have been abused.”

It adds that since the case came to light in the media, it has “resulted in women contacting some of the signatories to this letter with their experiences of [Judge Tolson] and other judges who have expressed similar attitudes.

“Their concerns have included attitudes about sexual violence as seen in [this case], professional assessment of abusive parents being disregarded without reason and failure to provide special measures during hearings.”

The letter is supported by the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, and the London Victims’ Commissioner, Claire Waxman.

Trish’s story

Image copyright
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Judge Tolson was also the judge in the case of “Trish” – not her real name – deciding the level of contact she and her ex-partner were allowed with their children.

“I was with my ex-partner for several decades,” she tells the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

“He was physically abusive and financially and emotionally coercive and controlling. I finally left when he started to abuse my children as well.”

Trish’s ex-partner applied to the courts for contact and was granted access.

Her elder child is now old enough to be able to make their own decision about not going for contact.

But she says her younger child is “terrified of going for contact with him and says he’s been physically abusive”.

“All I want is for this to be properly investigated. I’ve been in court at least 20 times,” she says.

“He can afford lawyers but… I have to represent myself.

“He’s continuing to control me and abuse – and that’s enabled by the courts.

“The children’s voices are not heard and to not even have the courts protecting vulnerable families is really scary.

“I am deeply concerned for the future of my children and their safety.”

The woman whose rape claim was dismissed by Judge Tolson has now had her appeal upheld by a High Court judge, over its handling.

Ms Justice Russell, ordered a fresh case to be held before a different judge and said specialist training was needed on how family-court judges dealt with sexual assault allegations.

The letter welcomes her recommendations but adds: “There are wider systemic issues, including some lack of understanding of domestic abuse and serious sexual assault and a failure to apply the practice directions to afford victims a fair trial.

“This is despite training and clear rules.”

It calls for the appointment of “appropriately trained domestic-abuse champions in each family court”, greater accountability for judges and specific training on the meaning of consent and free will for all family-court judges.

The UK Judiciary said in a statement: “We cannot comment over and above what has been said by [Ms Justice Russell] in her judgement.”

Her proposals would see family-court judges given “similar training to that which is already given to criminal judges who hear serious sexual criminal trials”, it added.

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

Follow the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here.

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“Battle Bus” memorialised executed environmentalists




“Battle Bus” was a sculpture made by Sokari Douglas Camp in memory of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa who was controversially executed in 1995.

The sculpture was seized and impounded by Nigerian port authorities in 2015, when the art work was shipped to Nigeria as a memorial to Ken Saro Wiwa and the eight other activists killed with him.

Witness History: The stories of our times told by the people who were there.

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