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Dublin: 11°C Sunday 20 September 2020

3 Midweek Longreads: The man who was kidnapped and caged in a zoo

Longreads to savour or save.

IF YOU WANT a juicy longread to sink your teeth into, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are three to save for a moment of peace, or devour straight away.

1. The hoax trolls of St Petersburg

A wave of hoax attacks – purporting to show chemical attacks and Ebola outbreaks – hits the US. It’s impeccably done, so who’s behind it? A shadowy organisation in Russia, it turns out. (NY Times, 43 mins)

The campaign followed the same pattern of fake news reports and videos, this time under the hashtag #EbolaInAtlanta, which briefly trended in Atlanta. Again, the attention to detail was remarkable, suggesting a tremendous amount of effort. A YouTube video showed a team of hazmat-suited medical workers transporting a victim from the airport. Beyoncé’s recent single “7/11” played in the background, an apparent attempt to establish the video’s contemporaneity. A truck in the parking lot sported the logo of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

2. Kidnapped and caged in a zoo

Ota Benga was just under 5ft tall. Kidnapped from the Congo, he was taken to the US where he was put on show.

(The Guardian, 32 mins)

In anticipation of larger crowds after the publicity in the New York Times, Benga was moved from a smaller chimpanzee cage to one far larger, to make him more visible to spectators. He was also joined by an orangutan called Dohang. While crowds massed to leer at him, the boyish Benga, who was said to be 23 but appeared far younger, sat silently on a stool, staring – sometimes glaring – through the bars.

3. The strike

A group of workers on strike in South Africa were fired on by police, causing shock worldwide. But it turns out that one man had become leader, negotiating with police and trying to bring police. Here is his story:

(The Guardian, mins)

The violence escalated. The following day, Sunday 12 August, a group of about 150 strikers marched from their new base on the koppie to the Lonmin office. There were scuffles. A striker threw a rock. A security guard fired a shotgun. The strikers massed forward. Some of the workers were now carrying pangas, and they used them with deadly force, slashing one guard from armpit to hip and hacking two more to death. One of the bodies was burned beyond recognition. Over the following 24 hours, two miners were killed when they tried to go to work in the hours of darkness.

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