Saturday, October 4, 2008

On October 4

On this day in ...
... 2008 (today), is celebrated World Animal Day. A conference of ecologists, meeting in Florence, Italy, in 1931, chose this date because it is the feast day of Francis of Assisi, who in Roman Catholic tradition is the patron saint of animals. On this day groups throughout the world work to draw attention to all aspects of animal welfare, from prevention of unwanted litters to protection of endangered species.
... 1993 (15 years ago today), a battle raged in the hours after 2 Blackhawk helicopters "carrying elite US Army Ranger units on a mission to capture a local warlord" were "shot down in a heavy firefight in the capital of Somalia," where U.S. troops had been deployed in a humanitarian mission. (photo credit) In the end 18 U.S. soldiers and 1 U.N. peacekeeper from Malaysia were killed; some bodies were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. About 90 peacekeepers were wounded, and 2 persons were held hostage for a week. In addition, according to the BBC, "[b]etween 350 and 1,000 Somali gunmen and civilians were believed killed." The incident touched off controversy in the United States that led to the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Somalia within months, and all U.N. troops by the following year. Later depicted in Mark Bowden's book and the Hollywood film Blackhawk Down, "[t]he episode," in the words of the BBC, "continues to influence US military and foreign policy."
Sadly, turmoil erupted again just days ago, when "Islamist militants launched a massive assault on African Union peacekeepers in the Somali capital," and so spark[ed] battles that killed at least 17 civilians," according to CNN.

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