Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20th -An interesting Date in History

There are a number of items of historical note associated with today, October 20th. I thought I'd just mention four of them.

The first item is just a quick shout out saying "Happy Birthday!" to one of the scariest of the early movie scarey guys - the man who defined "Vampire" to this day: Bela Lugosi.

On this day in 2011, Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi is killed.

On this day in 2011, Moammar Gadhafi, the longest-serving leader in Africa and the Arab world, is captured and killed by rebel forces near his hometown of Sirte. The eccentric 69-year-old dictator, who came to power in a 1969 coup, headed a government that was accused of numerous human rights violations against its own people and was linked to terrorist attacks, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.

dhafi, who was born into a Bedouin family in June 1942, attended the Royal Military Academy in Benghazi as a young man and briefly received additional military training in Great Britain. On September 1, 1969, he led a bloodless coup that overthrew Libya's pro-Western monarch, King Idris, who was out of the country at the time. Gadhafi emerged as the head of the new revolutionary government, which soon forced the closing of American and British military bases in Libya, took control of much of the nation's oil industry, and tortured and killed political dissenters. It also made unsuccessful attempts to merge Libya with other Arab nations. Gadhafi began funding terrorist and guerilla groups around the globe, including the Irish Republican Army and the Red Army Faction in West Germany. Additionally, in the mid-1970s, Gadhafi, whose followers referred to him by such titles as "Brother Leader" and "Guide of the Revolution," published his political philosophy, which combined socialist and Islamic theories. Known as the Green Book, the manifesto became required reading in Libyan schools.

During the 1980s, tensions increased between Gadhafi and the West. Libya was linked the April 1986 bombing of a West Berlin, Germany, nightclub frequented by American military personnel. Two people, including a U.S. soldier, were killed in the attack, while some 155 others were wounded. The United States swiftly retaliated by bombing targets in Libya, including Gadhafi"s compound in Tripoli, the nation"s capital. President Ronald Reagan called Gadhafi "the mad dog of the Middle East."

On December 22, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, traveling from London to New York, was blown up over Lockerbie, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. The U.S. and Britain indicted two Libyans in the attack, but Gadhafi initially refused to turn over the suspects. He also declined to surrender a group of Libyans suspected in the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet over Niger that killed 170 people. Subsequently, in 1992, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Libya. These sanctions were removed in 2003, after the country formally accepted responsibility for the bombings (but admitted no guilt) and agreed to pay a $2.7 billion settlement to the victims' families. (Gadhafi's government had turned over the Lockerbie suspects in 1999; one was eventually acquitted and the other convicted.) Also in 2003, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction. Diplomatic relations with the West were restored by the following year.

Gadhafi remained a controversial and eccentric figure, who traveled with a contingent of female bodyguards, wore colorful robes and hats or military uniforms covered with medals, and on trips abroad set up a Bedouin-style tent to receive guests.

After more than 40 years in power, Gadhafi saw his regime begin to unravel in February 2011, when anti-government protests broke out in Libya following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia earlier that year. Gadhafi vowed to crush the revolt and ordered a violent crackdown against the demonstrators. However, by August, rebel forces, with assistance from NATO, had gained control of Tripoli and established a transitional government. Gadhafi went into hiding, but on October 20, 2011, he was captured and shot by rebel forces.

 Oct 20, 1944: U.S. forces land at Leyte Island in the Philippines
On this day in 1944, more than 100,000 American soldiers land on Leyte Island, in the Philippines, as preparation for the major invasion by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The ensuing battles of Leyte Island proved among the bloodiest of the war in the Pacific and signaled the beginning of the end for the Japanese.

 Oct 20, 1803: U.S. Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase

On this day in 1803, the U.S. Senate approves a treaty with France providing for the purchase of the territory of Louisiana, which would double the size of the United States.

At the end of 18th century, the Spanish technically owned Louisiana, the huge region west of the Mississippi that had once been claimed by France and named for its monarch, King Louis XIV. Despite Spanish ownership, American settlers in search of new land were already threatening to overrun the territory by the early 19th century. Recognizing it could not effectively maintain control of the region, Spain ceded Louisiana back to France in 1801, sparking intense anxieties in Washington, D.C. Under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, France had become the most powerful nation in Europe, and unlike Spain, it had the military power and the ambition to establish a strong colony in Louisiana and keep out the Americans.

Realizing that it was essential that the U.S. at least maintain control of the mouth of the all-important Mississippi River, early in 1803 President Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe to join the French foreign minister, Robert Livingston, in France to see if Napoleon might be persuaded to sell New Orleans and West Florida to the U.S. By that spring, the European situation had changed radically. Napoleon, who had previously envisioned creating a mighty new French empire in America, was now facing war with Great Britain. Rather than risk the strong possibility that Great Britain would quickly capture Louisiana and leave France with nothing, Napoleon decided to raise money for his war and simultaneously deny his enemy plum territory by offering to sell the entire territory to the U.S. for a mere $15 million. Flabbergasted, Monroe and Livingston decided that they couldn't pass up such a golden opportunity, and they wisely overstepped the powers delegated to them and accepted Napoleon's offer.

Live Long and Prosper...

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