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This Happened

This Happened — September 1: Beslan School Hostage Crisis

The Beslan school hostage crisis began on this day in 2004.

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What was the Beslan school hostage crisis?

The Beslan school hostage crisis was a violent terrorist attack that occurred in September 2004, in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia. Armed militants took over School Number One, holding hostage more than one thousand people, mostly children and their parents, for several days in the school's gymnasium. The crisis lasted for three days, during which hostages were denied food, water, and medical attention.

What were the motivations behind the attack?

The hostage-takers were a group of Chechen separatist militants, primarily from the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs. They sought to gain attention for their cause of Chechen independence from Russia and to put pressure on the Russian government to end the conflict in Chechnya. They believed that a large-scale, high-profile attack would draw international attention to their struggle.

What were the outcomes of the crisis?

The crisis ended in a violent and chaotic rescue attempt by Russian security forces on September 3, 2004. The rescue operation resulted in a firefight and explosions, causing numerous casualties, including many hostages. Over 330 people, including 186 children, lost their lives, and hundreds more were injured. The aftermath led to significant public outcry and criticism of both the militants and the Russian government's handling of the crisis.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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