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Air raids on Japan by the Allies in World War II caused extensive destruction and casualties; the most commonly cited estimates are 333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded. During the first years of the Pacific War, these attacks were limited to the Doolittle Raid in April 1942 and small-scale raids on military positions in the Kuril Islands starting in mid-1943. Strategic bombing raids began in June 1944 and were greatly expanded in November. The raids initially attempted to target industrial facilities, but from March 1945 onwards were generally directed against urban areas. Aircraft flying from aircraft carriers and the Ryukyu Islands also frequently struck targets in Japan during 1945 in preparation for an Allied invasion planned for October. In early August, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were struck and mostly destroyed by atomic bombs. Japan's military and civil defenses were not capable of protecting the country, and the Allied forces generally suffered few losses. The bombing campaign was one of the main factors in the Japanese government's decision to surrender in mid-August 1945. Nevertheless, there has been a long-running debate over the attacks on Japanese cities, and the decision to use atomic weapons has been particularly controversial. (Full article...)
Pinnipeds, including true seals, walruses, and sea lions and fur seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of semiaquaticmarine mammals. There are 33 living species, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. They have streamlined bodies and four limbs that have evolved into flippers. Males typically mate with more than one female, and the females raise the pups, often born in the spring and summer months. Pinnipeds generally prefer colder waters and spend most of their time in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators such as sharks and killer whales. Humans have hunted seals since at least the Stone Age, and commercial sealing had a devastating effect on some species from the introduction of firearms through the 1960s. Populations have also been reduced or displaced by accidental trapping and marine pollution. All pinniped species are now afforded some protections under international law. (Full article...)