The New York Times - USA (2020-10-16)

(Antfer) #1


A 12,000-pound World War II-
era bomb exploded in a shipping
canal off the Polish port city of
Swinoujscie on Tuesday, sending a
plume of water high into the air as
a team of navy divers were work-
ing to neutralize it remotely.
No one was hurt in the opera-
tion, which the Polish military
forces said they considered a suc-
cess because the munition, a
British “Tallboy” bomb, had ulti-
mately been destroyed.
The day before the operation,
the Polish Ministry of Defense an-
nounced that the bomb was the
largest yet discovered in the coun-
try and that divers from the Polish
Navy’s Eighth Coast Defense
Flotilla would attempt to neutral-
ize the weapon remotely through
a process in which special explo-
sive charges are used to punch
holes in a bomb’s thick steel case
and to light the explosive material
inside on fire.
If successful, the procedure
would have allowed the 5,
pounds of energetic material in-
side the bomb to safely burn itself
out underwater, allowing divers to

raise the emptied casing out of the
water or to tow it farther out to
Poland has been clearing explo-
sive remnants of war from its ter-
ritory since the end of World War
II, according to experts with the
International Committee of the
Red Cross. From 1944 to 2003,
more than 96 million pieces of ex-
plosive ordnance had been re-
moved at an estimated cost of
$866 million, the experts wrote,
and from 1944 to 1989, unexploded
ordnance claimed the lives of
more than 4,000 people in Poland.
In the field of bomb disposal,
any procedure taken to render a
munition safe also carries the risk
that the item will explode, no mat-
ter how closely and properly those
procedures are followed.
For a bomb like this one, divers
would most likely have surveyed
the munition underwater, taking
measurements and carefully
sketching out key identifying fea-
tures. Analyzing their findings
back on land, the divers would pin-
point which types of fuses would
normally be attached to such a
bomb and study documented pro-

cedures for removing or safely de-
stroying them without causing the
munition to explode.
Sometimes, however, such
steps are impossible. If the fuse is
inaccessible because of deforma-
tion upon impact or other obstruc-
tions, bomb disposal experts may
decide to try a process called def-
lagration, which involves cutting
into the bomb and setting the ex-
plosive material inside on fire to
safely burn itself out. But rapidly
burning explosives still contained
inside a thick steel casing can ex-
plode just the same, even if addi-
tional holes are created to vent the
gases produced by the fire.
The Defense Ministry also said
the operation was the first at-
tempt to neutralize a Tallboy
bomb underwater. The ministry
did not respond to messages ask-
ing for comment, and efforts to
reach the Polish Embassy in
Washington were unsuccessful.
Designed by the Royal Air
Force in 1943, the Tallboy was
used primarily for attacks on
high-value targets like submarine
pens, viaducts and bridges, and
on launch sites for the V-1 cruise

missiles and V-2 ballistic missiles
that terrorized civilians in Eng-
land. According to an account
written in 1990 by Wing Cmdr.
John A. MacBean and Maj. Arthur
S. Hogben, 95 Tallboy bombs were
also dropped on ships like the Ger-
man cruiser Lützow, which was
moored in Swinoujscie in 1945.
The authors credit Tallboy
bombs with sinking the German
battleship Tirpitz off northern
Norway in November 1944. When
dropped on land, Tallboys often
created craters measuring 85 feet
in diameter and 25 feet deep. It
was the second-largest bomb used
by British forces during the war,
after the 22,000-pound Grand
Slam munition, which was also
dropped on German targets. To-
gether, the Tallboy and Grand
Slam were known as “earthquake
bombs” for the devastation they
caused on land.
The 21-foot long bomb de-
stroyed by divers on Tuesday is
thought to have been dropped on
the Lützow, but failed to explode
on impact, leaving it nestled deep
into the mud under 33 feet of wa-
ter for three-quarters of a century.

A British “Tallboy” bomb exploded in a shipping canal in northwestern Poland during an operation to neutralize it on Tuesday.


World War II-Era Bomb Explodes in Polish Waters


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Nannies, cooks, construction
workers, farmhands and other
women who are primarily em-
ployed in India’s informal jobs sec-
tor are still routinely sexually har-
assed and abused at work because
a groundbreaking federal law is
rarely enforced, a study has
Ninety-five percent of India’s
female workers, some 195 million
people, are employed in so-called
informal jobs, according to Hu-
man Rights Watch, which found
that the country’s federal and lo-
cal governments have not done
enough to promote and carry out
the functions of the country’s 2013
Sexual Harassment of Women at
Workplace Act.
The law, known as the Posh Act,
mandates that employers with 10
or more workers set up commit-
tees to receive and investigate
complaints of sexual harassment.

While the global #MeToo move-
ment inspired a host of Bollywood
actors and well-known Indian
writers to come forward with alle-
gations of sexual harassment,
poorer Indian women are less
likely to speak out.
The Human Rights Watch re-
port focuses on workplace har-
assment, but Indian women are
routinely subjected to harassment
and abuse in and outside of their
homes, sometimes with deadly
consequences. Poor women and
those from lower castes are most
likely to be victimized.
Mina Jadav, a trade union
leader who represents women in
the informal sector, said sexual
harassment, including slurs and
physical violence, were common-
“On many occasions, women
will not complain. If the victim is a
young girl, then more chances
that she will not speak. Families
try to hide the incidents,” Ms. Ja-
dav said.
Under the Posh Act, complaint
committees must be led by a wom-
an and include at least one outside

expert in the field of sexual har-
assment. The committees have
the power of a civil court to sub-
poena witnesses and evidence,
and can recommend remedies, in-
cluding actions against the al-
leged perpetrator ranging from
fines to termination.
But it is up to local governments
to create district-level committees
to educate women about their
rights and to receive and process
sexual harassment complaints.
Gender discrimination, the
stigma associated with speaking
out and a backlogged court sys-
tem where cases of all kinds linger
for years have led women to avoid
seeking and receiving justice.
The Posh Act was created to
give women an alternative to the
courts, said Meenakshi Ganguly,
South Asia director for Human
Rights Watch. “More people are
reluctant to go to the police or go
to the court — that is almost al-
ways a barrier for people to report
because they find that it could
take away years of their lives,” she
Employers have been slow to
adapt to the law, said Vishal Kedia,
founder of Complykaro, a Mum-
bai-based consultancy that helps
companies with compliance.
According to Complykaro, more
than 40 percent of companies on
the Bombay Stock Exchange re-
ported zero sexual harassment
complaints between the fiscal
years 2015 and 2019.
“They may not be doing aware-
ness, hence the fear still exists of
coming forward to file a com-
plaint,” Mr. Kedia said.
The situation is most stark for
women in the informal sector, ac-
cording to Human Rights Watch,
which relied on 85 interviews in
three Indian states with workers,
trade union officials, activists,
lawyers and academics.
“In many of the places either
the committees are not in exist-
ence, or if they have come to exist-
ence then the members are not no-
tified, or not enough training has
taken place,” said Sunieta Ojha, a
lawyer in Delhi who has repre-
sented many women in civil sexu-
al harassment suits against male
colleagues or bosses.
In response to general criticism
about the Posh Act, India’s power-
ful home minister, Amit Shah, pre-
sided over a committee of min-
isters that in January made a list
of recommendations, including
adding workplace sexual har-
assment to India’s penal code.

Harassment Law in India

Is Only Rarely Enforced


A report finds poor

compliance and

routine abuses.

Free download pdf