10 Compelling Reasons Not to Downsize


Almost daily, newspapers, business magazines, radio and television carry reports of corporations, large and small, that are downsizing. Their attention is chiefly focused on the impact to the employees, as they are the ones most acutely experiencing the immediate effects. But what are the effects on the companies? Downsizing, rightsizing or any of the number of synonyms for radically cutting expenses and employees, may provide a decrease in operating expenses in the near term, but how will they impact the longer term future?

In my experience over several decades of business cycles, I have witnessed a succession of economic contractions and expansions and although at times the outlook has appeared bleak, in fact, far bleaker then our present circumstances, every decline has been followed by a subsequent period of growth. It was not that long ago that we awoke to "Black Friday" when the stock market appeared to teeter on the brink of a cataclysmic collapse. What followed however, was the beginning of what proved to be one of the longest lived economic booms in memory. The lesson here is that there will be a new economic tomorrow and we appear presently to be in the beginning stages of a new economic growth period.

Therefore, it is with eyes wide open that business leaders need to carefully consider the long range effects their present cost cutting actions will have on their organizations. This is especially true as the nature of those cuts, especially where they concern personnel, are fundamentally different today from what they were in the past. Circa 1950's, 60's, 70's 80's and even much of the 90's, downturns in employment for the most part meant layoffs. Certainly, there were specific industries where structural decline resulted in large scale permanent job losses. However, in general, most cutbacks precipitated layoffs vs. permanent terminations. Not so today. The new order is that of permanent severance. For many the proverbial "pink slip" has turned to bright red.

Moreover, the level of employee being severed has also changed dramatically. In previous decades, the cuts were heavily weighted toward production personnel and were therefore, first line, blue collar worker oriented. Today, with our heavy reliance upon technology to drive the economic engine, the cutbacks in both the manufacturing and service sectors are skewed toward white collar workers. Additionally, more senior workers in their 40's, 50's and 60's have borne the brunt of the reductions more heavily than ever before, as their higher cost compensation and benefit packages are targeted for maximum near term bottom-line savings.

Conjointly these changes have set in motion what could become a veritable time-bomb for companies that decide to pursue cost reductions through massive staff cuts. The negative consequences will likely include:

1. Lack of a recallable employee pool. Historically, layoffs inherently communicated at a minimum the possibility, if not the probability, of being recalled by the employer when economic conditions improved. Many furloughed employees expected to eventually return to their employers and, reacted to the layoff accordingly by taking interim and part-time jobs. Today many severed employees are not only informed that their release is final, they are provided outplacement services funded by their former employers. Thus, the employers themselves are ensuring that these people will, indeed, not remain available to them. Many of the more senior employees, finding new employment at their current compensation levels difficult if not impossible and having personal savings at their disposal, are choosing to become entrepreneurs, thereby, forever removing them from the available labor pool. We entered 2001 experiencing labor shortages across most industries, which were particularly acute for high skill and technology workers. At the moment this scarcity may have temporarily abated, but its root causes remain and the scenario is certain to revisit us as soon as the economy enters the next upturn.

2. Poor morale & lack of trust among younger employees as terminations increasingly target older employees. Much has been exposited recently in the press about the disturbing loss of employee loyalty. Terminating large numbers of older, more senior and experienced employees who have faithfully served the corporation for many years, has a profound long term effect on younger, newer employees. Place yourself in their shoes for a moment. They have already been indoctrinated by friends, relatives, neighbors and the media that business, especially big business, is not to be trusted. Now they see their co-workers, supervisors, and mentors being fired because "cost cuts need to be made and these individuals represent higher per capita costs to the organization." The message is clear and they understand. The reward for loyalty is to be axed when you are over fifty and unlikely to find another comparable position. They may not bolt today, due to a tightening job market, but they will remember and when the economy improves they will seek a future where they feel more secure.

3. Loss of knowledge and experience base. This is a frequently overlooked aspect of the cost of losing long term employees. Many companies and even industries are currently developing knowledge bases in order to capture and access organizational knowledge resources. Yet, no matter how effective these databases are, and they can be extremely beneficial, they will never be a substitute for the knowledge, experience and wisdom that rests in the veterans of the organization. Although this is true in terms of deductive knowledge, it is even more important regarding the organization's continuity and history. People need to feel a sense of belonging to more than just the present, the "now" of an organization. They also need a sense of past and future. Without this, there are no ties, no traditions, no continuity and often no shared ethics and values.

4. Loss of corporate culture and available mentors for existing and new employees. This loss of continuity is also reflected in dispossession of the corporate culture. I am a great believer in change vs. the status quo. However, there are some things that should not change. "In this company we do thus and so, because we believe it to be fundamentally right." Every organization needs to have incontrovertible statements that transcend the fluctuating business climate and current trends. These values can and should be committed to pen and paper, but they are not passed on in this manner, at least not primarily. Rather, they are taught and lived and mentored from one person to the next. The fewer seasoned people the company has to pass these on, the less they will be able to maintain the soul of the organization.

5. Loss of established customer service and customer contact points. It happens to all of us. One day you call your favorite supplier or vendor and ask for good ole' Joe who you have done business with for years and are shocked to learn he is no longer there. "Why? Has he died or contracted cancer?" you ask. "No," is the response. We have had a major reduction in staff due to the economy. In silence you ponder: "If after all these years Joe is gone, who's left? Will they even be in business tomorrow? Maybe, I should begin looking around for another supplier." No one is irreplaceable. However, long term customer and supplier/vendor relationships are invaluable; they also say something about the reliability and stability of your organization. Although the organization's investment in these relationships does not show as a line item on the asset portion of your balance sheet, do not underestimate their value, especially in a day when the global search for new suppliers and vendors is made instantaneous by the internet. Without relationships, price rules and the only price that matters today is the lowest one. Years spent in commodity businesses taught me this principle all too well.

6. Employees may be needed again before termination savings are fully realized. If the economy does begin rebounding by mid 2002, then many of the anticipated savings of reducing the workforce will have not yet been fully realized before companies will need to begin replacing the terminated workers. The expense of replacement includes both the termination costs as well as the costs of training and integrating the new hires. Thus, in cases where terminations include substantial severance and outplacement costs, these plus the training and initial inefficiency costs of the new hires frequently equal one to several years of the terminated workers' cost to the organization.

7. Possible need to bring employees back as independent contractors at higher total cost. The shrinking labor pool together with the fact that a high percentage of the middle-aged and older terminated employees are either beginning their own businesses or opting for early retirement will mean that many of those who remain and are willing to return to former employers will want to do so under their own conditions. A large number of these may choose to do so as independent contractors preferring to gain a greater degree of control over their own lives. Many companies initially prefer this approach believing that they may only require the services of the former employees for a limited period of time. Frequently, however, the weeks and months become years and the independent contractors, knowing the inner workings of the organization and where projects and sponsors may be found, remain costing the company significantly more than if they had stayed on the payroll.

8. Hidden costs that are never fully accounted for such as declining morale, lost customer relationships and lost productivity due to over-stressing the remaining employees. There are very real costs associated with mass layoffs that in my experience are almost never fully assessed. Declining morale, disrupted customer relationships, a frequently steep decline in customer service and the frustration of remaining employees who cannot possibly absorb all of the responsibilities of their departed coworkers, results in an attitude of surrender to cutting corners wherever possible.

9. Future sales may be lost due to the inability to ramp up delivery quickly as the economy improves. I have already addressed at some length the labor pool shortage that may well be just around the corner. An economy spurred by the tax cut, a weakened dollar propelling export sales and/or a drop in oil and gas prices could individually or in combination cause demand in many industries to grow rapidly. Where will they find sufficient personnel fast enough to meet that demand? Any failure to respond quickly to the increased demand will result in lost sales and possibly long term market share erosion.

10. Diminished market position and status as market leader, innovator and corporate citizen. I am frequently amazed at the lengths that major corporations will go to and the investment they willingly incur during "good times" to build their image in the public's mind. However, as soon as the economy dips, the slashing begins with little thought as to the negative impact it can have within days upon years of careful work and millions of dollars invested to build that image.

When cutting is absolutely necessary, do so with a scalpel rather than meat cleaver. Across-the-board percentage staff reductions are the most damaging variety and should only be used in those instances which demand the immediate and drastic cost reductions compelled by the imminence of business failure. The use of global reductions as a general cost reduction methodology is tantamount to an abdication of responsibility by the leadership and management.

Whenever large scale reductions of any sort are made, they should be matched by reductions of a corresponding magnitude in senior executive compensation. Huge compensation packages for corporate executive leaders have been justified as necessary to attract and motivate the best talent available and as just rewards for their leading mega-corporations to unprecedented high profit levels and market valuations. This standard must also apply in the reverse and thus, significant drops in profit and worth, requiring deep cost cutting throughout the organization, should be equally reflected in deep cuts to the senior executive compensation levels.

As an alternative to layoffs and terminations, corporate leaders and managers should look to rapidly redeploy corporate assets in order to bolster revenues and profits. In the case of people assets, this can often be done through the reassignment of personnel to those areas and functions of the organization offering the greatest potential for rapid internal innovation. Such action frequently results in innovative breakthroughs of enormous and immediate value to the company as people new to a given function approach it with a fresh perspective and a different experience and personal knowledge base from which to draw upon.

Although severe cost cutting can increase the near term profitability of virtually any corporation, ultimately, the broad-based innovations of its committed and motivated employees is essential to restoring profitable long term growth, especially in periods of economic downturn. And its is sustainable growth, not temporary savings, that should be the primary goal of every corporate business leader.

Copyright 2005 by John DiFrances

John Di Frances is an internationally recognized www.thelegacyproject.us/" TARGET="_new">organizational legacy expert and www.difrances.com/professional_speaker.htm" TARGET="_new">professional speaker. www.difrances.com/" TARGET="_new">www.difrances.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Wind speeds of 140mph threatens fresh devastation for country reeling from Cyclone Idai

The strongest cyclone ever to hit Mozambique has made landfall in the country’s north, five weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated its centre, according to meteorologists.

Surpassing both Idai and the 2000 cyclone that had been the strongest to date, Cyclone Kenneth hit Cabo Delgado province with wind speeds of 140mph (225km/ph), bringing the threat of extreme rainfall.

Continue reading...

President recognises protesters’ demands but vowed to still liberalise the economy

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to make his style of politics more “humane”, but insisted he would press on with his project to liberalise the French economy and overhaul its welfare state despite five months of demonstrations by gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government protesters.

In his first press conference in two years as president, Macron promised €5bn (£4.3bn) worth of cuts to income tax for lower and average earners as well as pension rises for the poorest and vowed no more schools or hospitals would be closed during his presidency, as he responded to protests.

Continue reading...

Recent history shows that people with comfortable lives can easily be drawn towards violent extremism

When police and soldiers in Sri Lanka set out on the trail of the attackers who killed more than 350 people in a series of bombings on Easter Sunday, they did not expect to find themselves in Dematagoda, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Colombo.

Within 90 minutes of the attack, as hospitals struggled to cope with the huge number of casualties, the security forces were closing in on a three-storey house with a BMW parked outside.

Continue reading...

Biden, who handled her testimony before the Senate in 1991, contacted Hill to express ‘regret for what she endured’

Former vice-president Joe Biden, who launched his third campaign for president on Thursday, told Anita Hill he regretted the way he handled her testimony against Clarence Thomas at the 1991 supreme court hearings but she was not “satisfied” by the conversation.

Biden contacted her earlier this month to express his “regret for what she endured” during the hearing, an attempt to reckon with a defining moment from his past that looms over his present bid for the White House.

Continue reading...

Figure comes as rift opens between Northern Ireland Office and MoD over how to deal with historical accusations

As many as 200 former members of the British security forces are under official investigation for alleged criminal actions during the Troubles as a rift opens up between the Northern Ireland Office and the Ministry of Defence over how to deal with historical accusations.

There are at least three prosecutions against British soldiers under way. A former Parachute Regiment lance-corporal, identified only so far as “Soldier F”, is due to stand trial for murder and attempted murder for his role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings. Altogether, it is understood that between 150 and 200 former soldiers and police are under investigation for alleged actions taken during the Troubles.

Continue reading...

LGBT campaigners say Brazilian president’s comments risk inciting hatred

Brazil’s far-right president, the self-declared homophobe Jair Bolsonaro, has been accused of inciting hatred towards LGBT people after declaring the South American country should not become a “gay tourism paradise”.

“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro reportedly told journalists in the capital, Brasília. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families,” Bolsonaro added, according to the Brazilian magazine Exame.

Continue reading...

At least two people reportedly killed in shooting at Qasr bin Ghashir facility near Tripoli

Young refugees held in a detention centre in Libya have described being shot at indiscriminately by militias advancing on Tripoli, in an attack that reportedly left at least two people dead and up to 20 injured.

Phone footage smuggled out of the camp and passed to the Guardian highlights the deepening humanitarian crisis in the centres set up to prevent refugees and migrants from making the sea crossing from the north African coast to Europe.

Continue reading...

Court decision blocking fossil fuel activity in swaths of the Arctic complicated administration plans to ramp up fossil fuel extraction

The Trump administration has shelved plans to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the wake of a recent court decision that blocked fossil fuel activity in swaths of the Arctic.

The administration had opened up almost all US waters to companies seeking to drill oil or gas deposits but this expansion has been halted due to a legal setback, according to David Bernhardt, the interior secretary.

Continue reading...

Top watchdog promises to force change following Cambridge Analytica scandal as New York announces new investigation

Facebook broke Canadian privacy laws when it collected the information of some 600,000 citizens, a top watchdog in the country said on Thursday, pledging to seek a court order to force the social media company to change its practices.

Canada’s privacy commissioner, Daniel Therrien, made his comments while releasing the results of an investigation, opened a year ago, into a data sharing scandal involving Facebook and the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Continue reading...

Company beat sales and profit expectations to join Apple and Amazon in prestigious club

Microsoft has become the third publicly listed US company, after Apple and Amazon, to boast a market value of more than $1tn after bumper quarterly results boosted its share price.

The company beat sales and profits expectations in the three months to 31 March, thanks in part to its cloud computing business, which signed up major corporate clients over the period.

Continue reading...

US official who was sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the surprise invoice, the Washington Post reports

The United States was handed a $2m bill from North Korea for the hospital care of American Otto Warmbier, who died soon after his release back to the US in a comatose state in 2017, after being detained for 17 months.

Acting on instructions passed down from Donald Trump, the main US official who was sent to North Korea to bring Warmbier back to the US signed an agreement to pay the surprise invoice he was handed by Pyongyang, according to the Washington Post on Thursday, which cited two anonymous sources familiar with the situation.

Continue reading...

Daniel Craig’s swansong as 007 will see the return of Léa Seydoux, as well as previously-confirmed Rami Malek

Fresh details of plot and cast for the 25th James Bond film have been revealed at an official launch at Ian Fleming’s villa in Jamaica. With the sea in the background, a platter of pears and papaya in front, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson as well as new director Cary Fukunaga told radio presenter Clara Amfo that the new film opens with Bond relaxing in “his spiritual home”.

“Bond is not on active service,” said Broccoli. “He’s enjoying himself in Jamaica.” The trio confirmed that MI6 regulars Ralph Fiennes (who took over from Judi Dench as M after 2012’s Skyfall), Naomie Harris (as Moneypenny), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), Rory Kinnear (as Bill Tanner) and Ben Whishaw (as Q) will return, alongside Léa Seydoux, who played psychologist Madeleine Swann in 2015’s Spectre.

Continue reading...

A tiny nook for an urn can cost up to £180,000. With 200,000 sets of ashes waiting for a resting place, the city is running out of options

“Per square foot, it has become more expensive to house the dead than the living,” says Kwok Hoi Pong, chairman of the Hong Kong Funeral Business Association. “A niche for an urn in a private columbarium in the best position can cost up to HK$1.8m. This is the phenomenon in Hong Kong.”

A ground burial plot can cost anywhere between HK$3m (£300,000) and HK$5m, but in the city’s congested cemeteries, vacancies rarely become available. Land is so scarce that 90% of the 48,000 people a year who die in Hong Kong are cremated. But increasingly finding the space even to store ashes is becoming nigh on impossible.

Continue reading...

Think you know Chicago from Saint-Tropez? It’s harder than it looks

Which city is this?

Chicago

Saint-Tropez

Malaga

Gold Coast

Which city is this?

Milan

Barcelona

Coventry

Cologne

Which city is this?

Istanbul

Cairo

Manchester

Marrakech

Which city is this?

Genoa

Athens

Hong Kong

Palermo

Which city is this?

Venice

Atlantic City

Blackpool

Nice

Which city is this?

Turin

Tallinn

Tehran

Toledo

Which city is this?

Brussels

Kolkata

Birmingham

Detroit

Which city is this?

Turin

Trieste

Berlin

St Petersburg

Which city is this?

Copenhagen

Amsterdam

Stockholm

Hamburg

Which city is this?

Antwerp

Liverpool

Lille

Belfast

Which city is this?

Budapest

Dubrovnik

Vienna

Barcelona

Which city is this?

Bratislava

Bonn

Baku

Boston

Which city is this?

Tripoli

Gibraltar

Marseille

Singapore

13 and above.

Well done! You deserve a trip

12 and above.

Well done

11 and above.

Well done

10 and above.

Well done

9 and above.

Pretty good

8 and above.

Pretty good

7 and above.

Pretty good

6 and above.

Not bad

2 and above.

Oh dear, you need a holiday

5 and above.

Not bad

3 and above.

Oh dear, you need a holiday

1 and above.

Oh dear, you need a holiday

4 and above.

Not bad

0 and above.

Oh dear, you need a holiday

Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, catch up on our best stories or sign up for our weekly newsletter

Continue reading...

With teenage girls a particular target of street harassment, Farah Benis is on a mission to document incidents and raise awareness

CatcallsofLdn is an Instagram account that raises awareness about street harassment using chalk art. Inspired by and working with @catcallsofnyc, founder Farah Benis collects submissions from the public then chalks them onto the pavement in the place where they happened. The hope is that chalking, documenting and sharing images of the words will help to raise awareness of street harassment and ultimately prevent it.

72% of submissions are from under 17-year-olds, 60% of those were wearing school uniforms and 100% of the perpetrators were adult men

Continue reading...

Photographer Zhang Kechun travelled across China to document how urbanisation is reshaping the country’s natural landscapes. The often dreamlike images of his series Between the Mountains and Water depict tiny figures dwarfed by the immense scale of China’s economic development

Continue reading...

The star of Hannibal, The Hunt and new film Arctic doubts frank conversation is possible in the wake of #MeToo. But is he really also sceptical about climate change?

Dogme 95, the notorious Danish DIY film movement that launched the career of – among others – Lars Von Trier, has been called a lot of things. “Revolutionary”, “amateur porn”, “shit” (the last one yelled by the critic Mark Kermode at a Cannes screening of Von Trier’s The Idiots). With its 10-point manifesto targeting “decadent film-making”, wobbly-cam aesthetic and tendency towards nudity, violence and cruelty, it has inspired rapture and revulsion in equal measure. Though not everyone, it seems, had such a visceral reaction.

“To be frank, I just thought it was silly,” says Mads Mikkelsen. “Sitting down and writing down 10 commandments of how to approach film-making? ‘The story is important’ – no shit, Sherlock! Seriously? Do you have to write that down? Was it not important before you wrote it down? All these things were common fucking sense to me.

Continue reading...

Conservatives have launched inquiry into alleged racist incidents in local party

Portsmouth’s major political parties are struggling to contain claims they have racially discriminated against local minority ethnic council candidates.

The Conservatives have launched an inquiry into alleged racist incidents in the local party. A leaked letter shows a former council candidate for the party has claimed he was marginalised, bullied and racially abused.

Continue reading...

Khalifa Haftar’s foreign backers have egged him on – and civilians are paying the price

The warlord Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, has never disguised his ambitions. Once one of Muammar Gaddafi’s generals, he returned from exile in the US when the dictator fell in 2011, attempted to launch a coup three years later, repeatedly declared his intention to take Tripoli and has said that his country may not be ready for democracy.

So the professions of shock from his backers when he mounted his assault on the western capital, held by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, cannot be treated with great seriousness. The only real surprise about his advance was its timing. By moving while the UN secretary-general was in the country, to discuss arrangements for a UN-organised conference intended to lead to elections, he destroyed muted hopes of a political solution and underscored his already evident contempt for the process. As the prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, complained, the response of many supposed allies was silence.

Continue reading...

A hotel room theft, blackmail and a gym brawl are among the accusations thrown in a very public falling out between two athletics greats who were once friends

A sedate Wednesday morning press conference for this weekend’s London marathon appeared to be over when Mo Farah suddenly raised his hand and began to speak. Clearly Britain’s four-time Olympic champion had something to get off his chest. “Training has gone well, and everything else,” he said, “but there was a slight problem with my hotel in Ethiopia.”

Continue reading...

Students and faculty at two schools have been exposed as number of US measles cases hits 25-year high

More than 300 students and faculty members at two Los Angeles universities have been placed under a quarantine order, after they were exposed to measles and were not able to verify they had been vaccinated or have immunity.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said that as of Wednesday there were 119 students and eight faculty members under quarantine. More than 500 students, faculty and staff may have been exposed to the virus when a student who has been diagnosed with the virus attended classes in early April. The quarantined individuals have not shown that they are immune.

Continue reading...

‘Absurd’ that US and its closest allies are not leading players in technology, former PM says

Malcolm Turnbull has revealed that he encouraged Donald Trump to “take the lead” and develop 5G networks in cooperation with allies, including Australia, to hold out “ferocious competition” from China and to safeguard networks against cyber-attacks.

In a speech in New York overnight, the former prime minister said that in response to concerns China was stealing a technological march he had urged the US president to “ensure that we had at least one viable and secure 5G vendor from the United States and/or its Five Eyes partners”.

Continue reading...

Former WA premier Colin Barnett warns against Clive Palmer preference deal, while Shorten rebuffs Greens on climate policy. Follow the day’s news live

Scott Morrison gets a number of questions on Clive Palmer’s preferences, given he is talking in Townsville, the place where workers lost their jobs and entitlements.

Q: [What about the] preference deal, [with] someone who is facing criminal charges and hasn’t paid his workers and seems to be buying his way into parliament?

Well, I will let Clive Palmer speak for himself. At the end of the day, Clive Palmer has the view and the people who support him have the view.

I, my team, the party are all talking about it. I’m not out here talking about the how to vote card, like the Prime Minister said, I’m wanting people, to put number one next to my name.

Let him answer the question.

That’s what I’m doing and that’s what I’m out here talkingt o people. I want people to put the number one next to my name. Not anywhere else down the line. I’m not talking about any other parties. Minor, major, whatever, number one next to my name.

When the parties have finalised what they’re doing with preferences that will be clear next week. That’s a matter for once the parties have concluded any discussions they’re having, but I want to make something really clear. There are no policy elements to any discussions that have been had with mine or parties. None whatsoever. What we’re interested in doing. I’m interested in forming a government on the other side of this election. I’m going make sure I do everything I possibly can to ensure that we’re able to form that government.

Asked about Labor’s doubling of the domestic violence budget, Scott Morrison says when he was social services minister he ensured funding going as a priority to families.

Continue reading...

Arrests and prosecutions remain thin on the ground despite 62% rise in reports of suspected labour exploitation

More than 7,100 suspected victims of modern slavery were identified across the UK in 2018, with Romanian nationals comprising the largest victim group, according to a national helpline.

Labour exploitation – the majority of which was identified in car washes, beauty parlours, construction sites, hotels and on farms – accounted for the largest number of suspected modern slavery cases, with London the location for the highest number of suspected victims (1,477), found the helpline’s second annual assessment, published on Thursday.

Continue reading...

Up to 600 flights expected daily as largest service of its kind in the world targets country’s remote areas

Twelve million people in Ghana are set to benefit from the launch of the world’s largest drone medical delivery service.

Up to 600 drone flights will be made each day, delivering vaccines, blood supplies and life-saving medicines to 2,000 health centres in remote areas around the country.

Continue reading...

In Mozambique, where many people rely on crops to live, Idai’s impact on two key agricultural areas has been devastating

Marie Jose stares out at her field of broken maize stalks, the cobs yellow and mouldy from days of excessive water followed by weeks of extreme sun. She should have harvested them last month, but Cyclone Idai struck her village in Buzi district, in central Mozambique, and destroyed them all.

She is still dealing with the trauma of losing her grandparents and niece to the tropical storm. “They couldn’t hold on in the trees where we were sitting and the wind pushed them into the water,” she says. Their bodies are still missing.

Continue reading...

Toxins from old computers, fridges and other electronic goods are polluting chicken eggs in an area where 80,000 people live

Some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth are entering the food chain in Ghana from illegally disposed electronic waste coming from Europe.

According to a new report by two environmental groups tracking the disposal of e-waste, chicken eggs from the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana’s capital, Accra – where residents break up waste to recover metals – contain dangerous levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among other harmful substances.

Continue reading...

Campaigners move to end misconceptions about emergency contraception in country where morning-after pill is outlawed

A pioneering grassroots campaign to legalise emergency contraception is launched in Honduras this week amid ongoing false claims by church leaders, senior doctors and conservative politicians that the medication causes abortions, infertility and cancer.

Honduras is the only country in Latin America where emergency contraception is banned, forcing desperate women, including rape victims, to buy expensive and unregulated contraband pills on the black market.

Continue reading...

Well-educated and wealthy, new details emerge about the nine suicide bombers

According to Sri Lanka’s defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, there were nine suicide bombers in total – mostly well-educated and from wealthy families. Eight have been identified and one of them was a woman, he said, though Sri Lankan authorities have refused to officially name any of the attackers yet.

One of the attackers is said to be Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, who studied aerospace engineering at Kingston University in London from 2006 to 2007.

Continue reading...

Preventing Iran’s oil from reaching the market will raise oil prices and US business costs

The past two and a bit years have shown that it is naive to expect Donald Trump’s strategic and economic policies to demonstrate coherence. Even so, the lack of joined-up thinking in the decision to end the waiver against sanctions from nations that buy oil from Iran takes some beating.

Related: US toughens stance on Iran, ending exemptions from oil sanctions

Continue reading...

Local group National Towheed Jamaat would have needed help to mount such a complex operation

Three days after the bombings of churches and luxury hotels that killed over 300 people in Sri Lanka, Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the atrocity.

The claim was not unexpected. The bombings – multiple suicide attacks designed to cause mass casualties among Christian worshippers on Easter Sunday and among tourists too – had all the hallmarks of an Isis attack. The group needs to prove its capability and relevance after suffering defeat in its core heartland in Syria and Iraq. It still commands support among a network of sympathisers across the Islamic world. It had the motives and the means.

Continue reading...

As many challenges await as for leader he played on TV but with no certainty of a happy ending

After a campaign of stunts, japes and viral videos, things now get serious for Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Related: Zelenskiy’s victory in Ukraine was extraordinary. But now he faces a real test | Katya Gorchinskaya

Continue reading...

CCTV video shows two suspected attackers in Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombings carrying backpacks into the Shangri-La hotel in the capital, Colombo, before the blast.

The bombings, which killed 359 people and injured 500, shattered the relative calm that has existed in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka over the past decade and raised fears of a return to sectarian violence.

Continue reading...

Barack Obama's former vice-president has entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. It is his third presidential campaign – after two unsuccessful attempts at earning the nomination in 1988 and 2008. He joins a crowded and diverse field. If successful, the 76-year-old would become the oldest person to be elected president in US history

Continue reading...

Two Florida sheriff's deputies have been suspended after a video showed them pepper-spraying and punching a 15-year-old black student. The video, which was widely shared on social media last week, shows the two officers slamming Delucca Rolle to the ground and smashing his face into the concrete several times. Rolle’s family say he was picking up a cellphone that a classmate had dropped when one officer pepper-sprayed and jumped on him

Continue reading...

Kim Jong-un has arrived in Vladivostok by train before talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Kim is expected to seek Russian support over western sanctions and his negotiations with the US over North Korea's nuclear programme 

Continue reading...

The North Korean leader arrived in Russia by train on Wednesday, a day before his much-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin

Continue reading...

New footage has emerged appearing to show a suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian's church in Negombo. The subsequent explosion was the deadliest of the series of coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 50 people. The footage was broadcast widely on Sri Lankan news channels

Continue reading...

The Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton has become the 19th person to declare their intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Watch the decorated Marine Corps veteran talk about his fame in Iraq, his attempt to stop Nancy Pelosi's re-election as House Speaker and what makes him stand out in a crowded Democratic field 

Continue reading...

odrnews.com ©