Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The USIS was Established 85 Years Ago Today

On November 17, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6433-A and created the National Emergency Council (NEC), sing an appropriation authorized by Section 220 of the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933, in response to the declaration by the Congress of the United States of the existence of an acute national economic emergency which affects the national public interest and welfare.

The NEC was deemed created for the purpose of coordinating and making more efficient and productive the work of the numerous field agencies of the Government established under, and for the purpose of carrying into, effect, the provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Federal Emergency Relief Act that were all signed into law in 1933 in response to the Great Depression.

Six months later, Clara M. Edmunds, head librarian of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public information service, opened the U.S. Information Services library, which was designed to be the comprehensive collection of relevant government documents, updated regularly to record every development in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. This library, which centralized information about federal rules, regulations, and administrative orders for the public, was the first one-stop-shop for government information until 1948. In 1945, Truman, who had no interest in funding it, took office. In 1946, the USIS was put under the state department and had its funding reduced. And in 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act, which focussed on the creation of an information service to disseminate information abroad about the United States (instead of to its own citizens) put the final nail in the USIS coffin. (One account of the United States Information Service Libraries can be found in the online archive of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library Science. Information can also be found in A Timeline of Events in the History of Libraries.)

It may have only lasted 15 years, but it was a revolution in government information management and deserves to be remembered.

One Hundred and Thirty Seven Years Ago Today …

The first electric trams in Britain made their first run in East London.

We need to return to trams not only in London, but all over the world. Since trams can be powered by electricity, they can be powered by grids that primarily use renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and water.

Trams were common in many places in the middle of the twentieth century, but then many cities replaced them with buses in the latter half. This was a dumb move. London abolished its Trams in 1952, but brought them back in 2000.


Still No Love for the Oompa Loompas this Valentine’s Day

It seems the days of the oompa loompas are long past … as they have been on hard times for over a decade now. Not much has changed in the last ten years. They got no love then, they get no love now.

Just look at some of the headlines from the past year:

  • Feb 9, 2019 Child Slave Labor Rampant in Chocolate Supply Chain
    Sixty percent or more of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa. These countries are notorious for the worst forms of child slavery. An estimated 1.9 million children are engaged in forced labor on the Ivory Coast alone.
  • Jan 21, 2019
    Do you want slavery with that chocolate?

    Most chocolate has been through two separate supply chains before you buy it. The second chain is where a confectioner … buys bulk finished chocolate or chocolate components from one of the huge global companies that make these.
    The first chain is where these huge global companies buy cacao from farmers and make it into finished chocolate and components (cocoa powder, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, etc.). It’s mainly the market in this first chain where the problem lies. Almost all of the sellers of cacao are little more than subsistence operations … the buyers can set the price. This extremely uneven market and other capitalist pressures have created a situation where the world has a huge demand for cacao, and yet the farmers who produce it cannot possibly pay
    (or earn) a fair wage at the prices …
  • Jan 9, 2019 Chocolates, caramels might be contaminated with hepatitis A, FDA warns
    Candy sold by a Kentucky company and QVC is being voluntarily recalled for fear that it might be contaminated with hepatitis A, according to a U.S. Food and Drug recall notice.
  • Nov 30, 2018 Global chocolate supply chain tainted by abuses in Brazil
    The global chocolate supply chain is tainted by the use of cocoa from Brazilian farms where human rights violations are common, a report released Friday said. Among the abuses detailed are farmers forced to work off debts to landowners or in degrading conditions, as well as thousands of instances of child labor.
  • Nov 06, 2018 Taiwan finds pesticide in organic chocolate from France
    Taiwan stopped a batch of organic chocolate from France at the border because it contained an excessive level of the pesticide Piperonyl butoxide. The substance was listed as a low-to-medium-level toxic material, likely to raise the possibility of liver cancer in animals.
  • Feb 15, 2018 Cadbury Caramilk chocolate comeback tainted by product recall
    A “limited number” of Cadbury Caramilk chocolate blocks have been recalled just two weeks after the retro treat made a popular comeback to Australian stores earlier this month. All Caramilk 190-gram blocks … have been recalled due to a number of products found to contain small pieces of plastic.

The continued plight of the oompa loompas is very unfortunate considering that many studies have found that (dark) chocolate is good for you. Now, ten years ago we said you should be rewarding the oompa loompas for their hard work, but considering that even if they are working hard and not using slave (child) labour or tainted chocolate, we can’t be sure that the producers they are buying the raw cocoa from are even remotely ethical.

They still deserve a a little love, but they also deserve some new job opportunities. They work hard, and it’s not their fault everyone else is less ethical than them.