'Financial Times' Issues 103-Year-Old Correction

A 1915 poster urged the British public to buy war bonds. The previous year, the Bank of England had concealed the failure of the first round of bond-selling.


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Thomas Bert/Library of Congress

On Nov. 23, 1914, the Financial Times ran a piece about the wild success of British efforts to fund World War I.

War Loans were “oversubscribed,” the paper said; applications were “pouring in”; the public “has offered the Government every penny it asked for — and more.” The “amazing result” showed “how strong is the financial position of the British nation.”

On Aug. 8, 2017, the paper had a follow-up. A “clarification.”

“We are now happy to make clear that none of the above was true,” the FT wrote.

The announcement came after researchers at the Bank of England, poring over aged ledgers, exposed a 103-year-old cover-up.

It turns out the first British effort to fund-raise for the war by selling bonds was not, in fact, wildly successful. It was “a spectacular failure,” the researchers wrote on a blog for Bank of England employees.

The government wanted to raise £350 million, but brought in less than a third of that. Officials worried that revealing the shortfall would hurt future capital-raising efforts, and help Germany.

So instead of allowing the disappointing truth to come out, the Bank of England secretly funneled money to hide the gap.

The cover-up was uncovered by an employee at the bank’s archive, along with a PhD. student and two faculty members at the Queen Mary University of London. They describe what they found in the old ledgers:

“To cover its tracks, the Bank made advances to its chief cashier, Gordon Nairn, and his deputy, Ernest Harvey, who then purchased the securities in their own names with the bonds then held by the Bank of England on its balance sheet. To hide the fact that the Bank was forced to step in, the bonds were classified as holdings of ‘Other Securities’ in the Bank of England’s balance sheet rather than as holdings of Government Securities.”

John Maynard Keynes, the economist who famously advocated for public spending to stimulate economies during recession, knew about the deception, the researchers say. In a memo marked “Secret” he called it “a masterly manipulation,” while also warning that it was not sustainable in the long run.

But it wasn’t the last time the Bank of England drew on its own reserves to fund the war, the researchers write: “The long-held laissez-faire principles of the Liberal and Conservative parties were thus sacrificed to raise the capital upon which the War’s outcome depended.”

The shock of the failed bonds sale, and the subterfuge that followed, drew attention to the complexity of the national debt and contributed to the eventual transition of the Bank of England from privately owned to centrally owned, the researchers suggest.

The Financial Times, for its part, notes that the original “piece” looks more like an ad than an article, while acknowledging that the publication “played a role in convincing the public that the sale was a success.”

Along with its correction, the paper adds this note:

“The same edition of the paper also demonstrated a good understanding of the FT’s readership, noting with ‘interest’ and ‘encouragement’ that champagne production had not been affected by the Great War effort.”

For the record, all of NPR’s corrections can be found here.

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PHOTOS: A 'Massive' Wildfire Is Now Blazing In Greenland

This satellite photograph depicts the wildfire raging in Greenland, as seen from space last week.

NASA Earth Observatory

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NASA Earth Observatory

In a region better known for its ice and snow, it’s a fire that now has scientists struggling to learn more. Since at least the end of last month, a stretch of land in western Greenland has been alight with a with a “sizable wildfire,” NASA says.

The agency’s European counterpart, the ESA, was a little more emotive in a recent tweet sharing imagery from one of its satellites: “This Sentinel-2 image of Greenland shows [a] massive forest fire,” the ESA tweeted. “Yes it is Greenland.”

#Wildfire au milieu du #Groenland toute la semaine,au dessus du 65°N, encore actif hier. Ici image sat #sentinel2 du jeudi 3 aout #Greenlandpic.twitter.com/mSrP88isMj

— Meteos (@Meteos_) August 6, 2017

The fire is burning roughly 90 miles northeast of Sisimiut, a town of about 5,500 that rests on the island’s west coast, according to NASA. Citing local reports, the publication Climate Central reports the fire observed by the agency consists of a series of blazes — the largest of which is about 3,000 acres.

Researcher Stef Lhermitte of the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology strung together a week of images of the fire, as seen from space.

A week of the Greenland wildfire burning as seen from MODIS Aqua/Terra satellites @Pierre_Markuse@m_parrington@ruth_mottram@jmccarty_geopic.twitter.com/cns8K05HmU

— Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) August 7, 2017

“These fires appear to be peatland fires, as there are low grass, some shrub, and lots of rocks on the western edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet,” Jessica L. McCarty of Miami University told Wildfire Today.

As The New York Timeshas pointed out, peat is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change — drying out as temperatures rise — and especially dangerous for exacerbating climate change if it burns.

“It’s carbon that has accumulated over several thousands of years,” one researcher told the paper last year. “If it were to be released, the global CO2 concentration would be much higher.”

NASA notes the fire, while not unprecedented in Greenland, still makes for an “unusual event” on an island mostly covered by ice. The agency points to an analysis pulled together by Lhermitte, who demonstrates that NASA satellites have detected an “exceptional” number of wildfires in 2017.

To wrap up: wildfires have occurred in the past over Greenland but 2017 is exceptional in number of active fire detections by MODIS pic.twitter.com/2HGaVieTEe

— Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) August 7, 2017

It remains unclear what triggered the blaze or how long it will last — but satellites from both NASA and the ESA continue to watch it burn from space.

The fire in Greenland, as seen last week by the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 and processed by researcher Pierre Markuse.


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Pierre Markuse/Flicker

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North Korea Reportedly Capable Of Making Nuclear-Tipped Missiles

South Koreans watch television coverage of the July 4 launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in North Korea.

Lee Jin-man/AP

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Lee Jin-man/AP

U.S. intelligence analysts say that North Korea has developed a warhead that fits on its ballistic missiles, including an ICBM capable of reaching U.S. territory, according to The Washington Post.

The Postwrites: “The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.”

While the latest report assumes significance in the current climate of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, it represents only more certainty over previous assessments. Four years ago, for example, the DIA said it believed with “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered nuclear warhead technology.

Since North Korea has conducted multiple tests of both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the basic components for a nuclear-tipped ICBM were already known to exist. As NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel reports on All Things Considered, the technology hurdle for Pyongyang is to produce a relatively small, light-weight weapon that North Korean missiles are capable of getting to a target.

To build a nuclear weapon, Brumfiel says, you start with a lot of conventional explosives that trigger the nuclear chain reaction.

“That makes primitive nuclear weapons very heavy, because you have to pack all this around the nuclear material,” he explains. “They are ways to trim back — you can use less high explosive, you can use it in special ways, you can use less nuclear material.”

That is apparently what North Korean scientists and engineers have managed to accomplish. And Pyongyang has made no secret of its apparent accomplishments. In 2016, Kim Jong Un was photographed next to what is believed to have been a model for a small nuclear device, nicknamed “The Disco Ball of Death,” by Western observers.

However, Brumfiel says the best pieces of evidence are the nuclear tests themselves.

“They’ve done five nuclear tests now. Other countries have been able to miniaturize in fewer tests, so it seems reasonable to assume that they’ve been able to miniaturize by this point,” he says.

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Hill Democrats Launch Investigation Of Federal Spending At Trump Businesses

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in May.

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

How is Washington spending tax dollars that might benefit President Trump? Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want to count the ways.

The committee’s 18 minority members sent letters on Tuesday to the 15 cabinet departments and nine independent executive branch agencies, requesting documents on their spending at “businesses owned by or affiliated with the Trump Organization.”

They said the letters are the first step in an investigation of federal spending involving Trump companies.

The letter said Trump’s “financial entanglements make it impossible to know whether he is making his decisions in the public interest” or to benefit the president and his family.

Before Trump took office, he turned over management of the Trump Organization to his eldest son, Donald Jr., and a long-time Trump deputy. But he didn’t give up ownership. Subsequently, Democrats have been hammering on the conflicts-of-interest questions that remain.

“It looks like he’s making money off being president,” said committee member Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill. “This is not, you know, for him to make money for his business, or his family to make money. But it seems like that’s what happening.”

The letter cites several instances uncovered by the press, including the State Department’s booking of 19 rooms at a Trump hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia; costs for Secret Service protection for his son Eric’s business travel for the Trump Organization; outlays at several agencies to support President Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and golf club in New Jersey; and Housing and Urban Development subsidy payments to the Starrett City complex in Brooklyn, in which Trump has an ownership stake.

Democrats gave the departments and agencies an August 25 deadline to deliver the documents, and asked that copies go to the committee’s Republican staff as well. As the minority party in Congress, the Democrats cannot hold committee hearings. But they expressed optimism that the new GOP committee chair, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, will join them for a bipartisan investigation.

The committee’s majority staff didn’t respond to NPR’s request for comment Tuesday afternoon, nor did the White House.

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Glen Campbell, Country Music Legend, Is Dead At 81

American country & western singer Glen Campbell, who passed away Aug. 8, 2017, pictured in 1967.

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Country Music hall of famer Glen Campbell has died in a Nashville care facility after a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. His death was first reported in a statement from his family and confirmed to NPR by his publicist. He was 81. He was an iconic performer whose career spanned half a century, and blurred the lines between country and pop.

Campbell once said he didn’t consider himself a “country singer,” but rather a “country boy who sings.” And historian John Rumble from the Country Music Hall of Fame says Campbell had something few do.

“When he was on stage and started to sing, you knew there was a star on stage,” Rumble says. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an aura. It’s a feeling. You knew this was somebody special.”

His biggest hit topped both the pop and country charts in 1975: “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

YouTube

Long before he was a household name, Campbell was a studio musician in Los Angeles, part of the famous “Wrecking Crew,” a loose cluster of studio players who backed stars on many hits of the day.

Campbell was a self-taught guitarist whose training consisted mostly of informal lessons in the lap of his Uncle Boo back in Arkansas. Campbell couldn’t read music, but Rumble says he could play anything.

“Glen just fit right in, he was so dog-gone good,” Rumble recalls.

The exact scope of Campbell’s output in the ’50s and ’60s is unknown, because producers cloaked who actually played on a session. But he provided guitar parts for records by Jan and Dean, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. Campbell even became a Beach Boy for about six months, replacing front-man Brian Wilson on tour. Years later, Campbell mentioned it in his own concerts.

“It was fun, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my musical career playing bass and singing the high part,” he joked.

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His solo career got off to a slow start. But after a few minor hits, he found a groove. He began a long-term collaboration with songwriter Jimmy Webb, who says he grew up daydreaming about working with Glen Campbell. The two would become musical partners. And Webb says Campbell doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions beyond performing.

“Nobody compared with him when it came to picking a song and then arranging it,” Webb said. “He left his stamp on whatever material he did.”

Together, Webb and Campbell produced such Top 40 hits as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.”

Campbell’s chart success led to opportunities in film and TV, including a stint on network television; he hosted Glen Campbell’s Good Time Hour. Guests ranged from actor John Wayne to The Monkees to his own family. But at the height of his fame, Campbell hit personal lows — divorces and a drug and alcohol problem. His struggle with cocaine surprised those who knew him best, considering his Christian upbringing and outspoken faith.

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Eventually, though, he got his life back in order and continued performing. Then, in 2011, he announced he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And instead of receding into the shadows, he planned a tour. For more than a year, he played shows around the country, backed by a band that included some of his children.

Campbell couldn’t remember his kids’ names and faces but he could still feel out a fretboard and astonish a crowd. Film maker James Keach directed a documentary, I’ll Be Me, that chronicled the farewell tour.

“It was completely embedded in this guy’s psyche and he’d done it since he was five years old,” Keach tells NPR. “It’s his default is that his hands will start doing that. That’s his language. His first language is music.”

Keach says Glen Campbell never warmed up, and never sang out of key. It was an unexpected blessing to Campbell’s fans that his musical talent was one of the last things to go.

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In a statement, Campbell’s family requests donations in lieu of flowers.

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Trump Says U.S. Will Meet North Korean Threats With 'Fire and Fury'

President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing on the opioid crisis, on Tuesday, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

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Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump on Tuesday threatened to meet North Korean threats with “fire and fury” a day after Pyongyang said it was ready with “ultimate measures” in response to new U.N. sanctions pushed by Washington.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” the president warned at a meeting on the opioid crisis held at Bedminster, N.J., where he is on an extended working vacation.

“They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen,” he said, adding that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

The president’s remarks come on the same day as a report in The Washington Post that says U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that North Korea has perfected a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of being fitted atop its ballistic missiles.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved sanctions over the weekend aimed at punishing North Korea for its recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The measures would block about $1 billion – or about one-third from North Korean exports.

As NPR’s Merrit Kennedy reported Monday, North Korea reacted angrily to the sanctions, saying it would “balance the U.S.’s felonious crime” with “something thousands of times worse.”

“… if the U.S. does not retract its attempt to crush us to death and behave prudently, we will be ready and not hesitate to take ultimate measures,” Pyongyang said in a statement published by the state-run KCNA news agency.

In July, North Korea conducted two successful launches of an ICBM, known as Hwasong-14, which is believed to be capable of reaching Alaska.

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Students Pressure Reform As K-12 Sexual Assault Investigations Rise

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Oakland Unified School District in California recently revamped its sexual harassment and assault policy. I attended the school board vote with Andrea Zamora, 17, a rising high school senior who helped develop the new policy with a local nonprofit, Alliance for Girls.

“I feel like all my hard work, and everything that we’ve all collaborated together, has paid off,” Zamora told to me.

The new policy designates a point-person at each school to handle sexual assault and harassment, and lays out the reporting process transparently for students, teachers, and parents alike. Before, Oakland’s district had just one person – the district’s ombudsperson – who was responsible for fielding sexual assault and harassment complaints from all 36,000 students.

Putting policies like this one in place and training school staff can be expensive. At big school districts, it can run a quarter million dollars.

As we were sitting and watching the school board pass the new policy, Zamora noticed her mom quietly wiping away tears. Then she, too, got choked up.

As Zamora became interested in how schools handle sexual harassment and assault, she started thinking differently about a tradition at her elementary school called “Slap Ass Friday.”

Andrea Zamora, 17, helped develop Oakland Unified School District’s new sexual harassment policy.

Brett Myers/Youth Radio

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Brett Myers/Youth Radio

“The girls were hiding, putting their butts behind the wall. And then guys would try to hit them,” she said. “The guys were like sharks.”

Actually, I’ve had a run-in with Slap Ass Friday, too. I told Zamora, “I just remember this little twerp sixth-grader like running across to me with his hand going up to me and, POW!”

I also spoke to a teacher, Rori Abernethy, who used to teach math at Oakland High School and said she regularly addressed sexual harassment and assault between students.

“So, I got burned out. I felt like I was doing lawyering more than teaching,” Abernethy said. “And that’s a big reason why I left Oakland, because I really want to teach.”

After almost a decade at Oakland High, Abernethy switched districts last year.

“Just the day-to-day job of teaching is exhausting,” she said. “If another child comes and reports something, you can’t just let it go. You have to do something. That’s somebody’s life.”

In fact, federal law requires schools to look into sexual harassment and assault, which both fall under Title IX, a law most commonly associated with women’s access to sports.

“Title IX actually covers a surprisingly wide range of activities. It’s an anti-discrimination statute,” said William Koski, director of the Youth and Education Law Project at Stanford University. It can cover sexual harassment, sexual violence, etc.

“Hostile environments” are also covered under Title IX, said Koski. What is a hostile environment? Imagine sitting in second period next to a guy who assaulted you, or running into him alone in an empty hallway. The responsibility of creating a safe learning environment falls onto schools.

Title IX has been around since the 1970s, but in recent years it has been increasingly applied to sexual assault. Under Title IX, schools may even be accountable for off-campus assaults.

“So for instance, if there is sexual violence at a party, or something like that, it’s entirely possible that the victim of that kind of sexual violence will feel quite uncomfortable at school,” Koski explained.

After reporting a sexual assault, if students and parents are unhappy with the actions of their school, they are able to file a complaint with the federal government. The Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education has the power to investigate schools for their handling sexual violence. Since 2014, those investigations are up by nearly 500 percent.

In one high-profile case at Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, a teen girl says she was sexually assaulted by another student in an empty classroom. In her complaint to the Office of Civil rights, she says that she was questioned by a school security officer after reporting the alleged assault.

He allegedly asked her, “What were you wearing? Why didn’t you tell your mom ASAP? Are you sure you didn’t want to have oral sex with him? Did you scream?”

The Gwinnett County Public School district repeatedly declined our requests for an interview, but last year, a representative told local TV news reporters that the investigation was conducted “fairly, thoroughly, and promptly,” and that they believed the act was consensual. Both the accused and the accuser were suspended for having sex on campus.

For her part, the girl filed a complaint against the district to the Office of Civil Rights, arguing that her suspension amounts to retaliation for coming forward about her assault. In an email to Youth Radio, the girl has a message for schools:

“My message is simple: It is your job to keep students safe. When a student comes forward and reports an assault, school officials must step up, provide support and take the report seriously.”

This case is still under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights. Gwinnett County Public Schools has three open investigations for how they’ve handled sexual violence–among the highest of any school district in the country.

The Trump administration is changing how they handle these complaints. The Department of Education didn’t respond to interview requests, but officials released a statement saying that the changes are meant to streamline investigations, which can currently take years. But critics argue that the administration is weakening requirements designed to protect school children and guard against systemic abuse, in a moment when sexual violence complaints in schools are on the rise.

This is a Youth Radio special report.

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How The 'Battling' Kellogg Brothers Revolutionized American Breakfast

Women inspect filled boxes of Corn Flakes in the Kellogg Company factory in 1934.


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The U.S. National Archives

Today, the typical American grocery store might devote an entire aisle to breakfast cereal, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, boxed cereals were an invention of the 20th century, designed and marketed by two brothers from Michigan.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg had first conceived of a healthy, plant-based breakfast in his capacity as the director of the Seventh-day Adventist sanitarium in Battle Creek, Mich. His younger brother, Will, was the business innovator, who figured out how to market John’s creation.

Medical historian Howard Markel describes the mass production of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in 1906 as an event that took the world by storm. “You could simply pour breakfast out of a box,” he says. “Even dad could make breakfast now.”

While Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (left) was prescient about the concept of wellness. His brother, Will Keith Kellogg, right, was the marketing mastermind behind the Kellogg company’s success.

Library of Congress/Wikipedia; Will Keith Kellogg Foundation/Wikipedia

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Library of Congress/Wikipedia; Will Keith Kellogg Foundation/Wikipedia

But despite their business success, the brothers’ relationship was contentious. A series of lawsuits ended with the Will being awarded the rights to the family name.

“Will later made a mint off of bran cereals, even though that was truly John Harvey’s creation,” Markel says. “There was a lot of bad blood between them, and then after the lawsuit they rarely, if ever, spoke to one another again.”


Interview Highlights

On American breakfast before the days of boxed cereal

If you look at what people ate in America in the late 19th century or even the early 20th century, it was very heavy in animal fats, often cured meats. So they’re very salty, a lot of sugar. You would have for breakfast, potatoes that were fried in the congealed fat from the night before. A lot of alcohol and caffeine [were] consumed, a lot of carbohydrates.

And making breakfast was an ordeal. Even if you made porridge or mush, these whole grains took hours to melt down and make into a mush or a soft form. So these poor mothers were getting up very early and they’re probably taking care of their children all night. They had to start a wood burning fire. And so making breakfast was a great ordeal.

But John Harvey Kellogg invented [cereal] for the [invalid] people who came to his Battle Creek sanitarium. It was his little brother Will who realized there are a lot more people who are healthy and just want a convenient, tasty breakfast, than those who are ill and need an easily digestible breakfast.

On how the flake cereal was born

[The brothers] first started serving double-baked zwieback biscuits out of whole graham grain. … [Dr. Kellogg] decided to grind up the zwieback into little crumbs, and that was their first cereal. He called it granola.

But they weren’t happy with that, Dr. Kellogg or his brother. And they thought, there’s got to be a better way to make cereal than just grinding up toasted bread, basically. And so they worked and they worked and they worked and Dr. Kellogg tells a story that he had a dream of how to make flake cereal and that’s how the whole thing began.

On Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s concept of wellness

[Dr. Kellogg] called it “biologic living,” and he was really prescient about this. Don’t forget, at the turn of the last century, most doctors were fixated on diseases — not preventing them, but treating them once they occurred. … Dr. Kellogg was all about preventing these diseases before they ever happened, by living a healthy life. That included exercise, a lot of vigorous physical activity, eating a grain and vegetable diet, avoiding animal fats or meats or as he called it, “flesh-eating.” … No alcohol, no caffeine of any kind.

He also was very chaste and reminded both his readers and his followers that sex outside of the marriage, of course, was not a good idea, but [that] sex for anything other than procreation really sapped the soul and sapped the spirit. And of course, he was very much opposed to masturbation of any kind, something he wrote about extensively and called “the solitary vice.”

On John Harvey’s connection to the co-founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

John Harvey, even as a young boy and a young man, just exuded brilliance and was curious about everything. … The co-founders of the denomination … realized this young man was quite special, so they groomed him and a big part of Seventh-day Adventism.

He later came to edit their magazine called The Health Reformer, which John Harvey later changed the name to Good Health, because he realized that people don’t like reform. They like to be healthy, but they don’t want somebody telling them to reform. So they realized that John Harvey could be the head of their health avenue, the health section of their denomination.

On Will, the marketing genius

John, the older brother, never missed an opportunity to pick on or humiliate his younger brother, from childhood on. … Will was this business genius who knew how to run a very large organization, not only keep accounts, but come up with new methods to keep accounts in a better way. He was brilliant at human resources, because you had thousands of employees doing all sorts of different tasks, and he just had his hand in every pot, and knew how to do it. … The psychic cost of being made fun of and treated as a lackey was very difficult for Will’s psyche.

On the brothers’ fight over the brand name Kellogg’s

As soon as poor Will became successful and John Harvey sold him the rights and made a mint off of Corn Flake stock, [John Harvey] started making his own cereal and calling it “Kellogg’s.” And, of course, Will, by this time … was investing millions of dollars a year in ads, and he felt that another Kellogg-named product, that was not nearly as tasty as his product, would harm his company.

So he sued John Harvey, and then John Harvey sued Will. And this lawsuit, even though there were peaks and valleys and agreements and disagreements, it went for almost a decade, going all the way to the Michigan State Supreme Court. The basic question was, “Who was the real Kellogg? Who had the right to use the name Kellogg on a box of cereal?”

Will said, “Everybody who hears the name Kellogg’s thinks of Corn Flakes now.” By that time — this is early 1920 — they did.

The judges agreed with Will and he won the case, and poor John Harvey had to pay all the legal costs and everything else, and he could only put his name in tiny writing on the bottom of the box for any cereal he created.

Sam Briger and Heidi Saman produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the Web.

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