28 February 2013

Two important court victories against the gun lobby 28FEB13

THE nra has paid for political whores on Capital Hill and in state legislatures and governors offices across the country, but they don't yet control all the courts. Here are two significant victories fought for in the courts by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. If you can make a donation to make it possible for the Brady Campaign to keep fighting in the courts as well as legislatures for all of us.....
Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Number of people Shot Each Day and Year [graphic]
Two Important Court Victories Against the Gun Lobby
Dear Friend,
For years, we've won important battles against the NRA and the gun lobby in courts, paving the way for significant life-saving reforms. Last Friday, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence won two key court cases — in the heart of "gun country."
Today — thanks in part to supporters of our Legal Action Project — I'm pleased to report two major victories against the gun lobby.
In Peterson v. Garcia, I faced off against the gun lobby's top lawyer and the NRA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. We drew a conservative panel of judges in Denver, which some thought was a sure sign we'd lose the case.
Instead, the judges unanimously rejected the gun lobby's arguments and agreed with the Brady Center, ruling last week that the Second Amendment does not prevent law enforcement from keeping hidden handguns off the streets of Denver.
This landmark ruling sets new law in the Mountain States. It also creates important precedent that will support gun laws nationwide.
On the same day, Alaska's Supreme Court set a new precedent by siding with the Brady Center in Kim v. Coxe.
The decision is a wake-up call for gun industry reform.
Kim v. Coxe was a case we brought on behalf of a victim of gun violence. Simone Kim was killed by a drug-addicted criminal who bought his murder weapon from an irresponsible gun dealer.
I argued that the dealer should be held accountable for negligently supplying Simone's killer. The Supreme Court justices listened, then reversed a prior dismissal of the case. As a result, Simone Kim's family will finally get the opportunity to prove their case in court.
These court victories demonstrate that when the Brady Center takes on the gun lobby in court, we can beat them — even in the heart of gun country.
From Alaska to Colorado, we are convincing courts that our Second Amendment allows for sensible gun laws — and irresponsible gun companies can be held liable to victims. But there is so much more that needs to be done.
Please make your gift today. Help the Brady Center represent victims and their families, hold irresponsible dealers accountable in court, and defend strong gun laws nationwide.
Thanks in advance for your most generous gift to sustain our work.
John Lowy [photo]Sincerely,
John Lowy [signature]
Jonathan E. Lowy, Director
Legal Action Project
Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Donate Image
Simone Kim (above), from Anchorage, AK, was shot and killed by a drug-addicted ex-con who bought his murder weapon from an irresponsible gun dealer.
We won the first battle in this case. Now your gift to the Legal Action Project will help ensure we're ready to present a powerful case, fight for justice, and give the Kim family some measure of closure.

Sign up for Alerts • Find Your Local Chapter • 

You can also mail a check to:  Brady Center · 1225 Eye Street NW, Suite 1100 · Washington, DC 20005

The Brady Center, along with its legislative sister organization, the Brady Campaign, is the nation's largest, non-partisan grassroots organization leading the fight for sensible gun laws to protect you and your family.

VICTORY!!!! THE HOUSE PASSES THE VAWA!!!!! The Violence Against Women Act’s most interesting votes 28FEB13

HERE is a great victory for women and all Americans!!!! WOMEN, TAKE NOTE OF HOW YOUR REP VOTED, click the link to see the roll call vote in the House on the VAWA. From the Washington Post.....

Habitat Update from Habitat for Humanity Internationa 28FEB13

HERE's the Habitat for Humanity International newsletter. Enjoy, there's good stuff here.....
Habitat for Humanity International
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Habitat  Email Newsletter

Show your year-round commitment to families in urgent need of safe, decent, affordable housing with a monthly gift to Habitat for Humanity. Become one of our 500 new HopeBuilders this month and receive Hope the Habitat Bear in appreciation of your monthly gift of $10 or more.
Building on love
A New York couple marks a special anniversary by forging a connection with one Habitat homeowner.
Volunteers discover the true meaning of friendship

Jeffery Lundberg and Rima Kawas joined more than 70 volunteers from around the world to complete 10 homes during the Friendship Build in Bangladesh.
Help us deliver a clear message
Hundreds of Habitat advocates recently descended upon Capitol Hill to deliver a clear message about critical housing needs. Contact Congress and add your voice.
One man, 500 houses

Retiree Irving Hall created the Guatemala Dream Project through Habitat to make a difference.
'Come Over into Macedonia'

Volunteer John Finnerty's continued involvement with Habitat Macedonia leads to a deep connection with the people and a new outlook on life.
Shelter Report 2013

The Shelter Report makes the case for continued support of low- and moderate-income housing as an important building block for communities and the economy.
Habitat Statistics 
The number of U.S. affiliates that are weatherizing homes with the help of a Department of Energy grant.
The number of children under age 5 in Cote d'Ivoire who die from malaria every year.
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27 February 2013

Keith Ellison Explodes At Sean Hannity: 'The Worst Excuse For A Journalist I've Ever Seen' (VIDEO) & Fox News Ratings: O'Reilly, Hannity See Huge Drop-Off In February Demo Numbers 27&26FEB13

Rep Keith Ellison D MN did sean hannity a favor by appearing on his show and going off on him. Now hannity has video of the crazy, left wing Muslim extremist attacking him (and so attacking all white republicans), which will be used to boost his sagging ratings. Politicians who go on fox need to be prepared not to lower themselves to that network's level. Not the best interview for Rep Ellison, even though he spoke the truth about hannity. From HuffPost...

Sean Hannity got an earful from Democratic congressman Keith Ellison on his Tuesday show. Ellison exploded at the Fox News host, calling him "the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen."

What made Ellison so angry was a short series of clips of President Obama that Hannity ran just before bringing him on. The clips, which showed Obama talking about the looming budget sequester, were scored to the famously apocalyptic "Carmina Burana." Hannity said Obama was guilty of fearmongering when he talked about the potential effects of the cuts the sequester would impose.
After playing the clips, Hannity welcomed Ellison, who was in no mood to be chummy:
HANNITY: I guess that's what we can describe as staying on message, something the Democratic Party I would argue is very good at.
ELLISON: You're pretty good at it too.
HANNITY: Thank you.
ELLISON: Quite frankly you are the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen.
HANNITY: I can't hear you.
ELLISON: You heard me.
HANNITY: No, say it again. I didn't hear you.
ELLISON: What you just displayed was not journalism, It was yellow journalism. It wasn't anything close to trying to tell the American people what's really going on, and I mean, it's just shocking.
Things did not get friendlier from there. Ellison also called Hannity a "shill for the Republican party," an "immoral" man, and said he was violating "every journalistic ethic" in the book. Eventually, Hannity cut the interview short, saying it was a "waste of time" to continue.

Fox News Ratings: O'Reilly, Hannity See Huge Drop-Off In February Demo Numbers

Fox Ratings
There was good news and bad news for Fox News in the February cable news ratings.
The good news? Fox News once again had the top 13 programs — much better than January, where it failed to sweep the top 10 for the first time in years and had its lowest ratings in the all-important A25-54 demo since 2001. "Special Report" also celebrated 50 months as the top-rated show in its hour.
The bad news? Shep Smith, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity all saw huge drops in the demo from the same point in 2012. Hannity fell a staggering 35 percent from 2012, and O'Reilly fell 26 percent. It was the two mens' worst performance in the demo since 2006 and 2008, respectively. True, 2012 was an election year — but even though MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews also saw their ratings decrease, their ratings fell by much smaller percentages.
Several CNN programs, including Anderson Cooper's and Erin Burnett's, bucked this trend by growing their ratings. CNN also touted the much slimmer gap between itself and MSNBC as compared to 2012. Even so, MSNBC topped CNN in total day, primetime and in the demo.

The world's biggest gun show, NO BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIRED 27FEB13

THE U.S. has a chance to do something this Spring to help reduce gun violence in America and in conflict zones around the world. Pres Obama needs to hear from us, tell him to tell the American people the nra is lying about the Arms Trade Treaty and that America has a moral responsibility to do what it can to help lessen gun violence in the U.S. and around the world. Click the link.....
Amnesty International
Are some of these gun show exhibitors supplying bad guys?
Dear Craig,

Need an AK-47? How about 6,000 for an army of child soldiers?

The International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which concluded last week in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, bills itself as one of the biggest arms bazaars in the world. However, among the more than 1,100 companies exhibiting at IDEX were manufacturers whose products have made it a lot easier for bad guys to wreak havoc. After all, there are currently no global checks in place to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

We've got less than a month to go before states convene at the United Nations in New York to finalize a historic Arms Trade Treaty. Take action now to make this Arms Trade Treaty strong so that no more weapons can fall through gaping loopholes and into dangerous hands.

Amnesty International has been able to trace the flow of weapons from manufacturers exhibiting at IDEX to the very weapons used in countries where serious human rights abuses have taken place.

There were no checks in place then to stop the free flow of weapons:
  • from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, even though the country was embroiled in a brutal civil war that lasted three decades
  • or from China to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where both armed groups and government forces alike use child soldiers 
  • or from the United States to Bahrain, like the tear gas used by government forces against peaceful protesters
But we can ensure that there are checks in place now if we urge the Obama administration to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

All the while, NRA officials keep fueling a false#gunversation about the Arms Trade Treaty claiming that its purpose is to infringe on American gun owners rights -- knowing full well that it has no impact on gun rights within U.S. borders whatsoever. In fact, the gun lobby will be in D.C. today continuing to spread their misinformation campaign during Congressional hearings about gun control.

So if NRA officials have their way and the Arms Trade Treaty is weakened, then we would see more children recruited as soldiers, more women raped in conflict zones, more families driven from their homes and more senseless deaths.

We've got to make sure the record is set straight before March 18, when Arms Trade Treaty negotiations begin. We must do all we can to close dangerous loopholes, like the one that makes international gun shows an open bazaar for the suppliers of warlords and human rights criminals.

The Arms Trade Treaty has the potential to protect families from gun violence on a global scale. Show President Obama that you care about protecting families worldwide against gun violence by taking action now.

Your voice makes a difference in the global gun debate.

Thank You,

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

No background checks needed 

A strong Arms Trade Treaty would help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.

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© 2013 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400

BREAKING: Shell abandons 2013 Arctic Drilling! & Shell Arctic Drilling Operations Suspended For 2013 27FEB13

shell has decided it will not drill in the Arctic in 2013!!!!! That is quite a victory for the wildlife residing in and on the shores of the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea, due in no small part to the pressure put on the Obama administration to hold shell to their environmental, legal and financial "commitments" to drill in the Arctic responsibly and safely. Well done to all who have participated  in the various campaigns, sent e mails, made phone calls, donated to environmental groups involved in this fight. It ain't over, and shell will put their corporate spin on this, but we are gaining ground! From Greenpeace and HuffPost....

Just a few hours ago, Shell announced that it is giving up on its plans to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in 2013.

That means no drilIing in the pristine waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this year. It’s amazing news. Not just for the Arctic, but for the environment. And your support made it possible.

I’m so inspired right now. The fight isn’t over though. We’ll be working in the days, weeks and months ahead to make sure that the good news doesn’t stop here by urging President Obama to make the Arctic off limits to industrial exploitation, forever.

But for the moment it’s all about enjoying what we’ve accomplished together. Thank you so much for all the work you have done to protect the Arctic.


Philip Radford
Greenpeace Executive Director

Shell Arctic Drilling Operations Suspended For 2013

Shell Arctic Drilling
In this Jan. 3, 2013 file photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, two life rafts sit on the beach adjacent as the conical drilling unit Kulluk sits grounded 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter, File)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An effort to give the United States a new source of domestic oil and refill the trans-Alaska pipeline took a hit Wednesday when Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced it will suspend offshore petroleum drilling in the Arctic Ocean for 2013.
Shell drilled last year in both the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast and in the Beaufort Sea off the state's north coast.
But problems before and after drilling, culminating with the grounding of one of Shell's two drill ships, left in doubt whether the company could make repairs in time to drill in 2013. Shell Oil President Marvin Odum answered that question with the announcement that the company would "pause" exploration to prepare equipment and vessels for drilling in the future.
"We've made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term program that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way," Odum said. "Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012."
Environmental groups bitterly oppose Arctic drilling in the rich ecosystem that supports endangered whales, polar bears, walrus and ice seals. They claim not enough is known about drilling's effects on an ecosystem already being hammered by climate change, with summer sea ice continuing to be lost on a record pace. They also say oil companies have not demonstrated the ability to clean up a petroleum spill in ice-choked waters.
"This is the first good decision we've seen from Shell," said Mike LeVine, an Alaska spokesman for Oceana, a conservation group. "Given the disastrous 2012 season, our government agencies must take advantage of this opportunity to reassess the way decisions are made about our ocean resources and to reconsider the commitment to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean."
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 26.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exist below Arctic waters. The vast underwater reservoirs could be linked to shore by underwater pipelines and then overland to the trans-Alaska pipeline.
Shell in 2008 spent $2.1 billion on petroleum leases in the Chukchi Sea and estimates that it has spent $5 billion on Arctic drilling. Shell contends that it can drill safely, its two drill ships completed top-hole drilling on two wells last year, but the company was bedeviled by problems in 2012.
The company's spill response plan required that a response barge be on site before drill bits dug into petroleum-bearing zones. That never happened. A key piece of equipment, a containment dome, was damaged in testing off the Washington coast.
Seasonal ice in the Chukchi Sea delayed Shell vessels from moving north. When Chukchi drilling began Sept. 9, a major ice floe forced Shell's drill ship off a prospect less than 24 hours later.
When the drilling season ended, the Coast Guard announced that it had found 16 safety violations on the Noble Discoverer, which drilled in the Chukchi, when it docked in Seward, Alaska. The Coast Guard said last week that it has turned its investigation of the vessel over to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The problems crested in late December when the Kulluk, a circular barge with a diameter as long as nearly three basketball courts, broke away from its towing vessel on its way to a shipyard in Washington state.
The Kulluk on New Year's Eve ran aground off a remote Alaska Island near Kodiak Island. It was pulled off six days later but requires repairs. The Kulluk left under tow Tuesday for the Aleutians Island port of Dutch Harbor, where it will be loaded onto another vessel for transport to a shipyard in Asia. The Noble Discoverer also will undergo maintenance and repairs in Asia.
Shell's spill response plan calls for two drill ships to be in the Arctic so that if one is damaged in a blowout, the other could drill a relief well.
After the Kulluk was refloated, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his department would perform an "expedited, high-level assessment" of the summer drilling season. Salazar said the review would pay special attention to challenges that Shell encountered with the Kulluk, with the Noble Discoverer and with the company's oil spill response barge. The Interior Department oversees offshore drilling permits, and Salazar said drilling in frontier areas such as the Arctic demand a higher level of scrutiny.
The Coast Guard also is reviewing the Kulluk grounding. Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo said the investigation will look at every aspect of the incident, from possible failure of materials to evidence of misconduct, inattention or negligence.
Shell has said the grounding was a maritime transport problem. Drilling in 2012, Odum said Wednesday, was completed safely.
"Shell remains committed to building an Arctic exploration program that provides confidence to stakeholders and regulators, and meets the high standards the company applies to its operations around the world," Odum said. "We continue to believe that a measured and responsible pace, especially in the exploration phase, fits best in this remote area."
Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said drilling could resume in 2014.
"It's possible, depending on the result of ongoing reviews and the readiness or our rigs, and frankly the confidence that lessons learned from our 2012 drilling program have been fully incorporated.
Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is gearing up for confirmation hearings next month on Salazar's announced replacement, Sally Jewell, said Shell's decision to postpone exploratory drilling program shows that the company is committed to safety.
"This pause – and it is only a pause in a multi-year drilling program that will ultimately provide great benefits both to the state of Alaska and the nation as a whole – is necessary for Shell to repair its ships and make the necessary updates to its exploration plans that will ensure a safe return to exploration soon," Murkowski said.

What do you call a Pope who resigns?


26 February 2013

Fox Talking Impeachment Of 'President Panic' Over Sequester 26FEB13

HERE'S some pathetic dribble from the right wing neocon conspiracy nuts fox "news" subjects the nation to just to keep their viewers ignorant. From Crooks&Liars....

Judge Andrew Napolitano has now added “impeachment” to the list of usual Republican attacks on President Obama over the looming sequester cuts. During a visit to Fox & Friends, he and Steve Doocy went through some familiar right-wing myths about the sequester – that it’s just a small reduction in future spending and therefore no biggie – and went on to accuse “President Panic” of deliberately sabotaging the budget – i.e. making the cuts as damaging as possible in order to punish Republicans.
DOOCY: As Commander-in-Chief, he should be making any future reductions in future spending as easy as possible. But instead he and his cabinet are out there and they’re scaring the living daylights out of people. …He’s become President Panic.
NAPOLITANO: …This is almost an impeachable offense. If the President is deciding how to spend money in order to hurt us, rather than in order to provide us with the services for which we have paid, and for which we have hired him, he is doing the opposite of doing of what he has taken an oath to do. He has taken an oath “faithfully,” I underscore the word… to uphold the laws. That means make the government work. Don’t make it painful. Find a way to make it work on 2% less.
…Instead, he wants to cut in a way that’s gonna make us stand on line for five hours at the airport, quote, to teach the Republicans a lesson.
While the Foxies were busy maligning the president, they didn’t have time left to consider how the sequester might affect everyday people not earning television-pundit salaries and not with a partisan agenda: Teaching jobs and education funding are at risk; unemployment insurance benefits and aid for Hurricane Sandy victims are also subject to sequester. The Bipartisan Policy Center reported the following:
(T)he immediate and across the board nature of the cuts, along with their magnitude concentrated in a seven-month period, will impair economic growth as the year progresses. At BPC, we estimated last year that the sequester would reduce 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) growth by half a percentage point, and would cost the economy approximately one million jobs over the next two years. More recent estimates released by the CBO and Macroeconomic Advisors have roughly confirmed these projections.
I couldn’t find anything in their report that said these would only happen if President Obama deliberately jiggered the cuts.
Oh, and while they were salivating at the thought of impeachment (and never mind THAT cost!), nobody mentioned that President Obama has already put forth a plan to replace the sequester that includes over $930 billion in spending cuts and $580 billion in new tax revenue.

Along Party Lines, Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel As The Next Secretary Of Defense 26FEB13

CONGRATULATIONS SEC OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL! Congratulations to the US Military too! From NPR...

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who has been nominated to be the next secretary of defense.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who has been nominated to be the next secretary of defense.
Ron Sachs /DPA /LANDOV
Update at 5:10 p.m. ET. Hagel Confirmed:
After an unprecedented filibuster by Republicans, the nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense prevailed, Tuesday afternoon.
With a vote of 58 to 41, the Senate acted mostly along party lines to confirm Hagel.
Hagel was a two-term Republican senator from Nebraska. As our friend Ken Rudin explained in January, Hagel served in Vietnam, where he won two Purple Hearts and he will become the first Vietnam veteran to head up the U.S. Department of Defense
When Obama made the nomination, he said in Hagel he had found someone who understood "the consequences of decisions we make in this town."
The Senate Armed Services Committee had voted earlier to approve the Hagel nomination, but Republicans held up an up-or-down vote in front of the whole Senate citing issues with Hagel's stand on Iran.
Hagel is replacing Leon Panetta.
Update at 5:14 p.m. ET. Four Republicans Join Democrats:
NPR's David Welna tells us that:
"No Democrats opposed the nomination, and four Republicans – Johanns, Cochran, Shelby and Paul – voted to confirm."
Our Original Post Continues:
The Senate voted today to stop debating and allow the nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense to come for a vote before the full Senate.
Hagel is expected to be confirmed.
As we reported, Senate Republicans took the unprecedented step of filibustering his nomination. On Valentines Day, they voted 58 to 40 to continue debate on his nomination.
Today, the Senate voted 71 to 27 in favor of cloture.
As they detailed in a letter to President Obama, Republicans oppose Hagel in part because of what they say is an untenable position on Iran.
Fifteen Republicans called for Obama to withdraw the nomination. The White House refused.
Reuters reports the nomination is now expected to come before the full Senate either later today or Wednesday. Hagel needs at least 51 votes to be confirmed.

C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general, dies at 96 25FEB13

C. EVERETT KOOP, Christian, conservative, former U.S. Surgeon General during the reagan administration. He lived his life, lived his faith, for the benefit of others without letting everyone know just how much he and his family were sacrificing. We are all better off because he was among us. Rest in Peace good Doctor. 


C. Everett Koop, the former surgeon general of the United States who started the government’s public discussion of AIDS during the Reagan administration, died Feb. 25 at his home in Hanover, N.H. He was 96.
A spokeswoman for the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth confirmed his death but did not disclose the cause.
Dr. Koop was the most recognized surgeon general of the 20th century. He almost always appeared in the epauleted and ribboned blue or white uniform denoting his leadership of the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. With his mustacheless beard, deep voice and grim expression, he looked like a Civil War admiral or, as some cartoonists suggested, a refugee from a Gilbert and Sullivan musical.
The theatrical appearance, however, masked a fierce self-confidence, an unyielding commitment to professional excellence, and a willingness to challenge the expectations of his patrons.
A 64-year-old retired pediatric surgeon at the time Ronald Reagan nominated him in 1981, Dr. Koop had no formal public-health training. His chief credential was that he was a socially conservative, devout Christian physician who had written a popular treatise against abortion. His confirmation took eight months. Few people expected him to talk about homosexuality, anal intercourse, condoms and intravenous drug use when almost nobody else in the Reagan administration would even utter the word “AIDS.”
Dr. Koop, however, believed information was the most useful weapon against HIV at a time when there was little treatment for the infection and widespread fear that it might soon threaten the general population. In May 1988, he mailed a seven-page brochure, “Understanding AIDS,” to all 107 million households in the country.
“He was a guy who surprised everybody,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was Dr. Koop’s chief tutor in AIDS matters and became a close friend. “People expected one thing and they not only got another thing, they got someone who was amazingly effective.”
Among AIDS activists Dr. Koop became an unlikely hero, although some came to think that his sexually explicit talk tended to further stigmatize gay men.
“Most of us thought that a huge part of how the crisis grew exponentially was that those in power chose to ignore it for as long as they could,” recalled Peter Staley, a founding member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. “He was the only person in that administration who spoke the truth when it came to AIDS.”
Dr. Koop was also a tireless campaigner against tobacco. As surgeon general, he released a report in 1982 that attributed 30 percent of all cancer deaths to smoking. He wrote that nicotine was as addictive as heroin, warned against the hazards of secondhand smoke and updated the warning labels on cigarette packs.
Michael C. Fiore, founder of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, once said Dr. Koop’s reports on smoking “totally changed the landscape” of tobacco control.
He was among the last survivors of a small generation of American doctors forced by World War II into highly responsible roles at very young ages. After the war, many became academic physicians and researchers who helped fuel the explosion of medical therapeutics in the second half of the 20th century. In Dr. Koop’s case, the new frontier was pediatric surgery, a specialty that barely existed when he entered it. He became one of the half-dozen leading practitioners in the world.
A Coney Island epiphany
Charles Everett Koop, an only child, was born in Brooklyn, on Oct. 14, 1916. His father, who did not finish high school, was an officer at a bank. His mother occasionally assisted in at-home surgical operations in the neighborhood by administering anesthesia — a task the surgeon often farmed out to a responsible bystander. His paternal grandparents lived with his family, and his maternal grandparents and many cousins lived nearby.
Dr. Koop claimed he first expressed a desire to become a surgeon when he was 6 years old.
His maternal grandfather used to take him to Coney Island. In a conversation in 2007, Dr. Koop said this was not only for the entertainment, but also to teach the boy how to spot hustlers and grifters. He recalled an unusual sideshow — a display of premature infants in incubators, attended by nurses from the New York Foundling Hospital.
“I often thought how much of my life I spent with my hands in one of those incubators,” he said. “Every time I would go and work on a baby, in the beginning, I’d have these reminiscences of Coney Island, where I first saw them.”
Dr. Koop attended Dartmouth College on a football scholarship but had to give up the sport after suffering an eye injury. He majored in zoology and graduated in 1937. That fall he entered Cornell University’s Medical College, in New York City.
He graduated in 1941 and did an internship in Philadelphia before starting surgical training at the University of Pennsylvania. By the time his residency began, six months after the Pearl Harbor attack, much of the surgical staff had entered military service.
That left a large amount of work to the surgical residents, and Dr. Koop proved to be an unusually skilled and energetic one. Within six weeks of starting on July 1, 1942, he was removing gallbladders and doing unassisted partial resections of stomachs — his supervisors notified but not present.
Although he was married, and by 1944 a father as well, he spent nearly all his time at the hospital. He estimated that he did as many operations in four years as residents do in “seven or eight years — there was nobody around to do the surgery.”
He also did much of the work on a project assigned to Penn by the War Department to study the use of liquid gelatin as a substitute for blood plasma for the treatment of shock in battlefield casualties.
“I took to that investigational work very readily,” recalled Dr. Koop, who ultimately wrote a thesis and earned a doctor of science degree for the research. “I was my own guinea pig. I would operate after having lost 1,000 ccs of blood and taken 500 ccs of gelatin, and then recorded all my vital signs. I have probably taken my body weight in gelatin, intravenously.”
He and another Penn doctor were scheduled to run a clinical trial of the plasma substitute in China. Five days before they were to leave, however, the Army told them it wanted military physicians to run the study. Dr. Koop and his colleague unpacked their bags. The airplane carrying the Army researchers disappeared over the Atlantic.
Early achievements in surgery
After the war ended, the surgeon in chief at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania suggested that Dr. Koop take a job as the head of surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When he assumed the position in January 1946, he was not yet 30.
At the time, general surgeons, or specialty surgeons such as urologists, operated on infants and children without specific training in how their anatomy and physiology differed from adults. The only pediatric surgery program in the country was in Boston. Operations on newborns were rare and mortality was high.
“I went to the Children’s Hospital to do pediatric surgery. I spent the first 18 months doing pediatric anesthesia — trying to get rid of the barriers that were making it impossible to get living babies out of the operating room,” Dr. Koop said in 2007.
Often there wasn’t even appropriate equipment. Before an operation on a newborn, he and the anesthesiologist would make a tube for the windpipe by cutting the smallest urine catheter down to size, filing the edges smooth with an emery board, and then inserting a wire and boiling it to get the desired curvature.
Dr. Koop insisted that his team provide all the postoperative care to surgical patients, much to the consternation of pediatricians at CHOP old enough to be his father. In 1956, he created what was reputedly the first neonatal surgical intensive care unit in the country.
Over four decades of practice, he improved the technique for hernia repairs (and did 17,000 of them). He developed a correction for a congenital defect known as esophageal atresia, and a method for draining fluid from the brain into the abdomen for infants with hydrocephalus. He separated several sets of conjoined twins, including, in 1977, a pair joined at the heart in which only one baby could be saved. He trained dozens of pediatric surgeons who went on to head departments elsewhere.
After retiring as surgeon general in 1989, Dr. Koop lectured, wrote an autobiography, and in the 1990s with other investors established a Web site,, that provided medical information. The enterprise proved an embarrassment, however, when it turned out some of the information was paid advertising. It no longer exists.
President Bill Clinton awarded Dr. Koop the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. In recent years, he was a scholar at an institute that bears his name at Dartmouth Medical School. Its purpose is “promoting the health and well-being of all people.”
Dr. Koop’s wife of 67 years, the former Elizabeth Flanagan, died in 2007. She had worked as a secretary to support the couple while her husband was in medical school.
Survivors include his wife, the former Cora Hogue, whom he married in 2010; three children from his first marriage, Allen Koop, the Rev. Norman Koop and Elizabeth Thompson; and eight grandchildren.
A son from his first marriage, David Koop, was killed in a mountaineering accident in New Hampshire in 1968 when he was a 20-year-old student at Dartmouth. Dr. Koop and his first wife later wrote a book, “Sometimes Mountains Move,” about their experience of grieving in the hope it might help other parents who had lost children.