Welcome to UNKNOWN NEWS "News that's not known, or not known enough."
Helen & Harry's cranky weblog of news and opinion.

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Like the URL says, this website is about unknown news.

Our news comes only from mainstream, professional journalists or (rarely) other sources we trust entirely, with no nuttiness and no interest in the same news you see everywhere else.

What we believe

We believe in liberty and justice for all, so of course, we oppose many US government policies. This doesn't mean we're anti-American, redneck scum, pinko commies, militia members, or terrorist-sympathizers. It means we believe in freedom, as more than merely a cliché.

We believe you have the right to live your own life as you choose, and others have the equal right to live their lives as they choose. It's not complicated.

We believe freedom leads to peace, progress, and prosperity, while its opposite -- oppression -- leads to war, terrorism, poverty, and misery.

We believe it's preposterously stupid to hate people because of their appearance, their race or nationality, their religion or lack of religion, how they have sex with other consenting adults, etc. There are far more apropos reasons to hate most people.

We believe in questioning ourselves, our assumptions, each other -- and we especially believe in questioning authority (the more authority, the more questions). We believe obedience is a fine quality in dogs and young children, but not in adults.

Like America's right-wingers, we believe in individual responsibility, hard work to get ahead, and stern punishment for serious crimes. We believe big government should not be blindly trusted.

But unlike most right-wing leaders, we mean it.

Like America's left-wingers, we believe in equal treatment under law, war as a last (not first) resort, and sensible stewardship of natural resources. We believe big business should not be blindly trusted.

But unlike most left-wing leaders, we mean it.

Like libertarians, we believe it's wrong and reprehensible to arrest people for what they think, believe, look like, wear, eat, smoke, drink, inhale, inject, or otherwise do to themselves.

But unlike many libertarians, we're not obsessed with the gold standard, we don't believe incorporation is humanity's highest achievement, and we don't believe everything in life comes down to dollars and cents. We've read and enjoyed Ayn Rand's novels, but we understand that they're works of fiction.

We're skeptical, and we're sick of so-called 'journalists' who aren't skeptical at all.

A reader asks, what are our solutions?

We propose no solutions except common sense, which is never common. We like the principles of democracy, and the ideals broadly described as 'American'. The US Constitution is a fine and workable framework for solutions, when it's actually read and thoughtfully understood by intelligent statesmen and women. So, no manifestos from us. We don't dream that big, and if there's one thing the world doesn't need it's yet another manifesto.

Our suggestion is: think.

A fact-based instead of faith-based approach leads to solutions for most of the recurring issues of our time, from abortion to global climate change, pollution to universal health care, careful but real regulation of industry and economy, hunger, war, terror, human rights for humans not for corporations, science not religious doctrine in public schools, equal protection and prosecution under law, etc. Approach problems without glorifying stupidity, without demonizing intelligence, and answers usually come into focus.

These pages are published by Harry and Helen Highwater, happily married low-income nom de plumes and rabble-rousers from Madison, Wisconsin (with a few friends scattered around the world helping out).

We try to spotlight news that hasn't gotten enough (or appropriate) attention in American media, along with our opinions and yours.

We bang our keyboards against the wall, because it doesn't hurt as much as banging our heads.


February 2011 Our current posts April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

      ♦ Republicans propose insanity, and Democrats propose a compromise to meet insanity half-way, time after time after time. What we the people want is irrelevant, and of course the next proposal of insanity and the next compromise are coming soon.

      ♦ I don't think many people who read our tiny blog are ignorant enough to believe global warming is a hoax, but you might want to understand the phoniness of the "climate-gate" claims if you're stuck chatting with such fools at work or at family gatherings.

      ♦ Andres Serrano's Piss Christ has been vandalized at a French gallery, but the artwork will remain on display "so people can see what barbarians can do."

      ♦ Want a dose of optimism? The article at this link is more upbeat than the way my head usually works but I like that, need that, and I've played the video about twenty times. I'll admit (since it's obvious to anyone who reads our site) that I don't have nearly the optimism I once did, decades ago. I feel really pessimistic most of the time, but you know what? Pessimism doesn't change the world. Only optimism and action can do that.

      ♦ I wonder why, 'round Easter time, preachers don't talk much about the other holy people who, according to the Bible, got resurrected alongside Jesus?

More news at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Monday, April 25, 2011

Five women sue convicted former Alaska police officer over on-duty sexually assaults

Fired Pennsylvania police officer gets 30 months for insurance-fraud scheme

Tennessee sheriff's deputy arrested

Virginia police officer arrested for fraud

Michigan sheriff's sergeant charged with improper use of database

Cincinnati Police officer arrested for obstructing justice

Oregon jury awards woman $82K after wrongful arrest — she asked cop for his ID card

Apparently, state police in Michigan are using devices that allow them to slurp all sorts of data off your mobile phone

New Jersey police reportedly fired over 30 rounds to kill 8-month-old puppy — hitting homes and cars in terrified neighborhood

Another excessive force case levied against Denver police officers could cost the city $50,000

Florida cop is arrested for falsifying information

Former Chicago cop convicted of exploiting 90-year-old man

Texas jailer gets 27 months for beating inmate

Pennsylvania cop charged with lying to police

California sheriff's deputy arrested for alleged sex with girl

New Mexico jail guard arrested in abuse case

Kentucky jailer arrested for soliciting prostitution

Curiously un-named Texas sheriff's deputy arrested after allegations of asking for sexual favors

San Jose police hit with two lawsuits alleging excessive force

Florida deputy arrested, charged with armed robbery

Police beating of Las Vegas man caught on tape

South Carolina deputy arrested for gambling charges

California prison guard admits smuggling cell phones

Judge sets $10,000 bail for Florida deputy sheriff accused of armed robbery, battery

Kansas police officer in court on rape charge

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Monday, April 25, 2011


Mystery links are offered with no implied endorsement of whatever's at the other end. You may be shocked or disgusted, but we don't care. Links in red are not safe for work, and links in pink include audio and/or video.

More mystery links  

Monday, Mar. 18, 2011

      ♦ That Supreme Court election here in Wisconsin smells more and more skunky. Here's a quote from the senior Democratic Party observer on the election board in Waukesha County, where the disputed votes were mysteriously "discovered."
      "I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn't even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify [County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus]'s statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up."
      Hmmm. To work, democracy needs elections you don't have to wonder about. This ain't one of them, and the list of doubtful election results in recent years is depressingly long.
      Questions about the crookedness or incompetence (or both) of Nickolaus, a long-time Republican operative, stretch back to 2006, where seemingly fudged numbers in her county helped elect corrupt Republican AG J.B. Van Hollen over Democrat Kathleen Falk. Reports the thunderously dull local paper Wisconsin State Journal, "The results for the 2006 attorney general's race, for example, show 174,047 votes for either Democrat Kathleen Falk, Republican J.B. Van Hollen or write-in candidates, a total that is 17,243 votes higher than the total ballots cast recorded elsewhere in the results." Hmmm.

      ♦ Perpetually low-key, nice-guy talk show host Thom Hartmann lost his temper one day last week. I like Thom, but he should lose his temper more often, preferably without the apologies he offered afterwards.

      ♦ Obama orders Guantánamo prisoners transferred to next President. It's more top-notch work from The Onion, and I swear, without The Onion and The Daily Show I'd have lost my mind years ago.

      ♦ The next schmuck who suggests there's any analogy between household budgets and government budgets will get a bag of clumped-up kitty litter launched in his or her direction.

      ♦ August J. Pollak said it: "There are literally only two options here: either Donald Trump believes what he is saying, which makes him a racist crazy person, or he is merely pretending to be a racist crazy person in an effort to get more people to watch him on television.
      "In either case, NBC is paying a racist crazy person. Maybe people should start repeating that over and over until NBC says whether or not they explicitly approve of it."

More news at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Monday, April 18, 2011

California school guard is convicted of child molestation

Georgia police officer arrested for battery

North Carolina deputy charged with embezzlement

New York cop who killed college student in disputed shooting is named "Officer of the Year"

Mississippi police officer fired after arrest on drug charge in Texas

Hawaii prison guard sentenced to 18 months for sexually assaulting an inmate

Video shows Florida jail guard attacking school employee

Pennsylvania corrections guard accused of beating

Florida sheriff's sergeant charged with trafficking oxycodone and withholding information from a doctor

California deputy gets 20 years for seeking bribes

Former Pennsylvania police officer arrested, charged with assault

North Carolina cop is arrested for kidnapping and sexual assault

New York corrections officer busted in cocaine deal, prosecutors say

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Monday, April 18, 2011


Mystery links are offered with no implied endorsement of whatever's at the other end. You may be shocked or disgusted, but we don't care. Links in red are not safe for work, and links in pink include audio and/or video.

More mystery links  

Monday, April 11, 2011

      ♦ Take a deep breath and I'll tell you the story of Wisconsin's Supreme Court election (and yes, of course, it's obviously stupid to have elections for judges, especially at a state Supreme Court level).
      David Prosser, a rather vile Republican (but I repeat myself) won the primary a month and a half ago, by an enormous margin — 27 or 30 points, as I recall. He's the incumbent, and challenger Diane Kloppenberg was a virtual unknown with no campaign budget. Republican supporters for weeks filled the airwaves with brilliantly produced lying ads against her, and since most voters are not news junkies, I would have found it tremendously encouraging if Kloppenberg had lost by only ten points — that would indicate that a staggering 20% of the electorate had woken up and smelled the coffee in a month and a half. How often does that happen?
      But Kloppenberg didn't lose by ten points. Instead, it appeared for a day or so that she won by a few hundred votes, out of 1.5-million votes cast. And as I smiled, my loving wife explained what I probably should have known, "Repu:licans don't lose close elections, at least not without a hell of a fight." We wondered, but not for long, what slimy tactics the Republicans would pursue to win.
      Which brings us to Kathy Nickolaus, county clerk of Waukesha County. She's a long-time Republican operative, an employee of David Prosser's for eight years when she worked for the state's Republican Caucus, and as county clerk she's been criticized for excessive secrecy and shown questionable competence along the way. She says she forgot to "save" the data at some point during the count, though the software she'd used doesn't have a "save" function — it auto-saves, constantly. But adding in those "un-saved" votes, Prosser gets so many new votes instantly added to his tally that he not only wins the election, he wins by such a wide margin that the state's automatic recount procedure won't be triggered.
      No accusations here, as I'll need some serious and non-circumstantial evidence before making such accusations, but you'd have to be brain dead to have no suspicions. Just consider the silence of Prosser, usually a man eager for media time, in the day and a half between Kloppenberg's public claiming of victory and the bizarre announcement from Nickolaus. It's also peculiar that the news of this sudden flood of addition votes was first reported in right-wing media, not in real news media or local news media. All this seems hinky as hell, and even before finding this article I was wondering how Republicans would respond if things had gone the other way — if the "winner" was a Democrat, thanks to a "mistake" with a Democratic official's computer.
      So, poof, a major victory is wiped away instantly. It's exhausting, and it's predictable. And I'll further predict that Democrats will raise a ruckus, demand a recount, demand an investigation — but only for a while. Democrats are "reasonable," and soon they'll give up. Hell, I feel like giving up right now, and I'm not even a Democrat. And Republicans never concede anything, so these new results — whether rigged or real, who knows? — will stand.
      I am too old for this crap, but the battle goes on, and soon enough the battle will go on without me. It's the people against the rich and powerful, the battle that's been underlying all politics and all wars for centuries, and it's the battle that will continue for centuries, forever, after we're gone, after you're gone. Pick your side, and if you don't pick a side you're defacto working for the powerful against the people.

      ♦ Oh, and President Obama is running for re-election, offering four more years of doublecross and hopelessness. Obama will probably win re-election, as all the Republicans' candidates are demonstrably worse, and many millions of sane Americans will sigh loudly and vote against the Republican. If Obama wins, he'll win without the enthusiasm his followers had four years ago.
      As for me, I'll vote for the best candidate, which will be someone Green and honest, someone not at all Barack Obama. Short of time travel and actually showing some trace of backbone since 2009, I can't imagine what Obama could do to make me reconsider.
      Every time he opens his mouth in public, he uses his bully pulpit to reiterate right-wing talking points — as, for example, when the government shutdown was averted by giving Republicans huge budget cuts and the President's soundbyte is that we must all tighten our belts and live within our means, blah blah, bullsh*t. Or kicking unions and civil liberties in the teeth. Or a few days earlier, when he endorsed kangaroo court trials. On and on.
      Sorry to be meandering, so here, I'll get to the point:
      To those of us who don't buy the Republicans lies, those of us who see that the right-wing agenda is always, always about increasing wealth and freedom for the wealthy and increasing poverty and serfdom for the poor, Barack Obama is useless.

      ♦ Meanwhile, someone in the Obama administration has spoken out against Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker's anti-union and anti-education agenda. It's not the President, of course, but it's a few words from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and that's nice. I read the newspapers fairly regularly, and by my count this is exactly the second utterance from anyone in the Obama administration about Walker's months of Wisconsin wingnuttery.

      ♦ David Petraeus is being "seriously considered" to head the CIA. Why? Is Henry Kissinger unavailable?

      ♦ "I just want to know why the prosecutors who hid evidence, sent me to prison for something I didn't do and nearly had me killed are not in jail themselves. There were no ethics charges against them, no criminal charges, no one was fired and now, according to the Supreme Court, no one can be sued."
      Well, it's too obvious to explain it, but I'll answer the question. Laws are for little people, not for lawyers and prosecutors and politicians. Same as it's always been, and it'll stay that way for as long as we're willing to tolerate it.

More news at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Monday, April 11, 2011

Two Chicago police officers accused of sexual assault/rape

Utah family calls police out of concern for son leaving without taking his diabetic medicine; police run son off road and fatally shoot him

New Jersey police illegally detain honors student over cellphone footage

US Department of Justice launches formal civil-rights investigation into Seattle Police Department's "patterns" and "practices"

Curiously un-named Border Patrol agent arrested on marijuana charges

New York cop nearly doors cyclist, then chases and arrests her

Georgia cop busted with marijuana in his pants

Texas police officerpeppersprays baby squirrel, enrages middle schoolers

Missouri sheriff accused of distributingmeth

Kansas cops pay $27K settlement for excessive force and racial profiling

Video shows Pennsylvania police officer beating baseball fan

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Monday, April 11, 2011


Mystery links are offered with no implied endorsement of whatever's at the other end. You may be shocked or disgusted, but we don't care. Links in red are not safe for work, and links in pink include audio and/or video.

More mystery links  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

      ♦ If you're in Wisconsin, get off your butt and vote today. No excuses. Thank you.

      ♦ On a one-day temping assignment at a public elementary school last week, I found this in the photocopied daily class schedule, in the teachers' handbook:
      "8:15 Pledge of Allegiance (We live in a nation of freedom, and participation in the pledge is voluntary. Students who wish to participate should stand; others may remain seated, with no penalty.)"
      I don't know if that's district policy or just one principal who understands the concept of freedom, but wow — I remember lawsuits over kids who simply didn't want to participate in the daily indoctrination ritual, so reading that little parenthetical aside was really the brightest moment in my week.

      ♦ Twice in the past few days I found myself involuntarily exposed to CNN's alleged newscasts.
      In my first exposure to Certainly Not News, I endured twenty minutes of viral videos swiped from YouTube, accompanied by repetitive and slick CNN intro video that announces "You've gotta see this," and a ten-minute interview with one of the fake doctors who host a teevee show (sorry, I don't remember which one).
      In my second exposure, CNN presented what seemed to be a one-hour special on the wedding of Prince William, an event of next-to-no news significance which remains more than four weeks in the future.
      CNN's avoidance of the news is almost funny, but it's not. The utter abdication of American news media, including CNN, is why we have such a woefully un-informed electorate and why the stupidest crop of Republicans ever holds increasing power in DC and in many US states.

      ♦ Southern Beale said it perfectly: "If every piece of the discourse is suspect, if every 'grassroots' movement is assumed to be astroturf, if every 'man on the street' is just as likely to be a paid actor as a 'real person', doesn’t that cheapen the entire idea of public opinion? Doesn't that make public opinion completely worthless as a concept?"

      ♦ In Wisconsin, cops refused Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's order to arrest Democratic Senators.

      ♦ This is a quick and smart glance at a sliver of what's wrong in America, and you ought to read it.

More news at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Missouri deputy resigns after shooting pet Chihuahua, again and again

Colorado police officer is arrested for inappropriately touching 19-year-old woman during pat-down search

Off-duty Tennessee police officer is charged with assault on deputies

Former Pittsburgh detective charged in prostitution sting

Nevada police officer is charged with domestic battery and burglary

West Virginia police officer is charged with domestic battery

Alabama corrections officer charged with selling drugs at jail

Two former New Orleans police officers receive stiff sentences in Katrina killing

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Mystery links are offered with no implied endorsement of whatever's at the other end. You may be shocked or disgusted, but we don't care. Links in red are not safe for work, and links in pink include audio and/or video.

More mystery links  

March 2011 Our current posts May 2011

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