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.


Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

      ♦ Most folks who want to get past the mainstream media's corporate-controlled gatekeepers know how to do it, with a few clicks of the mouse. That's how you landed here, or at any of the hundreds of blogs better than ours. But what's needed now is something no blog can provide — a way to get past the gatekeepers, and reach the 90% of America who don't read blogs, don't follow politics with a passion. A lot of people, most people, just want to know what's going on, but they don't want to spend hours finding out. They just want to watch or read the news. That isn't really an unreasonable expectation.
      There are 200,000,000 ordinary schmoes in America who watch a newscast or read a newspaper once in a while, and think they're reasonably well-informed. And in your dad or grand-dad's time maybe that was enough. But this ain't your grand-dad's American media. The newscasts and newspapers will continue to present "fair and balanced" reports fairly balancing lies against facts, and illuminating nothing with weeks of headlines covering nothingness as news — as we saw in the "debt ceiling" debate, or so many other non-issues and fake issues.
      I still believe most Americans are decent people, and they'll make the right decisions on political matters, if they're given the facts. But that's the ultimate "if" — Americans are never given the facts. The more mainstream "news" you watch, the less you're connected with facts.
      The only solution is to establish a real news service that's widely and easily available, something like CNN but with a willingness to actually cover the news. Until that happens, we'll never be able to solve the myriad other problems America and the world face. So long as we're stuck with the hollow, corrupt, lying media we have, we're just plain screwed.
      If you'd like to address this problem and you have a few million bucks to invest, drop me a note.

      ♦ I've never seen Bill Maher's cable show — it costs money I don't have and requires a cable subscription I don't even want. But the snippets of Maher that I've heard or read usually make good sense, like this one.

      ♦ There's no end to the schmuckiness of the Presidential empty suit, and I just grow too weary to blog about it. Two and a half years into giving the Republicans everything they want, White House spokesthing Dan Pfieffer says Barack is about to grow a pair, but I'll believe it when I see 'em.

      ♦ Everyone should reinvent themselves once in a while, like my friend Bill.

      ♦ The Washington Post is lying.

      ♦ The Wall Street Journal is lying.

      ♦ The San Jose Mercury News, almost certainly by way of Associated Press, is lying.

      ♦ Question: Does PBS ever present comedy or drama — anything fictional — that isn't from England? I like some of the stuff they import from the Beeb, but criminy, maybe once, we could get a comedy or drama set in the USofA?

More news and daily updates at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

Georgia deputies are charged with beating a handcuffed man

California police chief says photographers can be detained for taking pictures "with no apparent aesthetic value"

Police in Texas are allowed to destroy evidence

Fired North Carolina police officer charged in robbery

Florida cop is charged with aggravated domestic assault with a deadly weapon

Oklahoma police officer charged with taking nearly $1,700 at traffic stops

New Mexico cop, charged in road rage incident, is ordered to surrender all of his weapons

Arizona school cop is charged with sexual abuse of teenaged girl

Kentucky sheriff accused of fondling two former female employees and threatening them at gunpoint and then trying to hide evidence

Texas cop charged with sexual assault on 12-year-old relative

Baltimore Police Commissioner says 50 officers implicated in a kickback scandal with a towing company and another cop charged with running a large-scale heroin operation are just a few bad apples

North Carolina sheriff's captain charged with prostitution

Fired South Carolina jailer is charged with a sex crime involving a 7-year-old girl

Maryland deputy charged with assault

Massachusetts corrections officer arraigned on assault & battery, vandalism counts

Louisiana police officer charged with possessing child porn

Wisconsin cop is fired thirteen months after 90mph fatal red light-running wreck

Former Missouri police officer charged in murders, rapes

Ohio deputy arrested on drug charges

Texas deputy, wife convicted in extortion case

Kansas cop charged with hunting without a license

Kentucky jailer charged with soliciting cash or sexual favors to get an inmate illegally out of jail

Mississippi school cop pleads guilty to exploitation of a child

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Tuesday, Aug. 23, 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, Aug. 9, 2011

      ♦ The recall elections are today in Wisconsin, and we the people could use some good news. If Dems take back the Senate, it'll help stall the archer-than-arch right-wing agenda of our state's loony Governor, Scott Walker, whose own recall will come calling early next year.
      I'm cautiously optimistic, as there hasn't been the flood of lying millionaire-funded ads I'd expected (there are plenty of those lying ads, of course, but they haven't been as omnipresent as you might expect). Nobody should be surprised if the anti-Democracy activists of the Republican Party find a way to steal another election, of course — that's what they do, and they're good at it — but my fingers are crossed.
      If you're in Wisconsin, in a district with a recall election, please vote. Generally, when elections are honest and the electorate comes out, our side wins.

      ♦ A Kansas law intended to "punish" Planned Parenthood for advocating for abortion rights has been blocked by a federal judge.

      ♦ Fox has ordered a 13-episode sequel to Carl Sagan's iconic Cosmos docu-series, with Seth MacFarlane and Sagan's widow Ann Druyan producing, and Neil deGrasse Tyson hosting. Sounds terrific, but it's commercial television, so expect to be disappointed.

      ♦ Check the ground turkey in your freezer. We had turkey that was plotting to kill us.

      ♦ More avoidance of the obvious question about US Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona).

      ♦ Obama's terrorism strategy calls for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to be monitored by the government.

      ♦ Texans love Governor Rick Perry because "it takes balls to execute an innocent man."

      ♦ To absolutely no-one's surprise, there may have been an organized smear campaign against the maid who alleged rape by former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

      ♦ President Obama is perpetually puzzled, and I'm puzzled too, puzzled that there's still a "D" after his name. Really, the only aspect of the overhyped debt ceiling showdown that intrigued me was, wondering just how much Obama would give away. Turned out to be even more than I'd expected.

      ♦ Lefti said it well: "In a familiar pattern, 'NATO' (most likely the U.S.) has now bombed Libyan state television, just as they did in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan (not state TV in the latter case but rather Al Jazeera TV), with the same specious claim of military justification, that TV was being used to "'intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them'."

      ♦ "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the grotesquely un-American rule that punished gays for gayness, hasn't ended, despite all the headlines claiming that it has. DADT has sixty days left in its weary, unjust life, after two years of hemming and hawing by Barack Obama, who could have wiped away this abomination with an executive order on his first day in office. As with every other issue, though, Obama has no interest in doing the right thing, just the politically expedient thing.

      ♦ Here's an interesting account of the Buffalo Courier-Express, where the staff refused to acquiesce to being purchased by Rupert Murdoch and systematically skinned alive. To its lasting credit, the paper shut down instead.

      ♦ This is what passes for justice in America. Makes me want to scream, and you and I both know that the only thing that's really unusual in this story is that the story has been reported.

More news and daily updates at  Dr Sputnik's Society Pages

Cops you won't see on TV's COPS
Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

Massachusetts cop gets 6+ years for child sexual assault

Louisiana cop arrested for domestic violence

California cop gets probation for pepper spraying handcuffed suspect

"We can do this the easy way and you can take us to your house to look around, or we can detain you for six hours while we get a warrant and go to your house and shoot your dog"

Chilling video captures man's cries for help as he is Tased and beaten to death by police

Guards and supervisors at Florida juvenile lockup never sought emergency care for a teenager who died after screaming in pain and vomiting for hours

Police shooting triggers London riot

Kentucky jailer is jailed for allegedly taking cash and sex to let prisoners out of jail

Pennsylvania deputy sheriff arrested for assaulting romantic rival

Georgia jailer arrested in sex sting

California deputy charged with having sex with a minor is jailed after posting threats on Facebook

5 New Orleans cops guilty in post-Katrina Danziger Bridge shootings, cover-up

Former Minnesota cop gets 90 days in jail for strangulation assault of girlfriend

California prison guard is arrested for pharmacy armed robbery

Alabama police officer is arrested on burglary, theft charges

Iowa police officer is arrested for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman if she didn’t go to his apartment and sexually assaulting her there

Another Florida police officer is arrested and charged with official misconduct

Virginia police officer arrested on theft charges

Wife files order of protection against Michigan cop accused of domestic violence

Texas cop gets 6+ years for his role in cocaine caravan

Michigan cop is arrested for domestic assault

More bad cops  

Mystery links, mostly just for fun  
Tuesday, Aug. 9, 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  

July 2011 Our current posts Sept. 2011

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For in-depth news updates, we recommend Media Matters, ThinkProgress, and Washington Monthly.

A tip o' the hat to A.K. for CSS help, Daniel D., the letter Z, The Agitator, Bad Attitudes, Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog, JR Mooneyham, Newshoggers, Pharyngula, Photography is Not a Crime, Progressive Review, and Right Wing Watch.

Our website is prepared on a refurbished PC bought cheap and occasionally repaired by the good guys at Madison's Computer Store West. Typed and edited using Google Docs. Chairs from Goodwill, chips from Hy-Vee. Site hosted at the censor-free and reliably on-line pair.com, with an emeritus hat-tip to our first web-home at pitas.com, a dang fine place for new bloggers to start.

With no thanks at all to a few faux progressive sites that probably do more harm than good, including the ethically empty Huffington Post and the ceaselessly snarky Wonkette; with a full-frontal fart in the face to Francis Boyle, makethemaccountable.com, RadicalViews.org, free-lance reporter Sherwood Ross, TomDispatch.com, and anyone else who's added us to their email list without even asking (the answer would've been no); and with an enthusiastically flipped finger to the closeted Republican mouthpiece Politico.

The blog's homepage is unknownnews.org, and we welcome your comments at unknownnews@inbox.com. Our Twitter trail is twitter.com/unknownnews.

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Recommended sites for gathering unknown or underreported news:
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