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Have we progressed or not?

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Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:00 pm

When compared to today, were the times better or worse for California during the mid-1950s? I suppose the question is open to debate, but for those of us who remember, here are some of the "better" points of the argument:

1. Dead bolts and alarms did not exist on the average home. Most mothers stayed home, raised their children and watched over their neighborhoods. Illegal drugs in middle-class areas, for the most part, were non-existent. Public schools had some of the best facilities in the country. Streets were constantly being repaired or improved.

2. Justice was swift and sane. If a barbaric criminal received the death penalty, there were no endless appeals. People expected their politicians to be honest and trustworthy. Journalists and attorneys were respected. Physicians had full control over treatment of their patients.

3. At age 18, males had two choices: The military or college. If they chose college, they would enter the service upon graduation. Thus every man, who was physically able, gave something back to his country. Californians took pride in their country's military.

4. Most people were married by age 22. Divorce was rare, with the exception being the Hollywood crowd. Unwed mothers were scorned. Almost every home had two parents. They took full responsibility for the behavior of their children.

5. Manufacturing jobs were plentiful with good pay and benefits. The main worry was war with the Russians. Fears about ozone holes, climate changes and declining populations of spotted owls simply not did not measure up to the threat of thermal nuclear annihilation. Californians were united in patriotism and purpose.

6. Color TVs were new on the market. At a starting price of $495, they were out of reach for the majority of citizens. Television shows were family affairs that could be very entertaining without being crude or vulgar. Rarely were more than four commercials seen during a half-hour program.

7. Cars were colorful, chrome-covered and powerful. Designs changed every year. People anticipated the fall introductions of new models. Manufacturers, (the vast majority being American), promised their products would be, "longer, lower and wider." No one worried about gas supplies or gas prices.

8. The popularity of rock 'n' roll was on the rise. Black "doo-wap" performers and calypso singers outnumbered their white counterparts. Their songs were heard throughout mainstream America. Financial success was the goal for most. People respected those who had "made it." Most wanted to imitate perceived luxury lifestyles, not condemn them. Competitiveness was "in." Victimization was "out." People expressed status by the make of cars they drove, the furs they wore or the color TV sets (with 36 months to pay of course) in their living rooms.

9. Men wore suits and women wore gloves when traveling by airplane. Men removed their hats and never wore them backwards. Outstanding airline service was taken for granted.

10. Cops were good. Criminals were bad. Women were respected and never slandered in popular songs. Allies of the United States were good. Enemies of the U.S. were bad. Movie theaters were quiet places where cell phones did not ring. Kids stayed in their seats and people did not talk during the performances. Respect for others was in vogue, and narcissism was a word rarely heard.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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Welcome to the discussion.

49 comments:

  • posted at 3:49 pm on Thu, May 21, 2009.

    Posts:

    Have we progressed? Clearly that's a rheorical question. Once upon a time we were a simple people. Now, we are more complicated. In fact: Long ago, man was a beast, and all that lived was the next days feast. Some might say, his time was short, but what a time he had, he would retort. He said, the key to life is not how long you live, it's how much life you can make it give. And so it was some time ago, life was short but time was slow. But then she came with her "sweet song", and off he ran that beast was gone. Where is he now, that beast of men -- not that that we miss his beastly sin -- he's still around, he hides within, then rears his ugly head again.

     
  • posted at 2:24 am on Thu, May 21, 2009.

    Posts:

    Make that "Connerly," and don't forget JC Watts. Just don't expect to see them on NBC News or daily in the NYT. Libs just can't have black people thinking for themselves.

     
  • posted at 2:20 am on Thu, May 21, 2009.

    Posts:

    Time to educate libs about black people with conservative views. Let's start with: Bill Cosby, Larry Elder, Jessie Lee Peterson, John McWhorter, Thomas Sowell, Ward Connelly, etc. etc. etc.

     
  • posted at 1:56 am on Thu, May 21, 2009.

    Posts:

    At least one of them currently running for office does, in fact, hold those beliefs, Leonard. But then, it's Georgia.http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-1765-Underground-Examiner~y2009m4d28-Georgia-Creationist-Party-Candidate-Neal-Horsley-runs-on-secessionist-platform

     
  • posted at 5:30 pm on Wed, May 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    dyan wrote on May 20, 2009 4:16 PM: It still angers me that white libs think people like me can't make it without their excuse-making. And I still can't believe that conservatives think it is OK to have sex with livestock.I mean, while we are all sitting around making up fictional beliefs for people we don't know....

     
  • posted at 11:16 am on Wed, May 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    Libs wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they were't making victims out of someone someplace. I graduated from nursing school without affirmative action. Therefore, I could then and now hold my head high that I was just as good as the gal standing next to me. It still angers me that white libs think people like me can't make it without their excuse-making. Talk about racism! I believe most of my sisters feel the same, but if libs are dumb enough to part the waters, hey who wouldn't take advantage of it? The end result, however, does not help one's self-esteem.

     
  • posted at 10:38 am on Wed, May 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    What it a perfect world then? No. Is it now? Far from it.

     
  • posted at 10:36 am on Wed, May 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    Those who hate didn't live it. Only victims of revisionist history.

     
  • posted at 8:37 am on Wed, May 20, 2009.

    Posts:

    Women were discriminated against in the workplace. Financial and societal pressures made women stay in abusive relationships. Blacks or any other minority had vitually no rights. Ah yes it was a great time for white males who were straight. I guess that is why Steve is so in love with the era. As for the rest of us, thank God or what ever you believe in that we have progressed and continue to do so.

     
  • posted at 4:46 pm on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Mrs S. I'm not surprised at what your're saying about Lodi. LA was a different environment. I can understand why people did and still do fear black people moving to their hoods. If you look at the cities with the largest black populations, they also have the largest violent crime rates. What people forget is most victims of crime are black as well. I remember the reactions to my father in Long Beach, (my mother would rent the houses). Once they realized he was a serviceman and exprienced his philisophy (treat others as you want to be treated) he was quickly accepted.

     
  • posted at 2:16 pm on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Gator wrote on May 17, 2009 2:28 PM:" I was Navy 1958 to 1962 and Blacks were in all ratings, I was on a Destroyer and on the diving crew on a Destroyer Tender… Working onboard ship or on Shore Patrol I saw almost no racism….Contrary to Dyan's unfounded insinuations, I don't think anyone here has suggested that the Navy was a bastion of racism in this period.I believe that Dyan was trying to employ a straw horse in this regards. The whole episode is just another reminder of the hazards of engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

     
  • posted at 2:11 pm on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    dyan wrote on May 17, 2009 4:30 PM:" Leonard: Do you want to admit that you see yourself as superior to black people (and everyone else for that matter) Gee Dyan, now you are telling me how I feel?I hadn't realized that you were omniscient. Do you have any other god like powers that you would like to share with us before we proceed?

     
  • posted at 1:24 pm on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Cogito, I've heard the very same things from people in Lodi - as late as the 1980s, in fact.Dyan, I'm glad that your father is proud to be an American. There's no other country that offers her citizens such rich opportunities. However, if your parents lived in Lodi, especially in the 1970s, they'd raise many an eyebrow, I'm afraid. I think (and hope) things are getting better, however.

     
  • posted at 11:30 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Leonard: Do you want to admit that you see yourself as superior to black people (and everyone else for that matter), or do you just want to make up you compassion as we go along?

     
  • posted at 9:31 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Leonard, quality of life is in the eye of the beholder, in some ways it’s better and in someIt’s far worse..

     
  • posted at 9:28 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    I was Navy 1958 to 1962 and Blacks were in all ratings, I was on a Destroyer and on the diving crew on a Destroyer Tender… One of the most famous Navy divers Carl Brashear (Black)went through Dive school on the east coast when I was in school in San Diego. Chief Brashear retired as a Master Chief petty Officer. Working onboard ship or on Shore Patrol I saw almost no racism….

     
  • posted at 7:55 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Gator, I am not quite sure I believe in progress or decline. What I do believe in is change. As a greater wit than I once said, it is the one constant.

     
  • posted at 6:41 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    One day when we were testing a cell Cite above Cisco Grove I made the remark that life was better back in the fifties, Norm a good friend of mine (Black) said if you were me youwouldn’t say that, point taken.. Some things we can call progress but at what cost?? Blackshave it a lot better, while I’m at it the “Okies” had it just as bad as the Blacks only their misstreatment didn’t last as long!! Morals have gone down the Drain big time and as for CrimeGang warfare is 10-20 times worse.. Work ethic was far better then than now…Kids had it better back then now, we played outside all day in the summer and ranged 10 or 15 blocksfrom home. When I was 8 years old I would ride my bike 2 miles down to the piers and fished all day!! So as it goes I’m better off than my Father and progress has been made but better It’s a crap-shoot at best!!

     
  • posted at 6:38 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    yan wrote on May 17, 2009 6:26 AM:My father served proudly on a nuc sub in the 50s and 60s, something that couldn't have happened according to liberal revisionist history.Can you provide a specific citation to support this allegation or do you just want to come clean and admit that you are making this up as you go along?

     
  • posted at 6:32 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    dyan wrote on May 16, 2009 9:21 PM:" Leonard you're a genius. My father was black and my mother was white, but being the good lib that you are, you know much more about growing up in a mixed family in southern California than I do. You guys are unbelievable in your blind dogma.Actually, Dyan, I didn't, mention mixed marriages BUT since you brought them up, I will point out that the California Supreme Court (that bastion of wrong headed liberalism) only overturned California's anti miscegenation laws in 1947. Even so, in the 1950's, your parents would have been virtual prisoners within California's borders since travel to many of the other states in the Union would have resulted in their arrest and imprisonment.Of course, if your father happened to be the darker of the two, many states would have skipped imprisonment and simply hung him from a tree.The good old days, you say?

     
  • posted at 2:23 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Bravo, Cogito.

     
  • posted at 2:22 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    A new trend has emerged in the blogs:Gather and label everything that is "bad" as being caused by "Libs" or "Neocons".If one group refuses to see the point of the other, well then, tough. "We'll just secede and run things OUR way", etc...Geeze...that solves everything. Why didn't we think of that sooner? Hmmmm, seems that we studied something similar back in grade school...I think it was called the "Civil War".....

     
  • posted at 1:26 am on Sun, May 17, 2009.

    Posts:

    Liberals are great at labeling others as racists and bigots. My father served proudly on a nuc sub in the 50s and 60s, something that couldn't have happened according to liberal revisionist history. Was it a perfect country? No. But he had been around the world and knew there was no other place he would rather be than the USA. He taught us there only one color and lived by that creed. He did not want to be a victim of liberal stereotyping that all blacks are victims. It worked for him and it worked for me as well.

     
  • posted at 5:04 pm on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    Over the years, being in business in Lodi, I've heard many of the 50's generation speak of their bygone bigotry with reverence. How the Realtors would keep out the blacks by inflating the price of homes, and other disgusting practices for those who weren't the right color. Not allowing minorities to join civic clubs proclaiming, "why would I let someone join my club that I wouldn't allow in my own living room?". Someone really told me that. To which I responded " I wouldnt allow a racist bigot in my living room", and expressed my disinterest at joining. (that was around 1980). Lodi still has a reputation for being a village of bigots, and in many cases, deservedly so.

     
  • posted at 4:21 pm on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    Leonard you're a genius. My father was black and my mother was white, but being the good lib that you are, you know much more about growing up in a mixed family in southern California than I do. You guys are unbelievable in your blind dogma.

     
  • posted at 4:14 pm on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    dyan wrote on May 16, 2009 3:54 PM:" Three things crying white liberals forget about blacks in the 1950s: Less crimeAgain, the hatred you feel for facts is evident. The FBI statistics clearly show that crime is only marginally worse today than it was fifty years ago. To argue that blacks were better off under Jim Crow is not just dishonest, it is disgusting.

     
  • posted at 4:09 pm on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    dyan wrote on May 16, 2009 3:49 PM:" "Blacks were beaten and hosed." You guys sound like an old Hollywood movie.I wonder how many blacks were "beaten and hosed" in California?Dyan, the last lynching of a black man in California occurred in 1947. You can be assured that blacks in California knew damn well what the consequences were if they stepped out of their roles in Mr. Hansen's version of Father Knows Best.

     
  • posted at 10:54 am on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    Three things crying white liberals forget about blacks in the 1950s: Less crime including blacks as victims, much stonger family ties, far more black owned businesses -especially in the South. Get over your guilt. Let's all move on.

     
  • posted at 10:49 am on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    "Blacks were beaten and hosed." You guys sound like an old Hollywood movie.I wonder how many blacks were "beaten and hosed" in California? The story is about California, but liberals just can't let go of their blacks as victims game.

     
  • posted at 6:47 am on Sat, May 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    Where there is space, peace can be found. Hansen is right , but only to the extent that our "space" is disappearing ever so rapidly. Back in the day a rope swing on a river oak was not thought of as a problem that needed addressing. Today, however, we have a bitter feud over virtually anything and everything. Let's face it!We need space, but everything we do seems to take more of it away. So the left cries out, "More govt, more rules, that's the solution". Good Lord! that's the problem. You leftist cry-babies are the "feeders of breeders", and now you want to fix the problem without acknowledging that you are the problem! Don't you people just make yourselves crazy sometimes?

     
  • posted at 5:15 am on Fri, May 15, 2009.

    Posts:

    Lodisafeway wrote "I would submit that if polled, there would not be an overwhelming agreement; people see things through different types of lenses. This is but one reason why we all won't ever be able to get along."Lodisafeway: You wrote this as if you respect, and are understanding of, peoples differences and just know people may have opposing viewpoints. In reality, when people disagree with you, respect and understanding is the last thing they can expect from you.

     
  • posted at 4:42 am on Fri, May 15, 2009.

    Posts:

    jramagic suggests, "And we all know what has improved and what has deteriorated" regarding the differences of life in the 50s compared to today.I would submit that if polled, there would not be an overwhelming agreement; people see things through different types of lenses. This is but one reason why we all won't ever be able to get along.

     
  • posted at 3:53 am on Fri, May 15, 2009.

    Posts:

    It was great time to be a WHITE ANGLO in America in the 1950s. I think that's when the "White American Experience" peaked. The era of the "Beaver", Fess Parker, Ward Cleaver, Boy Scouts, Captain Midnight and all of that. Minorities were left out of the party almost entirely. It was a different America then...and that America began to boil over in the 60's. Today's America is a different nation entirely. And we all know what has improved and what has deteriorated.

     
  • posted at 1:23 pm on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    That said, while things have actually been getting better, most Americans (and Steve Hansen) have the perception that they are actually getting worse.I blame the if it bleeds, it leads media for this phenomenon. Many a local news station owner has made their fortune exploiting the suffering of crime victims and instilling fear in the hearts of citizens.

     
  • posted at 1:20 pm on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    An interesting fact that surprised me when I saw it is that crime isn't actually that much worse today than it was 50 years ago.According to the FBI, the homicide rate in 1959 was 4.9 (per 100,000). That rate steadily increased over the next 20 years before peaking in 1980 at 10.0. Since 1980 that rate steadily decreased until 2000 when it was 5.5.While the last 8 years have seen a slight resurgence in the numbers the rate for 2007 was only 5.9, a great improvement over the numbers from the 1970s

     
  • posted at 1:14 pm on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Surprisingly, I agree with Safeway.

     
  • posted at 11:42 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Actually, this subject has been discussed here before at length. While not a psychiatrist, I believe that as we get older we are better able to recall memories that are more positive and suppress those things that were disturbing. This applies to those who write the history books as well. With the advent of video tape and other recording processes that are now easily attainable by the masses, I suspect that future generations will get a far more accurate picture of what is occurring now than what we are being presented with from the not-so-distant past. I can only hope that this possibility might work toward eliminating the notion that those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.Of course, this innate forgetfulness could very well serve as a survival technique that if eliminated by artificial means, may make our golden years far less enjoyable.

     
  • posted at 10:15 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    thermal nuclear annihilation?

     
  • posted at 8:50 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Bry wrote on May 14, 2009 1:06 PM:I am speaking about the conduct of men regardless of race and the moral decline.I would say that the fact that we no longer keep millions of Americans in a state of legally enforced inequality represents a moral improvement, not a decline.If you feel otherwise, I would love to hear an explanation of your beliefs.

     
  • posted at 8:49 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Were you raised on the set of Leave it to Beaver?Didn't segregation exist? And Sexism?

     
  • posted at 8:06 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    To Ivan Dixon, I have not stated anything about race, gender, cultures or minorities. I am speaking about the conduct of men regardless of race and the moral decline. Furthermore, this moral decline is not exclusive to the US, it is happening throughout the world. Many people of all races and cultures in all countries have struggled throughout the history of man. Bringing race up as an issue does not justify nor condone the bad conduct and lack or morality of any man.

     
  • posted at 7:49 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Ivan Dixon wrote on May 14, 2009 11:48 AM:" Mr Hansen forgot to mention that blacks were jailed, beaten with hoses or savaged by police dogs if they "forgot their place".Perhaps that is what he was referring to when he said that "Justice was swift".

     
  • posted at 7:28 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    So, Mr Bry, are you saying that the segregated world of Jim Crow in which minorities were kept in a state of permanent inequality is morally superior to the world we have now?

     
  • posted at 7:26 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Regardless of when this severe moral decline started, it is clear that as years have gone by it now snowballing downhill to the point of no return. Now it is normalcy to justify badness and vilify the righteousness of the Judeo Christian values which America was founded upon. Nowdays, bad conduct is blamed on ADD, ADHD, Autism and an array of other so called "mental disorders" etc. Consequently, it is not the parents fault for their child's bad behavior. So they can continue to be self absorbed doing what gratifys themselves, rather than spending time teaching their children life's lesson, goodness, values, self-discipline and love for fellowman. Yes, it is not the parents fault and not my child's fault. They were born that way. This world is in dire straits due to this attitude of entitlement and a turning away from God and his righteousness.

     
  • posted at 6:48 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Mr Hansen forgot to mention that blacks were jailed, beaten with hoses or savaged by police dogs if they "forgot their place".You didn't have any uppity Mexicans demanding their rights either. If a "#*($" (to use the vernacular of the day) stepped out of line he ended up dead at the bottom of an irrigation canal with a sack full of bricks tied to his leg.As for us Jews, we didn't have it so bad just as long as we stuck to the jobs that we were "allowed" to hold and lived outside of the subdivisions that the gentiles had deeded us out of. Yeah, I'm sure the 1950's seemed like a regular paradise to a white fellow like Mr. Hansen. He will have to forgive me if I don't share his nostalgia.

     
  • posted at 6:28 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Bry states, "People have so much but want more and more at any cost." I submit that not much has changed. There was never a bigger boom in America for things to buy than during the 50s. If I were to choose any time to live, it would have to be the 40s. Yes, we were at war, but at least as it is portrayed to us in the history books and through the memories of those who actually lived it, it was a far simpler life. So what changed when our soldiers came home from WWII?Credit cards got their start in the 50s, which led to personal debt that now literally strangles many households and the people who live in them. True home "ownership" ended in the 50s due to the "buy now pay later" mentality that swept the nation to the point now where almost no one really "owns" their homes.But still, there are others who might point to the 20s or early 1900s as the most desirous era to have lived. I simply believe that each have had their ups and downs with little differences from one to another.

     
  • posted at 4:59 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Yes, we've progressed alright, in a downward spiral regarding morality, concern for family and fellowman. As most people in America today, regardless if they're here legally, no longer care about anything other than self and expect constant gratification. People have so much but want more and more at any cost. There is no personal accountability any longer but there are medical excuses for bad behavior of children and adults. Things will not turn around as their is a reason for everything under the sun. That's why everything is upside down nowadays. Me, me, me, me, me!

     
  • posted at 4:21 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    Lodi SafewayAgreed---we need to be more concerned about today and the days ahead, than days gone by. That said, Lodidians were safer when Safeway was located on School Street (in the 50's).I believe it was a safer time, not just here in Lodi but all over the country because people respected the one another and the law, and because it was the right thing to do. Who knows, maybe respect for others and for the law will return to America one day.

     
  • posted at 2:53 am on Thu, May 14, 2009.

    Posts:

    I don't know, Steve. What you've written invokes images of a Thanksgiving dinner table a la Norman Rockwell. Now that I'm in my early 50s, I too like to reminisce about how great things were "back in the day." But our minds can play funny tricks on us. Each previous era brought with them many good and bad things; the 50s were no different. For each one of your ten examples, I'm sure someone else can cite 10 that would balance that time period as nothing more or less special than my youth in the 60s and 70s.Regardless, as much as many of us might want to return to those yester-years, Doc Brown's or HG Wells' Time Machines haven't yet been invented and even if it were possible to go back, I think we'd be terribly disappointed.While some obsess with the past, a better use of our time and efforts would be to make today a better place. After all, in 50 years someone will probably write an identical article lamenting about just how wonderful the Turn of the Century years were; and hopefully the time machine will not yet be built by then either.

     

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