Hope pope inspires kindness to animals

I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope chose for himself the name of St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as the patron saint of animals. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4.

On one of his nature walks, Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, Francis concluded a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townspeople, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town's sheep in exchange for being fed regularly. He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream and fed half-frozen bees in wintertime.

I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all people of goodwill to show animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.

Milton Connley

Oakland

Eating only certain animals is illogical

Food safety officials in the United Kingdom, France and Sweden found traces of horse meat in ground beef sold across Europe. Massive recalls and lawsuits are ensuing.

Can it happen here? Horse slaughter for human consumption was banned in the U.S. between 2007 and 2011. But now, a New Mexico slaughterhouse is getting approved by U.S. authorities to slaughter horses for human consumption, and a Philadelphia restaurant has already announced plans to serve horse meat.

I marvel at our hypocrisy of rejecting the notion of horse or dog meat on our dinner plates, while condemning cows, pigs and chickens to the same fate. Obviously, we have established special relationships with horses and dogs as our companions, protectors and sports protagonists, rather than as food.

But where is the ethical and logical distinction, given that all these animals are endowed by individuality, sentience and an ability to experience the same feelings of joy, affection, sadness and fear that we do?

Fortunately, our health food industry has spared us from having to choose which animals to pet and which ones to eat. Their delicious soy and grain-based meat alternatives are available in every supermarket.

Samuel Bentino

Oakland

Keep protection for endangered species

The Endangered Species Act turns 40 this year. Here in the Bay Area we can celebrate the return from extinction of the California condor, southern sea otter and California least tern among more that 200 species placed on the act's list for protection over the past few decades.

All species play a part in fragile-yet-complex biosystems that provide food and habitat as well as clean air and water -- the requirements for all life forms. However, due to the extreme escalation of human demands for higher technological standards of living, we are faced with a global crisis.

More and more species face habitat loss, introduction of alien species into their communities and fragmentation of their natural environment because of the physical assault of bulldozers, highways, etc. More species are on the brink of extinction.

The Endangered Species Act has a remarkable success record of saving 99 percent of those listed. We must ensure that this valuable legislation remains not only strong but expands it scope globally.

Maida Counts

Oakland

Quan is disastrous as Oakland's mayor

It would appear that even in Oakland, a town renowned for horrible leadership and incompetent buffoonery, that the electorate just might have awakened from its perpetual somnambulism long enough to realize that Jean Quan is hopelessly incompetent, arrogant and doing untold damage to an already-broken little town.

Quan embodies practically everything that is wrong with politicians these days. Politics is a "profession" that in Oakland, anyway, attracts low-to-medium intelligence fools long on ambition and ego and short on smarts, experience, knowledge, sophistication and reasoned judgment. She has somehow succeeded in convincing the parochial, provincial townies that she is indeed capable with the premise being that she "cares."

She "cares about kids." She "hella loves Oakland." She has history in Oakland. Her grandparents were here way back when. Yawn.

Hopelessly egotistic, visionless, haughty, rigidly ideological because a simple mind is not a nimble mind. Maybe the heretofore hopelessly provincial, simplistic electorate in Oakland will wake up and pay attention. Quan's tenure has been a disaster and her performance dismal.

Jonathan C. Breault

Oakland