Oakland in shocking condition of decay

I live in eastern Washington and traveled last week to Oakland on business. I had the opportunity to drive a bit in the city and took the trip on I-880 from the airport to downtown for dinner.

What a shock. If I had been placed there having been blindfolded, I would have thought I was in a Third World country. Graffiti everywhere, to go along with the trash. What a mess.

Where is the city in taking care of these issues? Why are the residents with pride not up in arms about the decay of this city? Where are the voices of value for this once proud city?

Oakland, take some pride in your city and yourselves.

Mark Cowan

Spokane, Wash.

'Conservation' plans will damage the park

I read with dismay the recent article on the Oakland Zoo's Biodiversity Center. While the opening of the center within the old veterinary hospital represents a reasonable use and re-purposing of an existing building on the original Zoo footprint, the glossing over of the development into Knowland Park for "conservation" purposes is troubling and, I believe, represents misplaced compliance with the Zoo's ongoing, misleading spin.

The 54 acres in Knowland Park is called "undeveloped" -- as though that means its native state is merely an anomaly awaiting the Zoo's incursion.

In addition, the statement about next spring's work to "start on the infrastructure" brings home that the native ecosystem of Knowland Park will be devastated by the excavation, steel and concrete required to put in the "conservation" exhibits.

Moreover, I believe that the opaque strategies and true costs of this project will eventually become a major burden to the city -- and citizens -- of Oakland.

Nancy Graalman,

Director Defense of Place Mill Valley

Bombing Syria not in national interest

The Syrians should have known that their use of banned chemicals would cause the U.S. to want to kill their people the legal way, with bombs and guns.

How self-righteous we are. People are still dying from birth defects and cancer because we sprayed agent orange in Southeast Asia in the '60s. I guess it's OK to poison the environment as long as you don't poison the people directly.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that the Iraq War was due to faulty intelligence. I agree. Once again the faulty intelligence of our elected leaders will get us into yet another war.

I recall Truman saying in 1950 that we had to invade Korea to protect our national security. How about coming up with an original idea, President Obama, to justify the military industrial complex that is bankrupting this country.

Frank V. Murray

Fremont

New inspection plan for meat inadequate

According to a recent news story, the meat inspection program that USDA plans to roll out in meat and poultry plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop production of contaminated meat. The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines and replace USDA safety inspectors with their own employees.

But plants operating under this program have experienced some of the worst health and safety violations that include failure to remove fecal matter and partly digested food, according to USDA inspector general. These contaminants may contain complex strains of deadly E. coli and listeria.

Traditionally, USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety concerns of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having the USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the chicken house.

The Obama administration must reallocate responsibility for consumer safety to the Food and Drug administration. In the meantime, each of us must assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of plant-based meats offered in local supermarkets.

Milton Connley

Oakland

Obstructionists repeat history

Like their predecessors, House Republicans in 1935 trying to block the passage of the Social Security Act, the House Republicans today seem not only to have no sense of history but also continue attempting to block implementation of Obamacare. History is repeating itself.

The concept of Obamacare will hold. However, the implementation to determine coverage and to prevent abuses is necessary. For example, according to media reports, the American Hospital Association has urged some institutions to keep patients in them longer than was medically necessary, just in order to get more fees.

Like the Social Security Act, which has over the decades benefited Americans, especially the seniors, Obamacare will eventually benefit us all.

John Home

Walnut Creek