Things That Matter

Julián Castro Makes History: Becomes First Candidate To Release Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan

@PaulHShapiro / Twitter

It’s August 2019. We are just over a year away from the 2020 elections but the Democratic primary race has been well underway for a few months already. 

We’ve had two debates and have gotten to know each of the 23 Democrats running for President a bit better as they share their policy viewpoints. We’ve learned where the candidates stand on immigration, healthcare, foreign policy, racism, and Trump’s impeachment. However, until now, none of the candidates have outlines policy positions when it comes to animal welfare. 

Julian Castro isn’t just the first candidate of this primary race to release a detailed animal welfare plan, he’s the first candidate for president to ever release a plan like this one. 

In a Twitter announcement, Julián Castro announced his far-ranging animal welfare plan.

With his new set of proposals, Castro positions himself among the leading voices for advancing animal protections, something that polling suggests the public overwhelmingly supports.

His ideas include ending the euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs in shelters, making animal cruelty a federal crime and expanding U.S. protected lands. The plan won praise from animal welfare advocates who have pushed 2020 candidates to publish similar platforms and to support animal-friendly legislation.

“We applaud Secretary Castro’s proposal to protect our pets, wildlife, and animals raised for food,” Brad Pyle, the political director at the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Voters are lucky to have so many animal protection champions seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.”

Under Castro’s pawlicy, the US would move away from euthanizing perfectly healthy animals who are waiting for forever homes in shelters.

In a post on Medium, Castro said, “Last year, over 700,000 animals were euthanized in America’s shelters, a cruel and unjust fate for far too many lives. But our nation can choose a different path. This month, Delaware became the first “no-kill” state, with more than 90 percent of animals returned to their owners or provided a home.

His policy would also provide protections for farmed animals, the farming of which contribute the greatest risk towards climate change.

And in that same Medium post, Casto suggested the federal government should follow California’s lead in adopting more progressive protections for farmed animals.

Paul Shapiro, a leading animal rights advocate, has come out in favor of Castro’s plan.

Shapiro is the author of “Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World“ and a vocal advocate for animal welfare. In a tweet, he welcomed the groundbreaking announcement and thought that it could lead to even greater protections for animals in the future.

Many have pointed out that the policy plan come just days after the Trump administration gutted protections for endangered species.

Castro may see an opening as the issue may have even more resonance with Democrats after President Trump’s weakening of the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the grizzly bear back from the brink of extinction. Castro, meanwhile, said he would strengthen the landmark legislation.

In announcing his plan, Castro sought to position himself as the fix to four years of Trump administration policies.

“The president does not care about animals and his cruel actions prove it. He has put corporate profits over living creatures and individual fortunes over our future,” Castro said in a statement. “This groundbreaking plan will improve the treatment of animals around the country and the world, and undo Donald Trump’s damage.”

And Castro’s policy would go directly after one of Trump Jr’s favorite so-called ‘hobbies.’ 

His plan would also end the import of big-game trophies. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is an infamous big-game hunter.

“Protecting these majestic animals must first start with repealing the Trump administration’s NRA loopholes that allow trophy hunting and enforcing strict penalties on the domestic ivory trade,” the plan reads.

Reactions to Castro’s plan have been met with huge surprise and admiration across Twitter.

A lot of people admitted that this policy announcement was enough to cement their support for the Texas congressman. And they hoped that Castro made it through the upcoming primary process so they could vote for him in their state’s primary.

One Twitter user, @thejohnburke1, said “I loved Julian Castro already, but a man who fights for animals is who I’ll fight for.”

Another person on Twitter, @hr072, said “I love love love this… Brilliant plan by #Castro2020”

Many joked that a whole new constituency may have just been created by this groundbreaking policy announcement.

Few doubt the commitment and dedication of animal lovers. They are often truly dedicated to their cause and seldom take no for an answer. From so-called cat ladies to militant vegans and pony girls, the animal welfare/rights community is a tight knit community that may just help carry Castro into the next debates with this new policy plan.

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

Things That Matter

From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

uninoticias / Instagram

ABC News and Univision hosted the third Democratic debate last night in Houston. A lot of the discussion focused on the gun violence epidemic due to the recent shootings that impacted the Texas community. Immigration and healthcare were also major topics discussed among the top ten Democratic candidates. Here’s a quick recap so you know what went down.

Beto O’Rourke had the biggest moment when he declared that the U.S. government should take away assault rifles.

O’Rourke, who is from and represented El Paso, Texas, took on the gun debate in a way we haven’t seen. The Texas-native spoke about the guns that have been used to commit mass shooting across the country bringing unimaginable pain and death in minutes. He referred to the guns as weapons wit the intention of killing people and spoke on their purpose in war. He went further to say that weapons meant for war have no place on the streets of the U.S. citing mass deaths in El Paso and Odessa, Texas.

“Hell yes. We’re going to tek your AR-15 and your AK-47,” O’Rourke said. “We’re not going to allow them to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

His statement was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

His statements caught the attention of Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain who represents District 128.

Credit: @BetoORourke / Twitter

The tweet, which many are calling a death threat on the presidential candidate, was deleted by Twitter. Cain represents a rural district of Texas just east of Houston. The O’Rourke campaign is reporting the tweet to the FBI.

Jorge Ramos, one of the moderators of the debate, asked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to explain the difference between his views of Socialism and the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Ramos asked Sanders to explain why he won’t refer to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as a dictator. He also asked just how Sanders’ view of Socialism is different than the governments in Latin America.

Sanders started his answer by calling Maduro a vicious tyrant and called on international and regional support to reinstate free and open elections. Sanders’ hope is that by placing pressure on Venezuela, the people will be able to create the government and future they seek.

“In terms of Democratic Socialism,” Sanders started. “To equate what goes on in Venezuela with what I believe is extremely unfair. I’ll tell you what I believe in terms of Democratic Socialism. I agree with what’s going on in Canada and Scandanavia guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on earth not to provide paid family and medical leave.”

Julián Castro, also from Texas, declared that his immigration plan will not use DACA as a bargaining chip and plans to keep the program in place.

First, Castro painted the picture that Obama and Trump are polar opposites when it comes to the treatment of the immigrant community. To Castro, Trump has a “dark heart” when it comes to immigrants and has spent his time as president to scapegoat and demonize the immigrant community.

Namely, Castro went after Biden for celebrating the victories of the Obama administration by inserting himself in those victories. Yet, Castro calls out what he sees as Biden separating himself from the harder moments of admitting to being part of the shortcomings.

“I was the first candidate in early April to put forward an immigration plan,” Castro said. “You know why? Because I’m not afraid of trump on this issue. I”m not going to backpedal. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have my own vision for immigration. So, we’re not going to give up DACA. We’re not going to give up protections for anybody.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Castro had a moment of fierce disagreement on stage and it caused a discussion.

Castro went after Biden in what he heard to be a plan that would not allow for people to be automatically enrolled into the healthcare plan set forth by the former vice president. While it was not completely false, there was a nuance in the language that was omitted by Castro.

Biden’s plan does require people to opt into the healthcare system. However, while Biden’s plan does not rely on an automatic enrollment for healthcare recipients, it does enroll low-income families and communities. Biden does not support Medicare for All but says his plan would allow for Obamacare to include 97 percent of the population. Those omitted would be undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for federal subsidies and programs.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker used some of his time to reframe the discussion around race and racism in the country.

He openly called President Trump a racist and acknowledged the rise and threat of racism. Booker also called out Trump for supporting white supremacy by his unwillingness to call it out. Yet, more than that, he called out the systemic racism that is truly crippling communities of color.

“We have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased [that] we have more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850,” Booker told the audience. “We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it.”

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang did something never before seen at a presidential debate.

Yang is a candidate running on a platform that includes a universal basic income. The universal basic income would guarantee $1,000 a month for every citizen. In his opening statement, Yang decided to take his plan to the next level before even making it through the primary. Yang offered to start the universal basic income now with 10 American families. In order to be one of the families, Yang called on people to go to his website and tell him how the universal basic income could change their lives.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also took on the gun debate and addressed a gridlock she is seeing in the Senate.

Klobuchar agreed that something needs to happen with guns and that eliminating assault rifles is a way to start. However, she framed the argument in a different way. Instead of placing the responsibility on the president or the future president, Klobuchar called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for stalling all the bills passed through the House of Representatives that would address the most supported gun reform measures, like universal background checks and a registry and licensing program for gun owners.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also took aim at McConnell and his successful attempts to block popular gun reform legislation.

Nearly 90 percent of American agree with universal background checks before people are allowed to purchase guns. More than 80 percent of American agree with licensing and registries for gun owners. However, as Warren points out, the NRA lobby has successfully killed bills targeting these issues in the Senate.

Warren posed the question asking how it is possible that such popular legislation dies in the Senate. Her answer, “Corruption. Pure and simple.”

California Senator Kamala Harris directly addressed Trump for his use of hate and division to keep the country at a stalemate.

“President Trump. You spent the last two and a half years, full-time, trying to sow hate and division among us and that is why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris said. “You have used hate, intimidation, fear, and over 12,000 lives as a way to distract from your failed policies and your broken promises. The only reason you’ve not been indicted is because there was a memo in the department of justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.”

Harris then spoke on how the American people are better than him and his fearmongering. She spoke on how the American people and their values are stronger than Trump and his campaign against decency.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his final answer about a professional setback to talk about his journey coming out.

Buttigieg was a military officer serving during the time of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when it was forbidden for openly LGBTQ+ to serve in the military. He then became a mayor of a town in Mike Pence’s conservative Indiana. Yet, at a certain point, Buttigieg had enough of living in the closet and decided it was time for him to be honest with himself and others.

“At a certain point, when it came to professional setbacks, I had to wonder if just acknowledging who I was was going to be the ultimate career-ending professional setback,” Buttigieg said. “I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to live one life and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer. So, I just came out. I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be, especially because, inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community. What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with 80 percent of the vote.”

What was your favorite moment from the third Democratic Presidential Debate?

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change

J Lo Was Ambushed By Animal Rights Activists At The Toronto Premiere Of ‘Hustlers’ And Here’s Why

Entertainment

J Lo Was Ambushed By Animal Rights Activists At The Toronto Premiere Of ‘Hustlers’ And Here’s Why

STXFilms / YouTube / www.tiff.net

The countdown to Hustlers has been going on for what seems like forever, but the Toronto International Film Festival brought everyone the film’s first major red carpet. However, the glitz and glamour of Jennifer Lopez wasn’t the only thing that stole the spotlight. According to TMZ, during the movie’s big premiere, PETA activists called the superstar out for wearing fur — the promotional material for Hustlers features Lopez’s character, Ramona, strutting in a fluffy white coat — and claiming that she hates animals.

While at the Toronto premier of her film Hustlers, J Lo rocked a fur coat and animal rights activists let her have it.

Actress and pop mega star Jennifer Lopez was ambushed by a throng of screaming animal rights activists during her red carpet appearance over the week where her new film Hustlers debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.

TMZ reports that the protestors got vocal on the periphery of the festival red carpet. While Lopez and her costars were walking in and snapping photos, protestors held up signs that read, “JLO HATES ANIMALS,” and shouted, “Shame on you J. Lo for wearing fur,” and, “Stop wearing fur Jennifer Lopez, stop wearing fox fur.”

Despite the protesters, J Lo kept her cool and didn’t seem to be bothered by people saying she ‘hates animals.’

Lopez didn’t respond to the protesters as they shouted at her from just a few feet away. The actress didn’t appear to be wearing fur as she strutted down the red carpet but Lopez does don a ton of fur in her new stripper revenge film.

J Lo has never been shy to wear fur and other animal products in films, a red carpet events, and in her Instagram.

Lopez’s character Ramona rocks fur in the film’s trailer (unclear if it’s faux or real), but the Jenny From The Block singer hasn’t shied away from wearing the real thing, either, and she’s gotten plenty of hate for it.

Many of J Lo’s favorite designers have recently announced that they’ve removing all fur from their collections.

Versace, Michael Kors, and Gucci announced that they’d stop using fur in their designs — and all three happen to be among Lopez’s favorite lines. Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren went fur-free back in 2007 and Stella McCartney, the Prada Group, and Giorgio Armani have also pledged to stop using animal fur.

You can check out more of her furry looks here:

A casual scroll through her Instagram and you’ll find many looks featuring fur. Of course, there’s no real way to know if she’s rocking faux fur but given the amount of hate she gets for wearing animal products, if she was wearing faux fur you think she would happily point it out.

And then there’s this look too:

This one is straight from the trailer of her new film, Hustlers, and probably one of the things that set off the animal rights activists.

Many on Twitter, even those who call themselves J Lo mega fans, were not happy with the actresses fashion choices.

From J Lo super fans to die hard animal rights activists, comments on Twitter were largely in favor of the protesters. People know that in 2019 there is no need to be wearing real fur.

More people than ever understand the horrors involved with the cruel and deadly fur industry and with so many cruelty-free alternatives available, why would someone still choose to harm animals?

Despite the drama on the red carpet, her film Hustlers seems to be getting plenty of love from critics.

While protesters may have criticized her, everyone who turned out to give the film a watch had plenty of praise to share. Ceck out some of the initial reviews via Twitter:

Sage Young, from Bustle, said “I saw #Hustlers weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to tell you: at one point of Jennifer Lopez’s first scene, my soul left my body.” While Mara Wilson took to Twitter to say “Saw #HUSTLERS tonight and loved it. Funny, sad, smart, entertaining, a crime movie, an indictment of privilege, and an exploration of the joys and complications of female friendship.”

Meanwhile, there was also drama inside the theatre when it looked like J Lo nearly fell from a balcony.

In another PR flub also caught on camera during the film festival, Jennifer Lopez is seen nearly taking a fall off a balcony during her movie’s premiere. Lopez is seen catching her balance and laughing off what was clearly a scary slip.