(CNN) - The film "Django Unchained" has stirred a race debate for weeks, and Sunday night, its writer and director Quentin Tarantino won the Golden Globe for best motion picture screenplay. Backstage, Tarantino used the controversial N-word, which peppers his movie, explaining that critics were not accusing him of using it "more than it was used in the South in 1858," when his film is set. Instead, they were "saying I should soften it. ... and I never do that when it comes to my characters."
By Michael Martinez, Amanda Watts and Deanna Hackney, CNN
(CNN) - A gay California Boy Scout's application for Eagle rank was rejected by a Scout council, an official with the organization said Tuesday.
In response, the Scout's parents pledged to press their son's national campaign for gay Scouts to be eligible for Eagle status.
John Fenoglio, Scout executive for the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council, said the Eagle rank application from Ryan Andresen of Moraga, California, wasn't approved because of "membership standards," specifically "duty to God, avowed homosexuality, and the fact that he is now over 18 years of age."
Contrary to some media accounts, Andresen's application wasn't approved by the local council in Contra Costa County, nor was it submitted to the Boy Scouts' national office, Fenoglio told CNN.
The teen's father, Eric Andresen, said his son, a high school senior, wasn't available for comment Tuesday because he's studying for exams and preparing college applications.
"It's pretty upsetting, and it's wrong," the father said of the council's decision. "The whole thing has been wrong since day one.
"It's politics now, and it's just ridiculous," he continued.
The Boy Scouts of America policy does "not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA," the group's website says.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Marilyn Wann is author of "FAT!SO?" and a weight diversity speaker internationally. She is the creator of Yay! Scales, which give compliments instead of numbers.
(CNN) - After a careful review of all relevant research worldwide, the U.S. government's leading analyst of weight data just confirmed what I've long known: Being fat might not be a death sentence.
That this study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association seems at all shocking is a measure of the intensity and pervasiveness of weight prejudice in our society and in our sciences.
I take an interest in the topic because I'm fat and because I don't have a death wish. I'm also interested because, like so many fat people, I've encountered weight discrimination when I seek routine medical care. I was 26 years old when I was denied the right to purchase health insurance. I had no significant history of illness or injury. I was just fat. That day, I became a fat rights activist.
In the intervening years, I've heard from so many people who fear for their lives when they encounter weight discrimination in our health care system.
By Josh Stillman, EW
(EW.com) - No one knows how to make white men squirm quite like Samuel L. Jackson.
A post on Reddit last night has unearthed a prime example. Two weeks ago, the "Django Unchained" cast sat down with Jake Hamilton, host of Houston's Emmy-winning film show Jake's Takes, at a press junket.
Things went smoothly enough until Hamilton approached Jackson with a question about the movie's controversial use of the "n-word." Jackson insisted that Hamilton, who is white, say the word out loud; after Hamilton repeatedly refused, they moved on. It was uncomfortable.
"The most awkward moment was just seeing everyone in the room freeze, and waiting to see what my reaction was going to be," Hamilton says today.
The internet reaction has been mixed. Many commenters claim that Hamilton should have simply said the word, while others applaud the reporter for not caving to Jackson's demand. Hamilton says that his decision was in the best interest of the show and the network.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
By Wade Henderson, Special to CNN
(CNN) - On January 1, the nation will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally freed slaves in the secessionist Southern states. Meanwhile, thousands of theaters will still be presenting the film "Lincoln," portraying the soon-to-be-martyred president's efforts in January 1865 to persuade the House of Representatives to pass the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery throughout the nation.
Coming at a time when many Republicans are seeking to rebrand their party, these commemorations of the first Republican president raise this question: Why not refashion the Grand Old Party in the image of the Great Emancipator?
Steven Spielberg's historical drama, as well as the biography upon which it is based, Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," both remind today's Americans that Lincoln was not only a moral leader but also a practical politician. The political identity that Lincoln forged for the fledgling Republican Party - uniting the nation while defending individual rights - was a winning formula for half a century, with the GOP winning 11 of 13 presidential elections from 1860 through 1908.
Moreover, support for civil rights persisted in the party throughout the last century. Among the Republican presidents of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt famously hosted Booker T. Washington at the White House. Dwight Eisenhower ordered federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school desegregation. Richard Nixon expanded affirmative action. And George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.
Editor's note: Miriam Defensor Santiago is in her third term as a member of the Philippines Senate and a co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health Bill. She is also the founder of People's Reform Party. Last year she was selected to be a judge in the International Criminal Court, though she has still to take office.
By Miriam Defensor Santiago, Special for CNN
Manila, Philippines (CNN) - We were like David against Goliath. We fought long and hard, and in the end we prevailed.
After 14 long years in the dustbins of Congress, mainly due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday, 17 December 2012.
Indeed, there is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And the time for a Philippine reproductive health law is now.
The Philippines remains one of the poorest countries in the world because, among other things, for a long time, it refused to acknowledge what could easily be seen when one glances out the window: the country desperately needs a reproductive health law.
Not having a reproductive health law is cruelty to the poor. The poor are miserable because, among other reasons, they have so many children. Providing reproductive knowledge and information through government intervention is the humane thing to do. It can help the poor escape the vicious cycle of poverty by giving them options on how to manage their sexual lives, plan their families and control their procreative activities. The phrase "reproductive rights" includes the idea of being able to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion or violence.FULL STORY
Watch Gary "Sushi" Marion in Key West, Florida, along with many other New Year's Eve celebrations on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, starting at 10 p.m. ET Monday.
By Kim Segal, CNN
Key West, Florida (CNN) - It started in 1996 as a crazy idea to ring in the new year, but police nearly shut it down.
"They said, 'We have an idea: Let's do a shoe drop. ... We made this shoe for you,'" recalled Gary "Sushi" Marion, the star of a weekly drag queen review in Key West. "'You've got to sit in it for New Year's Eve,' and I said 'OK,' and that is how it started."
So, on New Year's Eve, Marion took center stage inside a massive high-heeled red shoe made out of chicken wire, paper mache and plywood, dangling off the roof of the Bourbon Street Pub along Key West's main street.
Just like the spectacular ball in New York's Times Square, the shoe would be lowered with each final minute of the year until the clock struck midnight.
Crowds started to gather, attracting the attention of police, who tried to shut down the event because the pub owner didn't have a permit.
"(The police) came upstairs to the balcony and told me to get out of the shoe," Marion said. "The owner called the mayor and the mayor was like, 'Leave Sushi alone, close down the street'."
Today, Key West's annual "shoe drop" still stars Marion as Sushi - in a better-constructed shoe - and now attracts attention from around the world.