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Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

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This morning, I was forwarded a choice e-mail from the American Family Association (AFA) that instructs senior citizens to drop their AARP memberships. The AFA is an influential right-wing evangelical organization that has been accused of promoting homophobia, anti-Semitism, and other prejudices. It has more than 2 million online members and about 180,000 subscribers to its monthly magazine.

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While conservatives have raised all kinds of objections to last week's vanilla arms-control agreement, it's interesting that the emotional core of their critique has been an attack on something called the "offense-defense linkage"--a wonky way of saying that that Barack Obama might agree to limitations on missile-defense deployment in return for Russian concessions on nuclear arms. This is an obscure thing to get huffy about--why not complain that the Russians will have to destroy fewer missile launchers than we will?

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Yoo Can't Be Serious

Michael Schaffer is the author of One Nation Under Dog. If John Yoo had any writerly creativity, he'd have come up with a better name for his Philadelphia Inquirer column. The possibilities are endless: "Tortured Logic." "Stress Positions." "Hints from the Gulag." But the author of the Bush administration torture memos apparently used up all his creativity in explaining why waterboarding doesn't violate America's legal obligations.

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April 17: Should I Be Scared? Will Durban II spur the same anti-Israel, anti-Semitic vitriol that plagued Durban I? April 19: Libya On Trial Libya, an egregious human-rights violator, is the face of this year's conference--oh, the irony! April 20: In Search Of Anti-Semites Where's the sloganeering, chanting, and hate-filled rhetoric? April 20: Live-blogging Ahmedinejad The Iranian president speaks; the EU walks out. April 20: Following Ahmedinejad Journalists, big-name protesters--who attended A-jad's press conference? April 22: Spoiling For A Fight The conference was supposed to be filled wi

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Julia Ioffe is a writer living in New York. Today in Tbilisi, around 60,000 protesters came out to demand President Mikheil Saakashvili's ouster and to commemorate the 19 Georgians who died on this day in 1989, when Soviet forces crushed an independence rally there. The Georgian president stands accused of undermining the liberal goals of the 2003 Rose Revolution that he led--and that President Bush celebrated as a massive democratic success. Saakashvili's also in trouble for abandoning economic and political reform just as the Georgian economy weakens with the rest of the world's.

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Photographing The Fallen

The Obama administration strikes a smart compromise over coffins at Dover AFB. The simple logic of it--allow pictures unless families specifically object--would seem to expose the motivations of Bush's policy. --Michael Crowley

The banks are in a freefall. Congress and the White House are eyeballing their actions. Merrill Lynch is such a disaster that the government had to arrange its purchase by Bank of America. Merrill knows it's about to post huge quarterly losses. So what does it do? Doles out literally billions in bonuses to the fattest of the company's fat cats, with the result being that B of A's CEO must now endure the bad PR of being hauled in on a subpoena by NY AG Cuomo.

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Robert Pritikin, the multimillionaire composer of the "Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat" jingle (doesn't that take me back) is considering a lawsuit against Tom Cruise for featuring the likeness of a famous globe that Hitler used to plan U-boat attacks in his movie Valkyrie. Pritikin bought the original globe in 2007 and had its likeness copyrighted "to keep it from being used in propaganda by sick neo-Nazi groups," in the words of the New York Post.

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The good news is that a barrel of crude is down to $60 from a July high of $147.  And this decline to $60 was right after OPEC announced it would cut production by 5% a day, ordinarily a sure-fire to get the costs higher.

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