Theater: It all began with MovieTone News (Wikipedia)

Saw Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, and I would call it simultaneously Stillman’s worst movie and one of the better movies you’re going to see all year. He is an acquired taste, however. Best movie I’ve seen this year is Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

• The US and Western powers delivered preconditions for the beginning of nuclear talks with Iran, which will begin this week. Similar to the Bush Administration, the preconditions amount to the entire negotiation. Unlike negotiations with Republicans, this is a high opening bid. Meanwhile, one Iranian lawmaker asserted that Iran could produce nukes right now but would never do so.

• I don’t know that calling the analyses of so-called “recovery skeptics” dreary is as accurate as calling them realistic. The economy actually is producing below trend, and there are plenty of avenues that would send it right toward another recession, including the situation in Europe, high gas prices and the fiscal cliff.

• Well, John Derbyshire couldn’t get conservative media to laugh off his racism anymore. The National Review fired him this weekend.

• No surprise here that Syria is openly reneging on their deal, saying they won’t remove their forces from the major cities without a written guarantee that the opposition won’t strike. This will be the fig leaf to break the cease-fire. Which is really the only point I was making with this post yesterday.

• Spain is in deep trouble, mainly because their leaders want to use poison as a cure. There’s no world where it makes sense to say that the country “needs” to cut 3% of GDP from its deficit. With an economy heading toward recession, it’s suicide to do so.

• A long-awaited deal between the US and Afghanistan on night raids, one of the final remaining hurdles to a long-term agreement between the two countries, has been reached. Afghanistan wouldn’t hold out the way Iraq did.

• Two simultaneous reports by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General first criticized ICE for sowing discord in their Secure Communities program, and then determining that it’s no problem and it has worked well. I think that second report was some kind of make-up action.

• Speaking of immigration, even Alabama is wising up and figuring out that they cannot terrorize a major population of workers without serious detriments to their economy. Look for their immigration law to change later this year.

• The next big fight in the death penalty abolition movement will be a ballot measure in California in November. Some of the architects of the initial death penalty initiative have turned against it and will work for repeal.

• Omar Suleiman has crawled back out of the primordial soup to run for President os Egypt, after briefly holding power right at the end of the Egyptian revolution.

• Three big oil companies will settle a series of “hot fuel” lawsuits. The gist of this is that a gallon of fuel doesn’t go as far in summer months, so if the pump isn’t calibrated to account for that, you’re paying more for fuel than you thought.

• I am not optimistic that Latin American leaders will convince the US to end the war on drugs.

• Protesters in Greece took over a broadcast studio and threw eggs at the newscaster while he was on the air live.

• RIP Mike Wallace, a Michigan alum and a pretty great newsman.

• Considering that Chuck Grassley is known for misspelling every word he tweets, how do we know that he didn’t just misspell “stupid” when referring to Obama? What if just wanted to write “table”?

David Dayen

David Dayen