MY SPY: Obama Taps Ex-Clinton White House Chief Of Staff Leon Panetta To Lead Central Intelligence Agency


NEW YORK TIMES: President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday.

Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take control of the agency most directly responsible for hunting senior Al Qaeda leaders around the globe, but one that has been buffeted since the Sept. 11 attacks by leadership changes and morale problems.

Given his background, Mr. Panetta is a somewhat unusual choice to lead the C.I.A., an agency that has been unwelcoming to previous directors perceived as outsiders, such as Stansfield M. Turner and John M. Deutch. But his selection points up the difficulty Mr. Obama had in finding a C.I.A. director with no connection to controversial counterterrorism programs of the Bush era. MORE


CNN Anchor’s Twitter Punked By Hackers

CNET: CNN anchor Rick Sanchez is one of the most popular users on microblogging service Twitter, with nearly 40,000 followers and a Twitterholic rank in the top 20. Unfortunately for Sanchez, it looks like he fell victim to the phishing scam that has been plaguing the popular service for several days now. In a “tweet” that has since been deleted, Sanchez’s account displayed the message “i am high on crack right now might not be coming into work today” — and we’re pretty sure that did not come from Sanchez himself. He has now posted a response tweet explaining that his account was hacked.

Over the weekend, reports began to surface that there was a password-stealing phishing scam making the rounds on Twitter. Disguising itself as a private message that led to a fake Twitter log-in screen, the scam was widespread enough for Twitter to put a warning message on all members’ home pages alerting them of the issue. It looks as if the aim of the phishing scam may have been to take over the accounts of some of the service’s most popular users: the account for Fox News, as well as pop singer Britney Spears, also had their passwords stolen and offensive tweets sent out. The Fox News tweet, for the record, concerned the sexual orientation of pundit Bill O’Reilly; the Spears tweet made some tawdry allegations about her naughty bits. MORE



BOX OFFICE: The Dog Stays In The Picture 

marley_and_me_ruined_by_vandals_1.jpgVARIETY: Twentieth Century Fox’s Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston starrer “Marley and Me” remained best in show at the weekend box office, fetching a winning gross of $24 million from 3,505 runs for a cume of $106.5 million in only 11 days. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: But what I cannot forgive is the fact that the audience is expected to fall in love with, root for, cheer on, and above all, laugh at the slobbery sociopathic exploits of this dog named Marley that NEVER — not even once — does anything remotely redeeming. Lassie saved people from burning buildings. Beethoven had a keen ear for Ludwig van’s “Fifth Symphony.” The Shaggy DA fought organized crime. Scooby Doo built gravity-defying Dagwoods. Cujo mauled without prejudice. These were canines with redeeming social value, that (excepting Cujo) did things that helped people, or at the very least softened the harshness of life with the big wet hairy tongue of their unconditional love. Marley is all take and no give. The closest he gets to a good deed is playing wingman for Sebastian in his tireless pursuit of unsuspecting beachside bimbae — which is hardly the stuff of Boy Scout merit badges. As such, the movie limps along, getting by on poop jokes, Wilson’s laconic charm and Aniston’s indomitable cuteness. At the end (SPOILER ALERT) Marley dies, presumably from eating too many things God never intended for dogs to ingest, and we are expected to, like, feel bad about this. Hmmm. Yeah, not so much. MORE


THIS JUST IN: Jesus Was A Hippie

jesus-rocks.jpegJesus Christ Superstar, the groundbreaking theatrical masterpiece by legendary writing team Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, is coming to Philadelphia’s Academy of Music beginning Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 for a limited five-performance weekend engagement. Part of the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Series, tickets are now on sale ranging in price from $25 to $70. Set in two acts, Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the final seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ Superstar dramatizes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate, and his ultimate crucifixion. Perpetually changing the face of musical theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar will leave audiences captivated by its power. As relevant and timeless as ever, Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock opera vision of “the greatest story ever told,” is perhaps more potent in today’s troubled world than when it was first produced. Now, for the new millennium, this magnificent story comes once again vividly to the stage with Ted Neeley re-creating his unforgettable performance. Internationally beloved star Ted Neeley, best known for his Golden Globe nominated role as Jesus in the Norman Jewison film of Jesus Christ Superstar, will be headlining this tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. While Ted has enjoyed a distinguished career in resident theatres throughout America, appearing in a wide variety of productions from Hair to the works of Samuel Beckett, he is world renowned for the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Creating a fan base that borders on a cult-like phenomenon, this production heralds the long awaited triumphant return of Ted Neeley in the title role of Jesus Christ Superstar. MORE


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