Only Republican Groups Get Controversial No-Bid Contracts?
In another Times story seemingly spurred by Democratic complaints, Philip Shenon reports Wednesday: "The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that his office had received accusations of fraud and waste in the multibillion-dollar relief programs linked to Hurricane Katrina and would investigate how no-bid contracts were awarded to several large, politically well-connected companies."
Of course, there's an Iraq connection: "Their comments appeared to be a response, in part, to charges from Democratic lawmakers that such a large, hurriedly organized federal relief program could produce the sort of contract abuses, cronyism and waste that numerous investigations have identified in the Bush administration's reconstruction programs in postwar Iraq."
"[IG Richard Skinner] said that his investigators would focus on several no-bid contracts awarded over the last two weeks to large, politically influential companies, including the Fluor Corporation of California, a major donor to the Republican Party, and the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La. Shaw is a client of Joe M. Allbaugh, a consultant who is the former head of FEMA and was President Bush's campaign manager in 2000. Another of Mr. Allbaugh's clients - Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the giant defense contractor once led by Vice President Dick Cheney - is doing major repairs at Navy facilities along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by the hurricane. That work is being done under a $500 million contract with the Defense Department."
Shenon leaves the impression that the only controversial ties at issue are to Republicans. But as Michelle Malkin  notes, the Shaw Group that Shenon mentions in a Republican context is in fact a Democratic institution.
Malkin notes the "multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, is headed by Jim Bernhard, the current chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Bernhard worked tirelessly for Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's runoff campaign and served as co-chair of her transition team. Another Shaw executive was Blanco's campaign manager."
None of those details made it into the Times story.
To comment on Shenon's story, go to the MRC's blog, NewsBusters. 
To read more of Shenon, click here. 
Going Deep for Bad News for Bush
Wednesday's lead story comes courtesy of the Times' tag-team of Bush-bashers, White House reporters Elisabeth Bumiller  and Richard Stevenson , "President Says He's Responsible In Storm Lapses."
They take the most cynical interpretation of hurricane post-mortem as fact: "Throughout his nearly five years in office, Mr. Bush has resisted publicly acknowledging mistakes or shortcomings, and his willingness in this case to edge up to a buck-stops-here statement, however conditional, was evidence of how shaken his presidency has been by the political fallout from the government's handling of the storm."
Bumiller and Stevenson plunge deep into the weeds to find bad news for Bush: "After the outcry over scenes of poor, black victims of the hurricane suffering and dying in New Orleans, White House officials continued on Tuesday to try to shore up support among the president's conservative African-American supporters, who have not all rallied to his side. Bishop Charles E. Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, a major African-American supporter of Mr. Bush, said this week that he had declined an invitation to meet on Sept. 6 at the White House with Mr. Bush, black leaders and charitable organizations because he was too busy."
They further a common theme in the Times, criticizing Bush for never acknowledging errors: "In saying he took responsibility for any failures of the federal response to the storm, Mr. Bush stopped short of acknowledging that he or anyone else had made mistakes. The president has in the past resisted efforts to draw him out about errors in judgment and regrets. At a news conference in April 2004, he was asked what his biggest mistake had been, and he responded that he was sure he had made some but that he was unable, on the spot, to say what they were. Asked again about mistakes during one of his debates last year with Senator John Kerry, Mr. Bush admitted to having made some bad personnel choices."
For Bumiller and Stevenson on Bush, click here. 
Apocalypse in Central Park
A prominent story in Wednesday's Metro section by Glenn Collins, "The Very Cold Case of the Glacier," seems innocuous, accompanied as it is with a big photo of a researcher studying glaciers making notes beside a boulder in Central Park.
But check out the apocalyptic third paragraph: "What, then, killed the glacier, and how long did it take to die? 'We don't really know,' said Dr. Schaefer, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Though his methodical quest could seem of interest only to geology buffs, it may shed new light on the accelerating and persistently controversial phenomenon of global warming, which has chased glaciers into retreat across the planet and could bring New Orleans-style flooding to coastal cities around the world."
Collins concludes: "Some scientists have theorized that the rapid melting of prehistoric glaciers could have triggered powerful climatic change. Eventually, as the last ice sheet melted, the planet entered the relatively warm, unusually stable interglacial era it currently enjoys. If the last deglaciation happened rapidly, as Dr. Schaefer's research may indicate, it could mean that the current ice retreat - seen from Peru to Tibet to Greenland - could also switch from slow to abrupt. Some scientists are concerned that this could accelerate the ongoing rise in sea levels, and potentially add enough fresh water to the Atlantic to block the warm Gulf Stream, cooling Europe and perhaps the Northeast.
For the rest of Collins on the Central Park glacier, click here.