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Army Demotes Critic
Of Halliburton Contract

By Erik Eckholm
THE NEW YORK TIMES

A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Co. for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the last several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps’ civil works division.

Greenhouse’s lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an “obvious reprisal” for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of Corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.

Dick Cheney led Halliburton, which is based in Texas, before he became vice president.

Official of Defunct Fund
Is Tied to Its Auditing Firm

By Gretchen Morgenson
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Investors who are worried about the fate of the money they turned over to the Bayou Group, a Connecticut firm that is under investigation by federal and state authorities, will not be happy to learn that there were close ties between the firm and the auditor of its hedge funds.

Public documents show that the chief financial officer and head of compliance for the Bayou Group was also a principal in an accounting firm that audited the hedge funds’ books.

Daniel E. Marino was the No. 2 man at Bayou, a hedge fund company founded in 1996 by Samuel Israel III that appeared to have $411 million in assets at the end of last year. Marino is also listed as a registered agent at Richmond-Fairfield Associates, the accounting firm that signed off on the Bayou funds’ financial statements in 2004 and earlier. Such a dual role could cast doubt on the accuracy of Bayou’s financial statements.

Officials at the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and the Connecticut Banking Department are investigating Bayou, which announced that it was closing in July and that it would return all of its investors’ money in mid-August. Investors are still waiting for their funds, however, and Israel and Marino have stopped communicating with them. It is feared that the fund company, which is based in Stamford, Conn., has collapsed.

Israel did not return phone calls seeking comment and Marino could not be reached. A call to the office of Richmond-Fairfield last Friday was not returned. Marino’s affiliation with Richmond-Fairfield was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in its online edition.

Missed Church? No Worries. Download It to Your iPod.

By Tania Ralli
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Kyle Lewis, 25, missed going to church one Sunday last month. But he did not miss the sermon.

Lewis, who regularly attends services of the National Community Church in Alexandria, Va., listened to the sermon while he was at the gym, through a recording he had downloaded to his iPod. Instead of listening to the rock music his gym usually plays, he heard his pastor’s voice.

“Having an iPod is a guaranteed way to get the sermon if you’re going to be out of town,” Lewis said, adding that he listens to the pastor’s podcast at least once more during the week, usually while driving to work, even during weeks he makes it to services.

Lewis’ pastor, the Rev. Mark Batterson, started podcasting, or “godcasting” as he prefers to call it, last month to spread the word about his congregation. The hourlong recordings of his weekly service, available on http://theaterchurch.com/, have already brought new parishioners to his church, he said.

“I can’t possibly have a conversation with everyone each Sunday. But this builds toward a digital discipleship,” he said. “We’re orthodox in belief but unorthodox in practice.”

Just as Christian organizations embraced radio and television, podcasting has quickly caught on with religious groups. Since the beginning of July, the number of people or groups offering spiritual and religious podcasts listed on Podcast Alley (http://podcastalley.com/) has grown to 474 from 177.

European Trade Commissioner Pledges to End Quota Dispute

By Thomas Fuller
THE NEW YORK TIMES PARIS

Peter Mandelson, the European trade commissioner, sought to quiet a dispute over Chinese textile imports on Sunday, promising to release within a month the 80 million Chinese-made sweaters, trousers and bras that are held up in European ports.

But the sheer volume of the disputed clothing and possible opposition by some European governments could threaten to unravel Mandelson’s plan.

Sunday’s comments were the first time that Mandelson, who has come under sharp criticism from European retailers and importers, had offered a timetable for a resolution to the ineffective quota system that he negotiated with China in June. Among the clothing blocked in European ports are 47.7 million sweaters, or more than one for every 10 citizens of the European Union.

Mandelson’s pledge to end the dispute said little about a team of European negotiators in Beijing who are scheduled for a fifth day of talks on Monday on how to loosen the quota system. He repeated on Sunday that the system had a “glitch.”

“I wasn’t responsible for creating that glitch,” Mandelson said on BBC television. “I am, however, taking responsibility for solving it.”