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Swords, rifles, and booze: These were the gifts given to Pentagon officials in 2017
Top officials at the Pentagon received everything from iPhones to assault rifles in 2017, according to the latest roundup of gifts received from foreign governments compiled by the State Department.
As required by law, State puts together an annual list of gifts or travel expenses given to U.S. government officials across all federal agencies, civilian and military. And not surprisingly, President Donald Trump topped the list with the most expensive item — a calligraphy display and porcelain dinnerware set worth more than $30,000 given to him from the president of China, which was later turned over to the National Archives.
Gifts to military officials on the list seemed to be heavy on swords and sabers, though watches were also a favorite. Here are some that stood out:
Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of CentCom, got an Apple iPhone 7 and a watch from Qatar's Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces
Maj. Gen. Hamad Bin-Ali gave Votel the iPhone and a Baron Phillippe watch, worth about $649 and $750, respectively, on Jan. 17, 2017. Both were pending turn-in to the General Services Administration.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis got a sword with a Medusa head in the hilt from the Defense Minister of Greece
Panos Kammenos gave Mattis the sword on April 20, 2017, which State described as "sword with Medusa head hilt in presentation case." Estimated to be worth $440, it's now in the Office of the Secretary of Defense locker with many more gifts.
Mattis also got a blinged-out $7,600 saber and scabbard set from Qatarc1.staticflickr.com
Maj. Gen. Hamad Bin Ali Al-Attiyah gifted a saber with a scabbard "clad in reptile skin plus gilt mounts and gilt tassels, in white fabric bag and statue, depicting silver clad resin falcon with gilt beak, legs wrapped in bands." Mattis did not ride off into the sunset with the sword, but instead turned it over to the OSD Vault.
The President of Ukraine gave Mattis a watch and a Fort 224 rifle with a Reflex sight
Perhaps the coolest gift Mattis got was a Fort 224 rifle, which is manufactured by a Ukrainian weapons manufacturer. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko brought the rifle, which was outfitted with a Meprolight reflex sight. Both the rifle and the watch were valued at $3,780.
Mexico's defense secretary gave Mattis a bottle of tequila, a ceremonial sword, and other items.
Totaling about $825 in gifts, Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda brought his American counterpart on Sep. 15, 2017 a bottle of Tequila Reserva de la Familia Extra Anejo 100% de Agave Jose Cuervo in a wood box, along with a plague bearing a short sword and a wooden chess set.
Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, got what seems like the entire military gift shop from the government of China.
The listing of stuff given to Troxell from the government of China is rather long: Three coffee mugs, two tie bars, 12 military museum postcards, a DVD, t-shirts, and sunglasses, among many other items. It was all estimated at about $816 in value.
You can check out the full list of gifts given to government officials right here.
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A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.