Gifts of gems pass quickly through the hands of Condoleezza Rice
Arab leaders showered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with jewelry worth more than a quarter of a million dollars last year, including at least $316,000 in gem-encrusted baubles from the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, making her one of top recipients among U.S. officials of gifts from foreign heads of state and government and their aides in 2007.
In January, Jordan's King Abdullah II gave Rice an emerald and diamond necklace, ring, bracelet and earrings estimated to be worth $147,000, according to the State Department's annual inventory of such items released yesterday just in time for Christmas.
Not to be outdone, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia presented Rice with a ruby and diamond necklace with matching earrings, bracelet and ring worth $165,000 in July. From the same Arab leaders, President George W. Bush received just over $100,000 in gifts in 2007, the list shows.
Alas, the gifts have been turned over to the General Services Administration and government archives in accordance with federal law, which bars officials from accepting personal presents in almost all circumstances.
Food for a song
Rihanna will sing for a president and a cause when she rocks the nation's capital on President-elect Barack Obama's Inauguration Day.
Her performance for the Recording Industry Association of America's Charity Ball will benefit Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization.
Presenters previously announced include Simon Baker, Drew Barrymore and Sacha Baron Cohen.
The awards will take place Jan. 11 at the Beverly Hilton and will air live on NBC.
The animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has named Oprah Winfrey its person of the year.
PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk says that Winfrey has used her "powerful voice to defend those without one."
Norfolk, Va.-based PETA says it will send Winfrey an award plaque and a letter of appreciation.
Previous winners of the PETA award include U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia in 2007 and the founders of the San Francisco-based cleaning product company Method in 2006.
Actor Gerald S. O'Loughlin, 87.
Actor Harry Shearer, 65.
Actress Susan Lucci, 62.
Rock singer Eddie Vedder, 44.
France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 41.
Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, 18.