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Special Report

Grapevine: Is a Navy SEAL quieter than a ninja?

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Hey Big Spender

In the run-up to the shutdown -- and beyond -- the government kept spending money on items you might not consider so essential.

The State Department awarded a $5 million contract for custom handcrafted crystal stem and barware.

A State Department official told ForeignPolicy.com the purchase and the timing were not unusual.

Meanwhile, Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran is demanding the VA explain its purchase of $562,000 in artwork at the end of fiscal year 2013.

The VA told us the art does not have anything to do with the end of the spending year and is part of a larger plan to improve the veteran experience.

Monday, a week into the shutdown, the U.S. Army spent nearly $50,000 on a mechanical bull for the Utah National Guard.

The Guard told CNS News -- the bull is used as a tool by recruiters at fairs and other events.

Child's Play

A staple of recess is just too dangerous for a middle school on Long Island.

The Port Washington school district has banned footballs, baseballs, soccer balls or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.

It has also nixed rough games of tag and cartwheels unless supervised by a coach.

One student told a local reporter -- quote -- "Cartwheels and tag -- I think it's ridiculous they are banning that."

Another said -- quote --"You go for recess -- that's your free time to go let loose and recharge."

The school says students can use Nerf balls for recess and that they have many other opportunities to play with hard balls -- supervised -- during gym and intramural athletics.

Age-old Questions

Finally, a truly important question -- Is a Navy SEAL quieter than a ninja?

6-year-old Walker Greentree -- who comes from a military family -- put that question in a letter to Admiral William McRaven -- the head of special operations, who is credited with executing the raid that killed Usama bin Laden.

McRaven wrote back!

His answer -- quote -- "I think ninjas are probably quieter than SEALS. But we are better swimmers, and also better with guns and blowing things up."

McRaven also told the boy if he wanted to be a SEAL, he should listen to his parents and be nice to other kids.

Military nonprofit Blue Star Families reports, the boy learned an unforgettable life lesson. When you have serious questions, ask an expert.