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Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/Landov

Personal attack

And other news briefs

Issue: "Trouble in Egypt," June 2, 2012

Sudan's military continued bombing its own citizens in the Nuba Mountains near the disputed borderline with South Sudan. In early May, the bombs found an American target: Ryan Boyette, an American living in the Nuba Mountains with his Sudanese wife, reported that an Antonov plane flew over his house on May 11 and dropped six bombs. He said one villager suffered minor injuries.

Boyette, a former aid worker, has been outspoken about the Nuba bombings in recent months, and said he wasn't surprised the government targeted him: "What surprises me more is that the international community is doing nothing to stop the bombings that are affecting the lives of so many people in Nuba."

Andrew Natsios, former U.S. envoy to Sudan and head of USAID, has called for the United States to arm South Sudan with American anti-aircraft weapons. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, has called for the U.S. military to bomb Sudanese airstrips.

Surrendered to God's will

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Condemned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces a new blow: In early May, an Iranian judge sentenced the pastor's attorney to nine years in prison. The lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told The Guardian that a judge said he must begin serving a nine-year prison sentence soon for charges that include acting against national security. Authorities jailed Nadarkhani in 2009 and have sentenced him to death for practicing Christianity and renouncing Islam.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said a prison sentence for the attorney makes Nadarkhani's situation "more dire than ever." ACLJ also published an open letter that Nadarkhani reportedly penned from jail on May 7. The pastor wrote that he's in good health, and said: "I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God's will."

Man knows not his time

Four members of a Teen Mania team died when their small private plane crashed and caught fire in a field in southeastern Kansas on May 11. The plane took off from Tulsa, Okla., on its way to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the final in a series of Acquire the Fire youth rallies. Three men on the team, including the pilot, died immediately. The fourth, Austin Anderson, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and only recently joined Teen Mania, died of burn injuries the following day. A fifth passenger and the only survivor, Hannah Luce, the daughter of Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, suffered burns over a quarter of her body and underwent multiple surgeries at a Kansas City hospital. Four were recent graduates of Oral Roberts University and one an instructer there.

No-show

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his third term as president by snubbing his Western counterpart, President Barack Obama. Putin decided to be a no-show at a May 18-19 summit of the Group of Eight nations-a first since Russia was invited to join the G-8 in 1998-saying the United States had "nothing to propose." Putin let it be known that Obama's criticism of Russian elections plus lack of progress on a missile defense shield were reasons to stay home.

Quite a perk

Imagine: Upon your retirement the government agrees to use taxpayer dollars to pay many of your everyday expenses.

That's the benefit currently enjoyed by the living former presidents:

• $579,000 for Bill Clinton's rent

• $15,000 for Jimmy Carter's postage

• $80,000 for George W. Bush's phone bills

And that's just 2010. U.S taxpayers that year paid more than $3 million in miscellaneous expenses of the surviving former U.S. presidents, in addition to a pension and protection.

Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, are pushing for change. The new bill would end taxpayer-paid expenses for former presidents making more than $400,000 a year. It would also limit presidents earning less than that to a $200,000 annual pension and $200,000 in annual expenses.

"Nobody wants our former presidents living the remainder of their lives destitute," Chaffetz said. "But the fact is none of our former presidents are poor."

Last year Clinton hauled in more than $10 million in speaking fees alone while George W. Bush made more: $15 million for his speeches. With that kind of cash they ought to be able to pay the rent and cover the phone bill.

Beware blasphemy

Kuwait's parliament on May 3 passed a law making blasphemy punishable by death and broadening the definition for the offense. Under it, cursing Allah, the prophet Muhammad, his wives, other key Islamic figures, or the Quran became capital offenses. The Gulf nation and U.S. ally has a majority Muslim population, with about 14 percent Christians-many of them expatriate workers.

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