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
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.
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.
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.
Romney's date with evangelicals
When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the podium on May 12 to address Liberty University's 2012 graduates, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. introduced him as "the next president of the United States." Falwell stopped short of endorsing Romney but left no question about his hopes for the November election.
The welcome Romney received in Lynchburg, Va., could signal a thaw in his relationship with evangelical Republicans, a faction of the party that has been hesitant so far to embrace the Mormon candidate. Until his commencement speech, Romney did little to embrace them. But before an audience estimated at over 30,000-perhaps the largest concentration of evangelical voters likely to be gathered before the November election-Romney insisted that despite their differences, Mormons and evangelicals could unite in their common commitment to family, faith, work, and service. "People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology," Romney told the 6,000 graduates present. "Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions."
The ouster of moderate Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, proved that the Tea Party movement still has plenty of muscle, despite media reports to the contrary.
Lugar, a six-term senator firmly entrenched in the GOP's establishment, lost in a May 8 primary to Richard Mourdock, the state's treasurer. Mourdock received the endorsement of Indiana Tea Party groups as well as national Tea Party organizations like FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Express. Mourdock's surprise win happened in a year that the National Journal proclaimed that "Failed Candidates and Faded Icons Reflect Tea Party Decline," while MSNBC displayed the banner "weak tea" on screen as talking heads debated whether the Tea Party's influence is waning.
Despite the seniority he enjoys in the Senate, Lugar, 80, got in trouble with Indiana Republicans for voting in favor of the Democrats' Budget Control Act during last year's debt ceiling debate, for bank and auto bailouts, and for a bill that grants citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Mourdock also went after Lugar for selling his Indianapolis home in 1977 and moving to McLean, Va. Lugar owns a farm in Marion County, Ind., with no house on the property.
"Sen. Lugar has sided too many times with the Democrats," Stacy Rutkowski of Valparaiso told the Associated Press after voting for Mourdock. "He's been there six terms, and it's time for some new blood."
Banning sex orientation therapy
A California bill banning reparative therapy-a counseling method that tries to help a person change sexual orientations-passed its final Senate committee May 8. But opponents say the proposed state law prohibits speech, violates privacy rights, and creates unintended consequences.
The bill would prohibit reparative therapy for minors and force adults to sign a release form stating that the counseling is ineffectual and possibly dangerous.
The bill's author, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, called reparative therapy "scientifically ineffective" and responsible for causing a number of ills, including "extreme depression and guilt" that sometimes leads to suicide.
But the Pacific Justice Institute claims the proposed ban is unconstitutional because it prohibits an entire category of speech between therapists and minor patients.
It's the view that counts
The New York Court of Appeals ruled on May 10 that viewing online child porn is not a crime. That was the verdict in People v. Kent, a case centering on James Kent, a professor who possessed files of child pornography.
The judges convicted Kent of two counts of procuring child pornography and 134 counts of possessing on his hard drive depictions of a sexual act performed by a child. The judges, though, ruled that photos in Kent's cache did not count as "possession," only viewing, which the judges said is not a criminal act.
"Merely viewing web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law," the opinion stated.
State Sen. Martin Golden, a Republican, and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, a Democrat, have drafted bills that would criminalize all accessing and possessing child porn with intent to view.