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April 23, 2012 at 5:17 PM
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Obama order allows rights-abuse sanctions

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- An executive order announced by U.S. President Obama Monday targets technology and social media used for human-rights abuses in Iran and Syria.

The order, signed Sunday, and other actions taken demonstrate the United States recognizes "we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities -- because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people," Obama said in remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The executive order authorizes new sanctions against the Syrian and Iranian governments "and those that abet them for using technologies to monitor and track and target citizens for violence," Obama said.

The executive order authorizes sanctions and visa bans against those who "commit or facilitate grave human rights abuses via information technology related to Syrian and Iranian regime brutality," the White House said in a fact sheet.

The order allows the United States to sanction not only the governments of Iran and Syria, but also companies that provide them with technology that can be used for oppression and the "digital guns for hire" who create or operate systems used to monitor, track and target citizens for killing, torture or other abuses, the White House said.

U.S. military advisers to remain in Africa

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- Military advisers will remain deployed to help several African nations protect against the threat from the Lord's Resistance Army, U.S. President Obama said.

The president announced the continued deployment during a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Monday as he discussed U.S. development of a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities.

"[Our] advisers will continue their efforts to bring this madman to justice, and to save lives," Obama said. "It is part of our regional strategy to end the scourge that is the LRA, and help realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family and no girl is raped and no boy is turned into a child soldier."

The guerrilla force, rooted in Protestant Christianity, mysticism and traditional African religion, has been seeking to create a theocratic state since 1987.

Great Mexican migration slows to trickle

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- The surge of immigrants to the United States from Mexico has apparently ground to a halt due to the weak U.S. economy and changing demographics in Mexico.

The Pew Hispanic Center said Monday data collected from U.S. and Mexican sources indicated the unprecedented influx that brought about 12 million Mexican immigrants to the United States in the past four decades had stalled and may have even reversed.

Pew said about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States from 2005-10. At the same time an equal number moved back to Mexico with their U.S.-born children. That compared to about 3 million who moved to the United States in 1995-2000 and 700,000 who returned to Mexico with their kids.

Pew said the factors in the apparent standstill were varied, but the slowdown in the U.S. construction industry was a major factor along with stepped-up security at the increasingly perilous border and the greater risk of deportation once across. At the same time, more deportees have said they did not intend to try their luck again and return to the United States.

Dutch PM resigns as budget plan stalls

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, April 23 (UPI) -- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned Monday after losing key support in Parliament for his plan for sweeping spending cuts, officials said.

Rutte's departure will lead to new elections, which Nos television said would most likely be conducted before the end of June.

Some members of Parliament have said the elections should be held as soon as possible because of pressure from the European Union for the Netherlands to come up with a workable plan to reduce its budget deficit to the 3 percent mandated by the EU, Dutchnews.nl said.

Rutte's hawkish budget proposal was deemed too Draconian by the right-wing Freedom Party, which withdrew its support for the plan over the weekend.

Dutchnews.nl reported that opposition leaders said they would work with the government to come up with an alternative plan that meets at least some of the EU's requirements.

Hudson kin slay trial begins in Chicago

CHICAGO, April 23 (UPI) -- Jennifer Hudson was the first witness called Monday at the Chicago trial of her former brother-in-law, who is accused of killing three members of her family.

William Balfour, who was married to Jennifer's sister Julia, is charged in the 2008 shooting deaths of the sisters' mother and brother and Julia's 7-year-old son.

ABC News said Jennifer Hudson, an Oscar-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning singer, tearfully testified about Julia's stormy relationship with Balfour when she took the stand at the opening of his trial.

"None of us wanted her to marry William," Jennifer said. "We did not like how he treated her."

Prosecutors said Balfour had threatened to kill Julia's family, then her, if she left him. They said Balfour was upset because Julia had a new boyfriend, even though he was seeing two other women, ABC News said.

Balfour is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. His trial is expected to last a month.

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