Morning Security Brief: A City Decriminalizes Domestic Violence, Mexican Cartels Spread, Kill-Or-Capture Missions

By Carlton Purvis


►Both advocacy groups and residents were shocked after the Topeka, Kansas City Council voted to decriminalize domestic violence in the city over a budget row between the city and the county. “City leaders had blamed the Shawnee County district attorney for handing off such cases to the city without warning. The district attorney, in turn, said he was forced to not prosecute any misdemeanors and to focus on felonies because the County Commission cut his budget. And county leaders accused the district attorney of using abused women as pawns to negotiate more money for his office,” the New York Times reports. The city said the change would force the district attorney to take domestic violence cases because it is still a crime under state law. But the effects are already causing the problems that advocacy groups worry about: 18 people have been arrested on domestic violence charges since September and released without charge because no agency would take the cases.

►Violence from Mexico’s cartels is not just spilling into other countries, cartels are systematically spreading their control beyond Mexico’s borders. And now they’re digging into the small country of Belize. “U.S. officials estimate that about 10 metric tons of cocaine are smuggled along Belize’s Caribbean coast each year en route to American consumers” using the country’s long coastline and rural roads, the Washington Post reports. And there’s not much the country can do about it. Its security forces are small and not well equipped, the country has no radar system to track unauthorized flights, its military has no helicopters, and no technology to intercept cell phones. Police are “lucky if they’ve got gas to put in their cars,” a U.S. official working in the region was quoted as saying.

►A new study says reports of NATO’s precision and success rate in kill-or-capture missions is exaggerated. Two Kandahar-based researchers found that for every target killed, eight people also died in the raids. Their research also shows that officials would exaggerate the number of Taliban “leaders” killed or detained when briefing the media. Researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, of Afghanistan Analysts Network, looked at the daily press releases published by ISAF to create a profile of the kill-or-capture raids.

►In other news, the Guardian maps and graphs every kill-or-capture mission in Afghanistan.♦ The “underwear bomber", Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, pled guilty to all eight charges that came from his failed plot to blow up a plane on Christmas in 2009. ♦ And Death and Taxes explores how social media and other Web sites use cookies and tools downloaded to your computer to track users habits online for advertising. “We are seeing more and more data tracking because it sells. And the fact that it sells creates more refined and intrusive methods of collection,” DJ Pangburn writes.


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