20-year-old student becomes police chief in Mexican town

Marisol Valles, a 20-year-old criminology student, has just been named police chief for the town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, near the U.S. border. Reportedly, there wasn't a whole lot of competition for the job -- others members of the force have been abducted and killed by narcotraffickers in recent years:

The new police chief heads a force of just 13 agents, nine of them women, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol. Gunmen killed a local official and his son last weekend as Valles prepared to start her job.

"We are doing this for a new generation of people who don't want to be afraid anymore. Everyone is frightened - it is very natural," she told Mexican media. "My motive for being here is that one can do a lot for the town ... we are going to make changes and get rid of a little of the fear in every person."

Her force would focus on a non-violent role of promoting values and principles and preventing crime, she added.

Asked about her force's lack of firepower, Valles says, "The weapons we have are principles and values, which are the best weapons for prevention." 

Valles fully deserves the media coverage that has described her as the "bravest woman in Mexico" for taking the job. But of course, the cynical take on this story is that the town seems to have basically given up on combating traffickers. A small force devoted to promoting public welfare rather than making arrests seems a lot like like de facto legalization. It will be interesting to see if the model spreads. 

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images


Even Ayatollahs use Twitter

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, is visiting Qom, the religious epicenter of Iran and the residence of most of the country's top religious authorities.

But a little known fact is that the office of the supreme leader has a Twitter account that is providing updates and links, including pictures, from his visit. Earlier today, the account stated that three top grand ayatollahs along with other scholars visited the leader's house in Qom… who said Iranian clerics are completely un-modern?

There is, of course, much (often inaccurate) speculation regarding the ayatollah's visit, but it might be useful to remember this is the city where Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's first supreme leader, first resided (albeit briefly) after he returned to Iran following the success of the Iranian Revolution. It is an important city and serves to reinforce the fact that religion plays a major factor in Iran and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.