Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten his Black neighbors – National & International News – MON 5Dec2022



Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors. California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging. Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded.




Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors

Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, MS, has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges after a Dec. 2020 incident in which he set up a wooden cross on his front lawn, doused it with motor oil, and set it alight. According to the Justice Department, Cox admitted that he burned the cross to frighten his Black neighbors. He further admitted that he did it because of their race and because they were living next door to him. Court documents also show that Cox made “threatening and racially derogatory remarks” towards his neighbors.

Cox’s lawyer has entered a guilty plea in which Cox admits to violations of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act and prohibits discrimination against a person’s housing rights based on their race, religion, nationality, sex or family status.

Cox faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

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California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging

As gas prices have risen and fallen over the past year, California residents have been paying consistently high prices, averaging over $6 per gallon. Despite various market and supply issues, major oil companies have been making record profits. California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, rumored to have Presidential aspirations, is looking to find a way to penalize oil companies for price gouging and return some of that money to the state’s drivers.

Newsom hasn’t yet formally released this plan. However, it is likely to be similar to the windfall tax that prominent Democrats, including President Biden, have been calling for at the national level. As in Congress, the proposal would face an uphill battle in the California Legislature. The oil lobby is one of the top campaign donors for politicians in both bodies. California’s legislature is also seating an unusually high number of new members this term, many of whom received hefty campaign donations from Big Oil.

The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, is also already fighting back. The group blames California’s regulations and tax system for its higher-than-average gas prices and called on lawmakers to do away with these regulations.

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Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded

Over the weekend, Iran’s attorney general made a spontaneous remark that has raised questions about the status of the country’s morality police. Among other things, the morality police enforce the country’s strict dress codes for women. The death of a young woman in their custody for improperly wearing her headscarf has sparked two months of growing protests. Iran’s security forces have led brutal and deadly crackdowns killing hundreds of protesters, many of them children. However, the morality police themselves have been far less visible since the protests began.

At a news conference, a reporter asked Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri why the morality police had seemingly gone dormant. Montazeri responded that the morality police were not part of his justice department, but rather the interior ministry and that the agency had been “shut down by those who created it”. This created an assumption by many that the infamous agency had been fully disbanded. However, the government has issued no official decree to that effect.

Even if it’s true that Iran’s current iteration of the morality police is no longer active, the regime still has many other agencies to enforce its decrees. The justice department continues to arrest and sentence protesters. In time, a different mechanism for imposing strict Islamic dress and other morality issues may emerge. 

In any case, the protesters have made clear that, whether or not the morality police go away or the government enacts reforms to relax enforcement, their goal is total regime change.

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