August 17, 2017 Last Updated 8:32 am

Local newspapers begin to examine the origin and meaning of local monuments and symbols

Morning Brief: Business, too, are looking into who they are doing business with, in some cases cutting off their services to customers with ties to far-right hate groups

The last two weeks of August is rarely a time of big news events, and Congress is in recess, the president on (supposed) vacation, so it is rare that big issues get much of a hearing in local newspapers.

But, of course, this is no ordinary year, and many local papers are using the summer lull to discuss an issue that a year ago wasn’t even on the radar: local monuments and symbols. From Chicago, Illinois to Biloxi, Mississippi, newspapers are bringing up the subject of why certain statues stand in our public places.

While in most places, the discussion involves Confederate monuments, here in Chicago some are beginning to question why there is a monument to Italian fascist Italo Balbo.

The monument was given to Chicago by Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to celebrate Balbo’s transatlantic crossing from Rome to Chicago in 1933.

Chicago Sun-Times, Michael Sneed:

Aldermen seek to junk monument to fascist Italo Balbo

Watch for Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) to join Ald. Ed Burke (14th) “in righting a wrong” by also removing the name of a fascist lieutenant from one of the most heavily traveled streets on the lakefront: Balbo Drive, which was also named after the Italian aviation ace.

“I’m amazed the citizens of Chicago have not demanded that these symbols of fascism — a street and a statue bearing Balbo’s name — donated by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, a sidekick of Adolf Hitler, be removed decades ago from the city’s landscape,” said Burke.

“It is now time Chicago does something permanent about this embarrassing anomaly,” he added.

Biloxi SunHerald, Mary Perez:

State flag likely to stay down in Biloxi — at least for now

The Biloxi City Council now has an attorney general’s opinion supporting its right to vote on whether to fly the state flag with its Confederate battle symbol, but things have changed since the flag flap began this spring.

There’s been a city election, an attorney general’s opinion and deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia, which has heightened tensions over Confederate symbols across the nation.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich ordered the flag down in April. He said Tuesday he hasn’t changed his position, so he likely would veto any attempt by council members to require the state flag fly at all city facilities.

The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan:

Trump ‘Sad’ Over Removal of ‘Our Beautiful Statues’

Under fire for defending racist activist groups, President Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that he was “sad” to see United States’ history torn apart by the removal of “our beautiful statues and monuments,” echoing a popular refrain of white supremacist groups that oppose the removal of Confederate monuments.

The rise of far-right groups, their rallies and support in the White House, is forcing many companies to wonder who exactly their customers are, and whether they should continue to be.

From payment services, to internet hosting companies, far-right groups and businesses are finding that they no longer can uses some of the services that helped them communicate with their supporters and customers.

The New York Times, Kevin Roose:

This Was the Alt-Right’s Favorite Chat App. Then Came Charlottesville

They posted swastikas and praised Hitler in chat rooms with names like “National Socialist Army” and “Führer’s Gas Chamber.” They organized last weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., connecting several major white supremacy groups for an intimidating display of force. And when that rally turned deadly, with the killing of a 32-year-old counterdemonstrator, they cheered and discussed holding a gathering at the woman’s funeral…

…On Monday, Discord finally took action, banning several of the largest alt-right Discord communities and taking away one of the white nationalist movement’s key communication tools.

“We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neo-Nazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs,” said Eros Resmini, Discord’s chief marketing officer, in a statement announcing the bans. “They are not welcome on Discord.”

BuzzFeed News, Ryan Mac and Blake Montgomery:

Apple Pay Is Cutting Off White Supremacists

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it had disabled Apple Pay support for a handful of websites that sold sweaters with Nazi logos, T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White Pride,” and a bumper sticker showing a car plowing into stick figure demonstrators. Following Saturday’s Charlottesville demonstrations, where one woman was killed by a car driven by a white nationalist, the iPhone-maker blocked three white nationalist sites from using Apple Pay…

…Apple’s move to distance itself from these sites comes as a number of technology companies have faced intense scrutiny for enabling the websites or social media accounts of white nationalist and white supremacist organizations. On Monday, both GoDaddy and Google removed the registration capabilities of The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist blog, in response to its posts about the events in Charlottesville.

“We’ve seen the terror of white supremacy & racist violence before,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote on Twitter on Monday. “It’s a moral issue – an affront to America. We must all stand against it.”

Cloudflare, Matthew Prince:

Why We Terminated Daily Stormer

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services ever again.

Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.

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