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10 things you need to know today: August 17, 2017

Harold Maass
Andrew Shurtleff-Pool/Getty Images
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1.

Trump shuts down business councils after CEOs quit

President Trump shut down his two main business advisory councils on Wednesday after a parade of corporate leaders quit after repudiating Trump's response to the deadly violence at Saturday's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump twice said both white nationalists and counter-protesters were to blame for the clashes, in which one 32-year-old counter-protester was killed when a 20-year-old reputed white nationalist allegedly plowed intentionally into a crowd of civil rights activists. JP Morgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, a member of the Strategy & Policy Forum, told employees his group decided to disband after Trump, defying bipartisan criticism, doubled down Tuesday on his finger-pointing at counter-protesters, and appeared to express sympathy for some people who marched with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

2.

Heather Heyer's mother calls for activism in her honor

Friends, family, and co-workers of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights counter-protester killed at Saturday's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, gathered on Wednesday for a memorial service, urging people to honor her legacy by speaking out against injustice. "They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her," Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, said. Bro urged people to take inspiration from her daughter's sacrifice, and commit to "righteous action" to make the world a better place. "I'd rather have my child," she said, "but by golly, if I've got to give her up, we're going to make it count." Later Wednesday, thousands of people participated in a candlelight vigil against hate and violence at the University of Virginia.

3.

Baltimore mayor orders Confederate monuments removed

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday that she had ordered city employees to have four Confederate monuments removed overnight. The move came days after a white supremacist protest against the dismantling of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in violence that left a counter-protester dead. Pugh made the call "in the best interest of my city," without public notice, fundraising, or a plan for where to put the monuments. "I said with the climate of this nation," she said, "that I think it's very important that we move quickly and quietly." David Goldfield, a history professor who studies Confederate symbols at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, predicted this was the start of "another wave of these removals."

4.

George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush urge Americans to 'reject racial bigotry'

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush on Wednesday released a statement condemning the racist violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. The Bushes did not specifically mention President Trump, who has been widely criticized for saying "both sides" were to blame, white supremacists and counter-protesters. "America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms," the father-and-son ex-presidents said. "As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city's most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights."

5.

Twitter suspends Daily Stormer accounts

Twitter on Wednesday suspended the accounts of The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that helped organize a Charlottesville rally against the removal of a Confederate statue from a park. The Daily Stormer has faced mounting pressure from tech services since the rally, where a 32-year-old counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed by a reputed white nationalist who drove a car into a crowd. Twitter said it prohibits violent threats, harassment, and hateful conduct on its microblogging site, and "will take action on accounts violating those policies." Earlier this week, The Daily Stormer's web hosting service said it was dropping the account and cutting off its service.

6.

University of Florida rejects white nationalist event, citing risk of violence

The University of Florida on Wednesday announced that it was denying a request from the National Policy Institute, an organization headed by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, from renting event space, citing an assessment of "potential risks" conducted with law enforcement officials after the deadly violence over the weekend at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spencer has pushed the use of the term "alt-right" to refer to white nationalists. He has called for forming an all-white "ethnostate," and his think tank promotes "the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world."

7.

Facebook bans white nationalist featured in VICE News documentary

Facebook said Wednesday that it had banned white nationalist Christopher Cantwell, who was featured in a viral VICE News documentary on the Charlottesville rally, for violating its policies on hate speech. The social media company also removed Cantwell's podcast. The 36-year-old was a speaker at the Charlottesville rally, and he made threatening remarks to VICE News. "I carry a pistol. I go to the gym all the time. I'm trying to make myself more capable of violence," he said. Cantwell later claimed his side hadn't started the fights that broke out with counter-protesters, but added, "we'll f---ing kill these people if we have to." On Wednesday, he posted a video in which he wept, saying he feared being arrested and killed.

8.

Trump lawyer forwards email saying 'no difference' between Robert E. Lee and George Washington

The head of President Trump's personal legal team, John Dowd, on Wednesday forwarded an email saying there was "literally no difference" between Confederate general Robert E. Lee and George Washington. The email, with the subject line "The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville," also said Black Lives Matter "has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups," The New York Times reports. Dowd received the email on Tuesday shortly after Trump blamed "both sides" for the violence at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally against the removal of a Lee statue from a park. Questioned by the Times, Dowd said, "People send me things. I forward them." The email was written by Jerome Almon, who runs websites featuring government conspiracy theories and believes Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the FBI.

9.

Sessions links Chicago's 'sanctuary city' policy to rising crime

Attorney General Jeff Sessions slammed Chicago leaders on Wednesday, saying their "sanctuary city" policies were contributing to soaring crime rates and threatening to withhold federal police grants unless the city helps the Trump administration catch undocumented immigrants. Sessions, speaking in Miami, said "respect for the rule of law has broken down" in Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), whose administration is suing the Justice Department over its threat to withhold grants, responded by saying, "In a week in which the Trump administration is being forced to answer questions about ­neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK, they could not have picked a worse time to resume their attack on the immigrants who see America as a beacon of hope."

10.

Phoenix mayor urges Trump to postpone rally

Phoenix, Arizona, Mayor Greg Stanton on Wednesday asked President Trump to reconsider a campaign-style rally in downtown Phoenix scheduled for next Tuesday. "I am disappointed that President Trump has decided to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville," Stanton wrote. "If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation. It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit." Trump said earlier this week he is "seriously considering a pardon" for Arpaio, a controversial former Maricopa County sheriff who was recently convicted of criminal contempt.