By Robert A. Vella

This week kicks-off with an especially slow news Monday, but there are a few important stories to cover.  Three white supremacists who committed violent crimes during the Charlottesville incident two years ago have been sentenced.  One of the three major credit reporting companies (Equifax – the others are Experian and TransUnion), which determine our personal credit ratings, has settled with numerous government agencies regarding a massive data breach that exposed the private information of millions of consumers.  A budget deal has emerged in Congress which will pretty much maintain current federal government spending levels while extending the national debt ceiling.  The Democratic Party base is livid over House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal’s refusal to utilize a recently enacted New York law to acquire Donald Trump’s state tax returns.  His inexplicable obstruction will likely be very embarrassing for the party’s presidential candidates and officials who have repeatedly used the issue to criticize Mr. Trump’s lack of transparency.  Businesses are exploiting their financial might in court to intimidate individual consumers from posting online reviews about their products and services.

Racists sentenced

From:  3 members of white supremacist group sentenced for violence at rallies

Three members of a now-defunct white supremacist group were sentenced to more than two years in prison Friday for punching, kicking and choking counter-demonstrators at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville and events in California.

Benjamin Daley, 26, Michael Miselis, 30, and Thomas Gillen, 25, were members of a group known as the “Rise Above Movement” and previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to riot, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said in a statement Friday.

Equifax pays

From:  Equifax to pay up to $700 million in data breach settlement

The credit reporting company Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle U.S. federal and state probes into a massive 2017 data breach of personal information that affected about 147 million consumers, authorities said Monday.

The largest-ever settlement for a data breach draws to a close multiple probes into Equifax by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and nearly all state attorneys general. It also resolves pending class-action lawsuits against the company.

“This company’s ineptitude, negligence, and lax security standards endangered the identities of half the U.S. population,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Budget deal emerges

From:  Emerging budget deal likely to include few or no actual spending cuts, while lifting debt limit for two years

White House and congressional negotiators rushing to hammer out the final details of a sweeping budget and debt deal are unlikely to include many — if any — actual spending cuts, even as the debt limit is lifted for two years, people familiar with the talks said.

The agreement appeared likely to mark a retreat for White House officials who had demanded major spending cuts in exchange for a new budget deal. But the process remained in limbo while negotiators awaited final approval late Sunday from President Trump.

The pending deal would seek to extend the debt ceiling and set new spending levels for two years, ratcheting back the budget brinkmanship that led to a record-long government shutdown earlier this year.

Dems angered

From:  The one Democrat who can get Trump’s state taxes doesn’t want to. That’s infuriated the left.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law legislation designed to make it easier for Congress to obtain President Donald Trump’s state tax returns.

So far, the only Democrat able to utilize that law wants nothing to do with it.

It’s just one of a series of decisions that have landed House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., in hot water with those on the left who feel the longtime lawmaker hasn’t done nearly enough to obtain the president’s taxes.

Lawsuits slapped

From:  Posting a negative review online can get you sued

“We’re seeing a rise in individuals being sued for speaking out online,” said Evan Mascagni, who works for the Public Participation Project. He says many lawsuits are designed simply to intimidate. They’re called “SLAPP” lawsuits (for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

“A SLAPP filer doesn’t go to court to seek justice; they are just trying to silence or harass or intimidate a critic of theirs,” Mascagni said.

Some states have laws against SLAPP lawsuits, but there is no federal anti-SLAPP statute.

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