Jan 17, 2018

Report: U.S. democracy has "sharpest one-year drop" in 40 years

Data: Freedom House; Chart: Axios Visuals

A sobering "freeze frame" report was published by Freedom House, a watchdog group based in D.C., pulling together several factors that add up to "the retreat of the United States as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy." 

The global picture: Of 195 countries, 88 (45%) were rated Free, 58 (30%) Partly Free, and 49 (25%) Not Free.

  • The annual report finds "democracy is in retreat around the world" for the 12th year in a row.
  • "This year, this includes the United States, which in 2017, experienced [its] sharpest one-year drop since we began doing the survey more than 40 years ago."
  • "The United States has experienced a series of setbacks in the conduct of elections and criminal justice over the past decade — under leadership from both major political parties — but in 2017 its core institutions were attacked by an administration that rejects established norms of ethical conduct."
  • Go deeper: Their fuller U.S. scoring

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Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release women identified to have signed three nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.