Big business lobbies and trade unions used to scrap over immigration, with employers wanting cheaper labour, and unions fearing it. Both sides now broadly back comprehensive immigration plans, sensing a grand bargain that suits all sides it helps that unions are as keen on Hispanic recruits as any elected politician.
Separately, technology firms like the Immigration Innovation Act, a limited bill being promoted by a cross-party band of senators led by Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. It is aimed at increasing the supply of H-1B visas and green cards reserved for skilled migrants, notably in the fields of science and technology. The comprehensive Senate plan backed by Mr Rubio, Mr Menendez, Mr McCain and five others calls for a guest-worker scheme for farm labourers and other low-skilled workers.
How such a trigger would work in practice is unclear. Reformers fear that no fence or guard force can appease the angriest nativists, even if, in truth, migration flows are largely dictated by economics and job opportunities see chart. Republicans fear that Mr Obama is not serious about reforms, wanting to preserve immigration as a cudgel with which to beat them.
Democrats insist that Mr Obama wants immigration reform for his legacy, and believes the electoral mathematics of 21st century America make a deal possible. Yet not every politician is worried about the same electorate. Those seeking national office have incentives to be pragmatic, as do many senators facing statewide elections. But members of Congress who hail from highly partisan districts, or who face primary contests decided by diehard party activists, may have every reason to dig in and oppose reform.
Democrats from conservative states have been almost as cautious. Mr Obama faces his own dilemma. Immigration can only be fixed with his active support. But if he claims reform plans loudly as his own, Republicans will run a mile.
Reforms have not been as close for a while. But that does not mean they will happen. At last count one in five Turkish generals, including Ilker Basbug, a former chief of the general staff, was behind bars. This ought to be a triumph for Turkish democracy. But the trials are dogged by claims of spiced-up evidence and other discrepancies.
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The families of over defendants given long prison terms in September in another alleged coup plot, Sledgehammer, are taking their case to the UN Human Rights Council. They insist the evidence was doctored. Independent forensic experts back their claims. Some point fingers at a powerful Muslim group led by Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Turkish cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
The Gulenists have made a comeback under AK and are said to have infiltrated the police and judiciary. There are serving and retired officers in jail.
As clashes with the Kurdish separatist PKK continue despite new peace talks and the conflict in Syria threatens to spill over the border, Mr Erdogan is right to be worried. Yet even as the prime minister seeks to distance himself from the Ergenekon case, some claim that he has struck a cosy alliance with the army.
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The chief of the general staff, Necdet Ozel, who owes his rise to the resignation in of his predecessor in protest at Ergenekon, is fiercely loyal. Mr Erdogan rushed to his defence in December after the Turkish air force had rained bombs on Kurdish civilians who were apparently mistaken for PKK rebels as they slipped into Turkey from Iraq. Some 34 Kurds, mostly teenagers, died. A parliamentary commission investigating the affair has run into claims of a cover-up. Not a single head has rolled.
It may be that the still-popular Mr Erdogan feels that the army is fully under his control. The National Security Council through which the generals used to bark orders to nominally civilian governments has been reduced to a symbolic role. After constitutional reforms were approved in a referendum, soldiers began to be tried in civilian courts.
Yet for all their recent setbacks the generals still retain considerable sway. The defence budget remains largely immune to civilian oversight. The chief of the general staff is not subordinate to the minister of defence. And an internal service law that allows the army to intervene in politics remains in place. Indeed, the idea that some officers may have been conspiring to topple the AK government is not far-fetched.
In the generals egged on the constitutional court to ban AK on flimsily documented charges that it was seeking to impose sharia law. In the event the case was dismissed by a single vote. The bloodiest coup came in , when 50 people were executed, , were arrested and many hundreds died in jail. Some soldiers are said to have committed suicide over the past decade, surpassing the number killed while fighting the PKK. Were the conscripts killed by their superiors?
Their parents want to know. For a dozen blocks, Gamarra and its side streets are packed with multitudes and lined by high-rise buildings, the older ones of rough and ready brick, the newer ones of glass. At ground level every square metre is occupied by shops and galleries selling clothes.
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The buildings above are an anarchic mixture of offices and workshops. It is home to more than 15, separate businesses. Not long ago La Victoria was known for crime, grime and chaotic poverty. Now Gamarra is pedestrianised and patrolled by municipal police.
The country is enjoying a virtuous circle of economic growth. On the one hand, foreign investment is pouring into mining, hydrocarbons and big infrastructure projects. No wonder that Peruvian businessmen are ebullient—the most optimistic among those in 44 countries surveyed by Grant Thornton, an accountancy firm. Yet amber lights are starting to flash. The first concerns the currency, the sol, which has seen its remorseless strengthening against the dollar gather pace in recent weeks see chart.
Profit margins for farmers and manufacturers are falling. Most of the capital flooding into the country is for direct investment, but a growing share is footloose money seeking higher returns than the rich world offers. They reject a Brazilian-style tax on capital inflows. The second worry is a credit and housing boom. The price per square metre for apartments in posher Lima districts has doubled since in constant soles and almost tripled in dollars.
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The current governor, Julio Velarde, is doing what he can: he has raised already stiff reserve requirements for banks. Nevertheless, productivity is growing, Mr Castilla says, partly because the strong sol is allowing companies to import machinery. To stave off skills shortages the government has improved tax incentives for worker training. Many informal businesses are registering at least part of their operations. The fourth worry is political fragility. Ollanta Humala, the president, is popular.
Businessmen are delighted that he has dropped much of his earlier leftism. But those who deem it sufficient to have a sound economic team look complacent.
Mr Humala, a former army officer, has no party to speak of. Felipe Ortiz de Zevallos, a business consultant, points out that only two of 25 regional presidents represent a national political party. The Congress is paralysed by factionalism, the police are often venal and the courts worse. So far the string is holding. Even so, it will take clear heads and strong wills to prevent the party getting out of hand. That AIG is around at all is remarkable. By piling into what would emerge as the most rotten part of the financial system insuring investors against losses on securities linked to American subprime mortgages during the credit bubble, it ended up owing billions of dollars to those holding the other side of its bets.
The buccaneering financial-products unit, whose need for collateral caused the government to intervene in September , is all but shuttered. An aircraft-leasing arm is in the process of being flogged. The transition back to private ownership has been pretty smooth. Much of the credit for the transformation falls to Bob Benmosche, a former boss of MetLife, an insurance rival, who was pulled out of a retirement spent cultivating grapes in Croatia to take the reins in August The happy ending to this corporate fairy tale is still some years away, however.
What remains of AIG is hardly a world-beating company.
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Margins are lousy at both the general-insurance division known as property-casualty, which insures homes, cars and the like and the life-insurance bit which offers bank-like savings products. Mr Benmosche claims AIG now has the right structure and positioning to thrive.
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Even after the cuts, AIG has some 62, staff down from , in 90 countries. With less management time spent fire-fighting and negotiating with politicians, more attention is being lavished on the nuts and bolts of running each unit. Mr Benmosche relishes detailing the humdrum measures AIG is taking to get there: consolidating data centres to cut costs, tweaking the product mix towards more profitable lines, offering more tailored pricing by crunching customer data more intelligently.