Saturday, the 13th of January
For DC-watchers, this week seemed an aberration. Superficially it contained many of the recurring themes of the Trump administration's year in office: bitter infighting, presidential gaffes and the looming threat of the Mueller investigation.

But we also saw something else: movement in a key policy area. This week we dive deep into how the GOP is reshaping America with its long-awaited immigration reforms.
A target of convenience. PHOTO: Chris Carlson / AP
On Tuesday a federal court judge blocked Trump's move to abolish the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But it wasn't much of a victory for the Democrats, nor much of a loss for the Republicans.

Although devilishly hard to quantify, it's believed that 11.3m undocumented migrants live in the United States. In 2014 a survey found that two-thirds had resided in America for more than a decade. The Obama administration extended protections to the children of these immigrants, going so far as to offer them a pathway to citizenship, and in the process enraged immigration hawks (particularly in southern border states). 

And so as a populist on the campaign trail in 2016 Trump had thrilled his audiences by preaching to the choir about illegal immigration. Throughout his first year as US president there have been numerous examples of Trump pandering to his base: through legislation to halt immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a freeze on refugee intakes, the infamous border wall, and by targeting DACA.

Now the touted Trump plan to scrap DACA has collapsed. Many of the 800,000 so-called 'Dreamers' who fall under the provisions of DACA have been protesting for months. But now there is light on the horizon.

A bipartisan committee of six senators is close to a resolution following four months of negotiations. The deal, announced on Thursday, raises the possibility of there remaining a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, although the bill is rumoured to contain a 12-year delay for applicants. For now details remain unclear but some news services have reported a $2.7b boost to border security, and a $1.6b contribution towards the border wall - as the quid pro quo.

Trump made a splash during the week by attending a meeting of the committee. In a bewildering display he promised to sign "whatever they put in front" of him, accepted the Democratic position, demanded funds for the wall, and insisted that Mexico would pay for it. In another outburst Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole" countries, and then went on to wonder why America didn't receive more immigration from countries like Norway. 

Republicans immigration hawks meanwhile are outraged at any bill that maintains DACA; many have publicly lamented Trump's 'betrayal'. It goes without saying that the contemplated reform is a far cry from the belligerence of Trump's campaign rhetoric. However, there has been no word as yet on whether or how the bill will address Trump's two most recent pet peeves: chain migration (in which immigrants sponsor their family members) and the diversity lottery system.

The senators are working on a tight deadline, so watch this space. The United States government runs out of money on January 19th, and Democratic leaders are refusing to support a funding bill unless a DACA deal is imminent. All the while these negotiations continue against the backdrop of widespread Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on convenience stores in ethnically diverse areas.
Guess who's back. PHOTO: Pau Barrena / AFP
Headaches in Europe - Once more unto the breach. This week Catalonia's two largest pro-independence parties agreed to nominate their exiled leader Carles Puigdemont as president of the wayward region. In a direct affront to Madrid, Puigdemont will once more lead negotiations with the government; albeit from his refuge in Belgium. We'll wait to see how the capital responds, but considering the fact that many former Catalan leaders are facing lengthy prison sentences, we doubt it will be diplomatic.

On the subject of moving back to square one, a ripple of excitement spread through the United Kingdom's remain-voters when perennial trouble-maker Nigel Farage backed a second Brexit vote. For Farage and the hard-Brexit camp the poll would lock-in Theresa May's final negotiating position; for their opponents it's a last-gasp effort to scuttle the entire Brexit process. Expect a mess.
Another setback for Huawei in America. PHOTO: New Zealand Herald
Deal breaker - Chinese tech company Huawei has been snubbed once again as it tried to enter the lucrative American smartphone market. American lawmakers have linked the Shenzen-based giant (one of the largest phone manufacturers in the world) to Beijing's espionage efforts. The House and Senate intelligence panels also slammed Huawei's intellectual property practices, all-but-sinking the planned distribution deal with AT&T. The ruling follows last week's decision by US authorities to torpedo the planned $1.2b merger between Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial and US firm MoneyGram (the latter subsequently hitching a ride with white-hot cryptocurrency Ripple instead).

Deal maker - In other news, Toyota and Mazda have announced plans to build a joint manufacturing plant in Hunstville, Alabama. The $1.6b facility is expected to hire 4,000 employees and produce 300,000 cars per year for the North American market. But for economically depressed Alabama the plant hasn't come cheap. As is becoming standard practice, the companies encouraged a bidding war amongst US states for the factory. Alabama and Huntsville will fork out at least $700m in incentives for the privilege of having the factory in town.
Admissions and lies from Myanmar. PHOTO: Al Jazeera
  1. Myanmar's army admitted to killing just 10 Rohingya
  2. Assange obtained Ecuadorian citizenship but not immunity
  3. 90 migrants drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean
  4. A private firm restarted the search for flight MH370
  5. 17 dead and 8 still missing after California mudslides
  6. Oprah Winfrey considered a tilt at the 2020 election
  7. An Iranian oil tanker is burning in the East China Sea
  8. North Korea agreed to compete in the Winter Olympics
  9. Pfizer ended research into Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  10. Merkel's talks to form German government stumbled, again
We broke it; then we fixed it. PHOTO: The Independent
Whole again - In 1978 the world rallied around the Montreal Treaty to enforce a ban on the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (and other ozone-depleting chemicals). It worked! A recent NASA survey shows that the man-made holes in the ozone layer are recovering. Now for greenhouse gas emissions....

Mythbusting - While commentators (expert and otherwise) across the world bluster on about universal basic income schemes, a small village in Kenya is disproving a key criticism. GiveDirectly has been operating in this township for over a year (with 11 more to go), and is providing a monthly stipend to all its residents. There has been no increase in gambling, drinking or drug-taking. How about it?
The artful dodger. PHOTO: Getty
The Arty Dodger - Uh oh. Amadeo Modigliani is one of Italy's most celebrated artists. But attendees to a retrospective in Genoa got a nasty surprise when art authorities ruled that 20 of the 21 Modigliani's on show were fakes. Needless to say the local police are eager to speak to the dealer.

Melting snow - As the world gears up for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea, a team of researchers has caused quite a stir. According to its research by 2050 at least 9 of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be too warm to host the games. 
Your weekend long read...

At inkl we see thousands of articles everyday. But this is one of THE MOST alarming pieces we've read in a long time. And it isn't even a news story. Rather, this is the full, unedited transcript of Donald Trump's recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. It is captivating and terrifying in equal measure.