Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry in Munich

The situation in Syria is so horrific that it is tempting to grasp at any straw. The news that world powers have agreed a route to the declaration of a ceasefire, in a week’s time, may be just such a straw. Of course, any prospect of a stop to the killing has to be welcomed. Yet, at the same time, there are obvious grounds for scepticism, based both on the details of the agreement and on the record of the parties involved – above all, the Russians. There are many difficult conditions to be fulfilled, before the ceasefire would come into force. The likelihood that some of these conditions will not be met would give Russia a giant loophole to justify the continuation of its bombing campaign in and around Aleppo. And, unfortunately, the record suggests that Russia is very good at dragging the west into negotiations – as cover for its continued military campaign. Read more

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John Kasich, the Ohio governor who came second in New Hampshire, is not expected to expend much energy in the state where there is less support for his moderate conservatism. He will focus on Michigan, which votes on March 8 and is seen as a must-win for him. That leaves Mr Bush and Mr Rubio dueling in South Carolina for the establishment mantle that they and Mr Kasich are all hoping to claim. Read more

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Fasten your seat belts. The emphatic victories Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders scored in New Hampshire have underscored that the populist mood sweeping the country has dramatically changed the course of the 2016 presidential race. The New York tycoon got the victory that eluded him in Iowa and solidified his status as the Republican frontrunner. The potential for a President Trump can no longer be dismissed as ridiculous. Read more

What happens if Aleppo falls?
Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power are on the brink of encircling the northern city of Aleppo, a stronghold of the moderate rebels in what could prove to be a decisive moment in Syria’s murderous civil war. Ben Hall discusses the implications with Erika Solomon, FT Middle East correspondent, and Geoff Dyer, FT US diplomatic correspondent.

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Voters are casting their ballots in New Hampshire – the Granite State where licence plates carry the motto “Live Free or Die”. Donald Trump is expected to win the Republican primary, while Bernie Sanders is preparing for a victory over Hillary Clinton, who beat Barack Obama here in 2008 but is struggling this year. Read more

An elderly man walks past campaign signs

More than half a million voters are estimated to have headed to the polls in a near-record turnout a snowy New Hampshire on Tuesday as the Granite State followed the Iowa caucuses by holding the first primary contest of the 2016 presidential election. The FT’s DC bureau chief Demetri Sevastopulo, political correspondent Courtney Weaver, chief US commentator Edward Luce and digital comment editor Sebastian Payne watched the action from the ground in New Hampshire. This blog tracks the FT correspondents and other social media and commentator reaction to the election, curated by US Online News Editor Emiliya Mychasuk. 

(New Hampshire) – The big news today is that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, told the FT he may jump into the 2016 race for the White House. That would be a huge development, which would radically alter an election that has already been completely upended by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

The candidates have been scurrying around the Granite State making their final pitches to voters ahead of the primaries on Tuesday. Mr Trump remains ahead in the Republican polls with an average lead of 16 points, according to a compilation of surveys by Real Clear Politics. Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American senator, has been trying to regain his footing after an awful debate performance on Saturday when he responded to charges that he repeats memorised lines – by repeating memorised lines. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
For those who are worried that Donald Trump is a new Mussolini in the making, I have reassuring news. Based on his performance at a weekend rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Mr Trump is far too boring a speaker to make a convincing fascist dictator.

There is a wonderful passage in Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” about the war between Little-Endians in Lilliput and Big-Endians in Blefuscu over how to open a hard-boiled egg.

It would be extremely rude of me to suggest that the uproar in France about the proper use of the circumflex is in any way comparable to the goings-on in Swift’s satire. Read more

In the GOP race, Mr Trump remains ahead in the polls, but Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American senator, is closing the gap. The latest Boston Globe/Suffolk poll shows the New York property mogul with 29 per cent, compared to 19 per cent for Mr Rubio and seven per cent for Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who won the Iowa caucus. On the Democratic side, an average of recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics finds Mr Sanders with a 17-point lead over Mrs Clinton. But treat the polls with caution given their record in Iowa and the fact that New Hampshire voters are notorious for making up their minds at the last moment.

The Democratic debate in New Hampshire last night was a feisty affair with Bernie Sanders attacking Hillary Clinton over her connections to Wall Street and her willingness to collect more than $200,000 a pop for speeches to financial institutions. The Vermont senator suggested that his rival would be in hock to rich people while his “political revolution” was being funded by campaigns from average Americans. But when the debate veered to foreign policy, he was no match for the former secretary of state. My colleagueCourtney Weaver has this story on the final Democratic debate before New Hampshire holds its primaries on Tuesday. Read more

​Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are taking more shots at each other as the Democrats prepare to spar in New Hampshire tonight in their last debate (which you can watch for free) before the Granite State holds its primaries on Tuesday. The Vermont socialist senator accused the former New York senator of being close to Wall Street despite her vow to clamp down on financial institutions that are taking advantage of Americans.

“You’re looking at the guy who’s not just talking the talk when it comes to campaign finance – I am walking the walk,” Mr Sanders tweeted after reports about the amount of money his rival has raised from Wall StreetRead more

Welcome to the FT’s daily White House countdown newsletter, which we hope will keep readers on top of one of the most fascinating American elections in years. You can sign up to receive it by email here. Demetri Sevastopulo, Washington Bureau Chief

Yesterday we urged you to forget about Iowa and move on to New Hampshire. Donald Trump is clearly not reading (yet). After flying to New Hampshire on “Trump Force One” following his loss in Iowa, the billionaire wants everyone to return to the Hawkeye State to re-run Monday’s caucus because of alleged fraud by Ted Cruz. Read more

Britain’s referendum on the EU
David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, announced the details of Britain’s draft deal to renegotiate its relationship with the EU – but where does that leave the debate? Gideon Rachman discusses with George Parker, UK political editor and Alex Barker, Brussels Correspondent

David Cameron is a gifted politician. He has a knack for sounding both reasonable and reassuring that, in another life, would have made him an excellent second-hand car salesman.

But the prime minister will need all his political skills to persuade British voters that the draft deal he has struck represents the fundamental change in the relationship between Britain and the EU that he once promised. Read more

The UK is a generous issuer of residence permits to Americans, Chinese and Indians

It is time to stop the panic-mongering and put Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis into a sensible perspective.

Across the 28-nation EU, some rabble-rousing politicians and hysterical media outlets are stoking public alarm that uncontrollable tides of migrants from non-white, often Muslim countries are swamping Europe. These migrants are depicted as instigators and perpetrators of terrorism, sex crimes, random murder and robbery.

Let me cite some data from an official EU report that throw a different light on the topic of migration into Europe. The data concern EU residence permits granted to non-Europeans. I confess that, when I saw the data for the first time, I was pretty startled. Readers may be surprised, too. Read more

Welcome to Week 2 of White House countdown, our new daily newsletter which we hope will keep readers on top of one of the most fascinating American elections in years. You can sign up to receive it by email here. Demetri Sevastopulo, Washington Bureau Chief

Remember Iowa? Well, forget Iowa. Just hours after Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses with a 27-24 victory over Donald Trump, the presidential contenders were already flocking to New Hampshire for the February 9 primaries. Mr Trump was certainly trying to forget Iowa. After an uncharacteristically long silence (20 hours) on Twitter, the billionaire re-emerged to spin the resultRead more

Donald Trump Holds Final Iowa Campaign Rallies On Day Of Caucuses

Ted Cruz, the firebrand Texas senator, has won the Iowa Republican caucus, delivering a big blow to Donald Trump, the New York property mogul who had dominated the GOP race for months. Hillary Clinton finds herself neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders. The FT political team, led by bureau chief Demetri Sevastopulo, political correspondent Courtney Weaver, digital comment editor Sebastian Payne and chief US commentator Edward Luce are in Iowa for the race. This blog tracks them on the trail of the contenders, as well as FT correspondent’s and other social media and commentator reaction to the election, curated by US Online News Editor Emiliya Mychasuk. 

Welcome to Week 2 of White House countdown, our new daily newsletter which we hope will keep readers on top of one of the most fascinating American elections in years. You can sign up to receive it by email here. Thanks for reading. Demetri Sevastopulo, Washington Bureau Chief

DES MOINES – Donald Trump hopes his daughter Ivanka will have her baby (due in 2 weeks) today in Iowa. Chris Christie, the witty New Jersey governor, is entertaining diners at the Machine Shed restaurant with impressions of the former star of The Apprentice. Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, is coming under fire for circulating misleading leaflets which suggest that Iowan residents are engaging in “voter violation” for not participating in elections. The drama adds up to one thing – the Iowa caucuses that kick off the 2016 presidential election are here. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
David Cameron should hurry up and hold that referendum on British membership of the EU. If the UK prime minister does not get a move on, there might not be an EU left to leave.

This is the latest edition of LatAm Viva, our weekly newsletter on the continent. To receive it every Friday by email, sign up here.

Officials from the financing bodies may have headed to the Caucasus late this week for a possible emergency bailout, but they are also deeply concerned about some Latin American oil-producing countries. The list includes Brazil, now mired in its worst recession in more than a century, Ecuador, which has been mending ties with the Fund as its economy shrinks, and even Venezuela, where the IMF last set foot about a decade ago. But it is Venezuela’s dire economic crisis that has spurred default fears as the government, and state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), are running out of money to pay debts as crude prices continue to crash. (The country even owes $3m in annual contributions to the United Nations.) Analysts believe Venezuela can make good on some $2.4bn due next month, which will take every cent of its oil sales for January and February, but according to Barclays a “credit event” is on the cardsunless oil prices miraculously recover. Things are not looking good. While embattled President Nicolás Maduro has been unable to lure fellow Opec members to convene an emergency meeting to ramp up prices, Venezuela’s oil basket, which trades at a discount to global benchmarks because of its higher content of heavy oil, is trading at around $20 per barrel. Experts believe a Venezuelan default may spark a nasty Argentina-style battle with holdout creditors. Read more