By Gideon Rachman

Sometimes one or two events can change the political mood all over the world. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 came just three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those two events inspired democrats and liberals across the globe.

The battle for Aleppo

The battle for Syria’s second city is both a grave humanitarian crisis and a potential turning point in the country’s long civil war. The FT’s Erika Solomon and David Gardner join Gideon Rachman.

Eighties outreach: Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko pictured in 1985

Japan is a society where wheels operate inside wheels. That explains how, 30 years ago, your humble correspondent achieved a certain fame by becoming the tennis and dancing partner of the Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko of Japan, the couple who, two years later, would ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne, from which Akihito on Monday signalled his intention to abdicate.

The proximate cause was the 40th anniversary ball of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, of which I was then president. I was told by the club staff that, as a matter of protocol we should invite the Imperial Couple but, not to worry, they would not come. So Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone became the principal guest of honour.

But on the Monday before the Friday black tie ball, I got a call in my office asking me to come over to the Akasaka Palace to discuss the circumstances of their attendance, one of which would be to disinvite the prime minister. The mixing of church and state, as it were, would be inappropriate, which Nakasone’s office understood perfectly and said he would come for drinks with the honoured guests and be long gone by the time They arrived for dinner

They came, saw and conquered. I had been told They would leave after the dinner and toasts – mine to the Imperial family, his to the freedom of the press – but they didn’t. They stayed through skits by club members and when the band struck up a tune, They took off for the dance floor. After a few seconds, my wife and I followed and stayed close to them as a waltz became a scrum. Read more

244 days. That’s how long it had been since Hillary Clinton gave a press conference. Until today.

This afternoon, the Democratic nominee appeared at the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ Joint Conference and deigned to take a few questions from journalists in the audience. Read more

It is a question often raised by Donald Trump’s seemingly glib or off-the-cuff opinions on minefield subjects that other politicians would avoid: “What does that mean?”

Today it was Barack Obama who was asking it, as he was quizzed at a press conference on Trump’s suggestion that this year’s election could be rigged. “That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense,” the president said, before mentioning kids who lose playground games and say they were cheated. Read more

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Are the wheels falling off the Trump train?

Over the past roughly 24 hours, Donald Trump has attacked the parents of a slain US soldier, refused to endorse the Republican speaker of the House, claimed John McCain – the US senator who spent five years as a POW in Vietnam – “has not done a good job for the vets”, suggested Americans pull their retirement funds from the stock market, claimed the election might be rigged and appeared to eject a baby from a campaign rally. On MSNBC, Joe Scarborough said an unnamed foreign policy expert told him that Trump asked him at least three times: “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” Read more

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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama made explicit the argument he has been building for weeks about Donald Trump: “The Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president.”

It was Obama’s sharpest denunciation yet of the former reality TV star, who has come under fire for his attacks on the Muslim-American parents of a slain US soldier. Obama also said Trump is “woefully unprepared to do this job” and “doesn’t appear to have basic knowledge” about the world.

 Read more

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Last Thursday, Khizr Khan delivered one of the most affecting moments at a political convention in years with a passionate rebuke to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, contrasting it with the story of his son, a Muslim immigrant who joined the US army and died in Iraq protecting his fellow soldiers from an IED.

“You have sacrificed nothing and no one!” Khan said, addressing Trump directly from the podium in Philadelphia as his wife Ghazala stood stoically next to him. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

At the Democratic convention last week, I experienced an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu. Emblazoned across the arena was the rallying cry of the Hillary Clinton campaign — “Stronger Together”. It was a depressing reminder of “Stronger In,” the slogan of the losing Remain campaign in Britain’s referendum on EU membership.

So long, Philly. Democrats are streaming away from their party convention and heading home for the final 15-week sprint to the presidential election on November 8. It’s going to be brutal.

Hillary Clinton left most of her party with a spring in its step after a rousing speech (by her standards) on Thursday night. Bill Clinton seemed to have a great time, judging by the fun he had with the balloons that fell from the ceiling. Read more

Pop singer Katy Perry and candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on stage at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines.

Hillary Clinton finally smashes one of the remaining glass ceilings in politics as she becomes the first woman to secure her party’s nomination for US president. This blog tracks the historic moment with reaction and commentary from observers as well as the FT political team there to witness the event at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
 

The dream script for Democrats in Philadelphia tonight would have Hillary Clinton closing out their convention with a rousing crescendo. But can she manage it as she accepts the party nomination?

Democrats have already savoured speeches from their party’s most talented orators – Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden – who set a high bar. Clinton is not a natural speechmaker and John Podesta, her campaign chair, predicted to the New York Times: “Maybe she doesn’t hit those soaring notes.” Read more

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Donald Trump is renowned for knowing how to dominate a news cycle, but did he really intend to dominate today’s? As the delegates at the Democratic convention cool down from the blistering Philadelphia heat outside, ahead of speeches tonight from Barack Obama, Tim Kaine and others, Trump has garnered a big chunk of attention for himself with his latest Russian turn.

In a press conference, he urged Moscow to track down and hand over tens of thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server which have yet to be released. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he said.

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Discord at the Democratic Convention

The Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia got off to a turbulent start this week, revealing deep divisions between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The FT’s World News editor Ben Hall discusses what this means for Clinton’s campaign for the White House with Washington bureau chief Demetri Sevastopulo and Gideon Rachmann, the FT’s chief foreign affairs commentator.

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Boring? That’s what many predicted the Democratic convention would be after last week’s Republican drama in Cleveland. How wrong they were. Instead, the Democrats are off to a raucous, rollicking start that is giving party chiefs reason to bury their heads in their hands.

Just a couple of hours into the Philadelphia convention, the party unity that Democratic leaders want to cement by the end of this week appears thin on the ground. Read more

By Federica Cocco

Analysts are cranking up the odds of a Donald Trump presidency, with researchers at Citigroup saying the possibility “cannot be ruled out” and the statistics site FiveThirtyEight rating the odds of the Republican candidate at 40 per cent. Read more

Pay-Pal co-founder Peter Thiel has broken ranks with his Silicon Valley rivals giving a rousing speech to the Republican National Convention telling delegates that only Donald Trump is being honest about US economic decline.

In a speech on Thursday night shortly before Mr Trump took the floor Mr Thiel said: “Our economy is broken. If you’re watching me right now you understand this better than any politician in Washington DC.” Read more

RNC in Cleveland 2016

The Republican National Convention culminates with a pugnacious acceptance speech from Donald Trump with a promise of keeping the country safe and its citizens better off, with an attack on the ‘rigged’ system and White House rival Hillary Clinton. This blog brings the reaction from the FT team in the arena in Cleveland, and beyond. 

It must be hard being Ted Cruz. Just when you assume there could not be more people who dislike you, your own support base turns on you. The Texas senator’s decision not to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican candidate on Wednesday evening highlighted the divisions that have been simmering in Cleveland. Mr Cruz has the dubious honour of being the first person to be jeered at this convention — after Hillary Clinton, of course — and his wife, Heidi, had to be escorted from the arena.

Depending on your perspective, Cruz’s address was petulant or noble — given the personal attacks he has endured from Trump. He attempted to address those concerns head-on with the Texas GOP delegation on Wednesday morning, explaining he was not a “servile puppy dog” to Trump. But there were plenty of detractors present. (Read our report on Cruz’s clash with his own supporters here — and watch this video of Texans opining on what he has done.) Read more

Donald Trump has been a winner in Cleveland this week. But he has been a loser in Las Vegas.

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas – co-owned by the Republican nominee and his Sin City friend Phil Ruffin – has agreed to pay $11,200 in lost wages to settle a complaint filed on behalf of two pro-union workers. Read more