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Updated 4:50 p.m. ET

As the United States inaugurated Joe Biden as the 46th president, world leaders, citizens and former officials offered congratulations and expressed hope that the new administration will lead to better relations and reverse some of the policies of his predecessor.

"The United States is back. And Europe stands ready," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, proclaimed in a tweet hours before the swearing-in Wednesday.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

Andrea Hall, a career firefighter and union leader from Fulton County, Ga., led the Pledge of Allegiance during the inauguration of President-elect Biden.

Hall recited the familiar words of the pledge out loud and in American Sign Language.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

President Biden gave his first presidential address to Americans on Wednesday in a star-studded Inauguration Day event that went unattended by his predecessor.

In his remarks, Biden promised to help the nation heal, both from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as from political rifts that had deepened considerably during the term of former President Donald Trump.

On this day two weeks ago, U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman became a hero, as he bravely directed participants in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol away from the Senate chamber.

Today, officer Goodman was given the honor of escorting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris through that same building to the inaugural ceremony.

Updated at 3:33 p.m. ET

Militias and mass protests did not appear in Washington, D.C., during President Biden's inauguration Wednesday — a welcome development for security and law enforcement agencies. Some 25,000 National Guard members are in the city, where insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.

Update at 2 p.m. ET: NPR special audio coverage of the inauguration has ended. Watch the livestream below. Follow updates in our liveblog.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are about to receive an Indian-style welcome to Washington, D.C.

A group of volunteers are putting together a kolam, a traditional South Indian art form used as a sign of welcome, in the nation's capital in honor of the incoming president and vice president. Using 1,800 pieces submitted from the public, the volunteers are assembling a kolam of over 2,500 square feet.

Updated at 9:44 p.m. ET

One of President Biden's first executive actions has reversed former President Donald Trump's unprecedented policy of altering a key census count by excluding unauthorized immigrants. The change ensures that the U.S. continues to follow more than two centuries of precedent in determining representation in Congress and the Electoral College.

In lieu of the crowds of spectators that fill the National Mall for a typical inauguration, this year the iconic stretch of land will be filled with nearly 200,000 flags, representing the thousands of people who cannot attend because of the coronavirus pandemic and tight security in the nation's capital.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will make history during Wednesday's inauguration: Biden will become the oldest president in American history, while Harris will be the first Black woman and the first Asian American to hold the office of vice president.

Musicians from all genres plan to greet the Biden-Harris administration, with performances from Jennifer Lopez, Earth, Wind & Fire, John Legend and more. The complete list of performances is below.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will become the nation's second Roman Catholic president, is attending Mass this morning, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and congressional leaders at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.

It's a church Biden attended both as vice president and as a senator, and it was the site of a service for the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, after his 1963 assassination.

NPR

Joe Biden is giving his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

NPR reporters are annotating his speech live with fact checks and analysis.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are being sworn in Wednesday as the president and vice president of the United States.

Updated 5:01 p.m. ET

If you haven't heard, Joe Biden would like to unite America.

It was a focus of the Democrat's campaign. It's even the theme of Biden's inauguration — "America United."

He made lots of appeals to unity in his inaugural address.

Even before rioters stormed the Capitol two weeks ago, the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president was going to look different from ceremonies past.

The risk of large crowds with the ongoing pandemic meant there would be no parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and many of the usual performances and speakers had been replaced with plans for virtual events.

Updated at 10:00 p.m. ET

Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, having defeated Donald Trump in an acrimonious, divisive election last November.

Biden was sworn in alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in an unusual inauguration ceremony, conducted amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and heightened physical security risks.

Before they gather virtually to watch the inauguration, students at YELLS, a nonprofit youth empowerment program in Marietta, Ga., will receive some special packages.

Each student will get a delivery that includes an American flag, a copy of the oath of office and a special set of pearls in honor of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. YELLS staffers are encouraging their students to dress up to watch the ceremony, to make a ruckus with provided noisemakers. And after the ceremony, staff will guide them in writing letters to the new president and vice president.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Biden has signed 15 executive actions, part of a flurry of steps he plans to take in the coming days to address his top policy priorities — and to roll back some of former President Donald Trump's initiatives.

White House officials had originally told reporters there would be 17 actions signed, focused on addressing the COVID-19 crisis, the economy, racial justice and climate change.

Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET

Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time as its 46th president on Wednesday. Biden spoke at a scaled-down event before a divided nation still reeling from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and from the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed more than 400,000 Americans.

But his remarks were ones of hope.

President-elect Joe Biden plans to send a sweeping immigration proposal to Congress after he is sworn into office on Wednesday, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

After fleeing civil war in Syria, Haitham Dalati and his wife made it to the United States in early 2017 during a brief window when the first version of President Trump's travel ban had been put on hold by the courts.

They hoped their daughter and her family would soon follow. Instead, the rest of the family got caught up in Trump's immigration crackdown and ended up stuck in Lebanon for more than three years.

Anita Baron first noticed something was wrong in August 2018, when she began to drool. Her dentist chalked it up to a problem with her jaw. Then her speech became slurred. She managed to keep her company going — it offers financing to small businesses — but working became increasingly difficult for her as her speech worsened. Finally, nine months, four neurologists and countless tests later, Baron, now 66, got a diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET

President Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist who was indicted over allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people in an online campaign to raise funds for a southern border wall — one of dozens of acts of clemency in the final hours of his administration.

The lengthy list of 73 pardons and 70 commutations landed after midnight. Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, skipping the inaugural ceremonies of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

Hall of Fame pitcher and long-time baseball announcer Don Sutton died Monday night in his sleep at the age of 75.

His son Daron Sutton wrote on Twitter of his father, "He worked as hard as anyone I've ever known and he treated those he encountered with great respect."

Sutton's 23-year Major League Baseball career started with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966. He remained with the franchise until 1980 and would later return in 1988 for his last season.

Aid agencies report swarms of locusts have been descending on farms in northern Kenya, destroying crops and even leaving pastures bare of vegetation.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in a regional update on the pests says swarms have been detected this week in seven counties in Kenya compared to just four a week ago.

Across the Horn of Africa locust invasions have reached dangerous levels in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, according to the FAO.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET Wednesday

The months-long investigation into allegations that Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina engaged in insider trading has been closed by the Justice Department and it will not pursue any charges, the GOP senator announced on Tuesday.

"Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year. The case is now closed," Burr said in a statement.

Maine health officials discovered that a majority of Moderna vaccine shipments received across the state on Monday were not kept adequately cold during transport, meaning 4,400 doses may have to be thrown out.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the announcement during a "sad and somber" coronavirus briefing on Tuesday and said the problem extends to other states as well.

Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET

Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally trying to spoil hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses last month, has been charged with attempted criminal damage to property.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Four-hundred lights around the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool were lit Tuesday evening to honor the 400,000 people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both spoke.

Many countries are betting on a vaccine from China to help them stop the coronavirus — although questions are surfacing about whether it's a smart bet.

The vaccine is made by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac. This week, Brazil began rolling out its national immunization program after granting emergency use authorization for the vaccine over the weekend. Indonesia and Turkey started their mass vaccinations with Sinovac's vaccine, called CoronaVac, last week.

But there are conflicting reports about just how well the vaccine works.

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