Joe Biden has declared that today is "America's Day" and that "democracy has prevailed" shortly after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

"Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, a cause of democracy," Mr Biden said after taking the oath of office.

"The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded."

The impassioned speech included messages of hope, acknowledgment of the enormous challenges facing America, a plea for unity and a subtle swipe at the Trump era of chaos.

Joe Biden says today is "America's day" and that "democracy has prevailed" as he officially becomes the 46th President of the United States.

"Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, a cause of democracy," Mr Biden said after taking the oath of office. "The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded."

It comes after Donald Trump left the White House for the last time ahead of Mr Biden's inauguration.

Mr Trump said it had been "the honour of a lifetime" and mouthed "thank you" to the press before boarding Marine One with wife Melania.

He landed at Joint Base Andrews, where Mr Trump was greeted by a gun salute and a group of supporters at an unprecedented farewell event. He thanked his key aides and praised his hard-working family, as well as wishing good luck to the incoming administration.

But there was a notable absence. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence skipped the event and plans to attend Mr Biden's inauguration. 

Mr Biden will hit the ground running as America's 46th president as he plans to sign 17 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in at 12pm Wednesday in Washington, DC (4am Thursday AEDT).

Handing off the 'nuclear football'

When an outgoing president hands the keys to the White House to the incoming one, another discrete handover takes place - the systems and codes for the US leader to launch a nuclear strike.

On Wednesday Donald Trump's huffy refusal to attend successor Joe Biden's inauguration created an unprecedented challenge.

Mr Trump travelled to Florida three hours before Mr Biden was sworn in and, as he was still President, he took with him the nuclear "football", the bag containing the procedures and equipment for a launch.

He also would have had in his pocket the "biscuit" - a card of authentication codes for embarking on a nuclear launch that only the President can use.

Mr Biden, though, needed the launch codes and communications at his side from the moment he became President and Commander-in-Chief, at noon in Washington.

So for the first time in a transfer of presidential power, there was a second active "football" - actually a hefty black leather briefcase always carried by the President's military aide - for the occasion.

At noon, just as he took the oath of office, Mr Biden had a military officer standing nearby with the duplicate nuclear briefcase, and he received his own biscuit.

Mr Trump's meanwhile expired, like an outdated credit card.

While it was a new test of maintaining unbroken presidential control over conducting nuclear war, it wasn't actually too difficult.

There are always three footballs around - one with the President, another with the Vice President in case he has to assume power, and third backup.

Biden enters White House grounds


Joe Biden has now entered the grounds of the White House.

Here was the view from his motorcade as it made its way along the parade route.


Bernie's mittens steal the show

The man who many on the political left would have preferred to see sworn in today somehow managed to steal the limelight from Joe Biden in the social media world - despite being dressed as if he was picking up a pie from the servo.

Daggy grandad Bernie Sanders rocked up the prestigious and historical inauguration today wearing them same jacket he wears in his most famous meme - and an item of clothing he appears to wear almost every time he's seen in public during the winter months.

He was sporting some patterned brown mittens to boot, which look like they were purchased in the early 1970s.

Social media is having a field day with the images of Mr Sanders, who missed out on the Democratic nomination to take on Donald Trump but remained popular among the American left.

The 79-year-old's popularity has been boosted by a number of memes over the years, and the jacket he wore today is clearly the same as the one in his "I Am Once Again Asking …" meme.

Joe Exotic unleashes on Trump

Infamous Tiger King star Joe Exotic was so certain he was going to receive a pardon from the outgoing President, he had a stretch limo ready and waiting to collect him from prison, where he's currently serving 22 years for hiring a hitman to try to kill rival zookeeper Carole Baskin.

The pardon never came, and Exotic's not happy, judging by a furious tweet issued by his official account.

"I was too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump," the tweet read.

"I only mattered to Don Jr. when he needed to make a comment about me to boost his social media post. Boy were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first."


What happens next?

After the parade wraps up, here's the rest of today's schedule, courtesy of CNN.

5.15pm (9.15am AEDT): Biden signs executive orders and other presidential actions.

5.45pm (9.45am AEDT): Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony.

7pm (11am AEDT): White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds the first press briefing.

8.48pm (12.48pm AEDT): Biden and Harris deliver remarks at the "Celebrating America" inaugural program.


'Eerie': Inaugural parade underway

Joe Biden's inaugural "virtual" parade is underway.

Due to the heightened security in Washington DC, members of the public are largely absent.

Iran hails end of 'tyrant' Trump

AFP

Iran's president on Wednesday hailed the White House departure of "tyrant" Donald Trump, saying "the ball is in America's court" to return to a landmark nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Tehran.

Mr Biden has signalled a willingness to return to dialogue with the Islamic republic.

A "tyrant's era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign", President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks to his cabinet.

He labelled Mr Trump "someone for whom all of his four years bore no fruit other than injustice and corruption and causing problems for his own people and the world".

During his presidency, Mr Trump led a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran, pulling Washington out of a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018 and reimposing punishing sanctions.

The sanctions targeted Iran's vital oil sales and international banking ties, plunging its economy into a deep recession.

The nuclear deal, agreed between major powers and Iran in 2015 when Biden was Vice President under Barack Obama, set curbs on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Since 2019, Tehran has suspended its compliance with most of the limits set by the agreement in response to Washington's abandonment of sanctions relief and the failure of the other parties to make up for it.


World leaders congratulate Biden

World leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis have all congratulated Joe Biden on his inauguration.


This is a rushed transcript of Mr Biden's inauguration speech in full.

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, and my distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, this is America's day.

This is democracy's day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve.

Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew. And America has risen to the challenge.

Today we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.

 

 

We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

So now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.

As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.

I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

And I know the resilience of our constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime in service.

I've just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington.

But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people, who seek a more perfect union.

This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we've come so far, but we still have far to go.

We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities.

Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain. Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now.

Once in a century virus that silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.

Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us.

The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

A cry for survival comes from planet itself.

A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear, and now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

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To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words.

It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity.

In another January, on New Year's Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation.

When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, "if my name ever goes down into history, it'll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."

"My whole soul is in it."

Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.

Uniting to fight the foes we face, anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness.

With unity, we can do great things, important things.

We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward - reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know that the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.

But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonisation have long torn us apart.

The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through civil war, the great depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifices, and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us - enough of us - have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now.

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.

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We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.

No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.

And we must meet this moment as the United States of America.

If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we've acted together.

And so today, at this time, in this place, let's start afresh, all of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again.

Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path.

Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war.

And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured.

My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this.

America has to be better than this, and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around.

Here we stand, in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as it was mentioned earlier, completed amid the civil war, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance.

Yet, we endured. We prevailed.

Here we stand, looking out on the great mall where Dr King spoke of his dream.

Here we stand where, 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote.

And today, we mark the swearing of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris.

Don't tell me things can't change!

Here we stand, across the Potomac, from Arlington Cemetary, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion, rest in eternal peace.

And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.

It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

To all those who supported our campaign, I'm humbled by the faith you've placed in us.

To all of those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.

If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America.

The right to dissent peaceably. Within the guardrails of our republic, it's perhaps this nation's greatest strength.

Yet hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans.

And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.

Many centuries ago, St Augustin, a saint in my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.

Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans?

I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honour and, yes, the truth.

The recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit.

And each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honour our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs.

I understand like my dad, they lay in bed wondering, can I keep my health care, can I pay my mortgage.

Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it.

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don't look like you or worship the way you do or don't get their news from the same source as you do.

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person's shoes - as my mum would say - just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here's the thing about life: there's no accounting for what fate will deal you.

Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we're called to lend a hand. That's how it has to be. That's what we do for one another.

And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future.

And we can still disagree.

 

 

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other. We need all our strength to preserve - to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus.

We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation. And I promise you this.

As the Bible says, "weep, ye may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

We will get through this together. Together.

Look, folks, all my colleagues that I served with in the house and the senate up here, we all understand, the world is watching, watching all of us today. So here's my message to those beyond our borders.

America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it.

We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's challenges.

And we'll lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.

Look, you all know, we've been through so much in this nation. In my first act as president, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost in this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans - mums, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbours, and co-workers.

We'll honour them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be.

So, I ask you, let's say a silent prayer for those who have lost their lives and those left behind and for our country.

Amen.

 

 

Folks, this is a time of testing.

We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis.

America's role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once.

Presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had. Now we're going to be tested.

Are we going to step up, all of us?

It's time for boldness, for there is so much to do.

And this is certain. I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion, is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour?

Will we meet our obligations, and pass along a new and better world to our children?

I believe we must. I'm sure you do as well. I believe we will. And when we do, we'll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America, the American story, a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. It's called "American Anthem."

And there's one verse that stands out, at least for me.

And it goes like this: "The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say? Let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you."

Let's add. Let's, us, add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation.

If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children's children will say of us, they gave their best, they did their duty, they healed a broken land.

 

 

My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath before God and all of you.

I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I'll defend our democracy. I'll defend America.

And I'll give all, all of you, keep everything you - I do in your service, thinking not of power but of possibilities, not of personal injuries but the public good.

And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness.

A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness.

May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history, we met the moment.

Democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch, but thrived, that America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.

That is what we owe our forebears, one another, and generations to follow.

So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasked of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts.

May God bless America and may God protect our troops.

Thank you, America.

Originally published as Biden's plea to US: 'End this uncivil war'



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