The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.

Kamala Harris swears in 3 new Democratic senators

Three new Democratic senators were sworn in to office by Vice President Kamala Harris, giving the party control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade.

Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat.

Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member.

The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies.

Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011.

Biden enters White House for first time as US president

US President Joe Biden arrives at the White House, walking the last block with members of his family through streets that were eerily empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under tight security, military bands and an escort of police motorcycles led the presidential motorcade to the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Biden was riding in a presidential limousine with the license plate “46” flanked by six mask-wearing Secret Service agents before emerging to walk the final steps to the White House.

‘Keep doing what you’re doing’: Biden fist bumps reporters outside White House

Walking from his motorcade to the White House, US President Joe Biden runs over to a group of reporters covering the inaugural parade, fist-bumping them as he greets them.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he says, in a notable change from his predecessor’s acerbic relationship with the press.

Biden and his family are currently taking their final steps toward the White House.

Biden’s motorcade rolls through Washington en route to White House

The motorcade with US President Joe Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris heads to the White House past the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (JIM WATSON / AFP)
An honor guard deploys to line up along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
Motorcycle police parade along the White House in Washington, DC, after US President Joe Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)
The White House as seen from Black Lives Matter Plaza ahead of the 59th U.S. Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC, January 20, 2021. (SETH HERALD / AFP)
An honor guard deploys to line up along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021. (Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

Biden administration starts moving into White House

President Joe Biden’s team has started moving into the White House.

The building began humming again with activity a few hours after Biden’s inauguration as staff for the new president started moving into their offices, unpacking belongings and getting the badges that grant them easy access to the property.

Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders, some overturning actions by former president Donald Trump, once he gets to the Oval Office.

The White House had been largely emptied out of staff after Trump flew to Florida on Wednesday morning, skipping his successor’s swearing-in.

Merkel looks forward to ‘new chapter’ with Biden

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulates new US President Joe Biden, saying she looked forward to a “new chapter” in German-US relations.

“Warmest congratulations on your inauguration, @POTUS Joe Biden and @VP Kamala Harris – a true celebration of American democracy,” Merkel is quoted as saying in a tweet posted by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“I look forward to a new chapter of German-American friendship and cooperation,” she adds.

Biden, Harris pay respects to US military war dead

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are visiting Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to US military war dead at the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

Biden and Harris present a wreath at the tomb in a somber ceremony at the cemetery outside Washington attended by former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th US president just hours earlier, salutes as a service member played the haunting notes of “Taps.”

Iran president hails end of ‘tyrant’ Trump

Iran’s president hails 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.

Biden has signaled 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 says in televised remarks to his cabinet.

He labels 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.”

Israeli source says ‘nothing to talk about’ with Biden if he takes Obama approach to Iran — TV

A senior Israeli source tells Channel 12 news that if new US President Joe Biden takes a similar approach to nuclear talks with Iran as former president Barack Obama, “we’ll have nothing to talk to him about.”

The report doesn’t give quotes, but the official appears to be referring to any move by Biden to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, which Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged him not to do. Biden has conditioned returning to the agreement on Iran coming back in compliance with its commitments.

The network also says Netanyahu will soon hold internal talks on the Iran issue now that Biden is US president, with the focus on preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear arms.

UAE inks deal to buy 50 F-35s, 18 advanced drones from US — report

The United Arab Emirates has inked a deal with the US to buy 50 F-35 stealth fighter jets and 18 armed Reaper drones, Reuters reports.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the news agency says the countries were working to seal the deal before US President Joe Biden took office.

Incoming Biden administration officials have said they’ll review the weapons sale, which was announced after the UAE and Israel agreed to normalize ties.

Mahmoud Abbas congratulates Biden, says hoping for ‘just peace process’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas congratulates newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden with a laconic statement.

“We look forward to working together for peace and stability in the region and the world,” Abbas says.

The PA leader says he is ready for a “comprehensive and just peace process that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence.”

Calm at US state capitols as Biden sworn in

Calm prevails outside heavily fortified state capitol buildings across the US as Joe Biden is sworn in as president.

The FBI had warned of the possibility for armed demonstrations leading up to the inauguration after President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed the election was stolen from him.

Fewer than a half-dozen demonstrators show up outside the capitols in Concord, New Hampshire, and Lansing, Michigan. A lone protester wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat stands outside a chain-link fence surrounding the California Capitol in Sacramento, as dozens of police officers and National Guard troops guard every entrance.

Three protesters are outside the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln, one waving a flag that read “Biden is not the president.”

Dump trucks, prison buses and other government vehicles are used to barricade streets around the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, though no protesters are there.

Michigan lawmakers canceled a session scheduled for today out of caution. But in Wisconsin, legislators planned to move ahead with a committee hearing that is to be open to the public.

Biden says ‘no time to waste’ in first tweet from POTUS account

US President Joe Biden issues his first tweet from the official presidential account.

Hamas demands Biden end ‘wrong and unjust’ US policies toward Palestinians

Hamas demands that newly inaugurated US president Joe Biden “correct the historical course of wrong and unjust American policies towards our people.”

“There is little regret over Trump’s departure from the American government, as he is the greatest sponsor of injustice, violence and extremism in the world, and the direct partner of the Israeli occupation,” says Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum.

Barhum calls on the new Biden administration to respect “the Palestinian people and their democratic choices.”

Biden’s official swearing-in ceremony ends

The official swearing-in ceremony for President Joe Biden has concluded, but more events are planned throughout the day.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden depart the platform at the US Capitol following a ceremony that included Biden taking the oath Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States.

Kamala Harris also took her oath of office, becoming the nation’s first female vice president.

The day included musical performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Celebrated poet Amanda Gorman read a piece noting that “while democracy can be permanently delayed, it can never be permanently denied.”

Following his departure from the platform, Biden is expected to sign paperwork in the President’s Room within the US Capitol. Afterward, he will review troops outside the Capitol before departing and traveling to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony with former presidents in attendance.

Later today, Biden is expected to make his first official arrival at the White House as president before a virtual inaugural parade.

UK’s Johnson congratulates Biden, ‘looks forward’ to working with him

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulates new US President Joe Biden following his inauguration, saying he “looks forward” to working with him on “issues that matter to us all.”

“Congratulations to Joe Biden on being sworn in as President of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic inauguration,” Johnson tweets.

“America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with President Biden.”

More Israeli leaders congratulate Biden, Harris

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid joins other Israeli leaders in congratulating new US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration.

“We look forward to working with you over the coming years to strengthen the special relationship between our two countries and advance our shared values,” Lapid says in a statement.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also congratulates Biden and Harris in a video statement.

Biden vows ‘we will defeat’ white supremacy, domestic terror

US President Joe Biden is calling on Americans to overcome their divisions, declaring in his first address in office that “without unity, there is no peace.”

Biden also pledges during his inaugural address that he will be honest with the country as it continues to confront difficulties, saying that leaders have an obligation “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

He asks even those who did not vote for him to give him a chance. He says, “Hear me out as we move forward.”

As he did frequently during the campaign, Biden pledges that he will be a “president for all Americans” and will “fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”

He adds, “We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue.”

Biden also vows to defeat political extremism and domestic terror in his first speech as US president.

The United States faces “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront, and we will defeat,” he says.

Netanyahu, Rivlin congratulate Biden on becoming US president

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin release statements congratulating Joe Biden after he is inaugurated as the 46th US president.

The two also congratulate Kamala Harris on becoming vice president.

“President Biden, you and I have had a warm personal friendship going back many decades. I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran,” says Netanyahu, a top ally of outgoing president Donald Trump.

Rivlin says the US has no better friend than Israel and says ties between the country go beyond political parties and are based on shared values.

“Our region is changing quickly. Many of the changes are positive. The recent peace deals between Israel and our neighbors brought new hope with them and I expect to work with you to help build further bridges in the region, including with our Palestinian neighbors,” Rivlin says in a message addressed to Biden.

Biden begins inaugural address: ‘Democracy has prevailed’

After taking the oath of office, Joe Biden delivers his first remarks as US president.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” he says. “The people, the will of the people have been heard.”

“At this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden continues, noting the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.

Trump arrives at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida

PALM BEACH, Florida — US President Donald Trump has arrived at his resort home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, after leaving the White House for the last time, AFP observes.

As Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony was under way in Washington, an event Trump snubbed, Trump flew to Palm Beach aboard Air Force One and then traveled in a motorcade to his home.

Hundreds of fans line the road waving Trump campaign flags, US flags and one that had an insulting word for Biden.

Joe Biden is sworn in as 46th president of the United States

Joe Biden takes the oath of office, officially becoming the 46th president of the United States.

Biden is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Harris inaugurated as US VP, becoming first woman and Black person to hold post

Kamala Harris is inaugurated as US vice president, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Harris, who is also the first Black person to hold the post, is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor.

Biden formally introduced at US Capitol as inauguration ceremony begins

Joe Biden is formally introduced at the US Capitol as the inauguration ceremony kicks off.

Biden and his wife Jill Biden are introduced shortly after Vice President-elect Kamala Karris and her husband Doug Emhoff.

Pence introduced at Biden inauguration as Trump lands in Florida

US Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence are introduced at the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Pence didn’t attend a farewell event at Joint Base Andrews this morning for US President Donald Trump, who is skipping the inauguration and just landed in Florida.

Trump arrives in Florida as his presidency comes to end

US President Donald Trump has arrived in Florida after leaving the White House for the final time as president.

Trump said farewell to Washington early today, leaving before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump’s plane flew low along the coast as Biden’s inauguration played on TV on Fox News Channel.

Trump’s family was on the plane with him. He spent some of the flight meeting with flight staff, who went up to say goodbye.

Trump has hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years.

Trump spoke to supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida. He said: “So just a goodbye. We love you.” And the 45th president added, “We will be back in some form.”

Trump departs office as the only president ever impeached twice, and with millions more out of work than when he was sworn in and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus.

Bomb threat called into US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — A bomb threat was made to the US Supreme Court ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as president, but nothing was found by security personnel, the court says.

“The court received a bomb threat, the building and grounds were checked out, and the building is not being evacuated,” says Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg.

The court is located next to the US Capitol, where Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, former presidents and top officials are gathering for the presidential inauguration ceremony.

The US capital city is on high alert for threats after the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6 by supporters of departing President Donald trump, who rejected Biden’s election win.

Biden arrives at US Capitol ahead of inauguration

Joe Biden arrives at the Capitol, where he will be sworn in shortly as the 46th president of the United States.

Biden is accompanied by his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, as they are greeted by lawmakers outside the building.

Madrid mayor says at least 2 dead in blast, apparently caused by gas leak

MADRID — The mayor of Madrid says that at least two people died today in a blast that an initial assessment links to a gas leak. The explosion partially destroyed a building.

A nearby nursing home was evacuated although no injuries have been reported among the residents.

José Luis Martínez Almeida, who visited the site of the blast, tells the local Telemadrid news channel that he couldn’t confirm how many people had been injured.

He says that no serious damage had been initially registered in the nearby school.

IDF planning massive month-long military drills over the summer

The Israel Defense Forces announces plans for a massive, month-long, military-wide exercise this summer, simulating a multi-front war. This will be the first time that the military holds a drill of this size.

“The structure of the exercise, which is being put together now, will include a scenario of a multi-front campaign in both the north and the south, in accordance with up-to-date and worst-case scenarios,” the IDF says.

The exact date and nature of the exercise is still being sorted out as it is not yet known exactly what will be permitted under coronavirus restrictions.

The military says the purpose of this General Staff-level exercise is to “increase the IDF’s preparedness and fitness for war.”

According to the IDF, both conscripted and reservist units from every regional command, branch and directorate will take part in the exercise “in the air, at sea and on land,” along with representatives from the cabinet, the Defense Ministry, the National Emergency Management Authority, Foreign Ministry and other security services.

“The exercise will simulate wide-scale, coordinated ground maneuvers behind enemy lines, based on the General Staff’s capabilities, as well as special forces operations,” the military says.

Maj. Gen. Moti Baruch will lead the exercise with the help of a task force that has been formed specifically for this drill, the IDF says.

Florida sheriff’s deputy charged for threatening to kill officials after US Capitol riot

BARTOW, Florida — A Florida deputy has been arrested for threatening to kill federal officials following the riot at the US Capitol earlier this month, officials say.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announces during a news conference that Deputy Peter Heneen, 29, is charged with making written threats to kill, conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. The deputy, who was hired more than six years ago, has been suspended pending termination, Judd says.

“I am angry beyond words,” Judd says. “Having him arrested was important. Having him arrested before Inauguration Day was even more important.”

Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as president today in front of the US Capitol building in Washington. Congress had met there January 6 to certify the results of the presidential election. But an angry mob coming from a President Donald Trump rally near the White House broke into the Capitol, forcing members of Congress to flee. Five people died during the riot, including one Capitol Police officer.

Heneen had been communicating with another deputy on Facebook private messenger, angry about a rioter who had been fatally shot while trying to break through a door, the sheriff’s office says.

According to screenshots of the conversation, Heneen talked about shooting “the feds” and making “the streets of DC run red with the blood of these tyrants,” officials say.

The other deputy, who officials don’t name, reported Heneen to his supervisors on January 8. Judd says they’re still investigating, but Heneen doesn’t appear to be part of any organized group or militia.

Online jail records don’t list an attorney for Heneen.

Loud explosion rocks Madrid; rescue teams on site

MADRID — Madrid’s emergency services say rescue teams, firefighters and police are working in a central area of the Spanish capital following an explosion that witnesses described as “extremely loud.”

Videos and images shared on social media show a tower of smoke coming out from a building and rubble scattered in a central street of Madrid. Spanish public broadcaster TVE says the explosion took place in a building near a nursing home.

Leire Reparaz, who lives near the Puerto de Toledo, a local landmark, tells The Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion.

“We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of gray smoke,” the 24-year-old Madrid resident says.

Biden says ‘it’s a new day in America’ as Trump leaves White House

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden says “it’s a new day in America” as he prepares to become the 46th president of the United States at an inauguration ceremony in Washington.

“It’s a new day in America,” Biden says on Twitter only minutes after outgoing President Donald Trump flew out of Washington at the end of a tumultuous four-year presidency.

Following tradition, Trump leaves note for Biden

US President Donald Trump has followed at least one presidential tradition.

The White House says the Republican president left behind a note for his successor, Democrat Joe Biden.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere declines to reveal what Trump wrote to Biden or to characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents.

Trump has refused to publicly concede to Biden and didn’t mention the Democrat by name in a pair of farewell addresses.

Trump interrupted many traditions of the presidency, including by not attending Biden’s inauguration today. Trump also did not invite Biden to the White House for a meeting after Biden was declared the winner of November’s presidential election

Trump left the White House for the final time as president on Wednesday morning, saying, “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime.”

Trump, aboard Air Force One, takes off for Florida

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has left Washington on Air Force One, three hours ahead of the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden.

Trump, 74, will be at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when Biden is sworn in at noon EST.

He is the first US president in more than 150 years to shun the inauguration of his successor.

Biden attends church service before his inauguration

US President-elect Joe Biden is attending church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden are attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. With them are incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Biden’s invitation, the first couple is joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership.

That includes both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called “Church of the Presidents,” for the inaugural day service. Biden is the second Catholic US president and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

Biden spent last night at Blair House, a traditional move ahead of a president’s inauguration.

‘We love you. We will be back in some form,’ Trump says as he leaves DC for Florida

US President Donald Trump greets supporters as Marine One touches down at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before leaving for Florida, skipping Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Before addressing the crowd, cannons fire a salute.

President Donald Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Trump and First Lady Melania flew to his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“This has been an incredible four years. We’ve accomplished so much together,” Trump says, beginning an unscripted address in which he does not mention President-elect Biden by name.

After praising his family, Trump touts his time in office, highlighting increased military spending, tax cuts and deregulations, among other policy measures, and the “medical miracle” of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed in nine months.

Ivanka Trump (R), husband Jared Kushner (C), their children, Eric (R) and Donald Jr. (2nd R), Tiffany Trump (L) and Trump family members stand on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as they arrive for US President Donald Trump’s departure on January 20, 2021. (ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

“You’re going to see incredible numbers start coming in,” he says, referring to an expected surge in economic growth when the pandemic abates. “Remember us when you see these things.”

Summing up his time in office, he says, “we’ve left it all on the field.”

“You are amazing people, this is a great, great country,” he says, noting it has been “an honor and privilege to have been your president.”

He adds: “I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening.”

Outgoing US President Donald Trump speaks at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. He and wife Melania headed to their Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

“The future of this country has never been better. I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success. They have the foundation to do something really spectacular.”

“Goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form,” he says.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania are greeted by Ivanka Trump (2nd R), husband Jared Kushner (R), their children, Eric (C-R) and Donald Jr. (C-L), Tiffany Trump and other Trump family members on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. (ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

Trump goes on to thank Vice President Pence, who is not present, and Congress.

“Have a good life. We will see you soon,” he concludes, ending his remarks as “YMCA” blares in the background.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20, 2021. They flew to his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, skipping the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (ALEX EDELMAN / AFP)

As leaves White House, Trump says ‘honor of a lifetime’ to serve as US president

Donald Trump tells reporters at the White House it was “the honor of a lifetime” to serve as US president, before boarding Marine One.


Abbas will be Fatah’s candidate in Palestinian presidential elections — PA premier

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh says in a statement to Qatar-backed Al-Araby TV that current PA President Mahmoud Abbas will be the ruling Fatah party’s presidential nominee in the scheduled Palestinian elections.

The Palestinians — split between Fatah, which rules in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza — have not had national elections for nearly 14 years. Abbas issued a decree last Friday ordering new elections, although analysts are skeptical that they will take place.

Abbas has indicated a number of times over the years that he did not wish to seek another term.

WATCH: Trump leaves White House for last time as US president

Donald Trump is leaving the White House for the last time as US president, departing Washington hours before Joe Biden’s inauguration, which he will skip.

The last time an outgoing president skipped the inauguration was in 1869, CNN reports.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stop to talk with the media as they walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Leaving the White House for the last time as president, Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

He is set to make a speech at Joint Base Andrews shortly — reportedly an unscripted address.

Biden aides say inauguration speech will look forward, won’t dwell on Trump

Two of the Biden administration’s top communications officials are describing the incoming US president’s inaugural address as a forward-looking speech that will make little to no mention of his predecessor.

Communications director Kate Bedingfield tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning that US President-elect Joe Biden’s address will “speak to the moment that we are in, but it will also lay out a vision for the future.”

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki tells CNN that Biden’s inaugural address is “definitely not a speech about Donald Trump” and she “wouldn’t expect” to hear about him in it.

Bedingfield says Biden had not had any contact with the outgoing president.

Asked why Biden had invited political opponents including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to join him at a Mass on Wednesday morning, Psaki says it “felt important to him personally to have members of both parties… and use that as an example to the American public.”

Bedingfield says Biden will sign 15 executive orders in some of his first moves as president.

Pfizer vaccine appears effective against UK virus variant — study

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be effective against the British variant of the coronavirus, according to the results of a study released today.

The study, which was posted on, has yet to be peer reviewed. Its 11 authors included the two cofounders of BioNTech.

The findings come a week after an initial Pfizer study suggested the vaccine can protect against the British and South African variants.

Israel’s coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told ministers yesterday that the UK variant accounts for 30-40 percent of current infections and will become the dominant strain in Israel within weeks.

Police break up Ashkelon wedding attended by dozens, including confirmed COVID carrier

Police say they broke up a wedding last night in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon held in violation of lockdown restrictions.

According to police, dozens of people were in attendance, including a confirmed coronavirus carrier. Officers issued 21 fines in all and an investigation was opened into the wedding organizers.

Kremlin says improvement in US-Russia ties depends on Biden

MOSCOW — The Kremlin says that any improvement in Moscow’s tense relationship with Washington would depend on Joe Biden when he enters the White House.

The United States recently blamed Kremlin-backed hackers for a massive cyberattack that breached government institutions, adding to a long list of grievances plaguing ties between the former Cold War rivals.

“Russia will live as it has lived for hundreds of years: seeking good relations with the United States,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says.

Whether or not Washington works towards achieving the same goal “will depend on Mr. Biden and his team,” Peskov adds.

Despite disagreements surrounding conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as US election meddling and hacking allegations against Russia, the countries will be in a race to extend a landmark nuclear weapons accord shortly after Biden is sworn in.

The 2010 New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear pact between the countries — limits both sides to 1,500 nuclear warheads each and is set to expire February 5.

Peskov says that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “consistently” advocated for the preservation of the treaty and that it was now up to Washington to preserve the pact.

Negotiations under the administration of US President Donald Trump stalled as Washington pushed for China to join the agreement even though Beijing said it had no intention of joining.

Biden’s aides have indicated that the incoming US leader will work toward extending the treaty, but he also vowed to take a tougher stance on Russia during the campaign.

Peskov says that the change in the US presidency will make no difference to Russia and that the Kremlin isn’t making any preparations for Biden’s inauguration.

Biden to sign series of orders rolling back Trump’s policies after inauguration

WASHINGTON — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden will aim to strike at the heart of US President Donald Trump’s policy legacy, signing a series of executive actions that reverse his predecessor’s orders on immigration, climate change and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden will end construction on Trump’s US-Mexico border wall, end the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization and revoke the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, aides say. The new president will sign the orders almost immediately after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, pivoting quickly from his pared-down inauguration ceremony to enacting his agenda.

The 15 executive actions are an attempt to essentially rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed. Only two recent presidents signed executive actions on their first day in office — and each signed just one. But Biden, facing the debilitating coronavirus pandemic, is intent on demonstrating a sense of urgency and competence that he argues has been missing under his predecessor.

These actions will be followed by dozens more in the next 10 days, aides said, as Biden looks to redirect the country without having to go through a Senate that Democrats control by the narrowest margin.

Notably, the opening actions did not include immediate steps to rejoin the Iran nuclear accord, which Trump abandoned and Biden has pledged to reimplement. Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, says that while they were not included in Biden’s Day One orders, the new president will in the coming days revoke the Pentagon’s ban on military service by transgender Americans as well as the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans US funding for international organizations that perform or refer women for abortion services.

2 Israeli HMOs to begin vaccinating anyone 35 and over

Health maintenance organizations Clalit and Meuhedut announce they will allow anyone over 35 who has insurance with them to be receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Clalit says it is allowing those over 35 to be vaccinated “so not to waste vaccination capabilities of over 100,000 a day.”

In response, the Health Ministry issues a statement reiterating its guidelines of only vaccinating those over 40.

“The planning of the vaccine regimen is planned centrally by the Health Ministry, together with the HMOs, and it is determined in accordance with the amount of vaccines and vaccination capability,” a ministry statement says.

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