May 30, 2018

U.S. officials and "mid-level, senior-level Taliban leaders" are engaging in "intensified dialogue" in Kabul about ending the war in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, told reporters via teleconference Wednesday.

"A number of channels of dialogue have opened up between the various stakeholders in the peace process," Nicholson said. "Now, what's been encouraging, is that concurrent with this intensified dialogue, we saw the levels of violence drop to lower levels ... I call this talking and fighting," he continued. "And, as [Defense Secretary James Mattis] has said, 'Violence and progress can coexist,' and that's what we're seeing."

Nicholson did not reveal the identities of the negotiators, only that they are "stakeholders" who are "engaged to varying degrees of dialogue with either those who work with the Taliban or actually some of the Taliban leaders themselves." Bonnie Kristian

12:09 p.m.

Joe Biden took the oath of office on Wednesday, but in his first address to the nation as the 46th president of the United States, he acknowledged how tumultuous the path to the historic day has been. "The people — the will of the people — has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded," he said. "We have learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed."

Biden added that it is on "we the people" to strive for a more perfect union. "This is a great nation," he went on. "We are good people. Over the centuries through storm and strife, through peace and war, we've come so far. But we still have far to go."

"We'll press forward," Biden said, "with speed and urgency. We have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities." Jeva Lange

12:05 p.m.

Ahead of President Biden's Wednesday inauguration, his incoming team unveiled the details of a massive immigration reform bill he'll bring to Congress before the day ends. It includes a path to citizenship for undocumented people and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, as well as provisions that are meant to address Central American migration in the first place.

Biden had promised to reverse former President Donald Trump's restrictionist immigration agenda as soon as he stepped into office. And while it will take time to completely unravel Trump's web of executive orders, Biden will sign at least a dozen of his own orders as soon as he arrives in the White House Wednesday evening, NBC News reports. Those orders include stopping construction of Trump's southern border wall and a repeal of his Muslim travel ban.

Also on Wednesday, Biden will present Congress with his immigration reform bill that will propose an eight-year path to citizenship, allowing millions of undocumented immigrants in the country as of Jan. 1 to quickly apply for temporary legal status. They'll be granted a green card after passing certain requirements, and after three years of legal permanent residency, will be allowed to apply for citizenship, The Washington Post reports. Meanwhile a proposed increase of aid to Central American countries is meant to repair economic conditions that drive people to immigrate to America in the first place. Also proposed is a major increase in refugee admissions, a program that will reunite Central Americans and their U.S. citizen relatives, and a pivot to using technology to curb illegal border crossings instead of a physical wall.

During the 2020 race, Biden faced criticism and questions over the Obama administration's record deportations and failure to overhaul America's immigration system. This day-one proposal seems to show Biden wants to address those shortcomings as soon as possible. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:04 p.m.

Millions of viewers on Wednesday were astonished at the size of the aging leather-bound Bible used when President Joe Biden took the oath of office, a volume substantially larger than the common pocket-sized editions of Holy Writ.

But in Biden's childhood the book would have been a somewhat more familiar sight. Biden was sworn in with a late 19th-century edition of the Douay Rheims translation of the Bible with extensive commentary by Fr. George Leo Haydock, the scion of an old recusant family who spent much of his life serving in Catholic missions in rural England.

Haydock's commentary, which is still considered among the most authoritative in the English speaking world, is among the reasons that Biden's Bible (which appears to have been in his family since 1893) is so large. Most Haydock editions, including one nearly identical to Biden's owned by this columnist, also include introductory essays, extensive illustrations, glossaries, biographies of the popes, pages for recording the dates of births, deaths, baptisms, marriages, and priestly ordinations.

Haydock editions of the Douay would remain the most common among English-speaking Catholics in both the United States and the British Empire until the 1940s, when the so-called Confraternity edition was published, removing much of the archaic syntax and Latinate vocabulary to which readers had been accustomed. Matthew Walther

11:58 a.m.

President Biden was sworn in as the United States' 46th commander-in-chief Wednesday, succeeding former President Donald Trump.

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Biden with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at his side holding the family bible.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), one of the inaugural committee chairs, then introduced Biden by his new title for the first time, and he launched into his initial speech on the job. Tim O'Donnell

11:57 a.m.

Lady Gaga just brought the house down at President Biden's inauguration.

Gaga, using a gold microphone, sang the national anthem at the start of Biden's inauguration ceremony, the first of numerous performances that were set to take place on Wednesday; minutes later, Jennifer Lopez also won praise for her performance.

Gaga has a history with the new president, having previously worked with him on a campaign against sexual assault and performing at a rally for him during the 2020 election. In a Twitter thread earlier in the day, Gaga called it an "honor" to be performing the national anthem.

"I will sing during a ceremony, a transition, a moment of change — between POTUS 45 and 46," Gaga wrote. "For me, this has great meaning. My intention is to acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and passionate for a future where we work together lovingly. I will sing to the hearts of all people who live on this land." Watch Gaga's performance below. Brendan Morrow

11:52 a.m.

Kamala Harris took the oath of office on Wednesday, making history as the first woman and first woman of color to break the glass ceiling of the executive branch.

Harris also makes history as the nation's first African-American and first South Asian vice president of the United States. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath. Watch the moment below. Jeva Lange

11:36 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration— while President Trump, at almost the same time, landed in Florida.

Pence was introduced at Biden's inauguration on Wednesday alongside second lady Karen Pence, and they received "hearty, bipartisan applause," CNN's Jeremy Diamond writes. The vice president's arrival was more notable than usual considering Trump refused to attend the ceremony, leaving Washington, D.C., beforehand despite the tradition of presidents being in attendance for their successor's swearing-in.

Trump had departed on Air Force One for Florida earlier after delivering farewell remarks, and the plane landed within minutes of Pence being introduced.

Among those who were previously introduced at the inauguration include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Clinton went "out of her way to greet" Pence, and "they exchanged a few words." Despite his refusal to attend the inauguration, Trump left a note in the White House for Biden, as is tradition, and The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports Pence also left a note for his successor, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Brendan Morrow

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