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Your Wednesday Briefing

A field of flags was planted on the National Mall to represent the thousands of Americans who would normally attend the inauguration.Credit …

A field of flags was planted on the National Mall to represent the thousands of Americans who would normally attend the inauguration.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

A new U.S. president and 400,000 deaths

Joe Biden will become president of the United States on Wednesday in a scaled-back inauguration ceremony. On the eve of his swearing-in, the president-elect will assume the role of mourner in chief during a somber ceremony as the U.S. approaches a once-unthinkable coronavirus death toll of 400,000 people.

Inauguration Day brings with it an awkward transition when one family moves in and another moves out of the White House, made all the more so this year by President Trump’s stormy departure.

Key elements of the inauguration will remain traditional, but many events will be downsized and “reimagined.” Here’s how to watch. .

Global aftermath: Mr. Trump’s imprint on the world will linger. Through his “America First” rhetoric, he galvanized other nations to put themselves first, too, rather than waiting on the U.S. to weigh in or collaborate on many major initiatives.

Related: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol was “provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

The government district in Berlin this month. Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting with state governors on Tuesday about new lockdown rules.Credit…Lena Mucha for The New York Times

Germany plans guarded lockdown for rule breakers

As the authorities prepare stricter lockdown measures, some German states are planning guarded quarantine centers for the very few who repeatedly disobey quarantine rules, according to Die Welt am Sonntag, a national Sunday paper.

States like Schleswig-Holstein in the north, Brandenburg around Berlin and Baden–Württemberg in the southwest are preparing such mandatory quarantine sites in hospitals, refugee centers and a youth detention center.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors agreed to extend lockdown rules until Feb. 14 and to make masks mandatory on public transportation. Despite a slow decline in cases, officials are ramping up measures to confront the more transmissible variant of the virus.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Brazil kicked off a nationwide vaccine drive with China’s Sinovac vaccine on Monday following an emergency use authorization, Reuters reported.

  • China reported 118 new cases on Tuesday, mostly across its northeast region, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year holiday, The Associated Press reported.

Members of the Muslim Uighur minority hold placards as they demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul. Credit…Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

U.S. says China’s treatment of Uighurs is ‘genocide’

The State Department declared on Tuesday that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its repression of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

The move is expected to be the Trump administration’s final action on China, made on its last full day. Citing the use of forced sterilizations, birth control and family separations to destroy Uighur identity, officials said they hoped the move would spur other countries to follow suit in rebuking China.

What it means: The declaration could lead the administration under President-elect Joe Biden to impose sanctions on China. The finding adds to a long list of U.S.-China tension points, but it also gives the president-elect leverage.

Related: A proposed amendment to a U.K.-China trade deal would give British high courts power to say whether genocide is occurring in Xinjiang, The Guardian reported.

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

A rich kid draws outrage in China

Credit…via Youtube

Annabel Yao, the 23-year-old daughter of the founder of the telecom giant Huawei, opened a publicity blitz last week — including a 17-minute documentary, a magazine cover and a music video. Ms. Yao wanted to fashion herself as a kind of Chinese Kardashian, embodying beauty and celebrity, entertainment and entrepreneurship.

But her tone, opining about her social status and struggles, struck a nerve at a time when China seems to have turned on its many tycoons.

Here’s what else is happening

India cricket win: Indians are celebrating a remarkable win against Australia, a four-match series being called one of the greatest triumphs in India’s cricketing history. The victory in Brisbane provided a huge lift for fans at home. “Nothing comes close to this — it surpasses all,” the team’s head coach said.

Thai monarchy: A former civil servant who shared audio clips on social media that were deemed critical of Thailand’s monarchy was sentenced to 43 years in prison by a criminal court in Bangkok. It was the longest sentence yet for violating Thailand’s tough lèse-majesté law, which makes it a crime to defame senior members of the royal family.

Arab Spring anniversary: Tunisia, where the uprising began 10 years ago, has become a democracy, complete with that rarest of Arab commodities — the right to free speech. But as youth unemployment remains high and corruption rampant, some Tunisians wonder if the revolution was worth it.

Credit…Ulet Ifansasti for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, the funeral of a flight attendant over the weekend in Jakarta. As the authorities piece together what happened aboard Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, the uncertainty has compounded the grief of the 62 victims’ families. Funerals have begun, even for those whose remains have not been found.

What we’re reading: This ProPublica report collecting more than 500 videos from the U.S. Capitol attack, offering a view of what the attack looked like from inside the mob.

Now, a break from the news

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

Cook: In this vegetarian main inspired by Indian dal, these red curry lentils with sweet potatoes are cooked with an aromatic blend of Thai spices, then simmered in coconut milk until fall-apart tender.

Read: Octavia Butler committed her life to turning speculative fiction into a home for Black expression. If you have not yet read her work, here’s where to start with her books.

Do: For many, January is a month to rethink their drinking habits. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate your relationship with alcohol or bring it to an end.

We can help you practice self-care with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

Photographing Trump

Over the past four years, Doug Mills, a Times photographer, has taken tens of thousands of shots of President Trump. As Mr. Trump ends his tumultuous presidency today, Mr. Mills reflected on his nonstop job covering a relentless four years.

In what ways have the past four years been more challenging for you than in previous administrations?

It’s been the most consuming four years in memory for everyone in the White House press corps. President Trump was the most unpredictable commander in chief in my 38 years of covering the White House. He drove news cycle after news cycle each and every day, and I was there for the majority of them.

The moment before a White House briefing on the coronavirus in August.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

What was your own personal interaction with him like?

President Trump does know me by name and has pointed me out on a number of occasions. During a G7 summit in Canada, he told French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that I was one of the world’s best photographers, but that I worked for The New York Times. While I was covering President Trump’s dinner with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace, he pointed me out to the queen and said, “That’s Doug Mills of The New York Times.” I was shocked and just looked at the queen and said, “Your Majesty,” and the photo-op was over.

Out of all the shots you took, is there one in particular you’re proud of?

I have a number of memorable photos. Mr. Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “the clap.” Mr. Trump with a lightning bolt. A shot of Mr. Trump walking to St. John’s Church from the White House after protesters were removed from Lafayette Park.

How would you summarize the past four years for you as a photographer?

It’s been a great four years for presidential photography — incredibly exhausting but very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on how Republicans see the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: French infinitive for “to be” (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times announced “The Ezra Klein Show,” a new podcast about ideas that matter, from New York Times Opinion.

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