THE NEW BOSS: On a frigid day, in front of a cheering crowd that numbered more than a million, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, fuelling optimism about a new American era. In his inauguration address, Obama vowed an adherence to the nation's constitution and was met with a wild cheer when he told the crowd that the United States was "ready to lead once more" with a new focus on foreign policy. After a Senate luncheon in his honour, Obama led off an inauguration parade that put American history on display -- replete with re-enactors of a black Civil War regiment and the Second World War's surviving Tuskegee Airmen.
It didn't all go smoothly, however. Hundreds of ticket holders were prevented from entering the area around the U.S. Capitol, and both the Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled over the 35-word oath of office -- which was itself read five minutes after Obama officially became president at the constitutionally appointed time of noon. There was also a scare at the Senate luncheon when Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, suffered a violent seizure. Kennedy was taken to hospital, where doctors said fatigue was behind the senator's seizure.
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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Obama's inauguration was met with a rapturous reception across a world made weary by war, recession and fear. Across Obama's ancestral home of Kenya, neighbours previously torn apart by political violence gathered together to mark the occasion. One doctor, recalling that at the same time last year he was stitching up machete wounds inflicted by rival party members during a riot, said that Obama's rise was proof that democracy can work.
One of President Obama's first moves in office was to halt all pending regulations that the Bush Administration tried to push through in its waning days, as well as examining some of the more contentious ones that the previous administration managed to swiftly enact before the transition.
THE OLD BOSS: After being treated to boos and chants of "Na-na-na-nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye" during Obama's inauguration, former president George W. Bush was escorted to a waiting helicopter by the president and vice-president to begin his trip back to Texas. Bush seemed unfazed by the loud expressions of his deep unpopularity, smiling and waving at the crowd and blowing a kiss through the window of his limousine.
Bush was treated to a much warmer reception when he arrived in Texas, where he was greeted by a cheering crowd of almost 20,000 -- many of whom were waving cardboard red, white and blue "W" signs. "It is good to be home," Bush told the crowd. Bush's twin daughters, now 27, gave some advice to Obama's young girls, telling them to make the most of their time at the White House, which they described as "a magical place to live and play."
RATES SLASHED: Pronouncing that Canada had fallen into a recession, the Bank of Canada cut its key lending rate to one per cent, the lowest rate in history, and the bank's governor declared that the economy needs all the help it can get. Commercial banks followed by cutting their prime rates and announcing mortgage relief.