From Biden to Covid: Some of the best premium stories you may have missed this week

Welcome to the weekend.

Settle down with a cuppa and catch up on some of the best content from our premium syndicators this week.

Happy reading.

Photo essay: Joe Biden's long road to the presidency

When Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, it was a moment of political triumph that had been decades in the making. His long career in public office spanned eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, but the nation’s highest office always eluded him. Now, Biden, 78, finally joins their ranks.

The New York Times explores Biden’s path to the top job through a series of photos.

• Joe Biden’s political career marked by personal tragedy
• First for a first lady: Jill Biden to balance career and East Wing duties

NZ's delayed vaccine rollout threatens early Covid success

New Zealand’s “go hard, go early” strategy to combat Covid-19 attracted global praise and eliminated local transmission of the virus. But the country’s slow rollout of vaccines is putting people at unnecessary risk and threatens to delay its economic recovery, critics warned.

The Financial Times looks at how the NZ Government is accused of complacency as health experts warn of fast-spreading strains.

• Unequal vaccine access will return to haunt the rich
• Barbara Ewing: The drama of an early Covid jab

A QAnon 'digital soldier' marches on, undeterred by theory's unravelling

Every morning, Valerie Gilbert, a Harvard-educated writer and actress, wakes up in her Upper East Side apartment in New York City; feeds her dog, Milo, and her cats, Marlena and Celeste; brews a cup of coffee; and sits down at her oval dining room table.

Then, she opens her laptop and begins fighting the global cabal.

Gilbert, 57, is a believer in QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Like all QAnon faithful, she is convinced that the world is run by a Satanic group of paedophiles that includes top Democrats and Hollywood elites, and that Donald Trump has spent years leading a top-secret mission to bring these evildoers to justice.

She unspools this web of falsehoods on her Facebook page, where she posts dozens of times a day.

The New York Times looks at how the story of this “meme queen” hints at how hard it will be to bring people like her back to reality.

• QAnon faces crisis as day of reckoning fails to materialise

The financial minefield awaiting an ex-President Trump

Not long after he walked across the White House grounds for the last time as president, Donald Trump stepped into a financial minefield that appears to be unlike anything he has faced since his earlier brushes with collapse.

The baseless election fraud claims and the Capitol riot have compounded already-looming threats to his bottom line. And the cash lifelines he once relied on are gone.

The New York Times investigates.

• Sarah Cooper: ‘Trump is the most dangerous man to ever hold the office’
• ‘A total failure’: The Proud Boys now mock Trump
• Trump vows: ‘We will be back in some form’

Kamala Harris will make history. So will her 'big, blended' family

When Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president, she represented many firsts: First woman vice president. First Black woman. First woman of Indian descent. But there was another milestone on display: that of her family.

As Harris ascended to this barrier-breaking role, with her loved ones looking on, millions of Americans saw a more expansive version of the American family staring back at them — one that could broaden rigid ideas of politically palatable family dynamics or gender roles.

Stepkids. Nieces. A doting husband. His ex-wife. The New York Times looks at what the Harris-Emhoffs can show the world.

• What is it like to have Kamala Harris as ‘Momala’?

Regina King: Speaking truth to power through her art

One Night in Miami is a fictional account of a real 1964 meeting of four legends. On February 24 of that year, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X got together several hours after the boxer won his first World Heavyweight Championship. Although in real life they did share ice cream as they do on screen, in the film’s imagining, they also listened to music and vigorously debated their roles in and the goals of the civil rights movement.

The actress-turned-director talks to The New York Times about bringing the film to life.

Melania Trump's legacy: Missteps, mystery and, in the end, absence

Melania Knauss Trump came to her role as first lady as an enigma. No one knew how the former Slovene model who became Donald Trump’s third wife would adapt to the role her predecessor Michelle Obama had redefined.

Even as Melania Trump’s husband ignored the traditions of his predecessors, she at first tried to follow hers. But as the years went by, her efforts lost steam.

The New York Times looks at how Melania Trump will be remembered as the first lady who arrived at the White House late and checked out early.

• A farewell to the Trump aesthetic

'I let you down': Swimmer's path from Olympics to Capitol riot

Of the dozens of people now facing charges and possible prison sentences for invading the Capitol, only a handful have drawn more attention than Klete Keller, a three-time Olympian who won two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps.

Yet within days after he was spotted in videos of the pro-Trump crowds that assaulted the Capitol, friends and former teammates turned him in to the FBI. Strangers demanded that he go to prison. And prominent voices called for him to be stripped of his Olympic medals.

But as he makes tearful apologies and faces federal charges, even his closest confidants tell The New York Times they aren’t sure why he was there at all.

Amanda Gorman captures the moment, in verse

At 22, Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States. She joined a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco.

But none of her predecessors faced the challenge that Gorman did.

Gorman tells The New York Times about how she stayed up late into the night following the riots at the Capitol to finish work.

One year, 400,000 coronavirus deaths: How the US guaranteed its own failure

Nearly one year since the first known coronavirus case in the United States was announced north of Seattle on January 21, 2020, the full extent of the nation’s failures has come into clear view: The country is hurtling toward 400,000 total deaths, and cases, hospitalisations and deaths have reached record highs, as the nation endures its darkest chapter of the pandemic yet.

The New York Times spoke with more than 100 health, political and community leaders around the country and a reviewed emails and other state government records to offer a fuller picture of all that went wrong.

• Covid response was a global series of failures, WHO-established panel says
• One day’s pandemic losses: Among thousands, a father, a child, a friend
• Two friends, two continents, very different pandemics

For many across US, a sigh of relief as one era ends and another begins

Since the election in November of Joe Biden as the 46th president, a great deal of attention has been paid to the conspiracy theories of Republicans who supported Trump — especially those who, heeding his combustible words about a stolen election, overran the Capitol in a surge of violence and vandalism January 6.

But so many more Americans, nearly 81.3 million of them, voted for Biden and against Trump. And this week, exactly two weeks after the attack on the Capitol, they celebrated with liquor and baked goods, with Zoom calls and “Amazing Grace” and tears of joy, a new day — a day in which a nation pushed a reset button.

As The New York Times reports, for many in an exhausted, divided nation, the inauguration was a sea change, not just a transition.

• A call for unity to a nation facing a pandemic and division
• Trump bequeaths Biden an upended world

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