Wednesday morning news – November 25, 2020

Biden formally introduces national security team » President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his national security team on Tuesday, declaring—quote—“America is back.”

Biden said he’s spoken with about 20 world leaders in recent days and told them his administration will stress cooperation with its allies. 

BIDEN: I’ve been struck by how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader. 

Biden’s picks are all Washington veterans with ties to the Obama administration. 

They include Tony Blinken, nominated for Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security chief and Jake Sullivan for national security adviser.

BIDEN: Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory, made possible through decades of experience working with our partners. 

Meantime, the Trump administration is making good on President Trump’s statement on Monday that his team would begin cooperating with the transition.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the transition will be “professional” and “cooperative.”

AZAR: In the best spirit of looking out for the health and wellbeing of the American people, and in particular, saving lives through this COVID-19 pandemic. 

He also said officials have begun briefing Biden’s team on plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines.

LA County faces possible stay-home order ahead of Thanksgiving » The first Americans to get vaccinated could receive their first dose in about two weeks. But that’s not soon enough to keep the virus from upending holiday plans. 

Americans living in the nation’s largest county are facing a possible stay-home order just before Thanksgiving. 

Los Angeles County officials say the coronavirus has surged past the threshold set by health officials to trigger one with 4,500 cases per day. 

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer met with county supervisors on Tuesday about next steps. If the county orders a hard lockdown, it would be the first such action since mid-March. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom said daily infections are worse than ever statewide. 

NEWSOM: You always look at the seven and 14-day averages. That seven-day average getting close to now 12,000 We simply have not seen this since the beginning of the pandemic. 

And hospitalizations in the state jumped almost 80 percent over the past two weeks. 

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti warned—quoting here—“At this rate, our hospitals won’t have any spare beds by Christmas time.”

On Tuesday, a California judge rejected a request from a restaurant industry group to block LA County from reinstating a ban on outdoor dining. The group said the plan would devastate businesses and workers.

OxyContin maker pleads guilty to criminal charges » The maker of the drug OxyContin pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal charges for its role in the opioid epidemic. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: A federal judge in New Jersey gaveled in a virtual hearing in the trial of Purdue Pharma. 

The company made the drug OxyContin. And prosecutors say it pushed Oxy to the public more like a massive corporate drug dealer than a pharmaceutical company. 

On Tuesday, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three criminal charges, admitting to its role in the opioid crisis. 

The drugmaker confessed to shady practices meant to persuade or even pay doctors to overprescribe its addictive painkillers. 

Purdue Pharma also acknowledged that it misled the Drug Enforcement Administration and impeded the DEA’s efforts to combat the addiction crisis.

The guilty pleas were part of a criminal and civil settlement announced last month with the Justice Department. It includes more than $8 billion in penalties and forfeitures. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

China launches moon mission » AUDIO: [SOUND OF LAUNCH]

China launched a bold space mission on Tuesday to bring back rocks and debris from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years. 

The spacecraft blasted off on Monday and is expected to reach the moon this week. 

If successful, it would be a major advance for China’s space program. 

The mission’s key task is to drill almost 7 feet beneath the moon’s surface and scoop up about 4 pounds of rocks and debris. 

That would offer the first chance for scientists to study newly obtained lunar material since American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 70s.

U.S., Russian warships face off in territory dispute » Moscow says a Russian warship threatened to ram a U.S. Navy warship in a territory dispute Tuesday. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Kremlin claims the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain was trespassing in its waters. 

And Moscow said a Russian warship threatened to ram the U.S. Navy vessel before chasing it away.

It said the face-off occurred in the Sea of Japan in the Peter the Great Bay, which is named after a Russian czar.

But the U.S. Navy said the McCain was sailing in international waters. It added that the Kremlin draws the boundaries of its territory wider than what it’s entitled to. 

As for Russia’s claim that it chased the U.S. warship out of its waters, the Navy’s 7th Fleet said that never happened.  

It stated that “the United States will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims.” End quote.

And the U.S. Navy has since dispatched another warship to the area to challenge Russia’s claims. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduce their nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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