Friday morning news – December 11, 2020

FDA advisory panel endorses coronavirus vaccine » AUDIO: Dr. Worton votes yes.

A group of FDA advisers gave the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine the thumbs up on Thursday.

AUDIO: And that concludes the vote. So we do have a favorable vote.   

The panel voted 17-to-4 to endorse it for emergency use. 

The advisory panel said the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for people age 16 and up. 

That’s not the final word. Officials at the Food and Drug Administration still have to sign off on the emergency use authorization. But the vote brings the vaccine one step away from a green light and makes approval all the more likely. 

Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the FDA acts on the committee’s recommendation.

Biden taps several more former Obama officials for key posts » President-elect Joe Biden is naming several more former Obama administration officials to key positions. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Biden has named Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. That will give her broad sway over the administration’s approach to immigration, healthcare, and other issues. 

Rice served as President Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador. 

Her new position will not require Senate confirmation. Republicans would strongly oppose Rice over her role in the Benghazi scandal. 

Biden is also nominating Obama’s former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Tom Vilsack will be his nominee for agriculture secretary. Vilsack filled that same role during Obama’s two terms.

He’s also tapping Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Katherine Tai for U.S. trade representative.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

China imposes Hong Kong travel restrictions on U.S. officials » China is striking back at the United States over recent sanctions. The Chinese government is hitting some U.S. officials and others with new Hong Kong travel restrictions. 

That follows the Trump administration’s announcement of new penalties against some Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on liberties in Hong Kong. 

Americans with diplomatic passports visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer receive visa-free entry privileges.

The new rules will apply to U.S. administration officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organizations, and immediate family members.

Morocco to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel » Morocco has agreed to become the fourth Arab nation in four months to forge diplomatic ties with Israel. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Trump announced the agreement on Thursday. As part of the deal, the United States will recognize Morocco’s claim over the disputed Western Sahara region. 

Israel will open a liaison office in Rabat and Morocco will do the same in Tel Aviv, with the goal of eventually opening embassies. 

The countries will also establish joint overflight rights for airlines. Morocco follows the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan in forming ties with Israel.

 U.S. officials say they’re also pushing for a deal with Saudi Arabia.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

UK, EU brace for Jan. 1 trade divorce » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Thursday that there’s a “strong possibility” trade talks with the European Union will fail. 

That could prove very costly for both sides. 

The U.K. exited the EU in January. The country’s trade arrangement with the bloc, however, remains in place till the end of this year. But that, of course, is only three weeks away. 

A sudden exit from the trade pact would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and cost tens of billions of dollars in commerce.

U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told reporters…

RAAB: We would like a free trade deal with the EU, but we’re not going to sacrifice the basic points of democratic principle – on fisheries, on control of our laws as we leave the transition period.  And I think it’s important that that’s recognized on the EU side, and if they do, I think the scope for a deal is still there to be done. 

But neither side sounds optimistic and both have told their citizens to brace for a New Year’s shock. 

To prepare for a Jan. 1st exit, the EU on Thursday put four backup measures on the table. The proposals are designed to ensure that at least air and road traffic would continue as smoothly as possible between both sides for the next six months.

It also proposed that fishermen should still have access to each other’s waters for up to a year. The U.K. has yet to agree to those measures.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) In this July 7, 2016, file photo, national security adviser Susan Rice on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. 

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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